Why 80 Days Is Still The Standard

Around The World In 80 Days

David Niven and Cantinflas in Around The World In 80 Days.

Jules Verne wrote many books, many of them classics. Jules Verne was a pioneer of the science fiction and fantasy genre, yet his arguably most famous book is one that trades fantasy for the fantastical.

In Around The World In 80 Days, there are no giant squids or rampaging dinosaurs. Our heroes do not set foot aboard submarines, or spaceships. Instead, they travel by boat, and trains. It tells the story of a man and his valet on a mission. And the mission isn’t all that important. Phileas Fogg does not set out to safe the world or to make an all important discovery. It’s a mission that consists of traveling from point A back to… point A, really. Just to proof it’s possible, and for a hefty sum of money. It’s a story that continues to capture the imagination, so many years after it has been written.

Nowadays, traveling around the world is a matter of hours instead of days. Get on the proper flights, and you’ll be back before anyone even noticed you were gone. Welcome to the world of today.

That isn’t to say that a world trip is no longer exciting. Tell anyone you’ll be traveling around the world and you’ll most likely be met with an enthusiastic response, occasionally with a hint of jealousy, but always with certain expectations.

“In truth, many of us secretly yearn for trouble”

If you take less than roughly 80 days, it’s probably because you’re on a big business trip. Or so it seems. If you do it in 50 days for instance, how much of the world do you really get to see? When Michael Palin recreated Fogg’s travel in his take of Around The World In 80 Days, he described modern travel as a way of seeing airports. Never mind you can cut down on travel time immensely by using the plane, and therefore have time to actually do… stuff. But in truth, many of secretly yearn for trouble. There has to be some rushing, panic, and confusion about what boat or train to take. If you’re back home too soon, you’ve taken the simple way, and that’s not very exciting.

Take too long to travel? You’re probably a slow poke. It took you 110 days? Meh, Fogg and Passepartous did it in 80. Anyone can do it in a 110 days! Take even longer? Say, half a year, or a year? Than your journey is probably a more personal one. The expectations have changed. Anyone who’s taking so long, is doing it to (re)discover him or herself, or take some time away from it all. Or maybe it’s because you’re having a whole different type of challenge. Maybe you’re going around the world a bike, or in some old beat up car. But in any other case the number 80 will come to mind.

“Around The World In 80 Days is the quintessential travel book”

When Jules Verne released his book in 1873, it became the quintessential travel book. Even now, more than a 140 years later, it continues to inspire us. How many books, films, and shows were inspired or based upon this work? And how many people have tried to copy the journey by now? It doesn’t matter why or how long your own trip around the world will be, it will be inevitably be compared to the book. That’s a testament not only to Verne’s work, but also to our drive and desire to travel, and explore. If want to challenge yourself or if you got something to proof, you have to ask yourself; can I do it in 80 days or less?

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