Time flies? According to these maps it does

Published January 8, 2016

In late 2015 the Rome2rio team spotted a beautiful travel map on Intelligent Life. The map, which was published by venerable mapmaker John G. Bartholomew in 1914, illustrated how long it would take to travel from London to destinations across the globe.

1914 Isochronic map (credit: John G. Bartholomew)

We were excited to see such a fantastic visualisation of travel times and we were curious to see what had changed in the 100-odd years since; especially at such a world-changing juncture in travel technology. The first commercial flight took place on January 1st, 1914, so travel times started changing drastically soon after this date.

We created a new map using Rome2rio’s routing engine and unique repository of transport data. What we uncovered was fascinating.

2016 Isochronic map (credit: Rome2rio)

It is clear that travel times have improved immensely. Modern air, rail and road infrastructure has led to a ten-fold increase in travel times across the dark pink parts of the map.

Globalisation is also readily apparent. Journeys that would have taken 10 to 20 days by boat and train have been replaced by the speed of air travel, with most of the world now accessible within ½ to 1 day. This change is most apparent in Asia. In 1914 reaching Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Tokyo would take up to 40 days. Now, these powerhouses are a day’s travel from London.

Island destinations have benefited from the advances in technology as well.  Locations such as the Bahamas, Bermuda, Seychelles, Mauritius and Madagascar are all with ½ a day’s travel, suggesting demand for direct flights by holiday makers. For those who prefer colder locales, visiting the world’s coldest city, Yakutsk, is a breeze in comparison to the area surrounding it; from London, it takes ¾ of a day.

The 2016 map also showcases the dramatic increase in transport hubs across the US. Once you would arrive on the East Coast and trek out west by train. Now, direct flights will get you to San Diego, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Dallas, Houston and Denver.

However, the improvements have not been evenly distributed and some areas remain quite inaccessible. Greenland, Northern Canada, Siberia and the interiors of Africa, South America and Australia will still require some days of travel to reach.

If you still long for an extended trip then perhaps a trip to Buenos Aires is in order; the direct flight from London takes 15 hours – plenty of time to enjoy the in-flight entertainment.

Written by
Rome2rio Chief Operations Officer
Rome2rio, based in Melbourne, Australia, is organising the world’s transport information. We offer a multi-modal, door-to-door travel search engine that returns itineraries for air, train, coach, ferry, mass transit and driving options to and from any location. Discover the possibilities at rome2rio.com