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How Long Would it Take to Walk Around the World?

By | Last update: 26 April 2024

Do you have a fully charged cell phone, some sturdy walking shoes and a really big bottle of water? Great. You'll be home in a mere matter of months, though exactly how long it takes to walk around the world will depend on a couple of factors...

In which direction are you walking around the world?

The Earth is not a perfect sphere; it's not precisely equal in all directions. If you measure around the planet's 'waist', along the equator, then its circumference is 24,901.461 miles (40,075.017 km).

But its vertical circumference (if the measuring tape crossed the North Pole and South Pole) is 24,817.971 miles (39,940.653 km). So it's ever so slightly wider than it is tall, meaning that if you're in a bit of a rush*, you should plan your route to pass through the poles. (You'd also get to experience a wider range of temperatures on that journey, while a walk around the equator is going to require a LOT of sunscreen.)

* Also, if you're in a bit of a rush, consider going by car or plane, or just not going at all.

As the average walking speed is around 3 miles per hour, we can do some quick calculations to figure out how long it would take you to get around the world — in theory!

Route 1: round the equator

  • 24,901.461 miles at 3 mph
  • 24,901.461 ÷ 3 = 8300.487 hours
  • Or, as there are 24 hours in a day:
    8300.487 ÷ 24 = 345.85 days without stopping

Route 2: through the poles

  • 24,817.971 miles at 3 mph
  • 24,817.971 ÷ 3 = 8272.657 hours
  • Or, as there are 24 hours in a day:
    8272.657 ÷ 24 = 344.69 days without stopping

Verdict? Go through the poles. That's a whole day shaved off your journey, and a year of sunburn dodged! Whichever route you choose, though, you're looking at nearly a year of non-stop walking (over 8,000 hours) to complete your walk around the world.

Now, while the math tells us it's theoretically possible to walk non-stop and circle the globe in about a year, reality checks in with an important caveat: the longest time a human has successfully stayed awake is a mere 264 hours. So—there's a practical issue there.

A man walking around the world

Another obvious challenge, of course, is that we're assuming you can walk right across oceans, volcanoes, and ravines. If, for some reason, those powers elude you, you'll need to plan a route across land. That's what Karl Bushby did...

The real deal

British adventurer Karl Bushby began his 'Goliath Expedition' on 1 November 1998. He plotted a route of a 36,000-mile unbroken line, traversing the height of North and South America and the breadth of Russia and its neighbours.

Bushby was a realist: he didn't anticipate one year of walking without sleeping, eating or toilet breaks, like in our calculations above. He didn't even assume he could keep a rapid pace, because (let's face it), achy legs and blisters were going to become his closest travel companions. In fact, he intended to walk around the world in eight years. This would have had him arriving home in 2006.

Unfortunately, even the best laid plans go awry, and Bushby encountered numerous obstacles and stalls along the way. Thanks to a cocktail of floods, arrests, visa prohibitions, financial troubles, a worldwide pandemic and a war in Europe, Bushby is yet to complete his journey. At the time of writing, in April 2024, he's somewhere near Iran, preparing to swim across the Caspian sea from from Kazakhstan to Azerbaijan.

So, how long does it really take to walk around the world? The answer seems to be 26 years and counting...

If you want to know how many steps it might take to walk the 24,818 miles around the world, check out our miles to steps calculator.

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