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How Long Would it Take to Walk Around the World?

By | Last update: 05 October 2020

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, here's 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!

A man walking around the world

One issue, 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 and a worldwide pandemic in 2020, Bushby is yet to complete his journey. At the time of writing, in October 2020, he's somewhere near Iran.

So, how long does it really take to walk around the world? The answer seems to be 22 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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