A few years ago I found myself watching the wonderful Michael Palin TV series of Around the World in 80 Days and I thought “I’d like to do that.”
I pondered the idea for months, or perhaps it is more accurate to say the idea lodged in my brain and began to fester until it became somewhat unavoidable. I spoke with my bosses and tried to present it in the very best possible way, “I’ve been here 10 years, I’d like to go away for exactly 80 days to travel the world and I’d like to do it in the summer when we are at our quietist. I’ll use all my leave but will need some unpaid too.”
They said something along the lines of “Huh. Ok give us a couple of days to think it over and we’ll come back to you.” Which they duly did and for which I am ever so grateful.
That was back in August 2017. The plan was to take the trip in the summer of 2018 and I began the process of researching what I wanted to do, even booked a few of the parts.
Then over Christmas of 2017 I realised that my Dad’s Alzheimer’s was much worse then I previously knew and it was very clear that there was no way I could wander off for three months. So everything was cancelled and postponed.
As it turned out I didn’t even have my Dad for another three months. He passed away due to complications arising from the oesophageal cancer he was also having to put up with. To explain what he was like, and why I’m like I am, I should note that even on the day he died he was explaining to hospital staff that he doesn’t always sit around in London and that he likes to travel. I think he would have loved to hear about my plans and see the many photos that I will take.
My plan from the beginning was around the world in 80 days without using a plane. I was comfortable getting across Europe and Asia would be straightforward enough. I knew getting across the US could be done. The Atlantic and Pacific though presented more of a problem, the latter in particular.
Fogg actually had it easier because there were passenger ships plying their way across regularly. For the Atlantic there still are some, so I booked a place on a cruise ship. For the Pacific it is container ship travel and that puts you at the mercy of companies which aren’t particularly bothered about you as a passenger. If it is convenient for them to carry then they will but you won’t be a priority. I found a berth that would get me from Hong Kong to California at the right time. It was going to be hell at 18 days stuck in one place but I though “Hey, it will be an experience.”
With the hardest crossings sorted I had some structure that I built around. I won’t go into detail here except to say that it worked. Then a couple of months ago I got an email saying the container ship schedule had changed which blew a hole in my plans. I scrambled to find an alternative but without luck. So sadly I have to fly over the Pacific. Not the plan and a shame but out of my control. On the more positive side it means I have over two weeks longer to spend in the US.
I am typing this now to make sure I know how wordpress works. Tomorrow morning I begin the journey. I’ll be away from home for longer than I have been since I was 18. It is somewhat terrifying and extraordinarily exciting.