October 2009

I have always loved rail travel, I remember travelling down to London for a day trip on a Saturday with my parents as a child. Maybe they are partly responsible after all.

A three hour journey down to Kings Cross Station, getting there around 10:00 and then the same 3 hours back late that afternoon. Since then it allowed me to get home from University for three years (always with a big bag of washing), travel across Europe, Australia and of the UK.

There are limitations to trains, its not point to point, it is relatively slow and in some countries can be a little less than prompt and reliable, but that is half the fun of it.

There are some fantastic on-line resources but my favourites are The Man In Seat 61 and is really the source of so much information about world train travel its hardly worth mentioning any others, but ill mention a couple more handy resources. Bahn.de which gives a reasonably reliable searchable Europe wide timetable and a book, well a series of books by Thomas Cook – the Overseas Timetables. Thomas cook also produce rail maps for Europe and the UK & Ireland, not essential but I love maps.


It may seem sad, but one of the things I love about travel is the planning.

Piles of books and magazines, countless websites and chats with people, maps, timetables, notes and spreadsheets.

Yes I did say spreadsheets – the best way to budget and visualise a trip, in my opinion anyway. It does seem a bit geeky but trust me, it works.

I will be adding a list of handy websites somewhere to the right of this page, I will try to have a post for each site or group of related sites, for example my next post will be about rail travel an amazing way to see any country.

I will also be trying to plan a surface only trip around the world (fingers crossed – one day it may happen). I am sure there will be more than one plan at the end of the day, or more likely a number of different legs and options for these legs…

Ever since Mr Palin’s first steps in 80 Days I have whenever possible sought out travelogues, holiday programs and literature for travel and a few years ago got around the world on my own. I say on my own, the Round The World Airline ticket was a great help.

I did at one time think that this would be the end of the hunger and I would be able to manage with lighter trips, ones that lasted no longer than about two weeks. I secretly knew this would not be the case. The hunger just increased.

I know I’m not alone and by no means am I the most adventurous of traveller; but I find I need to travel, it a passion, an addiction and I must feed it.

This has not been help by my old friend the BBC and their recent and very entertaining version of Around the World In 80 Days, a Children In need relay challenge. I now find myself wanting to do it again…

I ask myself only two questions 1) Could I manage it and 2) Would it satisfy my hunger to travel.

The answers are simple –1) If I had the chance I would try my best to succeed, who wouldn’t and 2) No, it would only fuel it more.

One thing has puzzled me for years, my love of travel.

I should really be more specific, as a love of travel is not uncommon, its not that me family holidays were unadventurous  or any in way boring, but my solo travels have been more ambitious.

My parents showed my various parts of England, northern France, Jersey and Florida, but I still harboured desires to go further, to visit every US State, all the continents (Including Antarctica), see the temples of Cambodia, hike the Inca Trail, see Russia, India and countless other places…

The problem is where did this all come from. I’m sure these desires didn’t come directly form my parents, neither of them has seen these places or have a burning desire to spend days on a train crossing African desert or on a Cargo ship crossing the Pacific Ocean.

The more I thought about it, the more the blame was laid on one man, Michael Palin.

Blame maybe isn’t a fair word to use, but back in 1988 as young and impressionable child of 9 the most amazing BBC Series whet my appetite with Around the World In 80 Days. The BBC and Mr Plain then continued to showcase epic overland travel with Pole to Pole and Full Circle.

I am not ignoring any of Mr Palin’s other journeys Hemingway Adventure,  Sahara,  Himalaya and  New Europe – I enjoyed everyone, but there was no challenge – they all had a roughly set route and time limits.