Our shrinking world, illustrated with travel data

Ever heard of an “isochronic map“? Nope, neither had we until this bit of number-crunching from Rome2Rio came our way.

The multi-modal travel search engine has worked out how long it takes a traveller to reach any point on the globe, flying or by rail from London.

The results are portrayed on an aforementioned isochronic map – essentially a heat map showing the distances from the UK capital within half a day, half to three-quarters of a day, under a day, one day to one and a half days, and over one and a half days.

To demonstrate how much smaller the world has become since the advent of commercial air travel, Rome2Rio’s map was compared to one created by John Bartholomew for the year 1914.

Here is 1914 (click here or map for a larger version):

world map 1914 incopy

And here is the 2016 (click here or map for a larger version):

world map 2016 incopy

So, what are some of the things to note:

  • There is a ten-fold decrease in travel times in the dark pink zones.
  • In 1914, some destinations took as long as ten to 20 days to reach.
  • Western Canada and Alaska no longer take more than 30 days to reach, with many areas accessible within 18 hours.
  • Growth of airport hubs in the US has meant that many cities can now be reached with three quarters of a day.

Cameron notes that the 1914 maps would have actually changed rather quickly given that the first commercial flight took place in January of that year.


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Kevin May

About the Writer :: Kevin May

Kevin May was a co-founder and member of the editorial team from September 2009 to June 2017.





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  1. James

    I can’t imagine that leisure travel was the primary thing on people’s minds for much of 1914.

    And, despite it being from the Daily Mail, this is a thing : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1159932/Rail-journeys-work-longer-70-years-ago.html

  2. Ralph

    If only there was a site which could do this dynamically from any departure destination

  3. Timothy O'Neil-Dunne

    Of course what Michael and the lads SHOULD have done is to compare 1980 with 2016. We are now seeing traffic times being extended rather than shortened. Why? Well too many folks. It now takes longer to drive to the airport in many cities than to get to your plan ride destination.

  4. Ioana

    Wish they would have made the 2016 one more futuristic looking. As a person that doesn’t read maps more than the average google maps read, felt a bit overwhelmed trying to understand it.
    Still, very cool idea!!
    Any special conclusions for European travel times?


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