How RTW trips would look if the Earth was flat

El fin del mundo - what if there really was a world's end?

When our United Airlines flight from San Francisco touched down at Heathrow, 9 weeks after we had departed for Singapore, we had completed a full circuit of the globe. We had explored many exciting places, and returned home from the opposite direction. An epic journey for us, but we are among millions who have made a round the world trip, following in the footsteps of Phillias Fogg and finding adventure in charting our way around our spherical planet.

But what if the world was in fact flat? We would not have been able to fly from Auckland to Honolulu without falling off the edge and into eternal oblivion. A RTW trip would look very different. In fact the whole world of adventure travel might have created new hot destinations, while familiar favourites would be forgotten backwaters.

Here are three itineraries that might be popular in this two dimensional world (all ex-London):

1. Classic City Route: London – New York – Los Angeles – Rio – Cape Town – Sydney – Auckland – Tokyo – London

Classic City Route

2. The Remote Explorer: London – Nuuk – Fairbanks – Easter Island – Torres del Paine – Madagascar – Papua New Guinea – Kamchatka – Lapland – London

The Wilderness Explorer

3. The World Wonders Tour: London – Grand Canyon – Chichen Itza – Machu Picchu – Christ Redeemer Statue – Table Mountain – Ayers Rock – Angkor Wat – Taj Mahal – Petra – London

The World Wonders Tour

Clearly in the strange new world there would be a whole different set of airports to cope with the flights that have to negotiate the corners of the earth. There would also be some big winners in global (or rather flat) tourism: South America, Alaska, Japan and NE Russia. On the other hand the Mediterranean countries, most of Africa and the Caribbean would find it hard to persuade RTW travellers to make an inward detour to visit their attractions.

On the whole I am glad that we do live in a round world (don’t tell these guys) but I will be careful not to let this stop me from visiting some of the fascinating ‘corners’ of our planet.

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Freelance travel writer

18 Responses to “How RTW trips would look if the Earth was flat”

  1. What a cool idea for a post! I love it!

    But wait a minute – the Flat Earth Society really exists? Are they for real? I learn something every day…

    Kathryn @Travelfusion

    January 22, 2010 at 12:03 pm
  2. I’m with Kathryn – the flat earth society is as interesting as your flat-world-road-trips.

    January 22, 2010 at 12:10 pm
  3. Nice post! Just curious though… is London really considered a world wonder? Never been there, but I’ve never heard this before.
    Safe Travels!

    January 22, 2010 at 12:10 pm
  4. Thanks Kathryn, Andy and Dawson. Yup, the Flat Earth Society. It’s for real. Not sure on their take on space flight, moon landings etc.
    Dawson, rest assured London is not a world wonder in anyone’s book. Just happens to be the place I would start and end my trip :-)

    January 22, 2010 at 12:20 pm
  5. Of course the earth is flat, there’s even a book that tells you so (great business book by the way) :-)

    Jokes aside though, I fancy trips 2 & 3 please!

    January 22, 2010 at 3:04 pm
  6. Very Clever! Love it!

    January 22, 2010 at 3:06 pm
  7. Thanks Sherry. Clare, you can be the first customer when I set up Flat Earth Travel.

    January 22, 2010 at 3:29 pm
  8. It may be flat, but it sure is thick!

    January 24, 2010 at 5:07 pm
  9. I like the wilderness tour route, except would be tempted to sneak that red line up a bit to catch more of Africa.

    January 26, 2010 at 10:20 pm
  10. You know Anil, I found it so hard to miss out much of Africa, and even so much of Asia. A thought: on a US centric map, isn’t Africa nearer the corners?

    January 27, 2010 at 11:15 pm
  11. Neat idea for a post!

    I’d take the World Wonders tour, though I’d be sad to miss so much of the Mediterranean.

    January 28, 2010 at 6:24 am
  12. Here in Japan, maps are centered on Asia, so in that flat-earth scenario, Japan and NE Russia would be struggling to keep up with West Africa! I wonder what those itineraries might look like?

    January 29, 2010 at 11:05 am
  13. Cam #

    Interesting idea – I’m all over the World Wonders tour!

    August 13, 2010 at 5:06 pm
  14. How do you know that the Americas should be on the left and the RTW trip crosses the Atlantic? It could just as easily have Europe and Africa on the left and cross the Pacific.

    August 13, 2010 at 5:19 pm
  15. John, I took advice on this matter by reading the Flat Earth Society website (link above) which clearly shows Europe and Africa in the centre of the world.
    Plus, I’m in the UK and as the author I get to pick who lives near the dangerous edges ;-) I must admit a US centred map would make for another very interesting set of options.

    August 13, 2010 at 5:29 pm
  16. Loving the look of that world wonders tour! :)

    October 5, 2010 at 7:15 pm
  17. Very cool, Andy. Very cool! :)

    October 26, 2011 at 11:25 am
  18. Oh my goodness I clicked on the Flat Earth Society link. All faith in humanity = lost

    October 26, 2011 at 12:05 pm