A Map Of Travel Distances – London To The World

Map Travel Distances London
In 1914, John G. Bartholomew, a member of a renowned Edinburgh family known for their expertise in map-making and the official cartographer for King George V, released “An Atlas of Economic Geography.” This book was designed for young students and encompassed a comprehensive resource for aspiring entrepreneurs, imperialists, traders, or explorers.

In addition to the expected charts detailing rainfall, temperature, and terrain, the atlas included maps indicating the geographical sources of rubber, cotton, or rice. Moreover, it featured maps displaying the prevalence of commercial languages, offering essential guidance for business endeavors in various regions. For example, if you were interested in conducting business in Indonesia, you’d know to use Dutch. Furthermore, the atlas presented maps illustrating the prevalence of climate-related diseases, providing valuable information for travelers. For instance, it cautioned about the risk of tropical dysentery in Indonesia. Among its contents, there was also the map displayed below, which indicated the travel duration from London, ranging from 5 to 40 days. Map Travel Distances London

Isochronic Map Travel Distances London

This map is an isochronic representation, with isochrones depicting lines connecting destinations reachable within the same travel time. It conveys a narrative about the evolving nature of travel. Within the central dark-pink area, you can reach any location within five days, spanning from the Azores in the west to the Russian city of Perm in the east.

No surprises there; you’re simply not covering substantial distances. Beyond that point, the scenario becomes more intriguing. Within a five to ten-day timeframe, you can reach destinations as distant as Winnipeg or the captivating Lake Baikal in Siberia. To reach Tashkent, which is closer than both Winnipeg and Lake Baikal, or Honolulu, located much farther away.

It would take up to 20 days. In certain regions, a particular color swathes across a landmass, like the pink hue spreading across the eastern United States or the orange covering India. In contrast, in other areas, you encounter a blue barrier not too far inland, such as in Africa and South America.

The underlying factor explaining these differences is the presence and extent of railway networks.

isochronic map
Isochronic map

A Trip to China Map Travel Distances London

During the early 1840s, Asa Whitney, an American dry-goods merchant residing near New York, embarked on a business trip to China. The journey took 153 days, and he deemed it a significant time investment. Upon his return, he initiated efforts to advocate for the construction of a transcontinental railway that would link Lake Michigan with Oregon. This endeavor was driven by the prospect of facilitating trade with China, which had established a trade agreement with Oregon.


He believed that the construction of the railroad would reduce the travel time to China to approximately 30 days. Thereby expanding access to the Chinese market. The British significantly invested in India’s railway system, expanding it from 838 to 15,842 miles between 1860 and 1880. Comparing it to Francis Galton’s 1870s map reveals a noticeable difference.

Bombay enjoys swift accessibility by sea, but the same cannot be said for the rest of India. In a similar vein, you won’t find a stretch of pink extending across the Russian Empire on Galton’s map. Why? Because the Trans-Siberian Railway had not yet been established. As geographer L.W. Lyde emphasizes in his introduction to Bartholomew’s atlas, “isochronic distances…shift with the addition of each new mile of railway brought into operation.”

What was the primary requirement for a young entrepreneur? A train ticket. Map Travel Distances London

Travel, Passports, and Borders


FAQ Passport History
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1. What are the earliest known examples of passports, and how have they evolved?

The word "passport" came up only in the mid 15th Century. Before that, such documents were safe conducts, recommendations or protection letters. On a practical aspect, the earliest passport I have seen was from the mid 16th Century. Read more...

2. Are there any notable historical figures or personalities whose passports are highly sought after by collectors?

Every collector is doing well to define his collection focus, and yes, there are collectors looking for Celebrity passports and travel documents of historical figures like Winston Churchill, Brothers Grimm, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Read more...

3. How did passport designs and security features change throughout different periods in history, and what impact did these changes have on forgery prevention?

"Passports" before the 18th Century had a pure functional character. Security features were, in the best case, a watermark and a wax seal. Forgery, back then, was not an issue like it is nowadays. Only from the 1980s on, security features became a thing. A state-of-the-art passport nowadays has dozens of security features - visible and invisible. Some are known only by the security document printer itself. Read more...

4. What are some of the rarest and most valuable historical passports that have ever been sold or auctioned?

Lou Gehrig, Victor Tsoi, Marilyn Monroe, James Joyce, and Albert Einstein when it comes to the most expensive ones. Read more...

5. How do diplomatic passports differ from regular passports, and what makes them significant to collectors?

Such documents were often held by officials in high ranks, like ambassadors, consuls or special envoys. Furthermore, these travel documents are often frequently traveled. Hence, they hold a tapestry of stamps or visas. Partly from unusual places.

6. Can you provide insights into the stories behind specific historical passports that offer unique insights into past travel and migration trends?

A passport tells the story of its bearer and these stories can be everything - surprising, sad, vivid. Isabella Bird and her travels (1831-1904) or Mary Kingsley, a fearless Lady explorer.

7. What role did passports play during significant historical events, such as wartime travel restrictions or international treaties?

During war, a passport could have been a matter of life or death. Especially, when we are looking into WWII and the Holocaust. And yes, during that time, passports and similar documents were often forged to escape and save lives. Example...

8. How has the emergence of digital passports and biometric identification impacted the world of passport collecting?

Current modern passports having now often a sparkling, flashy design. This has mainly two reasons. 1. Improved security and 2. Displaying a countries' heritage, icons, and important figures or achievements. I can fully understand that those modern documents are wanted, especially by younger collectors.

9. Are there any specialized collections of passports, such as those from a specific country, era, or distinguished individuals?

Yes, the University of Western Sidney Library has e.g. a passport collection of the former prime minister Hon Edward Gough Whitlam and his wife Margaret. They are all diplomatic passports and I had the pleasure to apprise them. I hold e.g. a collection of almost all types of the German Empire passports (only 2 types are still missing). Also, my East German passport collection is quite extensive with pretty rare passport types.

10. Where can passport collectors find reliable resources and reputable sellers to expand their collection and learn more about passport history?

A good start is eBay, Delcampe, flea markets, garage or estate sales. The more significant travel documents you probably find at the classic auction houses. Sometimes I also offer documents from my archive/collection. See offers... As you are already here, you surely found a great source on the topic 😉

Other great sources are: Scottish Passports, The Nansen passport, The secret lives of diplomatic couriers

11. Is vintage passport collecting legal? What are the regulations and considerations collectors should know when acquiring historical passports?

First, it's important to stress that each country has its own laws when it comes to passports. Collecting old vintage passports for historical or educational reasons is safe and legal, or at least tolerated. More details on the legal aspects are here...

Does this article spark your curiosity about passport collecting and the history of passports? With this valuable information, you have a good basis to start your own passport collection.

Question? Contact me...