Former Monty Python actor Michael Palin is probably best known these days for his epic travel shows that have aired on the BBC and various networks in the U.S. as well. His quick sense of humor, unflappable nature, and friendly attitude has served him well as he traveled the globe, visiting some of the more remote places on Earth, and connecting with the people that live there. These journeys became known as Palin’s Travels, and have inspired many to follow in his footsteps.
His first televised travelogue was entitled Around the World in 80 Days, in which he attempted to match Phileas Fogg, the main character in Jules Verne’s novel of the same name, by circling the globe in the designated time frame. In Palin’s case, he had to make the journey without the use of flight. It has now been 20 years since that seminal televsioin show first aired, and Palin has released a 20th Anniversary Edition of the book that accompained the show. In this updated version, the author has gone back to retrace parts of his route in an effort to find some of the friends he made on the trip. A BBC follow-up entitled 80 Days Revisted is also set to air soon.
In a recent interview, Palin said that travel is “still important” today, and encouraged travelers to get out and experience the world, dismissing fears of terrorism and worry over carbon footprints. He stressed that it is, of course, important to think about those issues, but not let them dissuade you from visiting locations that have sparked your imagination. He also says that the spirit of adventure still burns within him, and that he isn’t ready to give up his travels just yet.
I recently had a discussion with a friend as to whether or not it was still possible to circle the globe in less than 80 days without the use of an airplane. It was was a challenge for Palin back in 1988, thanks to infrequent departures by ships, and I’d imainge it hasn’t improved any today. Palin himself has said that he’s not sure that it could still be done either, although it certainly would be an impressive undertaking. Any volunteers?