Are We There Yet? How Long Does It Take?

Ever wonder how long it takes to travel?

This is more than an answer to “Are we there yet?” It is a challenge that faces ever writer when their character leaves the comfort of home or work and must travel to another location.

If traveling by foot, how long does it take? By car? By bus? By train? What about by horse? The time spend traveling across the same difference changes with the mode of transportation.

The folks behind The Writer’s Handbook found a chart that answers some of these questions if you are considering traveling by horse, sea, foot, or pigeon. This is a great tool to add to your writer’s toolbox.

Another travel time chart to keep in your writer’s toolbox comes from Lapham’s Quarterly.

What about calculating for traffic congestion? It might take you 30 minutes to get to Portland, Oregon, in the middle of the day, and 3 hours to travel the same distance during rush hour. There is much to think about when you take your character traveling.

Here are a few more examples:

  • A healthy person can walk 3-4 miles an hour on flat and even ground (36-48 miles a day possible)
  • A healthy person can walk 1-2 miles an hour on rugged terrain, less if off-trail
  • By horse on roads or trails with level or rolling terrain – 40 miles per day
  • By horse through mountainous terrain on roads or trails – 20 miles per day
  • By horse through hilly grasslands with no roads or trails – 25 miles per day
  • By horse through rugged mountainous terrain with no roads or trails – 10 miles per day
  • By horse during Roman Era on roads or trails with level or rolling terrain – 20 miles per day
  • By horse during Roman Era on level or rolling terrain with no roads or trails – 15 miles per day
  • A wagon can travel 15-25 miles a day depending upon size, horses, path, and load
  • A league is 3 miles, the distance someone could travel in one hour.

Other tools to help you estimate travel times include:

This is just the tip of the travel time iceberg. What about travel by train? By skateboard? By bike? By helicopter? By skiing? By air balloon?

It’s your imagination traveling with your character. Add their travel type and estimates to your writer’s toolbox as a guide to help you estimate travel times.

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3 comments

  1. Lorelle; love your blog. You do so much to help people move forward and open new doors of understanding.all of your labor and experience is much appreciated. Bunny

    Like

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