Lifestyle

The 15 Craziest Ways Explorers Have Circled The Globe

A single day of travel is enough to knock the wind out of the sails for most of us, which makes it all the more impressive when intrepid explorers opt to trek all the way around the world...for fun.

Circumnavigating the globe may not be as groundbreaking as it was when Magellan did it, but plenty of men and women have followed in his footsteps, journeying around the world in weird, wondrous, and oftentimes completely crazy ways.

1. Running

Who: Robert Garside
When: 1997-2003
Known simply as The Runningman, Garside set off to the east from New Delhi and spent the following 5-and-a-half years running an average of 40 miles per day up against everything from extreme weather to physical attacks in order to achieve the Forrest Gump-ian feat.

2. On a penny farthing

Who: Thomas Stevens
When: 1884-86
After working on the railroad in Wyoming and as a miner in Colorado, this Brit decided to spice things up and try his hand at traveling the globe on one of the most ridiculous two-wheeled vehicles to ever exist. It's reported that for much of the hillier parts of the journey he was forced to walk the bike, but that didn't stop him from making good on his goal. 

3. Using only human-powered vehicles

Who: Jason Lewis
When: 1994-2007
Over the course of over 13 years, Lewis became the first person to circumnavigate the globe "by human power." The whole ordeal involved mountain biking through Europe, roller blading across North America, and pedaling a special wooden boat across the Atlantic and Pacific. 

4. Solo in a hot air balloon

Who: Steve Fossett
When: 2002
Having made a fortune professionally in the financial services industry, Fossett's passion was for exploration and adventure, and he managed to set a whopping 116 world records in five different sports during his lifetime. However he was best known for his solo trip around the world in a monstrous 10-story-high balloon, The Spirit of Freedom.

5. Walking

Who: Dumitru Dan
When: 1910-26
The Romanian geographer and professor initially set out on the round-the-world walking journey with two buddies in hopes of scoring a 100,000-franc prize set by the Touring Club de France, but he was the only one who survived to see it through. Along the way, his companions fell victim to both opium poisoning and a fall, respectively. Also, he would have finished sooner if he hadn't been forced to delay the finish when World War I broke out.

6. In a really old plane

Who: US Air Force
When: 1924
Two years after a failed British attempt and a year after a French shot, the US Air Force organized a fleet of aviators in four different aircraft that flew as a team around the world in 175 days, receiving a hero's welcome in Washington, D.C. upon their return.

7. Under the sea

Who: US Navy
When: 1960
Given the code name Operation Sandblast, the first submerged trip around the earth was undertaken by the nuclear-powered USS Triton, which followed roughly the same course as Magellan's voyage 400 years before, in roughly 60 days.

8. Carrying a giant cross

Who: Arthur Blessitt
When: 1969-2008
A Christian preacher, Blessitt has made it his life's goal to carry his homemade wooden cross through every country in the world, praying for peace. He crossed his last country off the list in 2008, having walked a calf-crushing 41,000 miles, but is still dedicated to the cause and hasn't stopped yet.

9. Recreating Around The World In 80 Days

Who: Nellie Bly
When: 1889
Inspired by Phileas Fogg's trip in the famed Jules Verne novel, Bly convinced her editors to let her try to do it for real. She set off from New York alone, traveling all the way around the world by steamship and rail with only a few possessions, and set a world record by returning in just 72 days.

10. In a car

Who: Clärenore Stinnes and Carl-Axel Söderström
When: 1927-1929
A German car racer and a Swedish cinematographer respectively, Stinnes and Söderström were the first to ever travel around the world by automobile. During their 27,000-mile voyage, which was sponsored by the German auto industry and began in Berlin, they traversed Siberia, the Gobi desert, Japan, and made their way to South America via ferry. Before making it back to Europe, they trekked up and eastward from Vancouver, and were warmly welcomed by President Hoover in a show of support.

11. As a reigning monarch

Who: Kalākaua
When: 1881
The last reigning monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii, Kalākaua embarked on a round-the-world trip while on the throne in order to study matters of immigration and to improve foreign relations. Along the way, he met a who's who of heads of states including both the Pope and Queen Victoria.

12. In a helicopter

Who: Dick Smith
When: 1982-83
This highly successful Aussie entrepreneur is also a serious aviator, having undertaken the first chopper flight across the world. The trip, which began in Dallas, endured a number of weird hiccups including being mysteriously shot at over Alaska and being refused from the USSR for a refuel.

13. Without navigational equipment

Who: Marvin Creamer
When: 1982-84
With a skeleton crew and at a sprightly 66 years old, Creamer took off on his 36-foot vessel from South Africa and spent the following 18 months sailing around the world without a compass, watch, sextant, or any other instruments. To navigate, he simply observed the sun and stars, currents, and occasionally the regional biological setting.

14. In a zeppelin

Who: LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin
When: 1929
Backed by William Randolph Hearst, the German Graf's round-the-world trip was the first for an airship, eight years before they tragically went out of style thanks to the Hindenburg disaster. The whole four-leg journey took 21 days, 5 hours, and 31 minutes, making it the fastest circumnavigation of the globe to date.

15. Going to space

Who: Yuri Gagarin
When: 1961
Inside the Vostok spacecraft, the Soviet pilot and cosmonaut became not only the first human to travel to outer space but also the first to orbit earth.


Joe McGauley is a senior editor at Supercompressor and would love to know how in the hell that 2004 Jackie Chan remake of Around The World In 80 Days was greenlit.

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