Around The World Without Flying

44 Months, 37 Countries, 0 Flights

On September 30, 2011, I left my hometown in Ireland to embark on a 3.5-year trip around the world without flying, eventually closing the loop on May 16, 2015.

Along the way I visited 37 countries, crossed the Pacific Ocean on a cargo ship, and wrote a book.

The Route

By The Numbers

Without airplanes to get around, I made do with the following:

  • 99 Buses
  • 82 Trains
  • 70 Taxis
  • 27 Ferries
  • 21 Tuk-Tuks
  • 10 Cars
  • 7 Motorcycles
  • 3 Bicycles
  • 3 Cruises
  • 1 Sailboat
  • 1 Cargo Ship

Crossing The Pacific

A few highlights from my trip across the Pacific.

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The Book

I wrote a book about my journey.

The Cargo Ship Diaries

Average rating on Amazon

Average rating on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk (100+ reviews)

Photo Gallery

A few photos from the journey.

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About The Author

86 Comments

  1. Hi Niall, I have to say, I really enjoyed listening to your audio version of the book. Your honesty is admirable, as is your journey to overcome your social anxieties. Thank you for writing it. All the best

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  4. Hello . I have thoroughly enjoyed reading Cargo Ship diary’s. Traveling like you did is one hell of an acheivement. Thank you.

  5. I think we were in Hong Kong at the same time! It’s a beautiful country, I saw on the article you stayed for about a month and a half. Hope you enjoyed it! 🙂

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  9. Niall – hoped we can meet along the way. We’re in Mexico heading South and you’re somewhere in Nicaragua heading North. Keep an eye on our website/Twitter/FB and via email as we get closer.
    PS Karen McCarthy ‏@CalypsoIT spotted the potential clash!
    The Lally family heading home to Ireland

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  13. oh man you should really take some time to stop by taiwan, it’s awesome here. Great weather, awesome food, awesome people, definitely try and stop by here next time your around japan, korea, hong kong area!

  14. Come to Malaysia.. nice people, great food (Malay, Chinese, Indian, you name it), great weather. Don’t worry, we speak fair amount of English here.

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  17. I hope you are enjoying Bh like I enjoyed your country, I discovered how irish people can be as brasilian in a friendly way! I lived in Dublin an year ago. Dublin will be in my heart also into me forever! I hope you take the same feeling from here! Have an amazing experience wherever you go! Take the best from everywhere and I hope that the contact with differents culture make a difference in you life! Well project!

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  19. Hello Niall, Its looks like you are doing something which many of us always dream about but unable to do so because of many bindings. But still looking at your travels make us happy. I think you should visit Bangladesh. Its just beside India and Nepal and full of natural beauties. So contact me if necessary if u can manage time to visit Bangladesh.

  20. Looks like you leaped New Zealand (and Australia, which you may as well visit if you’re that close). I might be able to help with anything if you come through Adelaide.

  21. Love your passenger dance, Niall! What a crossing, amazing.
    Definitely interested in all your adventures, keep ’em coming 🙂
    Take care x

  22. A great adventure Niall and thanks for sharing, it makes you realise that Ireland is just a tiny dot on the planet and there are plenty of opportunities and good people in the world that are perhaps not so fortunate as we are. You certainly make it look easy but I know that it isn’t, keeping well is the most important thing when you are on your own. Good luck with the rest of your travels.B-)

      1. Actually this reminded me of my time at sea during the 70’s. I did that Pacific crossing four times in the space of two years, nothing but sea and sky and couldn’t wait to get ashore. Even met King Neptune..
        Aye it’s good to be young….

  23. I thought you were off your rocker when I first read what your plan was… now im living vicariously through the stages of your journey! Congrats on having the courage to embark on this and to just get to know yourself whilst experiencing the world. I’ll look forward to reading your book 🙂 Question : What’s the ‘biggest’ thing you’ve learned about yourself in the last 2 years?

    1. Hey Jenny 🙂

      Good question. There’s a lot I’ve learned about myself, not sure if I could pick one thing. I’ve definitely learned a lot about patience, acceptance and resilience. I’ve learned a lot about dating, relationships and love. I’ve learned a lot about what’s important to me and in which parts of the world my values are best reflected.

      And I’ve learned the Spanish word for “windscreen” 😛

  24. awesome stuff Niall…lookin forward to seeing the rest, filling in the blanks…somehow reminds me of friends who rode a freight train barge some years back to Alaska…were there other passengers on your trans-Pacific container trip? was it easy to get a tick?….keep on keepin on!!…

      1. Hello Niall,

        I’m João, from Governador Valadares, MG and I lived in BH for 7 years.
        Now, I’m living in the States, Massachusetts, close from Boston.
        Boston and BH are like sister cities. A lot pubs, universities and beautiful girls.
        And, the Irish culture is too strong there.
        I loved your video in that cargo ship.
        Take care.

  25. Hi Niall I’m a girl from Iran I read about you in our newspaper & I wanted to know more about you!It’s so hard to travel around the world without flying! Congratulations!!! I become really happy that you came Iran! What was the most beautiful thing that you saw in Iran?
    Please come to Iran again and come to my city!
    Good luck

    1. Hi Mary. Thanks for the comment. I didn’t know I was in a newspaper in Iran. Which one? Can you send me a photo of the article?

      The most beautiful thing I saw in Iran? The people. Everyone was so nice and warm to me 🙂

      1. Hi Niall . I don’t have the newspaper sorry! It’s name was ”Hamshahri” & I can describe it to you it translated all you said in Persian & it has 2 pics. One was you with two Iranian guys and another one was the picture of azadi tower! And it wrote at the end that when you saw an Iranian family that were saying goodbye to their son you cried with them!!! Is it right? Thank you so much Irish people are good also! 🙂

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  28. I would love to be able to do what you are doing. I have been able to travel to 50 countries over the past 25 years, but travel is something you definitely have to make happen in your life. Still, if I could quit my current job and make traveling my job, I’d be in heaven. Enjoy yourself! Looking forward to reading your updates.

  29. great website and journey mate , if you fancy somewhere cheap, clean with a pool in chiang mai try the poolside bar next to Prince Hotel , ask for Neng who owns it . cheers
    Fred

  30. Great site. Very inspiring …
    One remark though. Why isn’t Belgium (and especially Ghent) on your list? Why, Niall? Why?
    I’d love to make some changes in my life. Just don’t seem to know what I really want (and believe me, I already thought about it a lot). Guess I’m one of those people who like a lot of things a little bit or just for a while and then lose interest. Makes it a kinda hard to make big decisions 🙁
    Thanks for the site. I’d love to read more about your adventures and life style.

      1. Thanks for the link, Niall!
        Confronting and reassuring at the same time…
        And as for Belgium : I was only kidding.
        You can skip it, really (except for Ghent, Ghent rocks). Iceland, that’s the place to be!

  31. Wow Niall all those places you’ve been to!, all those landscapes all those people, all those memories. Travel is life, no school classroom can teach you all that. Australia will be great worked my way round there for 2 years.

  32. Round the world sailors sail from west to east and past Cape Horn so there must be others making that trip…….. just need to find them !!!!! But they do tend to stay further south so you might have to make landfall in Sothern Chile or Argentina !!!!

  33. Hi Niall, Just found your site – no idea why I hadn’t seen it before to be honest! No flights? Thats amazing. I’m a backpacker who hates flying but sadly Ive been on over 200 flights the last 10 years or so on my adventures – would love to do it without flying sometime. I used to work on ferries and loved it. Where are you now and where are you heading next? Safe travels, Jonny

    1. Hey Johnny,

      Weird, I think I just saw your site for the first time today, too, even before you left this comment. I think it showed up in my buddy Carlo’s feed on Facebook 🙂

      I’m in Hong Kong right now, and heading back down to Thailand for October, then will make a break for Australia.

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  35. just found your site while surfing the web, searching the topic of separating from the status-quo, media, distractions, etc.
    i will be reading all i can here as i find what you are doing fascinating, and inspiring. i am kicking myself for not figuring this all out sooner. thanks for the site and i look forward to reading of your adventures. p.s. wth did they think of you in Iran? the media has us all brainwashed here in the US into thinking you would be nutz to go there nowadays.

      1. still attempting to catch up to you chronologically. (i hate watching a movie after it’s started) i home-school my kids and you have become part of their social studies curriculum. (no worries). anyhoo, i am wondering if you are on the way to Hong Kong?

  36. Wow. What a brave man. So what does a single mom in her mid forties doing a stressful job as a city bus driver do. I own my house and pay the bills on time. Both of these things are a great achievement for me. I don’t depend on anyone else and have a good enough relationship with the kids father because we don’t argue about money. My kids are number one because that is what I value and that feels great. They are also young so I can’t just drop everything and follow my heart. But I don’t really like my job and my life feels very mediocre. I worry that my kids see a mama that is unhappy and stressed out. I also care way too much about what other people think. The public hates us drivers because our service is always late. And the other drivers are often mean to each other because they are stressed out. One of the things that I care about is social justice. If I could do anything I would be involved in something that makes a difference to those that struggle. I also love art. When I drive the bus I get to treat many lonely people with deep respect. At the same time these people give me a feeling that I am not alone. In some ways I love this crazy job because I don’t feel so alone. I think it was Mother Theresa that said that lonliness is the greatest poverty. It is lonliness that I struggle with. And it is the fear of lonliness that makes me care so much about what others think. I hope you keep up your fearlessness. Good luck.

    1. Hi Nelly,

      Thanks for the comment. First thing I’ll say is that fear is relative! You might I’m brave for what I’m doing, but I consider parenting (let alone single parenting!) to be much scarier than traveling around the world.

      As for what you should do, I’d recommend seeking out other single parents who have made the leap from a less than ideal job to something much more fulfilling. Take advice from those who have already done what you’d like to do.

      One thing I might be able to help you with is caring too much what other people think. Read this post and the comments.

      All the best!

  37. I just started following your amazing journey. How did you cross over from Iran to Dubai and also from Sri Lanka to Phuket Indonesia ? Is crossing by boat cheaper than flying ?

    1. Hi Sunny,

      Iran to Dubai was done by overnight ferry. Pretty easy. India to Sri Lanka to Phuket was done on a cruise ship. You can read more about that here.

      I wouldn’t say traveling as I am is cheaper than flying. It can be much more expensive actually, as cargo and cruise ships aren’t cheap to hitch a ride on. Flights can be ridiculously cheap sometimes.

  38. Stumbled on your site by accident and its quite cool. Your adventures is now part of many people around the world, including me 🙂 thanks for sharing.

  39. I’ll be in Surat, Gujarat, India this June, 2013. In January, 2014, I may be in Bangkok doing an TEFL internship. Maybe we can meet up for some chai or chā at either place. 🙂

  40. Man! I’m Indian American and my parents are from Kochi and I get there next week! I’ve been addicted to your blog for about an hour now. Would’ve loved to meet with you and show you around the city. Its a great place (I lived there for 6 years) with lots of history (most of which is in ruins, and not on the tourist trail- which btw is usually colonial-centric). If you ever come back to Kochi around December any year, hit me up.

  41. May I suggest when you get to Thailand you make contact with the various expat newspapers, radio and tv stations.
    They’re always looking for interesting stories and as every expat is a traveller they can strike a a chord with you.

    Have a great time.

    Paul

  42. its festival season here in India ,
    dushera followed by Diwali .
    the biggest festival in India .
    and there is theater sort of stage play about the life of lord Rama every night .
    its kind of hilarious.

    Good luck ..

  43. Love to see you in Australia sometime. There’ll be a bed, mattress or couch or something for as long as you need in the Brisbane area (not sure where I’ll be when or if you get here).

  44. Just found your site Niall, I’m looking forward to following your journey. Would love to see more photos of your travels.

  45. Seems you are in KTM currently. That’s where I live. So what are you planning to do there for 2 months? I am happy you’re here because now I’ll get to read adventures of my place in your blog. 🙂
    This place should be cheap for you.
    I hope to see you somewhere in KTM somehow.Hehe.
    Enjoy! and have a great time in KTM 🙂

  46. Nepal is supposed to be beautiful in October, and I’ll be living there by then!
    If not, maybe we’ll meet on the beaches of Goa this May 🙂

    1. Nice! I should be in Nepal by May, will probably stay for 2 months and then head back to India on a full 3-month visa. Hopefully our paths will cross at some point 🙂

  47. India is a great place! been there for a week last year and will be there for Holi festival next March 🙂 Give me a shout if finally you visit Indonesia! Safe travels!

    1. Thanks for the comment, Sysilia. A friend told me about the Holi festival recently and I researched it online. Looks absolutely amazing, and I hope I make it to India in time for that.

      I also hope to visit Indonesia at some point, so hopefully we’ll get to meet there 🙂

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