Travel in Fantasy – How Fast Can They Get There?

If you don’t take the time to approximate the time and distance your characters take from point A to point B, you risk inconsistencies which your detail-oriented readers will pick up on. You don’t want your troupe leaving too late to realistically catch the festival in the next town, or save their friend from his scheduled execution in the next kingdom. If you find they would be arriving too early, you can always throw obstacles in their way to slow them down.

Before you can calculate distance, you need a scaled map. A scale is a measurement showing how many inches/millimeters represent a number of miles. My own map scale: 1 inch = 100 miles. Now that you have your scale, you can begin measuring. Rarely do you want to measure the direct distance however – roads curve, adventurers have to backtrack, or a lake crosses their path. An easy trick is to use a piece of string or floss instead of a straight edged paper or ruler. You can curve the string along the exact path, cut it off, pull it straight and then measure it.

Now that you have the distance, you can begin to figure out time. Even if you don’t show the traveling itself, you need to have a sense of how much time has passed. What transportation method are they using? Walking, riding horses, wagon, ship, or some more fantastical method? Or in a modern fantasy: by car, plane, train? Here’s a handy reference chart for some of the most common means. All measurements are miles/hour (mph) unless noted otherwise.

Horses
Horse speed varies by breed, stride, and condition, but here’s an average.

Walk: 3-5 mph

Trot: roughly 8-10 mph

Canter/Lope: 10-17 mph

Gallop: about 30 mph

Human travel (all assuming character is in average condition)

on dirt trails: 10-14 miles/day

on paved trails: 8-12 miles/day (no natural cushioning for feet)

on fair trails (natural, rocky, root covered, etc): 8-12 miles/day

average speed over natural terrain: 3 mph

Wagon

Ox-drawn: 16 miles/day

average wagon travel: 2 mph

exhaustive wagon travel: 6 mph

Ship

This varies greatly on ship type, weather, etc. The general answer would be 4 – 5 mph, but I urge you to do more specific research if you have much sea travel.

Transporting Information, not people

Passenger pigeons are able to fly over 60 mph

Keep in mind that the harder, faster speeds are difficult to keep up at long distances and will require more rest periods (non-man-powered vehicles being the exception).

If you use more modern transportation, you’ll want to research for the specific region and era. Also be sure to note the speeds of any travel means you’ve specifically created for your world.

How do I use this information?

If you have a distance and want to know how long it takes to travel, divide the distance by mph. You can figure out how far someone will journey in one day by multiplying the mph by the number of hours they travel. If your characters are on the move a lot, make a string in the length of their average daily travel so you can mark on the map where they end each day.

This is information that isn’t easy to locate through general searches, though the information is out there. I hope you find it useful.

When Anything Gets Measured, It Gets Done

A genius without a roadmap will get lost in any city, whilst an average person with a clear map, will easily find their way to any location they want to travel to in the city. So even if you have a clearly defined concept about where you are and a crystal clear picture of where you want to go, you will never make it from one to the other unless you have proper map or plan.

Vague Plans, Result in Vague Outcomes
Always remember that a vague plan, will at best deliver vague or unsatisfying results, whilst a clear and concise plan will easily guide you to take the correct daily actions and help you achieve the outcomes you want. Ensure that you invest sufficient time to develop a well-designed plan, with very concise measurement criterion. Unless you constantly measure your progress against a well thought set of measurement criterion, you may very well be taking actions every day, which are not aligned with your goals.

Make Constant In-course corrections
When the Apollo Space craft took off from Cape Canaveral in the early 70’s and they were just one degree off alignment, the astronauts would have missed the moon by 300 000 miles. So to ensure that they remained on track they constantly made in-course corrections. They effectively failed their way to the moon, making tiny corrections all the way, to ensure that they reached their desired destination. They were only able to do this because they had a set of very concise measurement criterion and as the space craft passed these locations, the actual position was measured against the required location.

Include Measurement Criterion in your Plan
So it is not only important to have a plan, but when you are creating your plan make sure that you have a set of easy to measure and review, measurement criterion, against which you can regularly measure your progress. Apply discipline to measure your progress as often as feasible and then make any small changes or corrections necessary to keep you on track.

Patience and Persistence
One of the greatest challenges when you are on the path of success, is that you will become impatient and have unrealistic expectations about when projects or goals can be completed. As Anthony Robbins said, People often overestimate what they can achieve in a year, and significantly underestimate what they can achieve in a decade.

Take a Longer Term View and be Patient
Not having an understanding that achieving goals is a process and that things may not occur as fast as you would like them to happen, makes people feel like they are making no progress, so they give-up. When you are standing at the station and you look down the tracks and all you see are empty train tracks, do you just go home and say the train is not coming or do you walk over to the time table and check when the next train is expected and then wait for that train to arrive. When it arrives you board the train and just continue your journey. When you have concise measurement criterion for your goals, you can consistently measure your progress and create a realistic timetable of your own. This can then serve, to help you develop the patience you need to keep chipping away every day, until you succeed.

Measure your Progress
Whatever gets measured gets done. This is the main reason why you need a realistic set of measurement criterion, against which you can regularly measure your progress. This measurement criterion must be time defined, so that it can serve as your time table for success. As you know life is dynamic and things change all the time. These measurement criterions, are guidelines only. How many times do you think trains are delayed? Well the same is true for your goals; they can also be delayed by all sorts of unexpected delays. The secret is to know that even if the train is delayed, unless there has been a catastrophe, it is on its way. The same is true about your dreams.

Have Realistic expectations.
When you plant a seedling, if you constantly pull on the roots, do you thinks that it will grow any quicker. Obviously not, the same is true of your goals; they will materialize at the right time. The only thing over which you have control is that the more meaningful energy and effort you apply the sooner your dreams will materialize.

The Travelers’ Temperature Predicaments (2)

Temperature measurement is very important to a whole range of areas and activities: science, scientific research, manufacturing, medicine and travel. Many European, Asian and African businessmen and tourists often travel to the USA and UK. These countries have not adopted the use of the modern metric system of measurement i.e. the SI system.

The accepted base SI unit of temperature is the Kelvin. A change of 1K is the same as 1 degree Celsius. As the degree Celsius is a convenient, easy to grasp in every – day – life metric unit, therefore both units are used in parallel. The Kelvin is used by scientists and engineers and the degree Celsius by everybody else worldwide. There are however, two prominent exceptions: the USA and UK who commonly use the Fahrenheit scale.

Daniel, Gabriel Fahrenheit, a German physicist was born in 1686 in Gdansk, Poland. The concept of the thermometer for measuring temperature changes is credited to Galileo. Fahrenheit is known for inventing the alcohol and mercury thermometers. His temperature scale is based on affixing 32º for melting point of ice and 212º for the boiling point of water under normal atmospheric pressure. The interval between two affixed points is being divided into 180 equal parts (the degrees Fahrenheit). The Fahrenheit scale was generally in use by English speaking countries up until 1970.
Travelers to the USA and UK are often faced with the problem of how to efficiently convert the temperature in the degree Fahrenheit to the temperature expressed in the degrees Celsius without making a mistake and with a sufficient approximation.

The conversion formula “Fahrenheit to Celsius” is:

ºC = 5/9 (ºF – 32º); read:

“In order to express the temperature in the degrees Celsius, I need to divide 5 by 9 and the result multiply by the temperature in Fahrenheit lowered by 32º”.

Quite awkward, isn’t it?

A much simpler way to remember and easier method to do mentally is to memorise the four following steps:

ºF→→→ºC : “Subtract 32, divide by 2, add 10% ( or 1/10) of the result and add 1% of the total”.

Let us see how it works:

E.g. 1: 98 ºF (your normal body temperature) →→→66 →→→33 →→→36.3 →→→36.7 ºC (rounded off to one decimal place).

E.g. 2: 102 ºF (your possible body temperature) →→→70→→→35→→→38.5→→→38.9 ºC

(High, pay a visit to the doctor!).

E.g. 3: 68 ºF (pleasant, refreshing outdoor temperature)→→→36→→→18→→→19.8→→→20 ºC

If you in a good mood, hum these four steps before the travel: “su-di-a-a”, “su-di-a-a”, “su-di-a-a”…!

Have a nice trip and keep warm!

Wacek

PS.: Have you read my former article: “The Travelers Temperature Tips”?

If so, you will be able to find the answer to the following puzzle:

FORGETFULNESS

A student solving a problem on transfer of heat found a correct temperature change. However, he presented the answer without a unit. As it turned out, it did not matter whether he gave the temperature in the degrees Fahrenheit or the degrees Celsius. The answer remained the same. What temperature was it?