How to Calculate Travel Distance & Time

Calculating travel distance and time is easy with only a few household items.
Calculating travel distance and time is easy with only a few household items. (Image: USA image by Pontus Edenberg from

When traveling a long distance, it is useful to be able to calculate how far you are going, how long you will be traveling, and how fast you need to go to travel to the destination in the given time frame. Using a few household items and a simple algebra equation, travel distance, time and rate can be easily derived.

Things You'll Need

  • Map
  • String
  • Scissors
  • Calculator
  • Ruler

Establish the distance you will travel by looking at a map. Line a string along the route you will be following. Do not simply do a straight line from point A to B, but lay the string on the map corresponding to the curves in the roads/route you will be taking.

Cut the string at the starting and ending points of your journey.

Use the map scale to establish how many miles an inch represents on the map. For instance, 1 inch might be 100 miles.

Measure the string with your ruler. Multiply the inches of string by the scale of the map. For instance, if an inch on the map is equal to 100 miles, and the length of your string is 7 inches from point A to B, 100 times 7 means the trip is 700 miles.

Calculate the time it will take to travel by using the simple equation t=d/r, where t is time, d is distance and r is rate. By inserting the distance (700 miles in this case), you can deduce travel time and rate. Assume you will average a certain rate of 50 mph. Therefore, t=700/50, which means t is 14. In practical terms, travel time would be 14 hours. You can adjust the rate to change the overall travel time.

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