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April 11, 2009 / Jim Fenton

The Traveling Reveler Problem

Canada Day fireworks

Canada Day fireworks

Last summer, we spent the last part of June and the very beginning of July at my cousin’s cottage in Ontario.  We enjoyed the Canada Day fireworks (pictured) from his boat, a new experience for me.  After that, we returned to California in time to celebrate Independence Day three days later.

This experience and my enjoyment of travel caused me to wonder what it would be like to carry this to the extreme:  How many National Holiday celebrations can one attend in a year?  I’m calling this the Traveling Reveler Problem:  it bears some relationship to the Traveling Salesman Problem, but is much easier to solve because the choices are very constrained.

To start with, we need a set of (somewhat arbitrary) rules.  So let’s suppose that the goal is to observe a fireworks show in each country:

  • Traveler must arrive in the capital city 1 hour prior to local sunset
  • Traveler must stay in the capital a minimum of 3 hours prior to departing
  • Visa and political travel restrictions are not considered
  • Preference is given to countries with the largest population, in the event of a “tie”
  • It is assumed that the traveler has a long-range jet aircraft at his/her disposal to get from place to place.  A more ambitious effort would be to plan an itinerary on commercial airline flights, which I will leave as an exercise to the reader.

I have arbitrarily chosen the list of countries in the CIA World Factbook list of National Holidays.

So without further ado, here is a first crack at a solution to the Traveling Reveler Problem.  Places written in strikethrough are ones that would be missed due to conflicts.  This would make a great travel series.  Michael Palin, are you out there?

Country    National Day    Comments
Cuba    1-Jan
Haiti    1-Jan
Sudan    1-Jan    Chosen based on population
Burma    4-Jan
Northern Mariana Islands    8-Jan
Australia    26-Jan Conflicts with India, which is of course bigger
Christmas Island    26-Jan
Cocos (Keeling) Islands    26-Jan
India    26-Jan
Nauru    31-Jan
Sri Lanka    4-Feb
New Zealand    6-Feb
Niue    6-Feb
Tokelau    6-Feb
Grenada    7-Feb    Looks challenging, but we’re crossing the International Date Line
Serbia    15-Feb
Lithuania    16-Feb
Kosovo    17-Feb
Gambia, The    18-Feb
Saint Lucia    22-Feb
Brunei    23-Feb Both smaller than Guyana and harder to get to from Saint Lucia
Guyana    23-Feb
Estonia    24-Feb
Kuwait    25-Feb
Dominican Republic    27-Feb
Bulgaria    3-Mar
Ghana    6-Mar
Mauritius    12-Mar
Ireland    17-Mar
Aruba    18-Mar
Tunisia    20-Mar
Namibia    21-Mar
Pakistan    23-Mar
Greece    25-Mar
Bangladesh    26-Mar
Virgin Islands    31-Mar
Iran    1-Apr
Senegal    4-Apr
American Samoa    17-Apr
Syria    17-Apr
Zimbabwe    18-Apr
Holy See    19-Apr
Tanzania    26-Apr
Sierra Leone    27-Apr
South Africa    27-Apr
Togo    27-Apr
Netherlands    30-Apr
Netherlands Antilles    30-Apr
Marshall Islands    1-May Probably not possible due to distance and time change
Poland    3-May
European Union    9-May
Guernsey    9-May
Jersey    9-May
Micronesia    10-May Probably not possible due to distance and time change
Israel    14-May
Paraguay    14-May Slightly smaller than Israel and further away
Norway    17-May
Cameroon    20-May
Yemen    22-May
Bermuda    24-May
Eritrea    24-May
Argentina    25-May Difficult to fit between Eritrea and Georgia
Jordan    25-May
Georgia    26-May
Azerbaijan    28-May
Ethiopia    28-May
Nepal    29-May
Anguilla    30-May Very difficult location (Caribbean) between Nepal and Samoa
Samoa    1-Jun
Italy    2-Jun Doubtful we can get from Samoa to Rome in time
Tonga    4-Jun
Denmark    5-Jun  Might be possible due to favorable time change
Sweden    6-Jun
Norfolk Island    8-Jun    A very long trip from Sweden and to Portugal!
Portugal    10-Jun
Philippines    12-Jun
Russia    12-Jun
Falkland Islands    14-Jun   Probably very cold as well.
Iceland    17-Jun
Seychelles    18-Jun Doubtful that it’s possible to make it from Iceland
Greenland    21-Jun
Luxembourg    23-Jun
Mozambique    25-Jun
Slovenia    25-Jun
Madagascar    26-Jun
Djibouti    27-Jun
Congo, Democratic Republic of    30-Jun
British Virgin Islands    1-Jul
Burundi    1-Jul
Canada    1-Jul Biggest but very far away
Rwanda    1-Jul
Somalia    1-Jul
Belarus    3-Jul
Puerto Rico    4-Jul
United States    4-Jul
Cape Verde    5-Jul
Isle of Man    5-Jul
Venezuela    5-Jul
Comoros    6-Jul
Malawi    6-Jul
Solomon Islands    7-Jul Probably can’t get there in time
Palau    9-Jul
Bahamas    10-Jul Probably can’t get there in time
Mongolia    11-Jul
Kiribati    12-Jul Unfavorable time change
Sao Tome and Principe    12-Jul
Montenegro    13-Jul
France    14-Jul
French Polynesia    14-Jul
Iraq    14-Jul
Mayotte    14-Jul
New Caledonia    14-Jul
Saint Barthelemy    14-Jul
Saint Martin    14-Jul
Saint Pierre and Miquelon    14-Jul
Wallis and Futuna    14-Jul
Colombia    20-Jul
Belgium    21-Jul
Egypt    23-Jul
Liberia    26-Jul
Maldives    26-Jul
Peru    28-Jul
Faroe Islands    29-Jul    Could be challenging
Morocco    30-Jul
Vanuatu    30-Jul
Benin    1-Aug
Switzerland    1-Aug
Macedonia    2-Aug
Bolivia    6-Aug
Jamaica    6-Aug
Cote D’Ivoire    7-Aug
Singapore    9-Aug
Ecuador    10-Aug
Chad    11-Aug
Congo, Republic of    15-Aug
Korea, South    15-Aug Too far from Africa
Liechtenstein    15-Aug
Gabon    17-Aug
Indonesia    17-Aug
Afghanistan    19-Aug
Hungary    20-Aug
Ukraine    24-Aug
Uruguay    25-Aug Unlikely between Ukraine and Moldova
Moldova    27-Aug
Turks and Caicos Islands    30-Aug
Kyrgyzstan    31-Aug
Malaysia    31-Aug
Trinidad and Tobago    31-Aug
Libya    1-Sep
Slovakia    1-Sep
Uzbekistan    1-Sep
Vietnam    2-Sep
Qatar    3-Sep
San Marino    3-Sep
Swaziland    6-Sep
Brazil    7-Sep
Andorra    8-Sep
Korea, North    9-Sep Doubtful due to time change
Tajikistan    9-Sep
Gibraltar    10-Sep
Costa Rica    15-Sep
El Salvador    15-Sep
Guatemala    15-Sep
Honduras    15-Sep
Nicaragua    15-Sep
Mexico    16-Sep
Papua New Guinea    16-Sep
Chile    18-Sep
Saint Kitts and Nevis    19-Sep
Armenia    21-Sep
Belize    21-Sep
Malta    21-Sep
Mali    22-Sep
Saudi Arabia    23-Sep
Guinea-Bissau    24-Sep
Botswana    30-Sep
China    1-Oct
Cyprus    1-Oct
Hong Kong    1-Oct
Macau    1-Oct
Nigeria    1-Oct
Tuvalu    1-Oct
Guinea    2-Oct
Germany    3-Oct
Lesotho    4-Oct
Croatia    8-Oct
Uganda    9-Oct
Taiwan    10-Oct
Equatorial Guinea    12-Oct
Spain    12-Oct
Zambia    24-Oct
Austria    26-Oct
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines    27-Oct
Turkmenistan    27-Oct
Czech Republic    28-Oct
Turkey    29-Oct
Algeria    1-Nov
Antigua and Barbuda    1-Nov
Dominica    3-Nov
Panama    3-Nov
Cambodia    9-Nov
Angola    11-Nov
Latvia    18-Nov
Oman    18-Nov
Monaco    19-Nov
Lebanon    22-Nov
Bosnia and Herzegovina    25-Nov
Suriname    25-Nov
Albania    28-Nov
Mauritania    28-Nov
Timor-Leste    28-Nov
Barbados    30-Nov
Central African Republic    1-Dec
Romania    1-Dec
Laos    2-Dec
United Arab Emirates    2-Dec
Thailand    5-Dec
Finland    6-Dec
Burkina Faso    11-Dec
Kenya    12-Dec
Bahrain    16-Dec
Kazakhstan    16-Dec
Bhutan    17-Dec
Niger    18-Dec
Japan    23-Dec

I count 143 celebrations to attend.  I cringe to think of all the carbon this trip would release!


Leave a Comment
  1. Ellen / Apr 12 2009 3:57 pm

    Wow, interesting. …Did you do this instead of yardwork? 😉

    • Jim Fenton / Apr 12 2009 4:44 pm

      Instead of nocturnal yardwork, yes! 🙂

  2. Greg / Apr 13 2009 11:52 am

    Depending on how many rockets are strapped to that jet, you can reach India from Australia in the same day with a 1.5h connecting flight 😛

    Sunsets also occur at different places at different times during the year, which might also have to be taken into account…


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