The story starts in London on Tuesday, October 1, 1872. Fogg is a rich English gentleman and bachelor living in solitude at Number 7 Savile Row, Burlington Gardens. Despite his wealth, which is £40,000 (roughly £3,020,000 today), Fogg, whose countenance is described as “repose in action”, lives a modest life with habits carried out with mathematical precision. Very little can be said about his social life other than that he is a member of the Reform Club. Having dismissed his former valet, James Foster, for bringing him shaving water at 84 °F (29 °C) instead of 86 °F (30 °C), Fogg hires a Frenchman by the name of Jean Passepartout, who is about 30 years old, as a replacement.
Later on that day, in the Reform Club, Fogg gets involved in an argument over an article in The Daily Telegraph, stating that with the opening of a new railway section in India, it is now possible to travel around the world in 80 days. He accepts a wager for £20,000 (roughly £1,510,000 today) from his fellow club members, which he will receive if he makes it around the world in 80 days. Accompanied by Passepartout, he leaves London by train at 8:45 P.M. on Wednesday, October 2, 1872, and thus is due back at the Reform Club at the same time 80 days later, Saturday, December 21, 1872. Fogg and Passepartout reach Suez in time. While disembarking in Egypt, they are watched by a Scotland Yard detective named Fix, who has been dispatched from London in search of a bank robber. Because Fogg answers the description of the robber, Fix mistakes Fogg for the criminal. Since he cannot secure a warrant in time, Fix goes on board the steamer conveying the travellers to Bombay.
During the voyage, Fix becomes acquainted with Passepartout, without revealing his purpose. On the voyage, Fogg promises the engineer a large reward if he gets them to Bombay early. They dock two days ahead of schedule. After reaching India they take a train from Bombay (now Mumbai) to Calcutta (Kolkata). About halfway there, Fogg learns that the Daily Telegraph article was wrong—the railroad ends at Kholby and starts again 50 miles further on at Allahabad. Fogg promptly buys an elephant, hires a guide, and starts toward Allahabad. During the ride, they come across a procession, in which a young Indian woman, Aouda, is led to a sanctuary to be sacrificed by the process of suttee the next day by Brahmins. Since the young woman is drugged with the smoke of opium and hemp and is obviously not going voluntarily, the travellers decide to rescue her.
They follow the procession to the site, where Passepartout secretly takes the place of Aouda’s deceased husband on the funeral pyre on which she is to be burned the next morning. During the ceremony he rises from the pyre, scaring off the priests, and carries the young woman away. Due to this incident, the two days gained earlier are lost, but Fogg shows no sign of regret. The travellers then hasten on to catch the train at the next railway station, taking Aouda with them. At Calcutta, they can finally board a steamer going to Hong Kong. Fix, who has secretly been following them, has Fogg and Passepartout arrested. However, they jump bail and Fix is forced to follow them to Hong Kong.
On board, he shows himself to Passepartout, who is delighted to meet again his travelling companion from the earlier voyage. In Hong Kong, it turns out that Aouda’s distant relative, in whose care they had been planning to leave her, has moved, probably to Holland, so they decide to take her with them to Europe. Meanwhile, still without a warrant, Fix sees Hong Kong as his last chance to arrest Fogg on British soil. Around this time Passepartout becomes convinced that Fix is a spy from the Reform Club trying to see if Fogg is really going around the world. However, Fix confides in Passepartout, who does not believe a word and remains convinced that his master is not a bank robber. To prevent Passepartout from informing his master about the premature departure of their next vessel, Fix gets Passepartout drunk and drugs him in an opium den. In his dizziness, Passepartout still manages to catch the steamer to Yokohama, but neglects to inform Fogg. Fogg, on the next day, discovers that he has missed his connection.
He goes in search of a vessel that will take him to Yokohama. He finds a pilot boat that takes him and Aouda to Shanghai, where they catch a steamer to Yokohama. In Yokohama, they go on a search for Passepartout, believing that he may have arrived there on the original boat. They find him in a circus, trying to earn the fare for his homeward journey. Reunited, the four board a steamer taking them across the Pacific to San Francisco. Fix promises Passepartout that now, having left British soil, he will no longer try to delay Fogg’s journey, but support him in getting back to Britain as fast as possible to minimize the amount of his share of the stolen money that Fogg can spend.
In San Francisco they get on a transcontinental train to New York, encountering a number of obstacles (and a Mormon missionary) along the way: a massive herd of bison crossing the tracks, a failing suspension bridge, and most disastrously, the train being attacked and overcome by Sioux warriors. After heroically uncoupling the locomotive from the carriages, Passepartout is kidnapped by the Indians, but Fogg rescues him after some American soldiers volunteer to help. They continue by a wind powered sledge over the snowy prairies to Omaha, where they get a train to New York. In New York, having missed the sailing of their ship the China by 45 minutes, Fogg starts looking for an alternative for the crossing of the Atlantic Ocean.
He finds a small steamboat destined for Bordeaux, France. However, the captain of the boat refuses to take the company to Liverpool, whereupon Fogg consents to be taken to Bordeaux for the price of $2000 (roughly $38,519 today) per passenger. On the voyage, he bribes the crew to mutiny and make course for Liverpool. Against hurricane winds and going on full steam all the time, the boat runs out of fuel after a few days. Fogg buys the boat at a very high price from the captain, soothing him thereby, and has the crew burn all the wooden parts to keep up the steam.
The companions arrive at Queenstown (Cobh), Ireland, in time to reach London via Dublin and Liverpool before the deadline. However, once on British soil Fix produces a warrant and arrests Fogg. A short time later, the misunderstanding is cleared up—the actual robber had been caught three days earlier in Edinburgh. In response to this, Fogg, in a rare moment of impulse, punches Fix, who immediately falls to the ground. However, Fogg has missed the train and returns to London five minutes late, certain that he has lost the wager. In his London house the next day, he apologises to Aouda for bringing her with him, since he now has to live in poverty and cannot support her financially. Aouda suddenly confesses that she loves him and asks him to marry her, which he gladly accepts. He calls for Passepartout to notify the minister. At the minister’s, Passepartout learns that he is mistaken in the date, which he takes to be Saturday, December 21, but which is actually is Friday, December 20, because the party had travelled eastward, gaining a day by crossing the International Date Line.
The book page containing the famous dénouement (page 312 in the Philadelphia — Porter & Coates, 1873 edition) He did not notice this after landing in North America because the only phase of the trip that depended on vehicles departing less than daily was the Atlantic crossing, and he had hired his own ship for that. Passepartout hurries back to inform Fogg, who immediately sets off for the Reform Club, where he arrives just in time to win the wager. Fogg marries Aouda and the journey around the world is complete. On their trip around the world, Fogg and Passepartout carried only a carpet bag with two shirts and three pairs of stockings each, a mackintosh, a travelling cloak, and a spare pair of shoes. The only book they had was Bradshaw’s Continental Railway Steam Transit and General Guide, which contains timetables of trains and steamers. Fogg also had a large roll of English banknotes, about half of his wealth or £20,000 (roughly £1,510,000 today), and 20 guineas (roughly £1,588 today) won at whist, which he donates to a poor woman on the way to catch his first train.