If you are planning a longer adventure and have heard people talk about round the world tickets (RTW ticket) you might wonder if that is the best option for you. Like most options when it comes to flights a little planning and research can help save you a lot of money.
Just like there are so many different carriers and different flight finder websites, there are also several RTW ticket options out there. Each one has it’s own set of rules and pricing structure so it is a good idea to shop around.
When we traveled around the world for 18 months, we chose the round the world ticket option, but only after pricing it out with individual tickets. We paid a little over $3000 for our ticket which was good for one year, 15 stops, and allowed backtracking. When I priced out the first leg of our trip, which was Tampa to Johannesburg, it was $1700 one way. After looking at other one way ticket options to continue our travel, the RTW was a better deal. Now, had we not flown to Johannesburg, it would have been better to buy individual segment tickets.
Sounds confusing, huh? All it takes is a little research to find the best deal and the good news is that the web is full of information on RTW as well as budget ticketing world wide. At the end of this article you will find some links to some useful sites for RTW, and be sure to check out our article on low cost air finders for information on other ticket options.
Some things to consider when looking at round the world ticket options:
How long will you be traveling?
Most RTW tickets are good for one year from the first date of your travel. For most people that is more than enough time. We thought it would be but because we fell in love with so many destinations along the way, we did find ourselves hustling around at the end of our year to get back to the states in time!
Are you a Frequent Flyer?
Miles = free tickets so if you are not already a FF with a group of airlines you should sign up for the one you think will most fit your needs and travel budget. If you already belong to a club, check out their websites for information on their RTW options.
Direction of travel.
Some RTW tickets will only let you travel in one direction. You can only go East or West and you are not allowed to backtrack. This might be okay for most travelers but again you need to plan accordingly. Many tickets are priced based on the overall number of miles you travel, so backtracking is never really a great idea. There are so many low cost carriers outside of the US that you can easily book a ticket outside of your RTW ticket if you want to backtrack along your journey.
How many miles are you traveling?
As mentioned above, many round the world tickets are priced based on the number of miles you will be flying. Stay within the originally purchased mile range and you are fine. But if you decide to modify your trip, and it puts you in a higher mileage range, not only will you pay the change fee, you will also be charged the additional cost of the next higher level of ticket.
For example: Skyteam has a RTW ticket that will let you go 26,000 miles for approximately $3400. If you need to add miles to your RTW and you hit the 29,000 mile mark, you would have to pay approximately $400-$500 more to re-ticket, not including the change fee.
Where will you go?
Your destinations can drive cost of tickets up as well. There are many locations abroad where you can purchase air travel, including RTW tickets for much less if they do not originate in the US. Many travelers will use miles or buy a one way ticket for the first segment out of the US and then look at the RTW options abroad. Bangkok is one of the cheapest places in the world in which to buy airline tickets, including around-the-world fares.
Remember, a little research can save you a lot of money! Here are some references and links we used to get around the world! Good luck, be creative, and safe travels!
This site has a great trip planner functionality that lets you comparison shop fares. You simply plug in your destinations and let them figure it out. It is easy to modify your selections to get to a price you feel more comfortable with. A great “what-if” planner. We priced a ticket from Los Angeles – London – Bangkok – Sydney – Nadi (Fiji) – Los Angeles at $1,699 to $2,450.
This ticket is less restrictive on direction of travel. It offers frequent flyer miles if you are a member of their FF club and they have several partners to choose from which can be important. Skyteam also offers an America Pass, Europe Pass, Asia Pass, China Pass, Italy Pass, and Mexico Pass. Your starting country can significantly decrease your fare, so a little more time spent researching might save you several hundred dollars. Skyteam prices their tickets on the number of miles you will fly so you can cater your trip to your budget.
Their site has a book and fly tool that allows you to plan and price your trip. This tool allows you to see your total miles as you pick your destinations and helps you stay within your mileage category level as they too price their tickets based on a range of miles you will fly. They offer a fare calculator to help you determine the price and options for other regional passes that are offered by Star Alliance partners which is helpful in estimating overall costs. Like Skyteam, they have a nice selection of air partners that are typically familiar carriers.
This site also has some great planning tools and allows you to price out various travel routes. What was interesting with One World is that they offer a tickets based on how many continents you will travel to. They also have a Global Explorer pass which brings in airlines outside of their partnership and allows you to get mileage accumulation from those onto your FF account.
The best advice we can give is to research! For comparison, we used the Airtreks itinerary above and priced it out on another site listed and the cost was over $5000. Almost twice as much as the Airtreks offer!
If a round the world ticket is not for you, check out our article on finding low cost air carriers under our travel tips section.