You’ve already read about the enormous Real Cost of a RTW Ticket, right?
And you’ve checked out my flight costs – independently booked as I went – for my three RTW trips?
Okay, then it’s time to talk about who should buy a RTW ticket.
RTW Ticket Costs are Worth it When…
- You’re going on a fixed trip – If you’re taking a month or two off from work or going on an extended honeymoon, a RTW ticket might save you some serious cash. (For the marriage-bound, consider tackling the couple’s test of travel before the wedding!)
- You have specific goals that require travel – Let’s say you want to climb the highest peaks on multiple continents. Or surf all your dream breaks. Or visit three candy factories a month in twenty cities. Or try to work with the world’s top chefs in the span of ten months. RTW ticket for the win!
- You want to go to obscure locations – Africa, the Middle East, Mongolia, Easter Island… Let’s have a metaphor: If you won a grocery store shopping spree, you wouldn’t spend it in the cereal aisle. You’d grab as many gourmet, high priced items as possible. Same goes for RTW tickets – they’re worth it if you’re not just going to be in the cereal aisle (Bangkok, Los Angeles, Sydney, Santiago, Buenos Aires, London, Frankfurt, Dubai)
- You want to go to popular locations – on the other hand, an itinerary full of “cereal aisle” locations can be cheaper if you buy it in bulk. This assumes a person who is dead-certain of their travel plans. If you’re new to long term travel, the opportunity cost is too high in my opinion.
- You are a serious travel hacker who wants to make the spreadsheets and do the comparison math to cleverly use a RTW ticket for several short trips, paying for journeys between home and ticket cities separately. There are people who do this. If it’s fun for you, great! But if what you’re most looking forward to is getting away from deadlines, schedules, and obligations, a RTW ticket is not the ticket.
- You can’t handle your own cash – Some people are afraid they’ll end up spending the money they needed to get home if it’s sitting in their bank account. If that’s you, save yourself thousands of dollars by grabbing your financial habits by the balls before you take off on a trip. Then save yourself the cost of a RTW ticket and all the opportunity costs that would have gone with it.
How to Buy a RTW Ticket:
Airtreks is essentially a travel agent specializing in RTW travel. They’ll do all the research for you and find the cheapest fares on a variety of airlines. They include budget flights, so are almost always cheaper than the alliances. You aren’t stuck going only to destinations served by your alliance, you can start and end wherever you like, you can travel in any direction you want, and miles you travel on your own don’t count against you. If you don’t want to do the research, and you don’t mind the opportunity costs of booking everything in advance, Airtreks is a reputable company.
If you do want to do the research, they are affiliated with a flight tool, Indie, that allows you to price an entire itinerary without the complexity of choosing between flights on your designated day. The catch: you’ve got to make an account first.
Alliances – One World and Star Alliance – are a second option, if you don’t mind the limitations and are keen to invest the time required to be a travel hacker. I’ve heard you can start/end in a cheaper country to save $, (Korea, So. Africa, Marituis, Sri Lanka, and Indo several years ago – 2008) so consider that when you’re hacking.
Packaged trips like the ones you can get with STA Travel, require little planning and research on your part. If you’re too overwhelmed by the idea of planning your own trip, you just have to give up a bit more from your pocketbook and accept the opportunity costs that come with pre-booking.
Huffington Post’s 4 Ways to Book a “Round the World” Ticket for Cheaper Than You Thought is a great resource – check it out!
And Skyscanner quickly laid out all the options in The Best Round the World Ticket.
Speaking of which, since you’re obviously willing to let airline availability have a say in your destinations, use this article’s methods to play around on Skyscanner and get an idea of what’s out there. I love Skyscanner for comparison shopping.
Wikivoyage’s page on RTW flights is an excellent, highly detailed resource.
Happy Traveling! ♣