Reset
X

World’s Best Mailing List

You'll receive a welcome message and updates twice a week.

Mailing List

How to Buy a Round-the-World Plane Ticket

How to Buy a Round-the-World Plane Ticket

round-the-world-plane-ticket

To outsiders, buying a Round-the-World plane ticket can be a mysterious process. How does it work? Where can you go? How much does it cost?

Unlike buying a simple one-way or round-trip ticket, you don’t just go to Kayak and click the “Everywhere” tab. (You don’t have to go look – there is no such thing.)

I have spent at least 40 hours, probably more by now, learning the ins and outs of Round-the-World travel. In this essay, I’ll explain a) why Round-the-World tickets can be an excellent value even if you’re not trying to visit every country in the world, b) how to plan your trip, c) how much it costs, d) 7 tips on optimization.

The Time Investment

Be aware that planning and shopping for a Round-the-World (RTW) ticket is a labor-intensive process. If you don’t enjoy planning a short trip, you’ll find it much more difficult to plan a complicated RTW itinerary. Personally, I enjoy the process, but then again, I also like airports and flying.

Also, before you can actually buy a Round-the-World ticket, you need to be willing to do all these things:

  • Spend a couple of hours of initial reading
  • Spend at least a couple of hours planning and optimizing
  • Place an initial phone call (usually at least 30 minutes) setting up the trip
  • Place a secondary phone call a few days later after the ticket has been validated
  • Make any adjustments due to lack of availability or invalid routings
  • Arrange to pay for the ticket with a local office in the originating country

Those are the minimum “time costs” for getting a Round-the-World trip set up well. Keep in mind that you can use a RTW ticket for up to a full year, so taking the time to do it well is important. The value I receive from my tickets well exceeds the planning time it requires, but as noted, this is not for everyone.

Good Reasons to Use Round-the-World Tickets

If you’re willing and able to invest your time, the benefits you’ll receive from using these kinds of tickets are significant.

  • Tremendous Value. The tickets are not especially cheap (see below for a cost outline), but a well-optimized ticket can provide value far beyond what it would cost to otherwise buy round-trip tickets.
  • Freedom and Flexibility. I change my flights all the time, and with RTW tickets, it’s easy. Date and time changes are free, and you can make changes anytime — from far in advance all the way up to the day of departure. For a fee, you can even reroute the entire ticket after you’ve begun the trip.
  • One Full Year. You get an entire year to use the ticket, which means that you can have one amazing year going from place to place, or you can get even more creative like I do and spread out the ticket into a series of shorter trips by finding a way to come home in the middle.
  • Miles and Elite Status. I now have the highest-level elite status in two airlines thanks to my RTW travel. I also earned 200,000 Frequent Flyer miles with American Airlines in 2008, thanks to double-mileage bonuses and a lot of time in the air. With the status, I’m now first on the upgrade list, can hang out in the airline lounges, and don’t have to wait on hold when I call the airline.
  • Creative Opportunities to Travel. You can get to a lot of places in the world with simple round-trip tickets, but because RTW tickets are priced by mileage or by segment, you can visit destinations that are otherwise very expensive when using regular tickets.

What to Do First

If you know this what you want to do, or even if you’re just curious and want to create a sample itinerary, start by downloading these two free tools:

Spend some time getting to understand how they work. You’ll also want to check out the OneWorld interactive route map and the Star Alliance Downloadable Timetables to better understand where you can go.

FAIR WARNING: This software can be hazardous to your productivity. I’m not kidding. Many a workday has been lost in the Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle because of the attraction of these tools. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Then, you need to answer a few questions: where do you want to go? What is the goal of your trip? How much time do you have?

Star Alliance versus OneWorld

Each airline alliance has its own rules for how the ticket works. The one from Star Alliance is mileage based, meaning you’ll have a limit of 26,000, 29,000, 34,000 or 39,000 miles on your ticket. The trick here is to optimize your route to where you are just below one of the tiers, getting the best possible value. A friend of mine got his itinerary to 33,998 miles, which I thought was pretty good.

The OneWorld product is segment-based, meaning that a flight from Hong Kong to New York (11 hours) is the same as a flight from Chicago to Dallas (less than 2 hours). You can have up to 16 segments on the trip, and naturally, you’ll want to optimize for flights that would be fairly expensive when purchasing a standard ticket.

I get even more creative with my plans, involving overland trips, return journeys to Seattle, and having multiple tickets open at one time. You don’t have to be that imaginative; remember, I’ve been doing this for a while. Even a fairly basic RTW ticket can yield significant benefits and travel opportunities you wouldn’t otherwise have.

How Much Does it Cost?

The cost for either product mentioned above varies from $3,000 to $10,000 – largely dependent on travel class, mileage tier (Star Alliance only) and where you begin the trip from. My tickets are around $5,000 each. I purchased two of them this year, and I’m trying to set up a new one for the summer of 2009.

$5,000 is a lot of money, of course, but when you consider all the flights you can take, the price per segment goes way down. My price-per-segment is about $300, and this includes many long-haul flights that otherwise would cost thousands of dollars.

For example, here is an itinerary I used for my first OneWorld RTW ticket:

NRT-HKG-LAX-SJO-LAX-ORD-SEA-JFK-SCL-IPC-SCL-EZE-ORD-AMM-TUN-AMM-FCO-HKG-NRT

This itinerary included:

  • A trip to Easter Island, usually quite pricey since there’s only one easy way to get there (through South America on LAN Chile)
  • A visit to North Africa and the Middle East, another pricey region
  • A quick trip down to Costa Rica, which provided more miles than most U.S. flights would have offered
  • A return to Seattle (in between Asia and South America) where I could stop and break up the trip for a while
  • Base mileage of 54894 miles, which when added to a number of bonuses I received, came up to nearly 100,000 total award miles
  • When combined with overland trips on location (to Uruguay from Argentina, to San Marino from Rome, etc.) the chance to visit 10 countries from this one ticket

Geographic Advantage

You can get the best deal on Round-the-World tickets by departing from (and eventually returning to) a few specific countries where the price is much lower than leaving from North America or Europe.

Which countries? Well, they change from time to time, but as of the time I’m writing this (December 2008), the best places are Korea, South Africa, Mauritius, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia.

Yes, it takes some work to get there for most of us. If those are too far, Japan is also a decent choice, where I began that first RTW trip. And of course, you don’t have to begin from a faraway place. If you don’t mind paying a fair amount more (usually $2000-4000), you can begin from North America or wherever you live.

To get the estimate cost for your trip based on travel class, number of miles (Star Alliance only) and departing country, download this great spreadsheet courtesy of a FlyerTalk volunteer.

Reservations

Finally, when you actually get ready to buy your ticket, you’ll need to do two steps that may or may not be easy:

1. Phone in your itinerary. This usually takes at least half an hour once you get someone on the phone. It is much easier with OneWorld, since they have a dedicated RTW desk operated by American Airlines. With Star Alliance airlines, you may need to talk to several people before you find someone who knows how to create the itinerary in their system.

2. Find a way to pay for the ticket. I don’t mean, “Save the money,” although that of course is important too. I mean, “Find out how to physically pay for the ticket.” This is easy if you are in the country you are departing from. If you live in the U.S. and want to depart from the U.S., for example, then you can pay for the ticket after it is “rated” by the airline desk. In this case, you wait a few days after first phoning in the itinerary, and then call back to pay with your credit card.

If you’re beginning the trip in another country, it is a bit more complicated. In some cases, you’ll need to phone the airline’s office in the country. I used Skype to do this with AA Japan. Some airline reps in overseas locations are more helpful than others when doing this, and of course there can be a language barrier as well. A certain amount of persistence may be required, but you can also get lucky and have it done in 20 minutes on the right day.

7 Tips to Help Plan Your Trip

1. If using OneWorld, here is a very helpful validator that can help check your itinerary before going to book. It can also suggest alternative cities for more mileage.

2. Due to a quirk in airline rules, some countries in North Africa are defined as being in Europe for the purposes of ticket validation. You can visit Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, or even Sudan as part of the “European” portion of your trip.

3. Similarly, “North America” includes the Caribbean and parts of Central America. You can visit Panama, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Belize, Honduras, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and more when you’re over this way

4. If you don’t know how you’ll use certain segments, you can book them as “open” (so that the ticket can be issued) and add the dates later. You won’t have to pay a change fee when you add the dates.

5. London’s Heathrow (LHR) airport has very high taxes. If you can avoid it, or use it for transit only (less than 24 hours), you’ll save quite a bit.

6. Most of the time, you don’t want to use Frequent Flyer miles for a Round-the-World trip. Instead, you can get better value by redeeming miles for two round-trip tickets between continents. You’ll then effectively have two RTWs for the price of one.

7. People often ask which airline program is best for them. It all depends on where you travel and what your goals are, but if forced to make a recommendation I usually send people to the AAdvantage program from American Airlines. Even if you don’t live in the U.S., AA’s program can help you. If you prefer Star Alliance, then most programs are equal.

8. Use at least part of your RTW ticket to visit destinations that are otherwise prohibitively expensive to purchase. Among others, I’ve gone to Kurdistan (Iraq), Pakistan, Burma, and Uganda as part of my RTW tickets. Each of these places is fairly expensive to travel to on a simple ticket.

What to Watch Out for

I spent a couple hours writing out this information because I frequently get questions about booking RTW tickets, and while I try to respond to each request individually, I also like to send people to an online resource for more reading.

When I went to look for more resources on Google, the majority of the first-page results for “Round-the-World plane ticket” and related terms contained inaccurate information from a biased source. How can I claim the sources are biased? Because many of them lead visitors to book through an online travel agency where they receive commission.

When it comes to Round-the-World tickets, this is one time when it’s actually better to buy from the airlines instead of a travel agent or other reseller. Since these tickets aren’t usually commissionable (the travel agent doesn’t get paid much to issue them), some agents will play dumb or try to steer you towards an alternative kind of ticket.

If that’s what you want, of course, there’s nothing unethical about it. There are some situations when a DIY trip will be better, but honestly I think those situations are a small minority. I tend to think most people want the best kind of ticket for the lowest possible price, and for at least 90% of travelers, the OneWorld and Star Alliance products are the way to go.

Questions?

I heard in the recent survey that some of you wanted me to interact more in the comments section. I can’t always do that, but I answered every question on the last Advanced Travel Planning post and I’ll try to do the same here. If anything is confusing or if you have specific questions, just let me know.

Also, there are a lot of other highly-knowledgeable travelers who hang out here every once in a while. If I don’t know the answer or I get something wrong, I’m sure one of them will chime in.

Wrap-Up and Additional Resources

I’ll try to update the page later whenever something changes or I think of more important information. I’m also coming out with a Travel Ninja guide at some point to cover this kind of trip planning in more detail, but what I’ve listed here can help you go a long way (no pun intended).

If you find this helpful, please help me out in return with a Stumble (click the link or the blue button below), and if you have a travel blog, pass it on to your readers.

I hope to see you somewhere on a future Round-the-World stop! I’ll be in the lounge with the laptop, probably updating this site.

***

More Reading

FlyerTalk OneWorld
FlyerTalk Star Alliance
Global Traveler (An AONC reader who travels far more than me)
Free Report on RTW Tickets (From our friends at BootsnAll)

###

Stumble-this

Unconventional Guides:

Discount Airfare: Surviving Stress and Maximizing Fun

Did you enjoy this article? Please pass it on to others at StumbleUpon, or share your own thoughts in the comments section.

OneWorld Ticket Image by WideWorld

42 Comments

  • Ted says:

    Best post yet, Chris. Much thanks for your detailed, actionable steps!

  • Alan says:

    I remember doing research a few years when considering purchasing a RTW ticket, and Chris, you’re right in that many of the sources are biased. Thanks for organizing all the relevant information with such an objective tone – RTW tickets are much more flexible than they appear, especially if you know how to tweak the system in your favor!

  • moom says:

    This can be a lot simpler – depending on what your goals are. My experience with RTW tickets was more like going into a travel agent here in Australia (STA – a few years ago now) and saying I wanted to fly to the US and visit three different cities and getting the response that that would be cheaper as a RTW ticket. So then I thought up a stop in Europe and Southeast Asia and I had my trip planned. Other times I did want to go to some specific places in the Americas and Eurasia. I probably did it about four times or so in 1999-2002. The price was not a lot more than flying to London and back say from here. But this could all be different now.

  • Chris says:

    Thanks, guys.

    @Moom,

    Yes, it can be simpler depending on travel goals, but you will likely pay a premium for doing less legwork. Also, most RTW tickets are booked just as you note — with the traveler going to only a few places. What I want to show is that if someone does a bit more work, they can optimize the ticket to do a lot more than even some travel agents realize.

    Happy travel planning!

  • Lori says:

    Thanks so much for this! We’ve been curious for so long about how these tickets work. The post is so helpful. I definitely want to take advantage of one of these tickets at some point.

  • Round the world tickets are very flexible and also very complicated. The rules change regularly and what is the best deal varies continuously (depending on fares, currency exchange rates, service fees, etc). For someone unfamiliar with them I would make 3 points.

    1) Accept that fully optimising round the world tickets takes a lot of time and some experience. You won’t get it perfect the first time, although you should get a lot of value from it.

    2) To get the most out of these tickets you need to invest a lot of time. Preferably spend some time with those who know what they are doing. The alliance forums on Flyer Talk are a good source of information and tips, and some very knowledgable people give plenty of good free advice.

    3) There are many other round the world tickets that are specific to 2 or more airlines. Generally these are less flexible than the alliance RTW tickets, however they also save a lot of money. Depending on where you want to go these can offer much better value.

  • Pamela says:

    Excellent info! Thanks for answering the questions I had about RTW tickets. Stumbled it…

  • kaeli says:

    Great post, this is my favorite so far, very helpful!

    I need help from your experienced expertise in traveling: I will be studying abroad in Spain for 6 months, (I have a 6 month student visa for Spain). The Schengen union has told me I have to leave Europe for three months minimum after this time. I have heard many reports from people living and traveling abroad that given I am a United States citizen, when traveling to other countries in Europe I will only be asked to show my passport (not my visa). I would love to stay for the entire summer traveling since I have never been abroad before. Since you have travelled so much, what is your informal opinion? I know what the strict rules are, but what would you do? Would you risk someone asking to look at my visa at a train station? It might be worth the risk ….

  • Jason Weaver says:

    Fantastic job, Chris. I really appreciate you passing this on. And thanks to those who’ve commented too!

  • CM Burns says:

    Nice Article – I’ll be checking into RTW tickets in the near future, sounds like a great option if you know you have a whole year clear to do nothing but travel.

    Highly stumbleable – so I did.

  • Chris says:

    I knew I could count on @GlobalTraveller to provide more info. He was quoted in Conde Nast recently. Thanks, man.

    FYI, the other kind of RTW tickets he is referring to can be researched here at this site — which is one of the few that provides unbiased info, although some of it is a bit outdated.

    @Kaeli,

    The challenge is not necessarily traveling within the E.U., because you are correct that your visa will not normally be checked then. The difficulty comes when you depart to go back home, because your passport is (usually) electronically scanned by immigration and they will see when you arrived and what kind of visa you came in on. There is no way to guarantee in advance what would happen then — sometimes they look at the front page of my passport and immediately stamp it, other times they scan it and ask a few questions about when I arrived and what I’ve been doing.

    Thank you all for the Stumbles!

  • The Wyman says:

    Wow, what an informative post. I feel like I did when I graduated from college and realized how little I knew. I will use the resources you and others gave to start my travel studies. At 70 I learned the Internet business so why not travel.

    Thanks to all those who add comments regularly. They are as interesting as the articles, sorry Chris. They are all good. I look forward to reading three times a week. A lot more interesting than most of the gurus newsletters and sales pitches.

  • nice. this is one for the archives…now it’s time to work on the other step two…find a way to pay for the ticket!

  • Brian says:

    Great info. I’m on my round the world trip right now and wish I knew some of the things in your article beforehand. But no matter, the RTW ticket is a fantastic value and should be seriously considered by everyone who has the time and the money.

  • Inspiring. I want to do this for my honeymoon.

  • Marlina says:

    Although I’ve considered getting a RTW tickets for my next trip, I’ve never considered adding a break in between. At the moment, I don’t think I can leave my business for more than a few weeks at a time. I think this solves my problem of “too many countries, not enough time”. Thanks for the suggestion!

  • Nomadic Matt says:

    While there is a lot of good information here, I found that RTW tickets offer little value to a traveler. I have always been able to price the ticket out cheaper by myself. Moreover, the more complex the route, the more it costs. I think RTW tickets can be good for people who are on a set timetable and route and don’t mind being shuttled through the hubs but anyone who wants flexibility should look elsewhere. I did a cost benefit analysis once….might be of interest to you.

  • Chris says:

    @Matt,

    No problem at all with disagreeing, but a couple of points there are inaccurate:

    “the more complex the route, the more it costs” –

    That is not the case with Star Alliance and OneWorld tickets. The price is the same, except for airport taxes, regardless of the route. That is why optimization is so important.

    “anyone who wants flexibility should look elsewhere” –

    As noted, these tickets are very flexible — in fact, more flexible than almost any others.

    Lastly, the cost / benefit analysis indicates that the tickets are only good “if you are going to major destinations.” Again, that is not the case. So far I’ve used my RTW tickets to go to Pakistan, Uganda, Bulgaria, Easter Island, Iraq… and the list goes on and on.

    But yes, it’s true that RTW travel is not for everyone. There are other options.

  • Nomadic Matt says:

    @Chris: I’ve found that whenever I price the tickets out, I can always do it cheaper. RTW tickets don’t fly on the low cost airlines, they don’t let you get those last minute deals. You can get flexiblity but at a price. My friends are on Oneworld right now and wanted to make a change to their trip only to be told the leg they had booked was now canceled. After hours on the phone with the rep, they got to their destination but had to change a lot of plans and ended up having to go back to go forward. Booking on your own avoids that hassle.

    For people who are going to go to X, Y, and Z in that order, then an RTW can be easier but i wouldn’t advocate it to most people.

  • Chris says:

    @Matt,

    I’m glad you’ve found another way for your travels. We’ll have to agree to disagree about the details, and I’ll stand by my assertion that OneWorld and Star Alliance will usually be a much better option for anyone going to more than a few places.

    As for being stuck on the phone for a while, well, that’s an unfortunate part of making flight changes no matter how you’ve booked your ticket.

  • Dan says:

    Thanks Chris, some good stuff here.

    One point I disagree on however is that it’s best to book through an airline instead of a travel agent. This is one time (admittedly not many reasons left :) a travel agent can be worth their weight in gold.

    RTW tickets can be enormously complex beasts if you require something a little more off the beaten track and don’t want to invest a large amount of time learning flight routes. The benefit of an experience travel consultant is you are able to throw any number of combinations & have choice of a number of different RTW tickets. Using an airline you only have the tickets they offer.

    In saying this, the problem with using a travel agent for RTW tickets is finding a knowledgeable one! This is very very difficult. Even when an agency ‘specializes’ in RTW tickets they are only as good as the experience of the consultants. As Chris mentioned, it’s essential to do your home work. When you call a travel agent and they ask where you would like to go don’t answer ‘everywhere!’.

    Agree that RTW tickets pay very poor ‘commission’ (Strictly speaking many travel agencies pay a nett price to the airline for the ticket and mark it up to whatever the market will bare) but the truth of the matter is they aren’t going to steer you to an alternative ticket, they earn the same minuscule amount for these tickets too. The real money is to get you to book organized tours along with your RTW ticket plus travel insurance. Tours have their place but DO NOT buy travel insurance from a travel agent!

    As for whether RTW tickets are good value…. it depends.

    Star alliance, One world, Emirates, Virgin all offer exceptional value! (Virgin/NZ have a deal at the moment, 11 stops for US$1500!). On the other hand you *may* be able to circle the globe on budget airlines these days for less. I’ve used both options in past (as well as linking together scheduled airline, one way tickets) and it comes down to how long I’m traveling for and how far I’m going off the beaten track.

    One important consideration (even more so in the current financial climate) is if you use a RTW ticket you have more protection if things go wrong. For example, if your flight is cancelled or an airline goes bust (30 airlines predicted to go in 08) the airlines involved have an obligation to get you to your destination (yes, long long frustrating phone calls). With budget airlines you don’t have this luxury. We’ve seen in Europe budget airlines like Zoom going to wall with little recourse for the passengers involved.

    Like I said I’ve used both options (prefer train actually :-) and they both have their place.

    Happy travels.

  • Pam says:

    Hey, just reading this post again. Wanted to add that I am looking into purchasing RTW tickets from Sydney, Australia, although I reside in the US. It is slightly cheaper, and that is where I plan to go first. Today, I was just playing around and created a ticket for $2199.27 USD on Star Alliance. This ticket would be broken up into 4 distinctly separate trips, spread out over a year:

    SYD-SIN-DEL-FCO-CDG-LHR-JFK-MBJ-SEA-SYD

    Of course I would need to arrange a flight to/from Sydney,and a couple of flights home in between, which I may be able to use miles for. Or I could do this same RTW ticket from Seattle, for about $4083, but I would only be in Sydney once. Although I have much to learn about “optimizing” my ticket, I thought this was a pretty good value. ???

    9 one-way flights @ average $245 a pop

    Of note, this is not the actual route I would take (28380 miles), I am just checking out the program on Star Alliance and “practicing” creating an itinerary. It is quite complicated to arrange a complete itinerary, and I think it would take the average person more than 2 hours to really figure it all out. You are right that it is a productivity buster…I am supposed to be working right now! I have spent the last 3 hours playing around on this : )

    Anyone else have an itinerary to share? I would love ideas as to origin cities that may save me money. I am going to be in Sydney for sure, so that is why I chose that origin city, but I may try Singapore next.

  • Chris says:

    @Dan,

    Thanks for your great, detailed notes. Feel free to contribute anytime.

    @Pam,

    I was hoping that a couple of our resident travel experts would chime in, but perhaps they’ve moved on from this post.

    Yes, the planning can certainly take a while once you get into it. A couple of cheaper origin cities would include ICN, DPS, and NRT (I think – not 100% sure if NRT is cheaper now). If you want more travel within Australia, then OneWorld might be a better option since Qantas is part of it. But if you just need SYD, I think you’ve got a fairly well-optimized itinerary so far.

    I’ll post several more detailed itineraries next month with the Travel Ninja launch. Good luck!

  • Amar says:

    Thanks for the details.

    One of the reasons the RTW fare intrigues me is it allows us to accumulate Status Miles. If I was to fly business class or first class on Star Alliance, how many status miles will I get? Will I get the standard 26,000, 29,000, 34,000 or 39,000 miles, or do I get more?

  • matt says:

    My partner and I did a RTW w/ One World Alliance in 2003 and it was awesome. At that time we were able to get a Business class ticket for about $7500 each. While that may seem expensive, we flew some long haul flights on some great airlines.

    You’ve provided a lot of great information here. I also went through a long process of trying to compare Star Alliance and One World. At that time, Star wanted to “charge” me for overland travel. In other words, if I flew into SYD, but made my way overland to Perth, I had to add those miles to my total. Not sure if this is still the case, but it was a deal breaker for me. We traveled for 7 months. I found the combination of the Biz Class RTW ticket and supplementing with low cost carriers in Australia, SE Asia and Europe worked really well.

    Great stumble upon.

  • Road Tripper says:

    I didn’t know this was even possible. I haven’t done all that much Int’l travel, but when I do, I’d like to knock out quite a few destinations at once, so this might be something I’d look into. Thanks!

  • Cool!! This is the article what I just needed!! My husband and I are planning to travel around the world within a couple of years! I will definitely consider your opinions for my options.

  • Ed says:

    Chris, this is really helpful. This gives us an idea as to how to plan our next
    trip. An RTW might be just what we need. Thanks for the post.

  • JoAnna says:

    Thanks for the great overview of the RTW ticket. This is something I’ve really been wanting to do, but it seems so daunting. Your post made it seem possible and easy to do with the right knowledge. I’ll be back to visit to find more information!

  • Tiffany Thompson says:

    I’m sure this is a novice question, but what about accommodations once you get to wherever you’re going? As you can probably guess, I have ZERO experience traveling, so this endeavor will take me a coupla years! =) Anyway, as always, thanks so much for your contributions, Chris!

    bloominglater.

  • Karl says:

    Chris, I just found your blog via One Bag. This is terrific. I haven’t spent much time researching this yet, but the OneWorld alliance page says that the flights have to be going in the same direction (in other words no backtracking). I’d want to spread the trip across many months, which would require returning to the U.S. at least two or three times. In your experience is it cost effective to buy two RTW tickets (one essentially going each way), so that a traveler can easily go back and forth? Are there any rules against this?

  • Chris says:

    @Karl,

    Yep, that’s totally possible and can be cost-effective as long as you know what you’re doing and are a careful planner. (For me, I’m usually one of the two, and which one changes from time to time.)

    You can also use an awards ticket for repositioning or to break up the trip before continuing – that’s usually how I do it.

  • Andy says:

    Thanks so much for this post Chris I am in stage one of researching my first RTW ticket and am using this post as my bible

    Keep up the great work

  • Mara says:

    Thanks for this fantastic resource! In attempting to plan a RTW trip I was waist deep in the confusing language and policies of OneWorld and StarAlliance’s website. Your overview and tips has helped me get the ball rolling and feel more educated, as well as excited that this is possible! My main question right now is concerning any extra flights I may want to take aside from my RTW ticket. For example, if I was in Europe and wanted to travel around via RyanAir or EasyJet instead of using up all of my RTW stops, is that allowed?? Some language on the websites make me feel it is not. This is a crucial part of my planning so a response would be unbelievably helpful!! Thanks Chris!

  • Chris says:

    @Mara,

    Yep, that’s totally fine – and I do the same. The only thing to keep in mind is that you need to return to the RTW stop you left off at before continuing onwards. Otherwise, one of your segments will be considered an overland trip.

    In other words, if you were in LHR and wanted to travel around Europe on your own, that’s fine, but you’d need to get back to LHR at some point before continuing the RTW trip.

  • Astri says:

    Hi Chris,

    I’m so proud that my country (Indonesia) was one of your destination. =)
    Great article, rise my spirit up and inspiring me to do the same thing as you.

    Thanks..

  • Nicole says:

    Great article! I know this was published awhile ago, so I started doing my own research on cheap departure countries, and at the moment, one of the cheaper countries to depart from is the UK, believe it or not. The OneWorld 4-continent economy price (without fees and taxes) is only $2232.35 USD or 1394 GBP. Departing from the US, that same option costs $3960 USD. Plus the UK is usually pretty cheap to fly into, making it a cost-effective place to start your trip. Just a heads-up for anyone who was interested. :)

    How much do the associated taxes and fees add up to, on average?

  • Chris says:

    You’re right, the UK price has become quite attractive lately. As for taxes, those really vary quite a lot depending on your itinerary. It’s usually best to book with AA, since they don’t charge as much in taxes as other airlines do for some reason.

Your comments are welcome! Please be nice and use your real name.

If you have a website, include it in the website field (not in the text of the comment).

Want to see your photo in the comments? Visit Gravatar.com to get one.