There are over two hundred countries to choose from for your next trip, what happens if you can’t narrow this choice down? Then you need a Round the World ticket.

Getting a Round the World (RTW) ticket is fairly straight forward, but it is best left to an expert to find you the best one for your trip. You don’t have to fly with the same airline as every major long haul airline is a member of a group such as One World, Star Alliance and SkyTeam. This means that your ticket can be for any number of different airlines, but they all are members of the same group.

If you are on a very tight budget, book as far ahead as possible. Special offers on RTW tickets are virtually non-existent. You will also need to stick to popular routes and stopovers to keep the costs down. It may also be possible to book a return ticket to somewhere like New Zealand and have one or two stopovers each way.

It is also possible to have openjaw options. This allows you the option of travelling overland (for example, land at Las Vegas and take off again at San Francisco).

If time is your major concern, then fly east as most east bound flights are overnight and westbound are during the day (and therefore wasting valuable time). In around three weeks it is possible to visit four destinations without feeling rushed.

For example:

24/4/10 Depart Heathrow to Kruger National Park Safari
28/4/10 Depart Kruger National Park to Delhi India’s Golden Triangle
6/5/10 Depart Mumbai to Beijing City tour
11/5/10 Depart Beijing to Dubai City tour
15/5/10 Depart Dubai and return to Heathrow

4 destinations in 21 days.

If you have a really unusual journey planned then costs will increase and it also helps if you stick to one direction. Tickets have a mileage limit and you don’t want to waste miles by going back on yourself.

Some RTW ticket providers can also supply your accommodation, sightseeing tips and transfers to ensure that the whole trip goes like clockwork.

 

RTW Terms

Mileage – the maximum limit set by your ticket, for example 29,000 miles. Take care to find out if overland mileage is also included in the calculations.

Dummy Dates – Airlines only take bookings for 11 months in advance, so if your journey is longer than this then other dates are used enable the ticket to be issued. You will then have to change these dates while on the move. However, you may be charged for this.

Tips on Planning a RTW trip

  • Write a list of dream destinations; let your imagination run wild for now
  • Write a list of destinations where there are friends and family who can put you up
  • Check all the entry requirements. Don’t assume that you can get a visa on arrival. Does your passport have enough spare pages left? Some countries require two blank pages for entry/exit stamps and visas
  • Will you be working during your trip? If so, check the regulations. Do you speak the local language? If you can’t, then you won’t get much bar work
  • Don’t get committed to a start date, check the average weather conditions first. Websites for weather include www.worldclimate.com and www.intellicast.com/global. Also look into local festivals, events, etc. You may not want to arrive just as everybody is leaving
  • If you’re worried about your career when you return, read books such as Lonely Planet’s ‘The Career Break Book’, seek advice from a careers advisor, or even your HR department. A lot of RTWers come back with a different focus on life, so you may change jobs anyway
  • If you’re unsure of a location, seek advice. This can come from travel agents, travel researchers (www.holidayhut.co.uk), the local embassy, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s website and even online forums. When it comes to safety advice, don’t ignore it
  • If you are still worried about embarking on this adventure, start your trip in a familiar country. Let your bank know that you are regularly changing countries. Unusual card activity may cause your cards to be blocked. Bank call centres are expensive to call from abroad. Time differences can be a pain too.
  • Be prepared for last minute changes. Your accommodation may fall through, so have a backup list.
  • Airports may close due to weather or civil disturbance, so have a list of accommodation close to each airport for any unplanned stays
  • Take care when using Internet Cafes. Speak to an IT security expert before you leave to ensure that your passwords are not easily captured
  • You don’t have to rely on planes. Overland and over sea trips can be just as easy to arrange – and no jet lag!
  • Get the right insurance from an RTW expert. Make sure that you fully understand its small print. Keep an eye on your budget and ensure that you have readily available emergency funds

Have fun, and do try to remember to come back home!