One of the most exciting parts of an around the world (RTW) trip is planning it. You first need to know the key components of a normal RTW ticket:
- You must fly in one direction around the world.
- You generally must fly from airport to airport (although some tickets let you have mixed leg itineraries).
- You need to complete travel within one year of booking the ticket.
- The fewer number of stops usually equates to a cheaper ticket.
Based on these details, you should get a world map (a large map tacked to a wall is the most fun). Start highlighting all of the places you hope to visit on your RTW trip. Once you have your dream trip mapped out, start looking for common areas (lots of places in Patagonia or Southeast Asia, etc). From these clusters of interest, find the main international airports. Now put together a desired itinerary based on these airports in a single direction of travel – Los Angeles to Auckland to Sydney to Bangkok to Sao Paulo to Los Angeles for example. You now have a preliminary itinerary and it’s time to try and find a flight to match it.
With your itinerary in hand, now you have to find your flight. Booking can be the trickiest part of RTW trip planning. If you happen to have a lot of frequent flier miles, call your airline to see what options they have for RTW tickets. If you have to buy your ticket, do a web search for RTW tickets to find your options.
It will take a while to find the best price for an itinerary that matches your ideal RTW trip plans. Be flexible – you can always buy additional tickets – it might be cheaper to fly from Bangkok to Sao Paulo on your RTW ticket and then buy a separate flight from Sao Paulo to Cape Town than to have an RTW ticket that included the South African leg.
The limitation that travel must be completed one year from booking can really interfere with your RTW trip plans. However, the last leg (your last destination back to your home) can be thrown away and you can simply buy an additional ticket home. This will cost a bit more, but give you a lot more flexibility on your timing.
Have you purchased a RTW ticket before? What was your experience like?