After weighing the pros and cons you’ve finally decided you are really going on a RTW trip, now the fun starts: planning your trip. One of the first things you’ll want to decide (after making a shortlist of your favorite destinations), is whether or not you will be investing in a round the world ticket. After a lot of pondering and going back and forth we eventually decided to not go for a RTW ticket. Why? I will explain everything to you in this blog post.
What is a round the world ticket?
Many airlines, such as Star Alliance, KLM and OneWorld offer RTW tickets which basically enable you to travel the world for a relatively cheap price. The price of the tickets depends on your destinations, the amount of continents you want to visit, economy or business class and your city of departure. If you opt for one of the RTW tickets offered by airlines, you can only take flights offered by these alliances. However, alliances like Star Alliance work with tons of airlines so you have a bit more choice when it comes to booking tickets.
The airlines and agencies organize the flights for you, meaning you don’t have to be worried about making sure you get the cheapest flight tickets. Most round the world tickets are valid for a maximum of 12 months.
Pros of a round the world ticket
- Less of a hassle organizing the trip
The agencies or airlines will help you plan your entire trip from A to Z. You just send them the dates of your trip and your destinations and they come up with a plan for you. They also book the tickets for you. Basically most of the “boring” work is done for you. Also, you don’t have to worry about when to book your next flight when you’re already traveling, since this will already be done for you.
- You know exactly when you leave and come back
If you like having everything planned from start to finish, a RTW ticket is definitely something for you. You know exactly when you will be leaving and when you’re coming back. This also helps you to budget your trip better. It’s easier to be prepared for being on the road for exactly one year compared to not knowing when you’re coming back.
- It could potentially be cheaper
If you book your ticket well in advance with an airline, they immediately have access to the cheapest flights. This way, it’s possible you’ll pay less for flight tickets compared to if you choose to book everything yourself. However, like I said before, it depends on your destinations, mileage, if you want to travel economy or business class and your departure city. It’s hard to give an average estimate of how much a RTW ticket will cost (numbers vary from €2000 – 10.000). Some of the agencies offer quite cheap RTW tickets if you only go to 3 continents (this is already possible for only €1500).
- You can collect airmiles
If you opt to buy a RTW ticket with Star Alliance you will collect airmiles with them. This could get you an upgrade or other kind of rewards.
Cons of a round the world ticket
- No room for spontaneity
When booking a RTW ticket, you cannot be very spontaneous. All the legs of your trip have been booked way in advance. Imagine you’re enjoying a certain country a lot more than expected and you would like to stay a bit longer. However, your next flight is already booked and you need to catch it to get to your next destination. This means you can’t stay as long as you would like.
Also, since you need to use the ticket within 12 months, you cannot opt to travel longer than you had planned.
- Not easy to change
RTW tickets are basically fixed before you leave. You can however change the dates of your ticket, but this will cost you money. Moreover, sometimes those other flights are fully booked. This is something you definitely need to take into account.
- A lot of rules come with a round the world ticket
If you buy a RTW ticket there will be quite a lot of rules you have to stick to: only travel in 1 direction (East or West), you have to cross the Atlantic and Pacific, you need to use the ticket in 12 months, your end destination needs to be the same as your start destination, you can’t change destinations, etc. There is a lot you need to take into account. This can give you a bit of a headache and might want to make you reconsider buying a RTW ticket.
- Low budget airlines are not included
One of the cons of the RTW ticket is that low budget airlines are not included in the ticket. This means that you might pay more for the same route compared to someone who’s flying low budget.
Why we didn’t buy a RTW ticket
For a very long time we were planning to buy a round the world ticket. I quite liked the fact that someone else was organizing and planning the trip for us. This way I would be certain everything would be taken care of. However, after some thinking we decided against a RTW ticket. Why?
Well, first of all we didn’t like the fact that we couldn’t be flexible with this ticket. Also, we’re planning on traveling overland quite a lot (especially in South America) and these miles would be included in our ticket. Even if we weren’t flying!
Second of all, if we booked a round the world ticket with an American agency or airline, it wasn’t possible to fly to Cuba. The fact a RTW ticket doesn’t allow you to backtrack was also something we didn’t like that much. We would like to fly from Santiago to Easter Island and back and then fly from Santiago to Auckland later on. With a RTW ticket we wouldn’t be able to do this.
Lastly, when we started looking up flights we realized that we may actually be better off without the ticket. Of course it’s hard to predict how much our ticket back to Europe will cost, but according to our estimates it might actually be cheaper to buy all the tickets separately.
To buy or not to buy?
So after a lot of consideration, we thought it would be better for us to organize the whole trip by ourselves. Does that mean we recommend not getting a RTW ticket?
No, it all depends on your travel style. If you prefer certainty then this ticket is exactly what you’re looking for. If you value spontaneity and would like to have more freedom, then I would advise you to not buy a RTW ticket. It’s all a matter of personal preference!