How to book epic trips
Imagine walking the Great Wall in China, bungee jumping in New Zealand and visiting the Taj Mahal in India all in a matter of weeks. Well that’s exactly what travelling around the world is all about – getting a taste of different cultures, interacting with the locals and going off the beaten track. Round the world flights (or Around the world flights or RTWs) give you the chance to stop off at a certain number of destinations as you make your way across the globe.
When planning your trip round the world you can decide exactly which countries and cities you want to visit and which you’d rather skip – it’s bespoke. The simplest itineraries are the cheapest. London – Los Angeles – Auckland – Hong Kong – London is a good, basic trip to keep costs manageable. Adding in the likes of South America or India will up the price. And you’ll need to factor in the cost of travel insurance, transport, visas, and, oh yes, food and accommodation.
Finding the best round the world flights
There are a few different ways of going about finding a round the world flight. The easiest is to book a round the world ticket which has stops at a certain number of destinations along the way – typically between four and six. Some of the major airlines offer these tickets, especially those with an extensive route network, such as Qantas or Virgin.
With Qantas for example, you can choose from one of its combinations that usually includes up to six routes. One example itinerary is: London Heathrow – Bangkok – Sydney – Cairns – Queenstown surface Auckland – Fiji or Hawaii – LA surface San Francisco – UK (or vice versa). Virgin Atlantic also has round the world tickets that include four stopovers. A good site – deemed excellent by Lonely Planet – that can help you design your own round the world trip and find the best round the world ticket is roundtheworldflights.com.
It’s also possible to buy round the world tickets from travel agents such as STA Travel, which specialises in student and gap year travel. They have a useful online trip planner which allows you to create your own itinerary.
You could plan your own jaunt using low-cost airlines. This approach takes meticulous planning and a watertight insurance policy, one that will cover all eventualities (Volcanic Ash Cloud anyone?) as you’ll be without the safety net of a major airline or alliance.
Planning your dream sojourn
The first thing you need to do when searching for flights round the world is to make a list of all destinations you want to visit. Start by continent and then narrow it down to crtountry, city, town and so forth.
So, for example, if you want to travel around Asia then make Thailand your first stop since flights to Bangkok, the capital, are easier to come by than say Bhutan. Or if you’re travelling to Canada and Fiji take a connecting a flight from the UK via New York, since there are always frequent flights to the Big Apple and tickets tend to be cheaper.
Many airlines are part of an alliance and provide alternative flights with their partners if they don’t fly there. British Airways is a good example. The airline is part of the oneworld alliance which means it is partners with carriers such as Qantas (Australia) Cathay Pacific (Asia) and LAN (South America). Oneworld offers two packages – the oneworld Explorer, which offers travel to at least three oneworld continents and the Global Explorer, which allows round-the-worlders to choose which tier they wish to buy (up to 26,000 miles or up to 39,000 miles).
Star Alliance is another prominent airline network that has extensive coverage. Its airlines (Air Canada, Air China and Air New Zealand to name just three) fly a total of 21,000 flights per day to 1,160 airports in 181 countries. It has a whizzy Book-and-Fly tool that helps travellers to build their own itineraries, however complex.
Our top tips
To scoop up the best bargain, plan your trip for between mid-April and the end of June. That’s the cheapest time to set off. The most expensive times to fly away on your round the world adventure are high summer and Christmas/New Year.
Several airlines will only allow the return booking for 11 months ahead despite the ticket being valid for 12 so book a dummy date and change it locally.
(Featured image: Max Froumentin)