Tips and Inspiration Tips Buying a round the world ticket: the complete guide

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Buying a round the world ticket: the complete guide

Dreaming of a trip around the world? Here’s all you need to know to book a multi-city flight, how to understand airline alliances, as well as information about the airlines that have the best round the world tickets.

If you want to travel round the world on a shoestring, here’s everything you need to know including:

• How much does it cost to travel around the world?
• How long would it take to go around the world?
• How many stops can I make on a round the world ticket?
• What airlines are in the Star Alliance?

What is a round the world ticket?

A round the world (RTW) ticket is one that allows you to take multiple stops as you undertake your journey (usually using a number of different carriers) in a variety of countries. The special tickets are typically released by what are known as alliances, and each alliance is connected to a number of different airlines, so this changes the available route for each ticket.

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How do I book a round the world ticket?

There are three main alliances that offer RTW tickets: Star Alliance, One World and SkyTeam. Here’s a list of their packages, plus information from other alliances that might offer a better flight deal to suit your travel needs:

World Discovery Ticket/Plus

Stops: 6 stops maximum
Mileage: 29,000 miles
Airlines in the alliance:
Australian Airways
British Airways
Cathay Pacific on some selected routes
Qantas

One World Explorer

Stops: 16 flight segments and 5 to 7 stops
Mileage: 17,000, 21,000 or 25,000 miles
Airlines in the alliance:
American Airlines
British Airways
Cathay Pacific
Finnair
Iberia
Japan Airlines (JAL)
Lan
Qantas
Royal Jordanian

Star Alliance

Stops: 3 minimum, 15 maximum
Mileage: 29,000, 34,000 or 39,000 miles
Airlines in the alliance:
Air Adria
Air Canada
Air New Zealand
American Airlines
ANA
Asiana Airlines
Austrian Airlines
Bmi
Croatia Airlines
LOT Polish Airlines
Lufthansa
Scandinavian Airlines
Shanghai Airlines
Singapore Airlines
South African Airways
Swiss
TAP Portugal
Thai Airways International
United Airlines

World Walkabout

Stops: 6 stops
Mileage: 25,000 or 29,000 miles
Airlines in the alliance:
British Airways
Qantas

The Great Escapade

Stops: Unlimited
Mileage: 29,000 miles
Airlines in the alliance:
Air New Zealand
Singapore Airlines
Virgin Atlantic

The Global Explorer

Stops: 16 stops
Mileage: 26,000 or 39,000 miles
Airlines in the alliance:
Aer Lingus
Air Pacific
Alaska Airlines
American Airlines
British Airways
Cathay Pacific
Dragonair
Finnair
Gulf Air
Iberia
Japan Airlines (JAL)
Lan Airlines
Lan Argentina
Lan Ecuador
Lan Peru
Qantas
Royal Jordanian

World Journey

Stops: 16 stops
Mileage: 26,000 or 38,000 miles
Airlines in the alliance:
Air Caledonie
Air Europa
Air Pacific
Air Tahiti Nui
Air Vanuatu
Alaska Airlines
Continental Airlines
Copa Airlines
Emirates
Jet Airways
Kenya Airways
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
Malaysia Airlines
South African Airways
SriLankan Airlines

How much does it cost to travel around the world?

It depends on where you want to go and how you want to get there. Many alliances don’t include key budget airlines (such as Air Arabia or Ryanair) so if you’re looking for the ultimate cheapest round the ticket, it might be cheaper to book separate flights as you go. Be wary though of pricey last minute fare hikes or baggage charges (especially if you’re booking with low-cost airlines).

How many stops can I make on a round the world ticket?

If you decide to book with an alliance, see the lists above to find out how many stops you can make with each alliance’s round the world ticket. Some are organized on a mileage basis while others depend on the number of stops you want to make and where you want to make them.

How long would it take to go around the world?

Unless you were flying on a plane that didn’t need to refuel (in which case it would probably take you about 50 hours!), it can take as long or as short a time as you want. Most round the world tickets are valid for one year and it’s important you check whether you’re supposed to start and finish in the same place, or whether that’s flexible. And make sure you factor this into your planning to avoid any additional nasty charges.

Can I change my flights as I travel round the world?

Some alliances will allow you to change your flight details as you travel for free, while others will charge a fee for each change. Check with the individual airlines and alliances before you make any decisions.

Some RTW ticket organizers will allow you to make changes as you travel

Can I buy extra miles for my ticket?

If your journey exceeds the amount of miles you’re allowed on the RTW ticket, you have a few options: buy extra miles or opt for a different ticket altogether that allows you to travel further on your round the world trip. If you have a hunch that you may want more flexibility on your trip, the later may be your best choice!

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Is there a cheapest time to travel?

Round the world ticket prices are generally more consistent than airline seats which are more sensitive to price fluctuations throughout the year. If you want the cheapest possible round the world ticket, then generally the best time to leave is between late April and mid June.

Book your RTW and leave between late April and mid June

Are there any restrictions on my ticket?

It depends on the sort of ticket you’ve booked. Some fares include a ‘minimum stay’ in a destination clause which can be up to two weeks. The purpose of the minimum stay is to deter business travelers from using the lower fares.

Do I need to deal directly with the airlines?

If it’s to find out about baggage rules or restrictions specific to the airline then yes, but for booking or planning queries we suggest going to the alliance first. To complete your RTW trip with more than a few stops you’ll be using different carriers, and this is why airline alliances were established. The alliance travel advisers will be able to answer lots of your questions and offer you a wide range of options.

*Article published December 2018. Prices correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change and/or availability.

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