When it comes to planning a trip around the world, it seems you can do it one of three ways.
We haven’t decided yet which, of the three, we will go with. Each has merits, downsides and comfort level. On the travel sites I’ve visited, and the travelogues I read, one method does not stand out above the others as being more popular. That’s what makes the decision difficult – there doesn’t seem to be a ‘right’ way, or a ‘wrong’ way, to do this.
Here are the three options:
1. Purchase an ‘Around the World (RTW)’ ticket.
These tickets are offered by a couple of airline ‘alliances’ – OneWorld, StarAlliance to name a couple. The alliance part means that the tickets are all issued on airlines that are within their ‘family’.
The benefits of this are that the airlines are well known, frequent flyer programs can be utilized, flight costs are known (and paid) ahead of time, and the flight dates can be somewhat flexible (although there is a charge).
The downsides are the restrictions: travel must be within a one year period and must continue in one direction, the number of stops is restricted (right now, it’s about 16 stops) and/or the mileage is restricted or charged for.
There is more about RTW tickets here.
2. Buy a series of one-way tickets before you leave.
There are a couple of ways to do this too. The first is to plan, find and purchase the one-way tickets yourself, either on line or through a travel agent. The second is to use a service such as AirTreks. This on-line service has a cool interface that lets you select all the cities in your itinerary and then links them all together using discount one-way tickets. Then you can hook up with an on-line travel agent who will help you finish it off.
This can be less expensive than the RTW ticket option, the flights are all still known and paid for before departure, there is no time limit on the flights, flight direction is irrelevant and there is no restriction on destinations.
However, I’m not sure if flight dates and times can be changed and some of the airlines may not be the large airlines that we are used to – meaning that not only will frequent flier miles not be possible, but that the economic stability of airlines is unknown…Zoom anyone?
3. Get one one-way ticket to your first destination, and then buy all other tickets as you go.
This would be the most ‘vagabonding’ option of them all, and the one that would really mean taking a giant step outside of our normal, comfy, all-planned-out life. Just buy one ticket to the first destination and then, from there, buy the next ticket…and so on.
This is said to be the least expensive option and has the most flexibility as nothing is pre-booked, so changing flight dates and times is not an issue. Nor would there be a time limit, or stopover limit or direction limit…you get the drift.
The downside is loss of security and comfort of knowing that it’s all taken care of ahead of time. Will it be stressful trying to arrange flights in foreign countries when we don’t speak the language?
I’m leaning towards option #3 – mostly because it would make us ‘step out’ more than the other options…and isn’t that what this is all about?