Round the World Ticket (RTW) Our Experience
What is the Round the World Ticket?
If you search online for information about the Round the World Ticket, you will find a number of articles that were written years ago. Not much has changed since, but we try to give you our perspective on the whole RTW experience. This article is fresh and it contains our points of view on it works and how it helped for our long trip.
In short, a Round The World ticket is an open-ended airplane ticket valid for a year. As the name suggests, it allows a passenger to make a round the world trip by starting and returning from the country of origin traveling either in a westward or eastward direction….
The cost benefits of buying a RTW ticket if you are planning a long trip are huge, in-fact our ticket costed only around USD3K per person. This could be the cost of a return ticket from Singapore to LA and that’s it. But for this amount we got much more and no low cost airlines were involved.
Now, it sounds easy and it is, but there are quite a number of restrictions which we are going to point out below.
What does it mean open-ended? Open-ended means that you are allowed to use this ticket within one year from the date of your first flight and that you are allowed to change the date and time of departure of your journeys as you wish. You would be allowed to choose almost any destination you fancy visiting, but you would be restricted in changing them once they are fixed. There is a bit of planning that you need to do, which is good fun!
The planning required is to establish the general route that you will be taking which will be fixed at the moment of purchase. For example, our route was: Auckland – Kona (Hawaii) – LA – Cancun – Marrakesh – Rome (via land transfer) – Kathmandu – Singapore – Wellington.
We had to fix these destination and any change would cost USD120 per person. After you take your first leg of the round the world ticket, you will then be able to change the date and time of your subsequent flights at no cost and as many times you wish. Obviously seats availability may be a restriction too for popular routes, but you simply need to call and see what is available.
How to get your RTW ticket, directly…
There a few options available to purchase a round the world ticket. It is generally not attached to a single airline, but rather to airline alliances. You probably know for example that British Airways is part of the One World alliance, Singapore Airlines is part of Star Alliance and KLM is part of Sky Team, etc. These alliances are simply grouping airlines together to cooperate and share routes, and other services. In our opinion, the biggest service that they provide is offering the round the world tickets.
Or use a travel agency…
Another option is to use the service of expert travel agencies that focus their business in multi city travel arrangements, RTW tickets, etc. The AirTrek Trip Planner for example is a great travel agency that provide super customized and tailored travel plans for long trips around the world.
There is a planner you can use on their website. All you need to do is to type the destinations you wish to visit, starting from your origin. It is quite fun even just for daydreaming. If you are serious about buying your RTW ticket, then you can complete your itinerary and hit Get your Price to get an estimate. One of their agents would arrange a free of charge phone call with you.
When we used the planner we discussed the itinerary in details with our dedicated agent. We explored options suggested on the agent’s past and personal experiences, recommending different routes, etc. We made some of our itinerary choices thanks to this phone call.
Or buy a bunch of separate tickets…
If you do not wish to use a travel agent, you can self book your RTW ticket or buy a bunch of flights by searching SkyScanner.
After much thinking through we decided to self book our RWT via the alliances web portals as follows:
When we compared the prices quoted by AirTreks with the RTW and self checking with skyscanner, we noticed that the differences were not huge between the options. For us the winning factor to choose the Round the World ticket was the flexibility to change dates of travel. We changed our fights so many times! We also changed our flights just a few hours before departure (most of the time we changed one or few days before). Just once we changed a few hours before, but it was a screw-up :-). If we had fixed dated flights each change would have costed money and stress. Instead we had peace of mind and flexibility.