Round the world vs. single tickets

Elias Travel Planning Leave a Comment

Once you have created a route with the countries you would like to see, it’s time to think about the best way of transportation. Usually you will cross atleast one ocean so flights play a significant role. You will probably also change your route another time, after considering your transportation options.

Concept of the round the world ticket

First off, personally I’m not a big fan of round the world tickets, so this won’t go into too much detail. I’ll try to give a comparison so you can decide if it fits your needs.

The concept of the round the world ticket is, as it’s name already says, an option to get around the world with just buying a single ticket. That sounds amazing, but has some downsides aswell. The provider offers a route network in which your ticket is valid. You choose your flights from that network, the bigger it is the more possibilities you have. When choosing your flights you need to meet the conditions of the provider.

  • Usually you need to cross the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean, going all the way back to your home country. Most providers also demand a “straight order” i.e. from west to east, or the other way around, without going back.
  • The RTW allows a certain amount of stops. Everytime you get out of the plane for several hours it counts as a stop. That doesn’t mean you can only see X number of countries, since you are still allowed to travel overland by bus, train etc.
  • Your RTW ticket is valid for a maximum of 365 days.
  • Usually you are restricted to a maximum length of 25.000 – 40.000 miles. Some providers offer a “zone concept” rather than focusing on miles.
  • You can change your flights during your travels. You might leave the exact date of your flights open or change it afterwards for a small fee (except the first flight since your start date is important for the price). The change of your route is possible aswell (for a bigger fee).
  • If you experience any problems there is only one provider you need to deal with. No need to write several emails to different companies, if you want to change your route. Usually that provider speaks your native language, another point that makes things easier.
  • Some routes will be way cheaper with a RTW ticket since it’s focusing on miles/zones instead of the actual route you fly.
  • You won’t have any trouble with onward movement proofs. If you just book a one way ticket the airline might not carry you since they are responsible to bring you back to your point of origin, in case you get rejected at the border.
  • It’s not the cheapest way to travel the world. Even tough you might find very cheap advertisement offers, once you are about to book a realistic route it can cost you up to 3.000 € and more.
  • You are stuck in the route network of your provider. If you want to go somewhere else your ticket will be useless.
  • RTW tickets usually have a low priority. That means you might end up beeing unable to take flight X, because the few seats offered for RTW ticket holders are already booked.
  • Your trip is limited to a duration of 1 year.

Single tickets

With single tickets you have the option to build a round the world ticket yourself. Especially if you don’t want to set foot on multiple continets, building your own RTW ticket can be way cheaper.

  • You can travel longer than 1 year.
  • You don’t need to meet certain conditions of any provider. You can travel countries in the order you want to travel them.
  • You can travel routes which would be impossible with RTW tickets, due to the route networks.
  • Planning will take an enourmous amount of time.
  • No travel agency will take the time to create a route with single tickets for you. So you will have to do all the research by yourself. I recommend using Skyscanner if you take pleasure in that idea.
  • You lose a lot of flexibility since rebooking will be difficult, expensive or even impossible.
  • You might have trouble with onward movement proofs. Usually the countries you fly to won’t be that strict about it, (outside Europe and U.S.A) but as already mentioned, the airline carrying you might reject you.
  • It’s rather unlikely but in case the airline you chose goes bankrupt you payed for nothing.

The other option you have with single tickets is to buy them when you need them. Basically you just book a flight to wherever you want to go first, and then decide spontaneously when it’s about time to move on. That’s especially worth to consider if you plan to take longer interurban routes, or travel areas with low cost airlines (eg. Air Asia in Asia).

  • This will give you maximum flexibility. The possibility to change your plans at any given second is an incredible feeling.
  • You won’t have any trouble with rebooking fixed routes in case you change your mind.
  • You might end up getting stuck in area with very, very expensive flights back to your homecountry.
  • Flights can be way more expensive if you book them late and impulsively.
  • You might get problems with onward movement proofs.

As always you are very welcome to leave additions/suggestions/opinions in the comments!

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