One of the most common questions people have about RTW trips is where to start looking for tickets. Most people actually may not even be aware that RTW tickets and plans are available.
Both Star Alliance and One World offer RTW ticket plans but thats only one of your options. It is possible to organize your own RTW by booking in advance and using individual flights. That’s a bit trickier though since you’ll have to do some serious planning and pricing to compare with a package deal. Finally, you can always go by winging it at each destination but this is almost always the most expensive option, not to mention a difficult one to organize if you’re on a tight time frame. A year sounds like a lot of time to travel around the world but once you hit the road, you’ll quickly realize how fast time can fly and how little time you may end up spending in some destination due to your itinerary.
The two major ways to book an RTW ticket are through Star Alliance and One World. The way that these programs work is to give you access to the members of the airline alliance and set up a flexible travel plan ahead of time but that lets you shift dates and destinations on the fly as well. Typically the requirements are usually that you must travel in the general direction of west to east (or reverse), fly over the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and cant return to a continent once you’ve left it. Most people are surprised at how flexible the requirements can be, many assume the route is the most difficult thing to negotiate with the airlines when its actually managing your personal schedule that really takes the most work.
The Star Alliance round the world tickets program lets you fly any of the Star Alliance member airlines, including Lufthansa, United, and Air New Zealand. The RTW airfares are based around the number of total miles you’ll be flying which is around 24,000-39,000 total. You’re free to fly around under that total limit, of course barring the exception noted above. (Its important to verify the requirements and the safest bet is to call the alliance group directly for all of the restrictions and limitations which may vary.) There may also be regional restrictions as well.
A bit more restrictive than the Star Alliance RTW tickets, the trip can last from 10 days up to 12 months. You’ll have access to the 11 partner airlines in One World, some of which include British Airways, Cathay Pacific, and Qantas. Your route must have you visiting at least 3 continents and you get about 4 flights within each continent. As with the Star Alliance, you can select coach, business, or first class for parts or your entire route. There is also a One World Explorer plan which lets you fly more affiliate airlines in addition to the 11 alliance members.
How To Come Up With An Itinerary
There are several online maps and trip builders, even Google Maps you can use to create your travel route. It may be best to start this way and create a red line around the world touching upon the places you want to see the most. Then check the various restrictions of the RTW tickets for both the Star Alliance, One World, and others like World Journey. Finally, you can also price out the route (be as flexible with your dates as possible) mixing airlines, selecting low fare carriers locally, and by visiting the airline websites to look for deals and lower prices. You can adjust your route then according to budget and airline restrictions using this method, that will take you a few hours, you can find the lowest prices. Its even possible to mix a RTW ticket with individual flights you purchase so be creative and don’t restrict yourself when you’re starting out. Aside from budget your main priority is to see the places you want to see.