Around The World Tickets and Plans

Going on an around the world trip is a day dream for many a traveller and a wonderful experience for those that actually embark on one.
However planning such a trip can appear daunting but it need not be as complicated as it seems. I myself went on an around the world journey which included a brief European stay before crossing to North America & the Caribbean, South America, Australasia and the Africa. This short guide combines some of my experience along with the experience of others and highlights some of the benefits as well as the potential pitfalls for such a journey. For individual flights consider using Skyscanner.

Around The World South Africa

Around The World Travel Emissary

Direction
The first concerns for many are time and budget. Before setting the budget I would suggest you consider where you would like to go in a circular motion. This will help you determine whether the offering of a certain alliance or travel company meets your requirements fully or to what degree.

Some have suggested that it is advantageous to fly in one direction instead of another. For example fly westward being likely to reduce jet lag due (this is going from Europe to Asia. This is the route I took but for totally unrelated reasons (plus I never went to Asia as part of my trip). There may be truth in this but it is something you can determine in the next stage.

Where to start
First map out places you determine a must see (any so called ‘deal-breakers’ if you like, for me I had one and this was Easter Island, the whole inspiration behind my trip. Any trip was going to have to include the island or I wouldn’t be considering that trip at all.
Pick out places you would most like to go and you can further drill down if you want but you may do that later.
Eatser island Around The WorldIn my case choosing Easter Island instantly reduced my choice to One World (as they were the only alliance offering this possibility). Of course I could have gone to South America and worked out my own trip (not covered as part of the around the world trip and it would have been at considerable expense). But do not that even if your alliance does not cover the route you may be able to buy separate flights to train tickets (and continue your around the world journey from another city (by selecting you will make a route between two cities by ‘surface’ fort example and it may be financially non-prohibitive to do so – so don’t automatically exclude an alliance unless it becomes clear that it is prohibitive to do so).

Now you have your route start using the interactive planners, email travel agents that offer around the world tickets etc and draw a rough itinerary.
If there are no flights between certain destinations you may have to try another day or even fly to an intermediary as I had to do to get to Santiago when no more flights were offered from London on the days I wanted, I managed to find a route via Madrid and Madrid then became a further welcome stop on my journey).

Once you have your rough routes (and costs) print them out.
Around the world ticket prices can vary considerably. Mine cost around £3,000 per person but going to other cities could have been consistently cheaper. And this where another tip comes useful that I did not follow.
Consider starting your trip in another city or country and you could find your whole journey more than 50% cheaper! When you are paying in the 000’s then getting a return ticket between your home and the start/end destination may save you a considerable amount. If I was re-planning my trip it is what I would have done.

Try to allow flexibility.. give yourself a few more days in your final destination than you think you may need. If you wish to extend your trip later after you have departed it will cost you. I extended my trip to visit Mozambique and it was worth it but would have cost nothing other than my flight tickets (outside my around the world ticket) if I had did this.

Try not to plan too tight a schedule if you like somewhere or get too much in a rush then you won’t get the most out your ticket.

Once you have an idea of the ticket costs then you need to think of the additional costs which if you are not careful could spiral out of control.
For my journey these costs were far higher than the ticket but if I was to do my trip again it would be much more cost effective, more time rewarding and considerably cheaper.

If you are travelling for months you will learn to ditch hotels.. Good quality hostels or in cheaper destinations (read out of Western Europe or the US) apartments. I used apartments in Santiago and South Africa, and hotels and hostels elsewhere. I would not say exclude hotels all together.
Instead plan your budget (make sure you can afford unexpected costs of 25% more for sudden changes or overlays).
I made a rough per day budget and in certain destinations spent below budget while in some destinations I decided I could increase my spending by using money saved where. Another possible choice is couchsurfing (CS) (which I didn’t use for staying during my around the world trip) . Some friends have mixed experiences (this is likely to affect females more) and take good concern for your safety but despite a few scare stories many people men and women use

it fine, in fact a lot.
I have only used CS for coffee and a drink (I found a host who was unreliable). So over all I do say consider CS but especially if you are female take into account your safety.
Additional costs are food, daily transport and and factor it into your spending. Some hostels offer cheap or free breakfast this is fine but you miss out on one aspect of the travelling if you never try local food.
Consider all forms of transport in Eastern Europe (and parts of Asia) the marshrutkas , and in South Africa the minibus taxis are a godsend.
When choosing accommodation also factor in laundry and internet availability and costs. Again good hostels can save you considerably more than a hotel which overcharges.

Visas and (not so) friendly neighbours!

Oh and don’t forget Visas check very carefully about how to apply, where and how long they are valid for!
If your journey is a long one you might not be able to apply for all visas in advance and getting that visa for your next destination may not be easy or even possible where you are. And especially check any surface routes are possible for example Armenia – Azerbaijan is a non-starter for obvious reasons (including by air) and Armenia-Turkey, obvious only if you follow world events or have heard of the situation there to be example. But Armenia-Georgia-Azerbaijan, Armenia-Iran-Azerbaijan or Armenia-Georgia-Turkey is possible but Armenia-Georgia-Russia may not be. Regional politics affects you the traveller too, well it can in any case. Having the ‘wrong’ passport stamp is a possible headache too. Drop that trip to Yemen (not advisable in the current security situation) with an Israeli passport stamp for example.

 

Safety – Always check travel advisories. This is stating the obvious keep in mind regional sensibilities. I find the FCO site and wikitravel very good in this regard.

 

Travel Photos – Check and read for cultural sensibilities (Lonely Planet, Rough Guides abd Bradt guides are good for this. Don’t forget your spare camera battery, charger or adapter! If you can take a back up camera. Getting one in some dream destinations such as Easter Island or Victoria Falls will be an effort of futility.

Vaccines
If your country allows you to get them free get them done. In the UK or US getting them done privately is expensive and if you are travelling to Asia (outside of North East Asia) or most places in Africa you are likely to need some.


Making friends

Making friends If travelling around the world you are likely to make fellow friends when travelling. But of course nothing is a certainty. If you feel the need to things to consider is couchsurfing, you can meet people for a coffee or a drink and what hostel (and hostels are much better than hotels or apartments in this regard) where you stay.

Check votes for atmosphere and places with a common room are likely to be much better. Join on a guided tour or walk or any other activity. The best hostel I have being to date is Hostel Mostel in Veliko Tarnovo. Outside of Western Europe travelling on local transport especially long distance is likely to facilitate contact with locals

Cancel and reroute or reschedule..just don’t skip that flight

Sometimes you may decide you want to go another route, stay longer in another place or go to another city not covered by your ticket skipping your next direction and but continuing on from the following one. If you decide to do this you must consult the airline you bought your ticket through (this may not be the same airline you will be taking).
This is important as failure to turn up is likely to result in the rest of your ticket being cancelled and possible headaches reinstating or getting the flight you desire as happened to one friend I know.
So it is a real and likely possibility not a theoretical one!

Oh and finally travel light.. you will really appreciate you did..

The main airline alliances and their around the world schemes:

Star Alliance

21,000 daily flights with 28 airlines, covering over 81 countries and 1160 airport destinations (Dec 2011)

Very good coverage but weak coverage of Russia, Australia according to wikipedia.
A black spot includes domestic flights within Australia, although there are plenty of international flights to the major cities.
They also offer circle and Regional Fares

Airlines

Aegean Airlines – Greece
Air Canada – Canada
Air China – China
Air New Zealand – New Zealand
All Nippon Airways – Japan
Asiana Airlines – South Korea
Austrian Airlines – Austria
bmi – United Kingdom
Brussels Airlines – Belgium
Continental – United States
Egypt Air – Egypt
LOT -Poland
Lufthansa – Germany
SAS Scandinavian Airlines -Denmark, Norway, Sweden
Shanghai Airlines -China
Singapore Airlines – Singapore
South African Airways – South Africa
SpanAir – Spain
Swiss International – Switzerland
TAM – Brazil
Thai Airways – Thailand
Turkish Air – Turkey
United Airlines – United States
US Airways – United States
Air Dolomiti – Italy
Blue1 – Finland

SkyTeam is the youngest (926 Destinations of Dec 2011)
Regions with strong coverage (according to Wikipedia): North America, Europe, central Russia, China, Central and Eastern Asia
Weak Areas: South America, the Middle East, India, Australia, Micronesia and the South Pacific.

Airlines

Aeroflot – Russia
Aeromexico – Mexico
Air Europa – Spain
Air France – France
Alitalia – Italy
China Southern Airlines – China
Czech Airlines – Czech Republic
Delta Air Lines – United States
KLM – The Netherlands
Kenya Airways – Kenya
Korean Air – South Korea
TAROM – Romania
Vietnam Airlines – Vietnam

Oneworld See also http://www.oneworld.com/flights/single-continent-fares/ http://www.oneworld.com/flights/multi-continent-fares/
According to Oneworld it is “one of the most frequent winners of “best airline alliance” awards: Global Traveler’s Best Airline Alliance 2010, World Travel Awards’ Leading Airline Alliance 2010 and World Airline Awards’ Best Airline Alliance 2010.”

Airlines

American Airlines – United States
British Airways – United Kingdom
Cathay Pacific – China
Finnair – Finland
Iberia – Spain
Japan Airlines – Japan
LAN Airlines – Chile (inc Easter Island!)
Malev – Hungary
Qantas – Australia
Royal Jordanian – Jordan
S7 Airlines – Russia

Regions with good coverage according to Wikipedia: North America, South America (including the Galapagos and Easter Island , the Caribbean, Easter Island, Europe, Middle East, Eastern Asia, parts of the South Pacific (Global Explorer), Australia, India and Russia.
Weak Areas: Intra-Africa, India, the South Pacific.

Recommended travel blogs include
my friend Ryoko’s site, not a travel blog per se but has details of her around the world trip.

By Aaron Barwell the author of the Around the World Travel Photos and Blog site Travel Emissary.