The other option is buying point-to-point tickets as you travel, which will have more flexibility than RTW tickets, but typically cost a lot more once all the prices of the flights are added up. This point-to-point option is good if you are planning on traveling for more than 1 year or possibly working along the way (highly recommended). Going with point-to-point tickets can also be a good option if you have some airline miles you want to redeem for the longer, more costly flights as most airlines now offer one-way awards; then focus on budget airlines or buses/trains/boats for exploring the region.
Tips: RTW tickets seemed cheapest from UK companies, especially when comparing prices out of the USA. I think this can be explained that going on a RTW trip is fairly common in the UK, with many Brits taking a ‘gap year’ to travel. If you do not live in the US or Europe there are companies such as STA Travel that offer RTW deals originating from various countries.
I was able to find much cheaper tickets for the same destinations by buying my ticket in the UK and taking one-way ticket to London to connect to my flights. I also found the RTW tickets offered in the UK to be more flexible than the USA, as I was able to change my flight dates (but not cities) for a nominal charge ranging from 15-75 pounds. Travel dates from the US-based RTW ticket seller I contacted were fixed and unable to be changed once ticketed.
Some itineraries say they are RTW flights, but are actually circle Pacific only. Look at the itinerary to see if you actually circle the globe as many of the cheaper fares do not. That might matter to you or maybe not….
If you plan on traveling for less than 1 year (either not working or only working overseas for a few months) than I would seriously consider purchasing a RTW ticket instead of going by point-to-point. You can save some serious $$$ that way.
I have found some amazing RTW flight deals offered by companies such as STA Travel and RTWflights.com. I used RTWflights.com before and would definitely use them again. You can read about the RTW ticket I bought from them here
Departure dates WILL change the price of the RTW tickets, so look at the different pricing options to see if you are flexible enough to get the best deals.
When planning your RTW ticket, try to stick with major destinations, then buy separate flights or go overland explore the region (companies usually have an interactive map that will price out the RTW ticket at the end). I was able to save LOTS of money picking ‘major’ airline hub cities, then either traveling overland or booking separate low-cost flights to get where I wanted to go. As a general rule RTW tickets will save you the most money on long-haul flights.
Add at least one overland leg to your RTW ticket. Bangkok overland to Singapore seemed to be the most common. When flying into Bangkok, you can cheaply and easily travel overland to Singapore through Malaysia. There are numerous budget airlines in Asia so tickets to Singapore can be purchased cheaply as well. So if you’ve always wanted to go to Vietnam, then fly into Bangkok and go through Cambodia to get there, then look for cheap flights to Singapore or even cross into Laos and head down the Siam peninsula until you reach Singapore…. too many options to list really. Another general rule It’s best to save the RTW ticket stops for longer leg flights that cost more.
If you are traveling from the US, you can also use your last UK-based RTW ticket stop for a US destination (some tickets only allow SF, LA, Chicago or NY) with an 'overland' back to London to keep the total distance of the ticket down. This should allow you to hop to South Africa or Australia/NZ on the cheaper tickets without bumping the price up by distance flown.
Doing a RTW trip by point-to-point tickets can be a great option to work overseas, possibly teaching English in Asia, which allows you to explore the region and save enough up to continue your RTW trip after the contract is up (many places offer a bonus if you complete a 1 or 2 year contract). This can bump up the travel kitty and allow those on a tighter budget to complete the RTW trip even if they think affording one is not possible.
Take a RTW trip when you are younger *if possible* even if you think you can’t afford one. Everyone’s situation is different, but I can say more responsibilities seem to pile on we get older. Also, I’m not as comfortable sleeping in a 16 bed dorm as I used to be in my 20’s LOL!
I’ve been able to take a number of RTW trips both by point-to-point trips and RTW tickets. My shortest RTW trip was around 3 months long and my longest over 2 years….. It really depends on your individual situation which is best for you. Here is a post I wrote about one of the RTW tickets I purchased
Enjoy! It will be the trip of a lifetime…. you will learn more about yourself and the world around you!