A Guide to Round the World Tickets

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Written by: Tom Griffiths

Right! Round the World (RTW) tickets are awesome. They’re one of the cheapest ways to see the world and perfect for first time backpackers. They may look complicated, but they’re really not. Here’s a quick run-down…

A round the world ticket can literally take you around the world, but more generally it means any longhaul multistop ticket. Longhaul is usually taken to mean a flight journey of 7 hours or more.

RTW Travel and Multi-Stop Flight Advice for Newbie Travellers

All you have to do is:

  1. Choose all the places you want to stop-off at and see e.g. Australia, New Zealand, Thailand etc…
  2. Work out how long you want to stop there e.g. Three months in Australia, one month in New Zealand, one month in Thailand etc…
  3. Go and have the time of your life…
  4. Come back, brag to your mates and make them jealous with the photos!

The round the world ticket is basically a series of pre-booked single flights that take you to wherever you want to go, over whatever period of time you want (one month to 12 months) – it’s completely up to you!

There are two ways to go

  1. Anti-clockwise – via the USA and the Pacific Islands first, then onto Australia and New Zealand, and back home via South East Asia.
  2. Via South East Asia first, out to Oz, New Zealand, and then back via the Pacific Islands and the USA.

Most first time backpackers go anti-clockwise as it means they can do the easier destinations of the US, Pacific Islands, New Zealand and Australia before the slightly more difficult destinations of Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and other countries in South East Asia. It also means doing the more expensive destinations first, leaving the cheapest for when you’re skint!

Did you just say Pacific islands? Yup! You’re going to go to places that everyone else would love to go to, but never will…

Round the world tickets

How round the world tickets work, costs, etc

Top tip: Get a world map in front of you for this next bit as it’s easier to understand what I’m rambling on about if you can point at stuff too…

All you need to do is work out where you want to go and when!

  • Most tickets are valid for 12 months
  • Most tickets are fully flexible

Depending on how much money you have saved for your trip, how much time you have free to travel and how much you have to spend on your ticket; you can go where you want, for however long you want (usually 12 months), when you want.

In the UK you can leave from most of the major airports, although you’re more likely to get a better deal through the big ones (London) as they have more flights.

To give you an idea, one of the most popular routes is…

UK >> Argentina >> Chile >> New Zealand >> Australia >> Thailand >> Vietnam >> Dubai >> UK

However, going the other way, another popular route is:

UK >> Thailand >> Singapore >> Australia >> New Zealand >> Fiji >> LA >> New York >> UK

Most popular departure months: January and February (the prices low and it fits with the seasons)

Most popular length of trip: Six months (for those who need to be back for summer) or 12 months (for those who don’t have to be back or who want to spend Christmas overseas; usually in Sydney).

Round the world tickets

Useful facts worth knowing:

  1. Round the world tickets are cheaper from January to March, which also happens to coincide with some of the best seasons to travel in the countries you’ll be visiting.
  2. Prices may vary depending on dates e.g. prices fall by over £100 on January 19th – so departing a week later may be an idea – always ask to see when the prices fall.
  3. These tickets are fully flexible, which means that you can change them at any time i.e. you’re having a great time in New Zealand so you decide to stay an extra month. You shouldn’t need to pay to change your tickets as you head round the world, but some companies now charge. Make sure you ask to know where you stand.

Tom’s top tips:

  1. If you’re at all nervous about travelling through South East Asia first, then I’d suggest you head anti-clockwise round the world – do the USA and Pacific Islands first.
  2. ‘Less is more’. You’re more likely to enjoy a five month trip seeing four countries properly, than trying to eight over six months. A RTW trip should be more about seeing things you’ll never see again than rushing through airports and sitting on buses ‘just to get there’. Really ‘see’ the countries you go to rather than ‘visit’

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