Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Planning an RTW: Round the World Trip

Planning an around the world trip is one of the most exciting things you can do. That is, aside from actually taking the trip. I have ben around the world several times, some on round-the-world tickets, others at a more leisurely pace. So I know a little bit making travel plans. There are a fair number of things to consider when planning a trip like this, most notably that you are generally limited to a ‘year open’ ticket, meaning that you have to complete your journey in 365 days. For many people, this is not a problem, but the world is a big place, and it is easy to get caught up somewhere. Perhaps have a look here to get yourself started. Voyajo is a good place to get started to get an idea of what you are after

Another thing is money. When your ticket is paid for you have less to worry about when it comes to actually getting where you are going, but you have to be sure that you save enough or have access to credit in order to keep yourself going. It is still possible to pick up work along the way, but these days it is much harder and it never really paid a lot anyway. And besides, you are here to travel, not work. Best to just work really hard for a while and save, save save. You will be happy that you did later on when you are riding a motor bike through Laos or eating croissants in the south of France.

Your first decision, is what airline to choose. You have to do some research to find which airline will allow you the most stops for the best deal, which ones will allow you to make changes while on route without any extra cost and lastly which ones offer the best air miles plan. That’s right, with an around the world ticket, you will rack up loads of miles. Often enough for a flight from LA to Hawaii or Japan. Many of the carriers that do round the world work in conjunction with sister airlines on the same plan.

Next is cost of your ticket. Generally speaking, east to west is cheaper than in the other direction. I have no idea why this is the case but I have seen it many times. It also works well if flying from Australia or America too, because you will go to Asia first (generally cheaper to travel in) and then you will save more for Europe and the States. Also, it is always more expensive if you cross the equator. Flights that stay in the Southern or Northern hemisphere are infinitely cheaper, but limit your destinations.

There are of course ways to save money to get around this, and that is by doing some of your travel overland. Who wants to see the world from an airplane anyway? One flight looks pretty much like the next. One other really good idea is to make sure all your long flights are at night, so that you save one nights hotel. That leaves you the option of having a splurge somewhere, which we all need sometimes when on the road for a year.

So where do you start? Well, look up airline that are in the Star Alliance group, check Quantas, and look at some of the big Asian airlines (Cathy, Singapore). These tend to be the best and usually have deals with many of the American airlines. London, New York, Sydney and L.A. offer the best locations to fly from, so if you are in the States or Europe, its best to get to one of those cities and fly from there. From London a good itinerary would be London - New York to start and then go overland to L.A. You can actually pick up a car really cheap in the states, though I would recommend buying one in New Jersey, not New York, and be sure to get third party insurance. I once drove a $200 car across the country 4 times, until it died. From L.A. get back on a flight to Australia and from there to Kuala Lumpur or Bangkok. Again, use the overland option to get to Hong Kong and catch a flight back to mainland Europe. Paris is a good location if you want to spend some time traveling Europe. Then just go back to London by flight when you are running out of cash. But if you are from the UK, you can always find work in the EU to extend your stay.

That is probably the most basic, cheapest option. Of course you can see plenty with just that and it is technically ‘around the world. But if you want to splash out a bit more and if your savings are healthy, there are much better routes. You could start your journey at any of the cities listed, but a perfect around the world where you would really see the planet is as follows;

London - New York, Over land to LA perhaps driving the historic route 66. From there either overland to Bogota Columbia (this is a hard journey, I have done it, but VERY worth it) or catch a flight. Again, overland to Santiago Chile or BuenosAires Argentina. Travel overland is cheap in South America and Mexico. From one of those cities, fly to Australia. Sydney is the best spot as you can usually fly out of Melbourne later. That will give you a chance to explore the East coast (forget Perth for now). From here, choose either Asia and then back to London or if you are super adventurous, choose Cape Town South Africa, and then overland all the way back to London. The Africa leg is not for the faint hearted, and much better with a friend or partner. The Sahara stretch through Niger and Algeria is particularly grueling. But the trip is amazing, one you will never ever forget.

What ever way you choose, I can’t stress enough, do your research. There are so many options out there now, and you don’t need a travel agent anymore. Just a decent internet connection and some patience.