Ballpark estimate: $1,500 to $16,000
Many people have a dream of traveling around the world or of visiting a number of specific countries or famous locations. Some may see this as a “retirement” activity while others decide to take the plunge before settling down and having children. Whatever your reasons, traveling around the world is a big undertaking, even in today’s globally focused economy.
If you decide this kind of adventure is for you, one approach is to purchase an “around the world” airline ticket allowing you to make several stops along the way and eventually make your way back home. The experiences you will have along the way will enrich your life in new and exciting ways.
Planning is Everything!
Like almost any travel arrangements, planning is the first and often the most important step in your journey. While buying an around-the-world airline tickets can be a great cost-saving device (after all, one ticket with multiple stops along the way will be less expensive than buying separate tickets to each place), much still depends on the choices you make in advance, which will form the backbone of your trip. For example, how long do you plan to travel? How many destinations do you want to experience? How much money do you plan to spend on the ticket? What is your overall budget for the trip, including land travel, hotels, food, and any special tours along the way?
Factors to Consider
You can ask a travel agent for assistance or you can plan the entire trip yourself. If you have worked with a good travel agent in the past, this may be a great way to start since there are many details to coordinate in such an ambitious trip and an expert can help you avoid some of the pitfalls.
The good news is that since travel agents are paid by the airline or hotel and not by the end user, the cost for you should be the same whether you use a travel agent or not. However, there could still be some cost impact for you anyway when you use a travel agent, either good or bad, depending on the circumstances. This is because some travel agents will steer clear of the discount ticket brokers that you will be able to access on your own. Therefore, they may not get the same deals.
On the other hand, they may be able to get you better pricing if they put you in with a group or have other professional discounts. In addition, they will know more about your destinations and can be able to steer you to safer hotels, recommend good tours, and provide advice that can be invaluable. This means that you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons to see what is best for your situation.
Serving as Your Own Travel Agent
If you decide you want to try to manage the details on your own, there are several websites available that specialize in around-the-world travel and can assist you in building your ticket and may even serve as a “virtual” travel agent. One example is ticketsroundtheworld.com, where you can select your desired destinations and dates of travel, and you can also select whether you want to travel first class, business class, or economy. Once you enter all the parameters, the site will generate an email response and have a representative call you to discuss details. Keep in mind that this is really just a travel agent with a helpful website designed to handle some of the information through data input rather than in person or over the phone.
Another option for purchasing an around-the-world ticket is to work with one airline. KLM, for instance, has a variety of options available with their “Round the World Ticket.” You can start the process of getting a firm price quote at www.klm.com. Another great website to use as a jumping off point is staralliance. Through this site, member airlines work together to help you build an around-the-world ticket that is convenient and cost effective.
Determine your Itinerary
Once you decide on a ticket and plan your itinerary, be sure you understand all the associated conditions. For example, most tickets require you to travel in one direction around the world. You may have as few as 3— or as many as 25 to 30—stops or more. Of course more stops (and more miles) will cost more money. Further, once you select an itinerary, keep in mind that making any changes to your plans will result in extra costs (and in some cases these costs can be extreme).
Most around-the-world tickets allow you to end your trip at a different city than you began. For example, if you leave from New York and decide to visit San Francisco as your final destination, you may then be able to purchase an inexpensive domestic flight from San Francisco to New York as a way to visit one more city without adding to the cost of your around-the-world ticket. This can be especially useful if your ticket comes with a limited number of stops and miles but you really want to include that one last city on your journey.
General Travel Planning
Remember that the airline ticket is only one piece of a fairly complex planning task. You’ll need to have an up-to-date passport that expires at least six months after the last stop on your trip. In addition, make sure you have all appropriate visas and other travel documents for any countries you plan to visit. If you are working with a good travel agent, he or she will assist with making the appropriate arrangements. If you are planning the trip on your own, try the U.S. State Department’s Travel website, as well as the website for the U.S. Embassy for each country you are planning to visit, for example Egypt; this will give you up-to-date information regarding safety, security, immunizations, and many other issues associated with traveling to the different countries on your itinerary.
A good rule of thumb is to purchase travel insurance in case of an unexpected accident or sickness that interrupts your travel. If you are staying longer than one month in any one country, also be sure to register with the U.S. Embassy and be sure your Visa is valid for the duration of your visit. If you haven’t already done so, join the frequent flyer clubs for all the airlines you’ll be traveling with, since you may earn significant points, especially on long flights. Remember, a good travel agent will help you with all of these details and can be especially helpful if you are not a frequent international traveler yourself.
Cost of Tickets
The actual cost of your ticket will depend on three key factors:
- The number of destinations;
- Total miles traveled;
- Class of travel (i.e., economy, business, or first class).
If you purchase your ticket from a discount ticket broker for 3 or 4 destinations and a limited number of miles, you may spend as little as $1,500. If comfort is important and price is no object, you can spend as much as $16,000 or more to fly first class and visit multiple cities over thousands of miles. Many people come in somewhere in the middle.
When comparing ticket prices, be sure to consider any specific rules or restrictions that might put a damper on your plans. For example, some airlines will include miles traveled on the ground as part of your total mileage. An example of this would be stopping in London, then traveling through France and Germany by train and picking up your next flight in Berlin. Don’t be surprised if the airline includes the miles traveled by train as part of your overall mileage allowance. When in doubt, check the fine print or call the airline for confirmation.
Traveling around the world isn’t cheap. Of course beyond the price of your airline tickets, you’ll have all of your living expenses in each country. But in return for your investment, the payoffs can be many. In fact, when you plan ahead and cover all of the details, you will have a once-in-a-lifetime trip and make so many memories that will stay with you forever. Bon Voyage!