Whether you’re an employee looking to take a work sabbatical, a fresh graduate that wants to take a gap year, or simply a traveler who wants to cross off places from their bucket list, there are plenty of reasons to book a round the world ticket.
A round-the-world ticket, also known as an RTW ticket, is an excellent way to travel to multiple countries while saving money. Once you have a basic list of destinations and your travel visas sorted out, it’s time to put plans into place and book those tickets!
This article will take an in-depth look at round the world tickets, how they work, rules for booking these special fares, and so on.
What is a Round-the-World (RTW) Ticket?
When most people hear the words “round-the-world ticket”, they typically imagine making a list of destinations, adding them one by one in a search engine, and buying one single ticket.
However, that’s not exactly it — booking a round-the-world ticket is slightly more complicated!
One of the biggest misconceptions that travelers have is that they can book a ticket on any airline. In fact, RTW tickets are actually airline flight passes, and travelers are only allowed to book airlines within one alliance.
To put it in perspective, there are three major airline alliances: OneWorld Alliance, Star Alliance, and Skyteam. Each of the latter groups has its pros and cons, especially when it comes to destinations.
The OneWorld Alliance contains American Airlines, Finnair, British Airways, Qantas, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, and about a dozen other affiliate members.
Likewise, the Star Alliance network comprises Air Canada, EVA Air, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Turkish Airlines, and United Airlines, among others.
Finally, the newest of the three major airline alliances, SkyTeam, is made up of Aeromexico, Air France, Delta Air Lines, KLM, Korean Air, and more.
Each of the three alliances allows travelers the opportunity to plan their trip with an online tool. This works by having the traveler input their departure airport, each destination (stop) that they wish to see, and other filters.
On a side note, some travel agents (both online and in-person) have similar tools that allow them to put together a round-the-world ticket for clients.
There are many benefits to buying RTW tickets. Since travelers are booking with an airline alliance, they can earn a hefty amount of airline miles — sometimes enough to buy another ticket after their round the world trip!
Another benefit is eliminating most of the stress and time spent searching for individual tickets. In some cases, RTW tickets may be cheaper thanks to their ‘bulk deal,’ while other times it may make more sense to book individual stops. Finally, tickets last up to a year, which is excellent for travelers who want to spend more time in each destination.
On the other side of the coin, round-the-world tickets means that travelers are locked into one alliance. This can be an issue if the traveler wishes to visit a country that is not serviced by any of the alliance’s airlines.
Similarly, there are no budget or low-cost airlines in any of the three biggest alliances. This may be a problem if travelers want to be budget-friendly, as low-cost airlines are often up to 75% cheaper than their big brand counterparts.
As mentioned in the name of the ticket, there are some restrictions in the direction of travel. Most RTW tickets require travelers to cross the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans at least once, and some may even restrict the direction of travel (i.e. tickets can only go from west to east or vice versa).
With these points in mind, let’s take a look at the average cost of a round the world ticket.
How Much Does a Round the World Ticket Cost?
The price of an RTW ticket is dependent on a few factors: the airline alliance, the destinations, the number of stops, and the class.
For example, travelers can expect to pay about $1,500 on the lower end of an RTW ticket if they book a seat in coach (economy class) with a handful of stops, or about $3,000 with 6 to 10 stops across different continents.
Those who enjoy the perks of business or first class might expect to spend anywhere from $5,000 for a few stops to upwards of $15,000 for up to 16 stops.
Interestingly enough, RTW trips that start in North America cost slightly more than if the journey began on a different continent.
Likewise, trips to ‘hard-to-reach’ places (i.e. remote islands or off-the-beaten-path destinations) may cause the price of a ticket to go up. The best way to avoid this is by buying a ticket to the nearest major airport, such as Athens in Greece, and then taking a separate ticket to a remote place (i.e. Crete or another smaller Greek island).
Overall, travelers can expect to pay anywhere from $1,500 to $15,000+ for their round the world ticket — but it’s well worth it, especially for all of the new memories and fun experiences created along the way!