Round-the-world tickets are sold by airline alliances(Star Alliance, One World, SkyTeam), by Air New Zealand or specialized round-the-world ticket agencies such as Travel Nation, Zip World or Connaisseurs du voyage
- You have between ten days and one year to use your round-the-world ticket
- In most cases, date changes (except the date of the first flight) are free of charge, as long as they are made a few weeks in advance, or even a few months for transatlantic or transpacific flights
- You must start and finish the world tour in the same country (not necessarily the same city)
- There is no minimum duration for each stop
- It is better to always go forward and not to go “backwards”
- Any “no show” (not taking a flight/missing a flight) may result in the cancellation of all of the following flights
- You can choose to arrive in one country and depart from another (very convenient when you can take trains/buses or low cost companies)
- The fare is calculated in relation to the total distance travelled, within the limit of the maximum stops & trips allowed (generally limited to 16 “segments” or trips for 15 stops). E.g.: Johannesburg – New Delhi passes through Doha (no direct flight). It counts for 2 stops (Johannesburg and New Delhi) and 2 “segments” because there were 2 flights.
When to leave?
What I have done is to list the countries I want to go to and find the best season for each country, according to the temperatures & festivities. In general, I choose to leave right after the high season, to still have a pleasant temperature while paying less. The good thing about traveling in two hemispheres is that you can follow the sun all along the way, as long as you calculate the seasons & destinations correctly.
For our round-the-world tour, we have distributed the destinations over 11 months as follows:
- June: South Africa, it’s winter, but it’s the best season for safari, the leaves are falling, we have excellent visibility. Millions of sardines follow the fresh and plankton-laden waters of the southern coast. They attract hundreds of predators (dolphins, whales, sharks), a feast for the eyes
- June: A short visit to Doha (Qatar) in the middle of Ramadan! I can’t wait!
- July to October: Asia, certainly, it is the monsoon season that scares everyone. But I like this season because it rains all of a sudden, a lot, for an hour and it’s dry afterwards. It’s even pleasant and refreshing
- October to December: Oceania and the Pacific Islands. The perfect season for New Zealand, it is summer. We can enjoy the good weather, the heat, diving… Add to this the dream destinations: Tahiti & Easter Island. Early summer in South America. We will fully enjoy Patagonia, and we will see the glaciers melting in Argentina
- January: The time to visit the Uyuni salt desert in Bolivia because it rains a little bit. It gives magical pictures where the sky and the earth are one.
- January – May: Visit Bolivia, Cuba and Peru (best time in March to visit Macchu Picchu). We will sunbathe on the beaches of Uruguay and Brazil
Learn more about our round-the-world itinerary
- Go to the alliance sites and enter the destinations. The system will suggest the shortest route. When you have a slightly clearer idea of your route, also contact the travel agencies and compare the fares
- To save on segments/routes, find out where you can fly direct. This is indicated on the map. For example, on Skyteam, the green dots indicate the destinations where you can fly direct from Dubai
- To save money, it is better to choose to go to air hubs and from there, take low-cost airlines, rather than putting all your destinations in the round-the-world ticket. Hubs like : London, Singapore, Auckland, Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Chicago, San Francisco…
- If you absolutely can’t find a direct flight between 2 cities you want to visit, why not stop at the city where you make the connection? It’s almost “free” since the miles and segments are already counted, it will cost you one more stop..
- Combine ground transportation + round-the-world tickets : You can include non-air (“surface”) segments at your expense. Be careful however, the distance of these surface segments will be included in the distance calculation, and even if it is done by other means, it is also considered as a “segment”. It is still interesting to use this option in the case of Asia or South America where ground transportation is more interesting, where you can get cheaper air tickets with low cost airlines. For example: with Oneworld, we check the boxes to indicate the sections that do not have a round-the-world ticket
- Combine dry flights + round-the-world tickets: If a destination is completely out of your itinerary (this is the case for us for Havana), it is more economical to buy a separate dry flight, instead of trying to fit it into the round-the-world ticket. In fact, adding Havana would have cost us 1700€ more in the round-the-world ticket vs. 500€ for a return flight from Cusco. Another example is Johannesburg. This detour in Africa, paid separately, cost us 600€ vs. 1800€ in a round-the-world ticket
- In some cases, it is more economical to buy flights one at a time rather than buying a round-the-world ticket. This is the case if you wish to travel for more than a year, if you do not stop in Australia/New Zealand, if you do not always travel in the same direction, or if your destinations are very close to each other. Other “1 continent” tickets are also available.
- If you travel through an agency, it is very, very important that they have an emergency number available 24/7. Indeed, with the time difference, you cannot wait for them to “wake up” in France to process your urgent request. Don’t forget, a “no show” cancels the following flights, so you need your round-the-world ticket agency to be reactive and available 24/7. For info, we chose Travel Nation and are very happy with their service (and they didn’t pay us at all to say it lol)
When booking the round-the-world ticket, you will be asked for flight dates. To calculate it, it is very simple. Estimate the number of days you will stay in each city + 1 (usually flights take a whole day) and you will have the departure date for the next destination.
It is difficult to give you rates since they depend on your destinations. But according to the simulations we have done, the fares vary between 1500€ (including tax) and 7500€ (including tax) in economy class, per person. The itinerary we chose (see the video) cost us 3800€/person, not counting the dry flights to add between Delhi and Singapore, the buses in South America and the flight to Cuba.
More about the no show
If you fail to check in for one of your flights, the airline reservation software may automatically cancel all your subsequent flights. If you are unable to take one of your flights, you should always confirm the change in your reservation before the flight’s departure to avoid a “no show” on your reservation. If you do not do this and miss your flight, a “no show” is considered a cancellation by the airline. In order to continue your trip, you may need to purchase new airline tickets.
Some are against the round-the-world ticket
I’m reading more and more comments “against” the so-called round-the-world ticket, which totally takes away the freedom of travelers. This observation is just so :
(1) you visit only 3 countries
(2) if you travel more than one year
(3) if you do not travel to Oceania(
4) if you plan to book all your flights with the round-the-world ticket. Exactly, the round-the-world ticket is interesting only if it is used with dry flights. And the dates can be changed without any charge! Under no circumstances should you book all your flights with the round-the-world ticket only. The idea is to take advantage of the very low price for long distances (i.e. change continents), change the dates as you want, even in high season.
(5) if you agree to make flights with 2-3 stopovers (up to 45h door to door)
Make simulations on Google Flights (if we only took dry flights instead of the round-the-world ticket, we would have paid twice as much for the same trip because of the flights taken in high season), ask for quotes from different agencies, with different routes. Make up your own mind. The round-the-world ticket is an excellent way to visit the most remote places on the planet, without which you will have to pay a fortune to get there.
I was also told about a recurring problem: the impossibility to check-in online.
Indeed, the tickets are booked via another system so with your round-the-world ticket reservation number, most of the time, you can’t check-in online. When you travel with 2 people, it’s not a problem, but if you travel with 3-4 people, you might not be able to sit next to them. This is a point to take into account before buying a round-the-world ticket.