Going around the world as opposed to making several single trips is a much better option all round if you have the time and inclination. Round the world (RTW) tickets are flexible within a time period of generally six to 12 months and often allow you to change dates and times, sometimes without penalty.
The first thing to do after buying your round the world ticket is to pick up some travel insurance. Always make sure it will cover you for any activity you may get involved in and that your possessions are also covered. Making sure there is an international 24-hour helpline for accidents and emergencies is also an idea.
There are many types of round the world tickets out there and it generally pays to go with a group of carriers rather than one airline. The Star Alliance Round the World Fare uses 21 airlines and covers most countries in the world. Passes cover all classes and come in 29,000, 34,000, and 39,000-mile versions. There are over a dozen stopovers on each ticket, covering: North America, the EU, Southern Africa, Asia, New Zealand and the South Pacific.
Oneworld is another good option, an 11-member alliance with a couple of round the world options. These are the Oneworld Explorer and the Global Explorer and they cover: North America and South America, the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia. Global Explorer also includes part of the South Pacific.
The Flying Dutchman (World Journey) is also popular, covering Central and North America (including Alaska), the Caribbean, the EU, Africa, the Middle East, Asia (including Southeast Asia), and the South Pacific.
SkyTeam Round the World is another airline alliance taking in North and Central America, the EU, Africa, Asia, and the South Pacific.
Single airline round the world tickets are also offered by the likes of Air New Zealand on their own flights. Air New Zealand also team up with Virgin Atlantic 4 Stop Plus, while British Airways and Qantas offer a decent flight packages with up to six stops.
It is a good idea to use direct flights whenever you can, however, but be flexible with dates. Joining a frequent flyer program is well worth it, as is packing as light as possible. You can pick up clothes and sundry items in any country.
Planning ahead for a round the world trip is vital. Currency and health are issues you should not balk on. Be sure to check in advance which countries use what currency and have a combination of traveler’s cheques, local cash and an ATM card. Traveling with a Visa card is also good for emergencies, but using it for everything is not advised.
- Ensure your passport is valid and in good condition
- Obtain decent insurance for the entire trip
- Carry an immunization booklet listing your vaccinations
- Have a list of emergency contact numbers for insurance, Visa cards, family
- Pack tickets and itinerary in an easy to reach place, along with your passport
- Photocopy all important documents, scanning and emailing one set to yourself
- Carry a basic first aid kit and any personal medication
- Pack anti-malarial tablets and DEET repellant for renowned malarial zones
- Invest in a good guide book like those in the Lonely Planet series
- Take a travel alarm clock
- Invest in some security padlocks
- www.timereq.com - dates and times of countries
- Wikitravel – one of the best no-mess travel sites
- Great Circle Mapper – mileage calculator and routings