14 Sep Around the World Tickets – to Buy, or Not to Buy?
Booking the flights for our trip was a huge deal. We knew that once we’d clicked that confirmation button and our hard-earned cash had left our accounts there’d be no going back; no changing our departure date or destination, no backing out. Everyone would realise that the trip we’d been talking about for so long was actually going to happen – and so would we.
By this point in our planning we’d already figured out our initial travel itinerary; we knew that we were going to fly to New Zealand first in early 2013 but we didn’t have a date and crucially, we didn’t know whether to buy a round the world plane ticket or book flights as we went.
Turns out the round the world plane ticket vs book-as-you-go is a hotly debated topic in the travel blogging world, so we decided to explore both options. Here’s what we found out.
How Much Does a Round the World Ticket Cost?
One of the first things I did when researching ticket costs was contact Erin and Simon, a nomadic British couple who run the site Never Ending Voyage. They bought two Great Escapade RTW tickets for £2,886 when they took their first trip. However, Erin pointed out that although this was the cheaper option, they later regretted having fixed flight dates and recommended we buy as we go, using cheap airlines like Air Asia where possible.
Still attracted by the possibility of finding cheap round the world tickets, we got several quotes for the following itinerary:
- London – New Zealand
- New Zealand – Australia
- Australia – Indonesia
- Indonesia – Philippines
- Philippines – Malaysia
We were quoted the following prices for tickets valid for one year with a return flight included; we’d be charged if we wanted to change any of the flight dates:
- Trailfinders said a round the world plane ticket would cost £2,196 per person
- Flight Centre told us their round the world plane ticket costs £1,569 per person
Of these options, we seriously considered booking the Flight Centre ticket. Andy, the guy who put together our quote, was so helpful and gave us lots of advice. Additionally, he pointed out that if we booked through Flight Centre our trip would be ATOL/ABTA/IATA protected, which would cover us for airline failures.
While tempting, we were still dubious about being so locked into our itinerary, so we decided to research what we’d pay if we booked as we went, here’s what we came up with:
- Flights from London to Auckland, via Seoul cost £541 with Korean Air
- Flights from Christchurch to Melbourne cost £141.50 with Air New Zealand
- Flights from the Gold Coast to Bali cost £246 with Air Asia
- Flights from Bali to Kuala Lumpur cost £65 with Air Asia
- Return flights from Kuala Lumpur to Clark, Philippines cost £65 with Air Asia
So, the total cost of our pay-as-you-go round the world plane tickets is £1,058.50 per person.
Of course, we realise that the pay-as-you-go ticket prices may change, but given that they’re cheaper and obviously more flexible, we decided this was the best option.
So far, we’ve booked our one way tickets to New Zealand and our onward flights to Australia. Knowing that on the 3rd March 2013, less than six months away, we’ll be on a plane to start our travel adventure is a truly awesome feeling!
Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)Posted at 03:57h, 17 September
Glad you decided to buy point-to-point rather than one RTW ticket… I really think you will enjoy having the flexibility of changing your dates as you please rather than feeling chained to an arbitrary schedule! Honestly, the hardest part of our trip has been in Japan because we were on such a strict deadline… it feels so much better to just take each day as it comes. One of the things I want to get out of this trip is the ability to live in the moment, and not knowing where I’ll be a week from now certainly helps with that!
AmyPosted at 19:02h, 17 September
Thanks for the reassurance Steph – I’m glad you’re enjoying having a flexible schedule and I’m hopeful that this will be better for us too in the long tern. I am a compulsive planner and really hope to change that when we go away and like you say, learn to just take each day as it comes. I see you’re in China now (I’m excited to read about your adventures there!), did you have to book an onward plane ticket in order to get your China visa? This is one of my worries, that we’ll constantly need to book onward tickets to comply with visa restrictions.
Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)Posted at 14:38h, 18 September
We got our China visas while we were in HK and essentially needed nothing to get them. Otherwise we were going to need flights and hotel bookings and a bunch of stuff that we didn’t want to do in advance (because we are playing it by ear while we are here), so Hong Kong was our best option. Took us four days to get them and they weren’t any more (or less) expensive than if we had applied at home, so if you think you might go to Hong Kong (which we HIGHLY recommend!), and will do so before braving mainland China, you can just get your visas there and it will probably be much easier.
AmyPosted at 18:26h, 18 September
Thanks Steph – that’s a really good tip. I’m keen to see what you guys make of China; it’s a country we think we’ll schedule in for much later in our trip when we are (hopefully) more experienced travellers, as we’ve read some stories about the extreme culture shock (from Lauren of Never Ending Footsteps for one!).