Around the World in 30 Days: RTW Tickets
In one week I will be flying on my first round-the-world (RTW) ticket. My trip will take about one month and take me to Boston, New York City, Paris, Yangon, and Hong Kong. But what is a round-the world ticket?
The first circumnavigation of the globe took nearly three years to complete. Now, almost 500 years later, you can fly around the world in less than three days. What was once romanticized, traveling has become common and circumnavigation no longer a dream. Traveling around the world is now easy with multi-stop and round-the-world tickets.
A round-the-world ticket, as the name implies, is a ticket to fly around the world offered by one of the main airline alliances. Some of the big airline alliances include OneWorld (US Airways, Japan Airlines, Cathay Pacific, etc.), SkyTeam (Delta, KLM/AirFrance, Korean Air, etc.), and Star Alliance (United Airlines, All Nippon Airways, Singapore Airlines, etc.). RTWs have rules and requirements. Although these vary depending on the provider, here are some general guidelines:
- You must make one full circumnavigation of the world, including one trans-Atlantic and one trans-Pacific flight.
- You must head in one direction (east-west or west-east). You can, however, backtrack within countries/continents to an extent, depending on your provider.
- You must make a minimum amount of stops, usually between three and 15.
- You must complete your circumnavigation in a year.
- You must start and end in the same country, but not necessarily the same city.
And these tickets are not just for retired, jet-setting millionaires. More and more global-minded businesspeople and travel-enthusiasts are booking their RTW tickets. In fact, in the right circumstances, you can save money by purchasing a round-the-world ticket. Starting prices average around USD3500, but you can find some for as low as USD1500!
Deciding to Go
I always wanted to get a round-the-world ticket, but I didn’t think it would happen in the near future. Only a few weeks ago, I was with the many other people who thought a RTW would be for a year-long hiatus traveling to the corners of the Earth. Then, about two weeks ago, I decided I would visit my family in the US at the end of the month. Another thought popped up—I might as well hop over the Atlantic and visit my partner’s family in France while I’m at it. And another—I can meet my partner when he travels to Hong Kong for business. At this point, it only made sense to get a RTW ticket. And for the price, I might as well add a stop in Myanmar.
Traveling with Star Alliance
I chose Star Alliance because the group has a lot of great airlines, including my favorite—Singapore Airlines. Booking was simple and very visual with them. The website shows a map where you click on the cities to add to your trip. The map will blackout areas of the map your trip has passed over and, therefore, cannot visit.
Service while booking was amazing. I had difficulties when reserving, so I emailed Star Alliance. The email response was quick and friendly, reserving my flights within minutes of my initial inquiry. To confirm my booking, I had to call and settle payment over the phone. The call center staff were pleasant and I waited not even 30 seconds before I got someone on the phone. Top-notch customer service.
Deciding which alliance to get your RTW ticket with is more or less personal preference. Remember, though, you may only fly on airlines of whichever alliance you choose. So, do some research first.
Booking Your RTW Ticket
Round-the-world tickets are a great option if you are traveling to multiple destinations. With plenty of choices, you can set off on your own journey—business or leisure. While some of the rules can be complicated, the websites and customer service make navigating them pretty straightforward. The hardest decision will be where to go!