Finding the right round the world flights can be tricky. We've got the answers to some of your most common questions: - How do I find the cheapest round the world ticket? - How far in advance should I book my flights? - Can I change my flight details while I'm travelling? Plus, we've got world travel advice from the experts and some example rtw routes, as well as information on airline alliances to help you choose the right ticket for your dream trip. So start exploring with our four part guide!
Your frequently asked questions…
What is a ‘rtw’ ticket?
A round the world (rtw) ticket is a single ticket that allows you to travel to many countries around the world, with a predetermined amount of stops, using a variety of different airlines.
How far in advance should I buy my ticket?
It is best to book your ticket a few months before you plan to depart, although they can be booked at any time.
How much does a round the world ticket usually cost?
Prices vary depending on how many stops you want, what countries you wish to fly to and at what time of year you plan to start your trip. Tickets can start from as little as €1,400* and can go up to over €5,000 if you want to stop in every continent or fly to more unusual destinations.
What’s included in the price of a rtw ticket?
All taxes, charges and baggage fees are included. There are no hidden costs. Some airports, however, charge a departure fee when leaving the country so be prepared to pay that.
Why is a rtw ticket better than individual flights?
If you’re planning a trip that involves flying from Ireland to countries where flights are usually very expensive, such as South America and Australia, a round the world ticket will often work out cheaper than many individual flights. A rtw ticket is also more convenient and takes the burden of continually looking for cheap onward flights for each leg of your journey off your shoulders. If, however, you just plan to travel around Europe, booking individual flights might be the easiest, cheapest option, so shop around before you commit to anything.
Will flying to certain cities make my ticket cheaper?
Yes. Flying into major flight hubs will make your rtw ticket cheaper than it would be if you were to fly into smaller, regional airports. For example, if you wish to travel to Penang in Malaysia, it’s cheaper to fly into Kuala Lumpur and get a connecting flight to Penang than it is to fly direct to Penang. Landing in large flight hubs such as Sydney, London, Bangkok and Johannesburg will decrease the cost of your flight, and travelling onwards from these main airports is easy (and cheap) too.
When’s the cheapest time to travel around the world?
It all depends on your destination, but generally speaking, if you’re departing from Ireland or the UK (sometimes flights out of London are much cheaper than Dublin) then avoid departing in the peak summer months between June and August. Prices are likely to drop from April to the end of May and from the end of August until early November – sign up for Skyscanner’s price alerts and track changes in ticket price.
Can I create my own trip plan?
Of course! Creating your own itinerary can be one of the best parts of purchasing a rtw ticket. It’s totally up to you where you go, when you go and how many stops you want. There are only a few limiting factors. Some tickets have a maximum amount of air miles you are allowed to travel, but you can purchase additional miles if you need to. Taking a common flight route served by many airlines might save you some cash, as you have more choice and prices are slightly more competitive. So before you get too carried away with your stops and start planning your trip around exotic airport locations, do a quick search of ‘nearby airports’ on Skyscanner to see if an alternative route might work out cheaper.
Do all flights need to be booked before I depart?
When you book your ticket, you will need to choose the exact dates you wish to depart from each stop along the way. These can be changed at a later date, but often for a small fee depending on which airline alliance you choose and who you book your ticket with.
Can I change the date of my flights as I go?
It is possible, but usually for a small fee and depending on flight availability.
How long can I travel for?
You can travel for up to one year on most round the world tickets – they are valid for 12 months from the date of the first outward flight.
Can I work my way around the world?
Depending on your nationality and what countries you plan to travel to, there are many working abroad schemes available. Irish citizens can easily apply for working holiday visas for Australia, New Zealand and Canada, which will allow you to supplement your travels with a few months work in various destinations. Alternatively, why not become a travel blogger and earn money as a freelance travel writer or photographer! Want more tips on how to earn cash while you travel? Check this out.
How much money do I need for a year of travel?
Once you’ve purchased your round the world ticket, you won’t have to worry about paying for anymore flights for the duration of your trip, unless you want to veer slightly off course before flying to your next country or continent. How much you should budget for a daily allowance depends on the cost of living in each country you fly to. Everyday life in Central America, Africa and Southeast Asia will cost you a lot less than the USA, Europe and Australia.
What is the best airline alliance to choose?
There are many great alliances to choose from depending on where you live or where you are travelling to. If leaving from Ireland, Star Alliance has a lot of choice within Europe and the Americas – it’s the biggest alliance in the world! Keep reading for a detailed look at the various Airline Alliances and what airlines they work with.
Advice from the travel experts…
We’ve asked four travel experts from around the world give us their round the world flight tips, from advice on what season to fly in, what alliance to choose to their favourite money-saving travel hacks.
Dave Brett, of Travel Dave:
“Don’t get carried away. It’s very tempting to fly to all the fun places you’ve always wanted to visit. More stop-offs will cost you more money, and the dates/seasons will affect the final price. Limit yourself to 4-6 to make it affordable and only use the rtw flights from major hubs. You should also make sure you plan your rtw ticket with the seasons – you might not want to arrive in Australia during the winter if you’re after the quintessential Bondi Beach experience!"
Scott Eddy, Top Travel Influencer:
“I love Star Alliance as you get the perfect combination of great international carriers. When booking rtw trips, make sure to give yourself enough time in each location to refresh, and explore the destination. Sometimes people are concentrating so hard on the round the world part that they lose focus on the actual travelling part.”
Jonny Ward, of One Step 4Ward:
"Personally, I think the best way to deal with multi-stop trips is to book a one-way flight from your nearest hub to the nearest hub in the region you’re visiting. Once there, you can weigh up your options for cheap domestic flights, bus/train tickets and short international flights. Sure, it may be marginally more expensive this way, but the freedom that it buys you is worth much, much more than a few extra dollars!"
Sarah Slattery, of The Travel Expert:
“I think some of the best fares to be had for people living in Ireland are with a combination of British Airways, American Airlines, Qantas and Emirates. Their prices start from €1000 for four stops in low season and are valid for one year. You need to travel via the US first with British Airways and American Airlines and back through Asia with Qantas and Emirates. You can buy up to six stops, and only need pay a supplement for two extra legs. The outbound date determines the fare, so try to pick a low season date to start your journey. For example, if you want to be celebrating New Year in Times Square, avail of the cheaper airfare and spend a few weeks travelling in the States before Christmas.”
Round the world itineraries to inspire you…
Here are a few popular rtw flight itineraries, just to give you a flavour for the type of adventure you could be having with a round the world ticket. Ultimately, it’s up to you how many stops you choose and which cities to stop over in!
Australia, with a side of Southeast Asia
For anyone heading to Australia, it can sometimes work out the same price to buy a cheap rtw ticket (with one or two stops in Southeast Asia) as it does booking a return flight to Oz. Stop off in Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur en route, or wait until your time in Australia has ended and stop off for a beach holiday on your way home.
Australia via South Africa
This is a great option if you want to go on a safari but have never been able to afford it. Stop off in South Africa on your way over to Australia for a real once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Johannesburg is a major hub for Southern Africa so it doesn’t usually cost a lot more to stop off here.
Go West and explore the Americas
Why not fly west, to the United States or South America and make your way around the world from there with stops in exotic locations such as Fiji or Tahiti, followed by New Zealand and Australia before making your way back to Ireland via Southeast Asia.
A guide to airline alliances and their rtw tickets…
When it comes to picking the right rtw ticket, one of the most important things to consider is which airline alliance to choose. An alliance is a group of airlines that work together to provide better service for passengers worldwide. Booking a ticket with a certain alliance allows you to fly on any route provided by any of the airlines within that group. The alliance you choose should depend on the routes you want to fly and the countries you plan to visit. For example, if you plan to do a lot of travel within the United States, you need to make sure that the alliance you pick operates routes within the US. Here’s a brief guide to the biggest alliances to make you choice easier.
Oneworld Explorer tickets are based on the number of continents you visit rather than the number of miles and stops: the more continents, the more expensive the ticket. You can take up to 20 flights during the one year trip. Airlines you can fly with are:
World Discovery and Plus
With World Discovery you can choose to fly 29,000, 34,000 or 39,000 miles – this’ll get you out to either 3, 4 or 5 continents respectfully. You can stop a maximum of 7 times during the one year trip. Airlines you can fly with are:
Another ticket from the Oneworld alliance, their Global Explorer package is also mileage based, and you get up to 16 stops. Airlines you can fly with are:
• Aer Lingus
• Air Pacific
• Alaska Airlines
• American Airlines
• British Airways
• Cathay Pacific
• Gulf Air
• Japan Airlines (JAL)
• Japan Asia Airways • Lan Airlines
• Lan Argentina
• Lan Ecuador
• Lan Peru
• Royal Jordanian
Star Alliance is the largest airline alliance in the world and tickets are based on how many miles you fly – you can make up to a maximum of 15 stops. With this alliance, you must start and end your journey in the same country. Airlines that operate under this alliance are:
• Air Adria
• Air Canada
• Air New Zealand
• Asiana Airlines
• Austrian Airlines
• Croatia Airlines
• LOT Polish Airlines
• Scandinavian Airlines
• Shanghai Airlines
• Singapore Airlines
• South African Airways
• TAP Portugal
• Thai Airways International
• United Airlines
• US Airways
World Walkabout is one of the smaller alliances, meaning you can only choose from two airlines when travelling. Ticket price is based on how many miles you fly and you can make a maximum of 6 stops. Airlines that operate under this alliance are:
Great Escapade’s rtw tickets are based on how many miles you fly, but the great thing about this alliance is that with them you can enjoy unlimited stops. Airlines that operate under this alliance are:
A rtw ticket with World Journeys is based on how many miles you fly and you can stop up to 10 times. Airlines that operate under this alliance are:
• Air Caledonie
• Air Europa
• Air Pacific
• Air Tahiti Nui
• Air Vanuatu
• Alaska Airlines
• Continental Airlines
• Copa Airlines
• Jet Airways
• Kenya Airways
• KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
• Malaysia Airlines
• Northwest Airlines
• South African Airways
• SriLankan Airlines
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*Published May 2016. Prices correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change and/or availability