A round-the-world trip is a once in a lifetime experience for most folk, and with that in mind, you'll want to get it right. While the idea of setting off with dreams of stopping off on a whim might seem appealing, in reality travelling the globe is a little more complex.
Check your ticket
The easiest and cheapest way to travel is to book a round-the-world air ticket with one airline alliance. But there are a few things you need to double check before you jet off into the great unknown. Round-the-world tickets do come with a few rules. For instance, if you travel with Star Alliance, which includes 27 airlines flying in 185 countries, your RTW ticket likely allows for a maximum of 15 stops, and you must always be flying in one direction, i.e. east to west, or vice versa. Every flight on your trip must be booked before departure, and although you may be able to change these mid-trip, you may incur extra fees for the privilege.
Bearing in mind the restrictions on round-the-world travellers, planning ahead is essential. Make a list of your must-see destinations, and work out which flights make the most sense. While the cheapest options usually include flying between the major cities around the world, don't forget that you can always travel by train, boat or book separate internal flights if you want an off-the-beaten-track experience. A word of warning though - if you miss one of your pre-booked flights on the ticket, the airline may well cancel all subsequent flights.
When to go
Given that you will be circumnavigating the globe, you are bound to hit an 'off-season' somewhere along the line. Therefore, if you are hoping for an outdoor adventure, make sure that your trip highlights fall within country's best weather conditions. Remember that those destinations that you hit at the 'wrong' time may well offer the benefit of cheaper prices on accommodation and internal travel, so there's always a plus side.
On a financial level, when you travel could make a difference to your budget, so be flexible about your departure date, as a mid-week flight could save you a bundle.
Take your time
While most round-the-world tickets have a minimum duration of ten days, you're unlikely to get the best out of your trip in such a short time. Since travelling the globe is a one-off for most, it is worth saving up your annual leave, planning around public holidays or even taking a longer period of time off work in order to really soak up the experience. Although the maximum duration of your ticket will likely be a whole year, aim for six weeks to two months and you can really make the most of your trip.
Last but not least, talk to the experts. A travel agent or experience round-the-world flight booker will offer valuable advice about itineraries, the best routes to take, and where and when to travel in order to make your money go further.
Have you taken a round-the-world trip? What advice would you give to others considering a global holiday? Leave your comments below...