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I have heard rumours of such things, and have had a difficult time find information on "around the world" flights. Are they worth it (do you have a limit between usage, do you save money.. etc.) and are there easy ways of getting more informed on them (specific sites, travel agencies)?

Edit With the goal of maximum continental coverage, no specific start or finish locations

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Where are you starting from, and what sort of places were you hoping to visit? –  Gagravarr Jun 21 '11 at 20:44
    
I would say no specific start or end, just maximum continental coverage. (From what I understand of these flights, is that they usually are not connected, so you would have one flight from New York - Munich, then the next from Lisbon - Cairo kind of thing.) –  Seanland Jun 21 '11 at 20:48
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I don't think someone except astronauts gonna travel such way. Also it is very expensive to companies –  VMAtm Jun 21 '11 at 21:43
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4 Answers

up vote 26 down vote accepted

Round-the-world fares do exist.

Most airline alliances and occasionally single airlines offer around the world fares.

It can be very cost effective, especially for premium class (business and first class fares).

There are limits on all of them, usually they prevent backtracking across a continent, a limited number of segments, and only visiting each continent once (once you leave you don't go back).

Flyertalk is a forum with a lot of trip reports done on RTW fares (check the trip reports forum).

In response to your comment, usually if you arrive at one airport and depart from another then that counts as an overland segment and counts towards your ticket usage.

For example, if you flew from New York to Berlin, took the train to Madrid, and then flew out from Madrid to Cairo, three segments would be used:

  • New York - Berlin
  • Berlin - Madrid (overland segment)
  • Madrid - Cairo

It doesn't matter if you fly or not, it still takes away from your overall segment limit. A segment refers to one specific flight.

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Thanks for your response, the overland segment would be sightseeing / visiting / camping basically the trip to the next flight location. Berlin - Madrid would be by car / bus / walking .. (non flight, not inclusive) say if possible one, two or three weeks later. –  Seanland Jun 21 '11 at 21:00
    
With most RTW fares you can pretty much pick and choose dates (as long as there are flights on the date you want), it doesn't matter how long there is between each flight. Some people have left them open for up to six months between a flight. I'm 90% sure you have to have flown the entire ticket within one year though. –  victoriah Jun 21 '11 at 21:01
    
I believe I have read that too (1 year limit). Again thank you for the response, it has been very helpful. =D –  Seanland Jun 21 '11 at 21:03
    
As well, a RTW fare (at least from the alliances) usually allows you to visit every continent. It's up to you to work out which flights work out most optimally for the places you want to visit. The sites I linked have apps that allow you to figure out various routings. A good travel agent will be able to help you with this, which is probably worth doing if you're not experienced as getting everything to line up can be quite a headache. –  victoriah Jun 21 '11 at 21:04
    
btw you forgot Skyteam alliance –  Vince Sep 2 '12 at 21:43
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I'm a bit late to this party, but if your purpose is tourism, round the world tickets are not really a great deal at all, accept for giving you a lot of convenience in not having to worry about flights and being able to buy the one ticket in one place.

Pretty much all parts of the world, conventionally covered by a round the world ticket are also served by a host of budget airlines. If you plan a few months in advance, you can go to many more places for much less, as compared to a regular round the world ticket.

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That depends a lot on where you are visiting. RTWs are a great way to cut costs if you intend to go off the beaten track: there are no budget airlines in (say) Easter Island, much of Africa or anywhere in the Pacific islands. For example, this trip would have cost way more had I bought regular one-ways instead of an RTW. –  jpatokal Apr 25 '12 at 22:57
    
Sure it depends, though including out of the way locations also increases the cost of a RTW ticket significantly. If I understand that thread correctly, you got it on miles, not for cash, which makes the question of cost a bit moot, no? Still, let me throw in the trip mentioned here, ten stops RTW for under 1800 euros, all on budget airlines. –  MastaBaba Apr 26 '12 at 6:22
    
Hmm? RTW tickets are based purely on miles flown, so as long as your out-of-the-way locations are along the way (eg. Malawi when flying from Johannesburg to Frankfurt, or Rarotonga if going from Sydney to Los Angeles), you pay nothing extra to visit them. So yes, if your goal is simply to go around the world then RTW tickets may not be the best way to do it, but there are plenty of routes for which they are still the most cost-effective way to travel. (And yes, I did pay for my ticket with cold hard cash.) –  jpatokal Apr 26 '12 at 10:46
    
Interesting. But just calculating milage doesn't seem to be completely right. Not even considering the higher total airport taxes when having more stopovers, I just tried a few trips here, staralliance.com/en/booking/book-and-fly, and found a 20000 mile trip with 11 stops for 2860 euro and a 21000 mile trip with just 3 stops for 2500 euro, both excluding taxes. Conceded, the difference is much small than I expected. –  MastaBaba Apr 27 '12 at 21:05
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Many round the world tickets look great based on advertised minimum prices, but if you want to get those prices, then you may have to book months ahead. I talked to two separate travel agents and they both agreed that trying to book an around the world trip a month away would cost much more (say an $3800 instead of $2900). Apparently, there are only a certain number of cheap flights available and once those fill up, you have to buy more expensive ones.

On a standard "round the world" flight, it is quite typical to spend a decent amount of time at each destination. This might make it easier as most flights would be further out. However, for the one we considered, we were trying to keep it tight. We were considering a round the world trip because it didn't cost that much more based on advertised prices and we were hoping it'd only be a few hundred more than the advertised prices.

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RTW fares generally have date flexibility but not route flexibility. This means they are great for someone who wants to do something like tour the world for 6 months or a year on cash savings. You plan out all your places in advance and pay for the entire trip's airline tickets (so you don't need to include that in the trip budget). Then, while you are traveling, you have the flexibility to stay at any given place just as long as you want, without having to pay big premiums to change your flights or book at the last minute.

For people who are not actually travelling to a lot of places around the world, they don't seem to make much sense. I was booking a trip from NYC to Australia via Dubai, and it would have been around $2500 for a RTW trip, vs. $1300 for a normal trip.

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