Many people ask us if we’re buying a round-the-world ticket (rtw ticket) for our trip. We can answer that question with a definite „No“ – after a detailed research we chose to go with one-way tickets. For us a rtw ticket has more cons than pros. But it always depends on your individual needs – sometimes it can make sense to buy a rtw ticket.
Every big flight alliance offers rtw tickets you can circle the globe with. You can use every airline that belongs to the specific alliance you bought the ticket at. The price of most tickets depends on the number of miles you want to fly – only one alliance takes the number of zones you’re flying through as a basis for the ticket price.
In principle, the number of miles/zones as well as the number of flights is limited. There are also restrictions concerning the direction of your journey – usually you’re only allowed to travel in one direction, either eastward or westward. You have to be at your place of departure 365 days after you started your trip and you have to define your route already upon booking.
That was the deal-breaker for us as we don’t want to commit ourselves to 1 year and a certain route. We want to be flexible and may spontaneously stay longer in one place if we badly like it there. Or we maybe want to see a place we didn’t think of before but hear such good things en route.
Of course we already have a rough route in mind. We took the weather conditions of the different countries into consideration and had a look at the costs to get from one country to the next. We want to visit every continent basically and go to see especially several countries in Southeast Asia.
Star Alliance has a Book and Fly Configurator where I typed in our route to exemplify the miles and costs. I’m already reaching the maximum number of miles only with our long-distance flights – and there are still a couple of destinations in Southeast Asia and South America missing. Those flights we would have to book additionally. For me, the price was very daunting and I’m sure that one-way tickets are the cheaper choice for us.
But not everyone is planning such an overall route as we do. A rtw ticket may definitely make sense in certain circumstances. If you’re not sure yet if a rtw ticket is worth it in your specific case, the following summary of the pros and cons of both rtw and one-way tickets might help.
- No entering difficulties
I think that’s the major benefit of a rtw ticket. You can always prove that you will leave the country again and return back to your home country sooner or later. Therefore you can decrease the risk of getting refused.
- Clear budget planning
Once bought the ticket you don’t have to think of the costs for flights anymore. You don’t have to take those costs into account and get a good overview of how much money you have left for your adventures.
- Changes are possible
Normally changes are free of charge, but it can occur that you have to pay a small amount for changing a flight. You always have a contact person you can do all your required changes with.
- More time
If you don’t have that much time for your trip anyway you can use your left over time for better things than searching for cheap flights.
If you like to plan everything in advance and like to play safe a rtw ticket will serve you well.
The rtw ticket is valid for a maximum of 365 days. Therefore it’s difficult to stay in one place longer than planned because that affects the whole journey.
- Routing is limited
You are limited to the route system of the airlines belonging to the alliance. That results in the fact that you would have to book extra flights if you want to visit a place the alliance doesn’t approach.
- No flexibility
You have to define your route already upon booking. Changes are possible but you can’t change the whole route afterwards of course.
- You have to stick to one direction
Once you chose in which direction you want to travel you can’t change it without additional costs. You have to go either eastward or westward.
If you’re planning a route with a lot of destinations the rtw ticket can get very expensive quickly.
You can always decide spontaneously where to go next. Under certain conditions it can be cheaper and nicer to take a bus or train instead of flying. In many cases you only get to know the best way on location.
- No time limit
You can travel as long as you want with one-way tickets and don’t have to keep the expiration date after 1 year in mind. We want to spend more or less 1 month in one place and don’t exclude staying longer if we like it there. With the limited validity of 1 year we would be very restricted.
- Use of low-cost airlines
You can take low-cost airlines into consideration when searching for your next flight. In some parts of the world short-haul flights only cost 20 to 30 Euros.
- Entry requirements
You often need a ticket that proves your departure when entering a new country. Usually you don’t have to show that ticket at the entry but already at the check-in of your flight because you are the airline’s problem when your entry gets refused. In that case the airline has to arrange your departure. There are different ways how to solve that problem. I will write a separate article to that topic.
As I already said in the beginning, it depends on the circumstances. A rtw ticket is not relevant for us because of all the cons coming along with it. But if you know that you only have 1 year to travel, your route consists of less destinations and you like to play safe, a rtw ticket might be the right choice for you.
Do you prefer rtw or one-way tickets? I’m looking forward to your comment!