Everything you need to know about booking a round the world ticket
Dreaming of a round the world trip? Here's how to book a multi-city flight, plus information on which airlines offer the best round the world tickets and some example itineraries to get your trip planning started. If you want to master travelling around the world on a budget, get all the info you'll need, including::
- How much does a round the world ticket cost?
- Can I change the details for my ticket whilst travelling?
- How many stops can I make on a round the world ticket?
What is a round the world (RTW) ticket?
This is a ticket that allows you multiple stops as you complete a journey (probably using a variety of carriers) across a number of countries. These tickets are typically released by alliances. Each alliance is affiliated with a number of different airlines, and this changes the route availability for each ticket.
Which airline alliances offer round the world tickets?
One World, Star Alliance and SkyTeam are the main 3 alliances. Here's a breakdown of their packages, plus those from other alliances who might offer an alternative round the world flight deal to better suit your travel plans:
Mileage: 17,000, 21,000 or 25,000 miles Stops: 16 flight segments, and 5, 6 or 7 stops Airlines you can fly with: • American Airlines • British Airways • Cathay Pacific • Finnair • Iberia • Japan Airlines • Lan • Malev • Qantas • Royal Jordanian
Mileage: 29,000, 34,000 or 39,000 miles Stops: Minimum 3, maximum 15 Airlines you can fly with: • Air Adria • Air Canada • Air New Zealand • ANA • Asiana Airlines • Austrian Airlines • Bmi • Croatia Airlines • LOT Polish Airlines • Lufthansa • Scandinavian Airlines • Shanghai Airlines • Singapore Airlines • South African Airways • Spanair • Swiss • TAP Portugal • Thai Airways International • United Airlines • US Airways
Mileage: 26,000 or 39,000 miles Stops: 16 stops Airlines you can fly with: • Aer Lingus • Air Pacific • Alaska Airlines • American Airlines • British Airways • Cathay Pacific • Dragonair • Finnair • Gulf Air • Iberia • Jalways • Japan Airlines (JAL) • Japan Asia Airways • Lan Airlines • Lan Argentina • Lan Ecuador • Lan Peru • Malev • Qantas • Royal Jordanian
Mileage: 26,000 or 38,000 miles Stops: 16 stops Airlines you can fly with: • Air Caledonie • Air Europa • Air Pacific • Air Tahiti Nui • Air Vanuatu • Alaska Airlines • Continental Airlines • Copa Airlines • Emirates • Jet Airways • Kenya Airways • KLM Royal Dutch Airlines • Malev • Malaysia Airlines • Northwest Airlines • South African Airways • SriLankan Airlines
How many stops can I make with one ticket?
This depends on your ticket - see the list of airline alliances above to get number of stops allowed with each ticket. Some round the world tickets operate on a mileage basis, whereas others depend on the stops you book, for example, multiple countries, or cities.
What’s cheaper, a round the world ticket or booking multi-city flights myself?
It’s worth considering that many aliances will not include most budget low-cost carriers (we’re talking about Ryanair, or AirAsia). This may mean that it's cheaper to book separately as you go, but it depends on your route and destinations. Using the cheaper airlines and booking flights individually means you can be more flexible, but you may be stung with last minute fares, or face extortionate baggage charges. On the other hand, the DIY approach might work out cheaper if you're flying cross-continent quite a lot. If you're considering a DIY round the world trip, check out Skyscanner's multi-city ticket option and find out how our multi-stop tool can help you find the cheapest flights.
Can I change my flight details as I travel?
Again, this is highly dependent on your ticket. Some allow for last minute changes, whereas others will ask a small fee for each change. It's best to check with the alliance and the individual airline you are travelling with.
Do I have to go in one direction?
Not necessarily. Going back on yourself will use up valuable miles though, and even if you travel independently (for example, overland - known as a 'surface sector') this is still likely to be factored in to the total number of miles you have travelled and maybe considered a segment stop as well.
When is the cheapest time to travel?
Unlike most airline seats which are sensitive to price fluctuations depending on the time of year, round the world fares tend to remain relatively consistent (there are exceptions though). If you're looking for the cheapest possible ticket then, generally, the best time to depart is between late April and mid June. For specific destinations, search for the best time to book your flights using our handy little chart.
Can I buy extra miles?
If your planned journey exceeds the number of miles allowed by your ticket, then you can purchase extra miles or you can buy a different ticket which allows you to travel further. For example, the World Journey fare allows you to purchase a ticket with up to 40,000 miles of travel available.
How long are the tickets valid for?
Most round the world tickets are valid for one year from the date of the first flight shown on the ticket. But, again, it's always best to read the small print when booking, just to double check with the alliance's terms and conditions.
Are there restrictions on my ticket?
This will vary with the type of ticket you've purchased. Watch out: some fares have a 'minimum stay' clause of anything up to two weeks which is designed to deter business travellers from taking advantage of lower fares.
Do I need an onward ticket before landing in some countries?
Yes. Travellers should check with their travel agents and the foreign office website for visa information to find out which countries require proof of a ticket for departure.
Should I deal directly with the airlines?
For information about baggage or restrictions that are airline specific then yes, but for booking and planning it's probably best to go to the alliance. If you do this, you are probably only going to get information about that particular airline’s routes and schedules. In order to complete a RTW trip involving more than a few stops, you're going to have to use different carriers, which is why airline alliances have been established. You can also speak to the alliances' travel advisors, they will often offer you a broad range of options.
Here are a few examples of great RTW tickets for Europe, Asia and Australasia
What's the best round the world ticket for Australia and New Zealand?
Stop in Bali, Hong Kong or Mumbai on your way to Sydney, Perth or Wellington with World Discovery. You could also squeeze an L.A. or Hawaii stop in on the way back. The World Walkabout is ideal for those sticking to Australia and New Zealand.
What's the best round the world ticket for Europe?
Star Alliance offer the best airlines for crossing the continents (Americas, Europe, Asia), whereas the Global Explorer has Aer Lingus - one of the most well connected airlines within Europe.
What's the best round the world ticket for Asia?
The World Journey ticket offers the best connections to French Polynesia, but the Great Escapade offers many more connections within Southeast Asia.
Ready to go? Find your perfect flights for you're nest round the world adventure, right here 👇
Get more holiday inspiration over here...
Where to go in the Sunshine State, from San Fran's wharf to the rides at Disneyland - we've got you covered.
Had enough of the temples and tigers? These pearly white sands are just off the gulf, and they're cheap to fly to.
The Great Ocean Road is one of our #1 road trips in the world, but it's also worth checking out West Australia when you're there - the Nullabor Plain is one of the most barren but beautiful spots in Oz.