Round-the-world travel

A round-the-world journey can be the trip of a lifetime, allowing you to visit a number of diverse countries and cities in a single trip. And with some fares as low as a return ticket to Australia or New Zealand, it can be a compelling option.

At the other end of the scale, a round-the-world ticket can offer you the chance to include some of the most remote and exotic locations on earth, such as Easter Island, Tahiti, Svalbard or Bhutan.

Regular flights to such places can often be horrifically expensive, but so long as they fall within your ticket's mileage limit, they can affordably be reached on a round-the-world journey.

With so many options available, the choice can be bewildering – which is where our specialists come in to their own. They've been booking complex round-the-world itineraries for years, know all the rules and regulations, and will use their skill and experience to find you the best deal.

While no route is impossible, experience has taught us that rigidly sticking to a preconceived itinerary can often prove expensive.

Our specialists are trained to suggest tweaks to save you money, whether it be substituting one city for another, changing the order of the destinations or just moving a departure date by a couple of days.

They'll be proud to work with you to build you the most cost-effective journey.

What is a round-the-world ticket?

In essence a round-the-world (RTW) ticket is a plane ticket allowing you to fly to multiple destinations, usually over a period of up to a year, and with between three and 15 stops at different airports.

Where you can stop will depend on the conditions of the ticket and the destinations flown to by the airline, or airline alliance (such as Star Alliance or oneworld).

Conditions typically include:

  • A mileage limit (normally between 26,000 and 40,000 miles, inclusive of ‘surface' sectors)
  • A time limit in which to make the journey (normally 12 months)
  • A minimum and maximum number of stops permitted
  • Stipulations concerning direction of travel (typically whether you can ‘backtrack' – go out and back via the same part of the world – or if you need to go ‘round the world' – include both a transatlantic and transpacific flight)

Surface sectors

It is often advisable when planning your round-the-world journey to include some ‘surface' sectors. By this we mean flying in to one airport but out of another, perhaps even out of a whole other country, and travelling overland in between.

Travelling overland – by train, bus, boat or whatever the imagination prescribes – is a great way to see and experience more of the region you're visiting. It can also allow you to avoid backtracking and to save on the stopovers you use on your ticket.

You should note, however, that many RTW tickets count miles covered during ‘surface' sectors towards the maximum number of miles permitted with the ticket.

Things to consider

  • Start by noting down where you fancy going and what budget you plan on working to. If you know when you'd like to leave and roughly how long you'd like to spend in each destination, it will help with selecting the right ticket and in working out costings.
  • Put your destinations into a logical geographical order. For example, UK - India - Thailand - Vietnam - Cambodia - Australia - New Zealand - Fiji - USA - UK is great, but UK - Africa - South America - Europe is unlikely to work without spending a fortune.
  • Discuss your ideas with a WEXAS specialist as early as possible – some key routes are bottlenecks and sell out months in advance.
  • Ask your specialist which optional stopovers could be included at little or no extra cost – there may be a free stopover that you hadn't even considered.
  • To save money, try to stay within a single airline alliance, such as Star Alliance or oneworld, or use airline partners such as British Airways and Qantas or Virgin and Air New Zealand.
  • Bear in mind that every flight will add fuel surcharges and other taxes to the basic cost of your ticket.
  • Take out a frequent flyer card for one of the airlines in the alliance before you travel. The mileage in a RTW journey will be considerable and most miles flown on partner airlines will also be credited to your frequent flyer account.
  • Consider a cabin upgrade on the longer flights. The additional comfort had, for example, in British Airways' World Traveller Plus or in Qantas and Air New Zealand's Premium Economy seats can make a whole world of difference.

A few favourites

Here are a four of our most popular RTW tickets, together with an outline of their conditions of travel (should further conditions apply, your specialist will be able to talk you through them).

Numerous other routings are of course possible, and other ticket types are available too.

Round the World flight mapRound the World flight map

  1. Walkabout
    An excellent, economical way to go round the world via Australia, stopping once on the way there and once on the way back.
    Flying with: Qantas and British Airways plus some codeshare flights on partner airlines.
    Stopovers: One stopover permitted in each direction travelling to and from Australia. Stopovers available in Asia, Africa, North America and Fiji.
    Direction of travel: Backtracking permitted; round-the-world travel not necessary.
  2. Global Explorer (oneworld)
    oneworld's global alliance can take you to nearly 750 destinations worldwide, making this another popular and flexible ticket.
    Flying with: 23 airlines in total, including 12 oneworld member airlines, such as British Airways, Qantas, Cathay Pacific, American Airlines, Iberia and more.
    Stopovers: Between two and 15 stopovers permitted (depending on fare level).
    Direction of travel: Must travel around the world.
    Mileage limit: 26,000, 29,000, 34,000 or 39,000 miles in Economy (depending on fare level); 34,000 miles in Business or First Class.
  3. Air New Zealand
    Enjoy the friendly, personal service of New Zealand's national carrier all the way round the world.
    Flying with: Air New Zealand.
    Stopovers: One stopover permitted in each direction travelling to and from New Zealand. Stopovers available in Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington and the Cook Islands.
    Direction of travel: Backtracking permitted; round-the-world travel not necessary.
  4. Star Alliance
    With 27 airlines serving 171 countries and between three and 15 stopovers permitted in Economy, Business or First Class, the Star Alliance RTW ticket offers easier routings to more destinations than any other RTW airfare.
    Flying with: 27 Star Alliance member airlines.
    Stopovers: Between three and 15 stopovers permitted anywhere on the Star Alliance network.
    Direction of travel: Must travel round the world.
    Mileage limit: 29,000, 34,000 or 39,000 miles (depending on fare level).

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