Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) after you depart
Defining a round the world (RTW) trip
Give me the short version
Easy. An RTW – or round the world if we’re being formal – is a flight ticket that allows you stop at multiple destinations on multiple continents for a relative pittance. Which, obviously, is a Fairly Good Thing.
And the slightly longer, more tedious version?
Airline alliances sell special (and famously complicated) round the world tickets. These allow passengers to book a series of flights at once, at a price that’s generally far cheaper than booking the flights individually. The price is generally dependent on where you stop, how many miles you cover and how many continents you visit.
You can usually include ‘surface’ sectors where you travel overland (ie. Fly into Bangkok, get the train to Singapore, fly out of Singapore), and the tickets tend to be valid for a year.
Dates can often be changed free of charge or for a relatively tiny extra fee – so you can alter plans on the hoof.
Most importantly, these tickets are often not bookable online – they’re too complex for most web systems to handle. Attempting to book multi-stop flights online will generally end up with a very expensive quote, because the legs end up priced individually, rather than being lumped into one ticket.
But I don’t want to go round the world…
That’s fair enough. There are other tickets which serve similar purposes. If you’re only going to one continent, it’s possible to do it as an ‘open-jaw’ ticket, then add on internal flights. A good example would be flying into Lima, then out of Buenos Aires, while tacking on short hops elsewhere in South America.
There are also multi-stop flights that are technically normal return tickets which allow stopovers. Going to New Zealand via Asia and Australia on one of these often works out cheaper than an RTW, for example. A route along the lines of London – Singapore – Sydney – Christchurch – Auckland – Brisbane – Bangkok – London fits the bill here.
What’s the catch?
There are thousands of permutations, and switching one destination for another can bump the price up by hundreds of pounds.
Generally, you also have to go in one direction – backtracking usually adds big chunks to the overall mileage, and therefore costs more.
Also, the cheaper the ticket, the more it will probably cost to change later on.
So how do I get the best deal?
It’s best to start with a rough idea of where you want to go, and how long you want to spend in each place. Be prepared to be a little flexible, and then give roundtheworldflights.com a call on 020 7704 5700.
Years of fiddling with RTW tickets and access to the airline systems mean money-saving tweaks can usually be found. It may mean stopping in Kuala Lumpur rather than Singapore, flying into Melbourne rather than Sydney or spending 19 days in New Zealand rather than 20. But talking through the options will usually find that happy medium between dream itinerary and dream price.
As for the cheapest time to travel, the best bargains tend to be on departures after Easter but before the school holidays start.
12 things to do before you take off
Once you’ve booked your round the world flights, there are a few more things you need to sort out before you get on that first plane. And here’s a handy guide to the main ones.
Straight after booking
1. Check the documents
Once you have your e-tickets, check to see that everything’s as you expect it to be. If not, now is a better time to fix a problem than two hours before your flight. It’s also worth adding any relevant frequent flyer number you may have to the booking. If you don’t have one, it’s worth signing up for the schemes of airlines you’ll be flying on and adding the numbers later.
2. Additional Paperwork
For many countries, visas can be obtained upon entry. Others require you to get them in advance. Those for Australia and the US can be done quickly online, but others – such as India, China and Vietnam – require you to send your passport off. You really don’t want to be turned away at the airport, so get it sorted in good time. Roundtheworldflights.com has drawn up a handy visa chart Your passport also needs to be machine-readable and in date – if yours has less than six months validity at the END of your trip, you need to send off for a new one.
3. Safety and security
Look into what jabs, inoculations and medical certificates (such as Yellow Fever) you may need, and get on to your GP about having your arm turned into a pincushion if need be. It’s also worth researching whether you need to take malaria tablets – you generally have to start taking them before you go.
Insurance is a must (unless you’re a complete idiot), whilst applying for a second Visa or Mastercard (the most widely accepted credit cards) could save a whole lot of pain if your usual one goes missing. More health, safety and security advice can be found here.
4. Start filling the gaps
Get some guide books, read some destination material online and start learning about the history and culture of the places you’ll be visiting. It’ll enrich the experience immensely. It’s also good for getting ideas of what to do while you’re out there. If you fancy doing any tours, then now’s the time to look into them as well.
Two months before
5. Domestic duties
If you’re renting, hand in your notice. If you own your house or flat, you should decide whether you want to let it out for the duration of your trip and sort out tenants sharpish. You’ll also need to contact the Post Office to have your post stopped or redirected, arrange for gym memberships and utility accounts to be put on hold, and cancel subscriptions.
6. Dealing with work
Work wise, if you need to arrange for a long period of leave, you probably should have had a word before booking. If you need to quit, check your notice period and get a second, personal e-mail account through the likes of Yahoo or Gmail that you can use while you’re away. Oh, and tell everyone that’s the way to contact you, rather than let your work inbox pile up.
7. Start getting suspiciously sociable
Got family, Facebook acquaintances or distant friends of friends in the places you’re visiting? Why not drop them a line and let them know you’re coming. You might get an expert tour guide and free accommodation out of it…
8. Start shopping
If you want to take any specialist gear – clothing, footwear, electronics – start the shopping spree. And make sure it works/ is worn in before you go.
One month out
9. Get booking
You’ll need to work out how you’re getting to the airport. If by train, tickets booked in advance are far cheaper. Make sure you leave time for any delays, and aim to be at the airport three hours before departure. It’s also worth sorting out accommodation for the first night or two in your first destination.
10. Do the admin
Write out a RTW packing list, replace anything that’s broken or missing and write down important numbers – such as those of your banks, credit card providers, family and roundtheworldflights.com (for any flight changes). If you’re planning to get foreign currency in advance (and having a couple of hundred US dollars is always handy if nothing else), get it sorted now. Many currencies need to be ordered in. See our handy RTW planning section here
One week out to day of departure
11. Tackle the tech and pack
Back up your laptop, charge all relevant batteries and make sure all chargers and adaptors are ready to pack. You may want to stock your MP3 Player up with a few failsafe playlists, too. And then, of course, you need to pack.
12. Get flight-ready
Phone the airline to reconfirm your flight time hasn’t changed (rarely the case, but it’s good practice to check), take another look at your itinerary with roundtheworldflights.com’s My booking and check in online with the airlines own web systems if you can – it saves time at the airport and helps you snaffle the best seats.