How to Choose Dates for Your Around the World Trip

planning an around the world trip

Astronomical Clock, Bern – source brainstorm

Updated September 7, 2016.

How to Plan an Around the World Trip

The Cheapest Time to Go

If you’re putting together a long trip it may be difficult to work around seasonality – there are a lot of moving parts – but the time of year has such a dramatic effect on the final price it’s wise to take it into account. Keep the seasonality of destinations on your trip in mind and you may find yourself paying a lot less for your tickets.

Bear in mind the following price ranges when scheduling your flights. These apply for most every world region:

Season Relative cost *Dates
Low Season Least expensive Jan, Feb, Mar
Shoulder Season Mid-range Apr, May, Sep, Oct, Nov
High Season Most expensive Jun, Jul, Aug
Holidays Most expensive mid-Dec thru mid-Jan, especially to Australia & New Zealand
Note: Holiday & high season travel are popular by definition & discount seats are often hard to come by. Avoid travel during this time period.

* dates are approximate and vary with destination, availability and time of booking.

Pro tip: Book flights to tropical regions using low season fares and save money. Make your way down to Australia and the South Pacific from Southeast Asia in November and avoid departing before mid-January.

Planning Around the Weather

For the most part, trying to plan around bad weather is as fruitless as a shortcake without strawberries, but if you want to avoid getting wet, cold or hot, focus on what you want to do most and research those places’ weather conditions.

If you’re inclined to avoid bad weather take into account the following:

  • India – June. Monsoon season is notoriously unpleasant.
  • Southeast Asia – May through September. It may rain every day but on the bright side, probably only in short dramatic bursts.
  • The Middle East– June thru August. Extremely high temperatures will make you wish you waited for Fall.
  • Equatorial mountain ranges – June and July are infamously stormy.

For rainfall amounts and temperatures at hundreds of destinations around the world, check out Best Time To Go.

Pro tip: Grab a poncho and travel during rainy season! It can mean fewer tourists and much lower prices on flights, accommodations, food, etc. Wet season also means unusually lush and dramatic landscapes. If you can’t fit that spot into your itinerary during dry season, go anyway and get a little wet. Sightseeing can be done regardless of most weather, you know.

Flexibility with Travel Dates

It can’t be stressed enough, the more flexible you are, the better chance at a lower RTW ticket price altogether. Having a week or more of date flexibility in either direction so we can find the cheapest flights means lower ticket prices for you. Especially with regards to high season and holiday dates. Be flexible by 2 weeks during the summer and give the okay to shift your dates two weeks after winter holidays – it could save you $200 or more!

If you must have specific dates that include peak season travel you’ll want to book as early as possible. Once the cheap seats go on sale, they’re gone in short order, so get a jump on them by booking 4 – 6 months in advance of your departure.

Regional Events and Festivals that Affect Ticket Price

You should also keep in mind events that bring the masses to a city. Flights will be more difficult to score if you’re coming at the same time as everyone else.

Here are some of the most popular ones:

  • Jan – Feb – Asia, Chinese New Year. Flights to, from, and around Asia come at a premium during this time of year
  • Jan – Feb – Vietnam, Tet.
  • Feb – Brazil, Carnival. Celebrated the weekend before Ash Wednesday, can come as early as February 4 or as late as March 10.
  • Mar – Melbourne, Australian Grand Prix.
  • Mar – Apr  – Hong Kong, Hong Kong Sevens Rugby
  • Mar – Bali, Nyepi Day. The entire island takes a day of silence. Denpasar Airport is closed.
  • Jun – Aug –  Muslim countries, Ramadan. Remember, Indonesia is a predominantly Muslim country.
  • Jul – France, Tour de France. A 3000km cycling race that ends up in Paris late in the month.
  • Aug – Edinburgh, Scotland, Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
  • Aug – Buenos Aires, International Tango Festival
  • Oct – Nov – Pushkar, Rajasthan, India. Pushkar Camel Fair. Fly into and out of Jaipur, Bombay or Delhi.
  • Oct or Nov – India. Diwali.
  • Christmas – New Years – Sydney and Auckland, New Years Eve celebrations.
  • Eclipses – everywhere, random dates. People come from across the globe to random cities to see the sun’s eclipse. To find out where and when solar eclipses are happening, check out this world eclipse map. Or head over to NASA’s total solar eclipse page.
  • World Cup Soccer matches in any given destination will raise fares.
  • Olympics The Winter and Summer Olympics can cause flights to host countries to increase substantially in price.

*Exact festival dates vary year to year (hence the date ranges) so check when they fall for the exact dates you plan to travel.

Again, if you must go during events (that’s the reason I’m going, dummy!) try to book as far in advance as possible. Usually, 4 or 5 months  is enough  although 10 – 11 months are advised for destinations hosting World Cup and Olympic events.

Changing travel dates

For going on 15-20 years it hasn’t been possible to book so-called “open tickets”, so on every RTW ticket sold decisions about travel dates must be made before you purchase.

Fortunately, our exclusive and dedicated customer service department is specifically set up to assist with any date changes you may need.

Of course, we always recommend contacting the carrier airline whose flight you wish to change first – for a little extra fuss, they can sometimes change your dates without accruing change fees.

Setting dates when booking with AirTreks

At the time of booking, your Personal Travel Consultant will reserve seats on all your flights. This means you’ll need to set actual dates of travel for each leg of your journey.

When getting quotes from AirTreks you should be flexible with your travel dates at first. When planning, the best request to make so that your agent can find the most comfortable and best-priced route for you would be something like: “I want to leave for Bangkok after about a month in Sydney.”

This leaves them with a rough timeline without a set date to find the best flights and least expensive fare.

Fixed dates or inflexibility might leave you with a more expensive ticket or a tight connection. Two to three days of flexibility on either side of your chosen date gives your agent a chance to skirt the busy or more expensive day to find the best flight combination for you.

If you can swing it, a  fair amount of advance notice (4-6 months) allows your agent to build you the best possible route for your travel dates.

When you’re ready to finalize your booking, be sure go through your itinerary and select the approximate dates you’d like to fly each leg.

Pro Tip: If you can’t (or don’t want to) decide on a leg of travel in advance, consider leaving that leg open to buy later on. It’s perfectly acceptable to book your trip in stages even while you’re traveling.

 

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