How to Choose Dates for Your Around the World Trip

planning an around the world trip

Astronomical Clock, Bern – source brainstorm

Avoid peak demand and high prices

Choosing your dates when planning an around the world trip may be just as important as where you’re actually going. Spending lots of money to get somewhere only to find it’s a national holiday, a low season ghost town or flooded due to a monsoon storm will downright obliterate your travel enthusiasm.

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 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 is popular & discount seats are often hard to come by. Avoid travel during this time period.

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

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

Planning around the weather

Monsoon season, Seoul

Monsoon season, Seoul

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:

  • India – June. Monsoon season is notoriously unpleasant.
  • Southeast Asia – May thru September. It may rain everyday but in only in short dramatic bursts.
  • Middle east countries – June thru August. Extreme high temperatures.
  • Equatorial mountain ranges – June, July, stormy

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

Pro tip: 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, be stalwart and get a little wet. Sightseeing can be done regardless of the 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 the holiday – it could save you $200 or more!

If you must have the dates you want book as early as possible. Once the cheap seats sell, they sell for good, so get a jump on them by booking 4 – 5 months in advance of your departure.

Regional events and festivals affect your ticket price

Keep in mind events that bring a mass of people to a city. Flights will be more difficult to score if you’re coming at the same time as everyone else.

Here are some very popular ones:

  • Jan – Feb – Asia, Chinese New Year. Flights to, from, and around Asia will 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 – Hong Kong, Hong Kong Sevens Rugby
  • Mar – Bali, Nyepi Day. Island takes a day of silence. Denpasar Airport is closed.
  • Jul – Aug –  Muslim countries, Ramadan. Don’t forget, 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 the total solar eclipses are happening check out this world eclipse map. Or head over to NASA’s total solar eclipse page.
  • Jun – Jul, 2014 – Brazil, World Cup soccer
  • Aug, 2016 – Rio de Janeiro, Summer Olympics

*Exact festival dates vary year to year (hence the date ranges) so check when they fall when you’re planning on going.

Again, if you must come during events (that’s the reason I’m going, dummy!) try to book as far in advance as possible. Usually 4 or 5 months will do it (10 – 11 months for World Cup and Olympics).

Changing travel dates

For at least the last 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. Our exclusive and dedicated customer service department is specifically set up to assist with date changes.

We always recommend first contacting the airline whose flight you wish to change – it’s often possible to change 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 most ideal request to your agent would go something like this: “I want to leave for Bangkok after about a month in Sydney.”

This leaves them with a rough timeline to find the cheapest date and least expensive fare.

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

If possible, have a  fair amount of advance notice (4-6 months) to allow your agent to get the travel dates you like.

When you’re ready to finalize your booking, be sure go through your itinerary and select 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 or to get them when you’re traveling.