Choosing Your RTW Route

Pushkar camel fair - how to buy a rtw ticket

Pushkar Camel Fair watering hole, by kkoshy

Updated October 26, 2016.

Choosing your route is a very important part of planning an around-the-world trip. There’s a lot of world out there to explore. How do you narrow it down? Here are 8 key factors to help you decide on some destinations.

1. Priorities

When planning a big trip, it’s best to lay out your destinations in order of priority. Some AirTrekkers are traveling because they have specific events they need to get to, like a wedding or a business meeting. Others just want to make sure they hit the Pushkar Camel

If you have something specific you’d like to do or be somewhere on a specific date, start there, and then plan the rest of your trip around that.

2. The Wish List

If you’re starting from scratch without any specific events you need to hit, start by making a wish list of everything you want to do.

Not sure what’s the best airport to visit the Taj Mahal is in India? Don’t worry about it — our personal travel consultants will help you figure out how to get to all your priority spots.

Start with a brainstorming session and list out everything you’d love to do. Then, take a step back and look at that list. Think about how much time you have to travel and how important your time is in each of the places you’ve listed. Use a ranking system to put those destinations in order of how much you’d like to see them. Then, plug your destinations into TripPlanner to get an idea for what a trip including all of them could cost or give us a call.

We can’t tell you what you should do — travel of this type is a very personal — but we’re happy to share our experiences with you and help you nail down what makes sense.

3. Price and value

In general, the more flexible you are the better your price. Planning a long trip is usually a balance of hitting the places you want to see at the time you want to be there, matching up dates to meet with friends, using preferred carriers and being open to doing unexpected things.

Whenever there’s the opportunity for a free stopover, we let you know. Sometimes it’s only slightly more expensive to add destinations that are on the way, so an extra stop makes your trip worth a lot more for not a lot more money.

Before you make a final decision about your route, ask yourself if spending hundreds of extra dollars to get in an entirely new part of the world justifies the expense. Then take into account how much getting there on another trip would cost.

4. Comfort

Try not to move continuously for 24 straight hours. Usually, the least expensive routes are the ones that incorporate a few more connections. Keep this in mind when planning. Is an eight-hour layover in the middle of the night worth saving $200? It may seem significant, but when you’re on the road you’ll feel very differently about it.

Try adding some longer stopovers along the way to break up your journey. When we’re assembling your tickets we always consider what it will actually be like for you to fly the routes we suggest (because we’ve been in your shoes), so if comfort isn’t as important as the bottom line, let us know!

5. Flexibility

Being flexible with your dates during the initial booking process will ensure you get the best fares available.  Airlines sell seats on every flight at very different prices, and some flights don’t operate every day. If you’re flexible with your dates, it gives us a chance to find the least expensive, most direct options for your trip.

Once you’re on the road, you’ll be able to change the dates of your flights, but not your destinations.

We give you specific date change information before you pay for your tickets so you know what making date changes will cost once they’re issued.

The most common misinformation passed around about standard around-the-world tickets is that you can make unlimited free changes with a set, up-front price.

Unfortunately, this isn’t true. It’s not possible to show up at the airport and jump on any plane at any time.

AirTreks requires you to fix your dates before you purchase your tickets. This ensures you have a confirmed seat on every leg of your journey. Of course, we realize it’s hard to pin down exactly what you’ll be doing 3 months into your trip (which may be 7-9 months from when you’re buying your tickets).

If you want your trip to be more flexible, simply fix down the portions of your flights that you can commit to and where you have less certainty, leave that open. We’re happy to help you book further trip segments from the road.

In Southeast Asia, for example, if you plan to spend 3 months traveling around Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand, we can book your flight into Hanoi and out of Bangkok 3 months later for more flexibility and a better fare.

6. Destination order

The more flexible you are with your route, the easier it will be for your Personal Travel Consultant to find the best route for the destinations you’re looking to hit.

We carefully consider your destinations and suggest the least expensive way of including them all. This works great for people who are flexible with the order of their itinerary.

To get the best fare, it’s helpful if you call us with a list of places you want to see and approximately how long you want to stay in each place.

That way we can put together the most cost-effective and direct route.

7. Airlines

AirTreks works with almost every airline all around the world — we’re not limited to a particular group of airlines (i.e. Star Alliance carriers). We book regional-specific airlines because they often offer the best price and schedule.

That said, we only use carriers our staff knows are reputable and haven’t been blacklisted by the European Commission.

But again, this is your trip, so if there’s a particular airline you’d like us to look into for you, let us know. Unless you have a strong preference for a particular carrier, we usually book whatever is the best value and most direct.

You can accrue airline miles on most of our fares, but because we work with discounted rates sometimes the airlines put restrictions on mileage accumulation. If it’s really important to you to earn full mileage for every flight, make sure to let your Personal Travel Consultant know.

8. Seasonality

Seasonality is a huge factor in ticket prices, high, low, and shoulder seasons are North American summers, winters, and spring/fall respectively. If you want to travel in high season expect pricing to be a little higher.

We recommend booking about 6 months in advance if you will be traveling during peak season in order to take advantage of the best fares.  If you’re traveling for an extended period of time, it’s usually possible to work around seasonality and keep your costs lower.