the World Airfares part 4
Planning your round the world itinerary
So you're all set to fly away - where do you go, how do
you get there, and what other issues should you consider
when planning your itinerary?
Part 4 of a multi-part series. Click for
Part of the complete process of
choosing your RTW fare is also choosing where you go and how you
get there. Some of your choices will be better than
others, and you need to avoid the 'kid in a candy store'
temptation to cram too much into a world tour.
The information below will help
you enjoy the best travel and destination experiences as part of
your RTW experience.
How to Best Use a Round the
If you've decided that
you're going to spend a month or however long traveling the
world, then perhaps a RTW fare is a good choice. But
beware of the 'kid in a candy store' syndrome, where you decide
to 'get your money's worth' from the fare by stopping in as many
different places as possible.
That is generally not a good
idea; you'll end up spending too much of your time away on
airplanes and too little time actually sightseeing and enjoying
the destinations you visit.
You should also use your RTW
fare to travel to far away and widely disparate places, rather
than using it to make a series of small flights within a single
As a general rule of thumb,
you should allow yourself a minimum of three days per country
and two days per stop, and traveling days should not be counted
as part of those time allocations.
The chances also are that
you won't be able to go to everywhere you want to go, all as
part of one single globe-circling journey. You'll run out
of time, the rules of the ticket won't allow you to go
everywhere, and the extra cost of side-trips or extensions to
the base RTW ticket will end up becoming prohibitive.
Direction of Travel
Should you travel east-bound
or west-bound? There are several considerations to keep in
mind when deciding this major issue.
We also have two pages of
information elsewhere on our site about
the best time to travel.
If you're on a journey for
an extended period of time, you should try and work out which
direction will give you the best weather overall.
Remember that the seasons
are reversed south of the equator, and remember the rainy and
typhoon/hurricane seasons closer to the equator, and try to get
the dates as optimized as possible for the consistently best
Time Zones and Jetlag
People generally find it
easier to adjust to new time zones when traveling in a westerly
direction rather than an easterly direction. This is
because the human body's daily cycle is actually slightly longer
than 24 hours, so it is easier to adjust to longer days than to
We have two pages of
causes and cures elsewhere on the site.
If all other things are
equal, you'd probably slightly prefer to plan your trip in a
westerly direction for this reason alone, especially if you're
on a shorter itinerary, meaning you have less time to allow for
adjustment/recovery days after each flight than if you're on a
longer duration trip.
Deciding Where to Go.
Now for the exciting part -
where in the world will you go?
Step One - Three lists of
We suggest you create
perhaps three lists of destinations - a 'Must Visit' list, a
'Should Visit' list, and a 'Would be Nice to Visit if
Perhaps mark up a world map
with dots - eg red, yellow and green, to graphically show where
the different places are, to help you when it comes to working
out how to travel between the places.
Step Two - How much time do
Then decide how much time
you have for your total vacation, and think about how long
you'll want to spend in each of the places on your three lists.
At this point, you should be
starting to get a feeling for some of the constraints that will
act upon for - for example 'I want to go to four 'must visit'
destinations, seven 'should visit' destinations, and five 'would
be nice to visit' destinations, but I only have time to go see
eight places during my total time away.
So, which eight places will
you go to? In this random example, you could in theory do
all four 'must visit' destinations, plus four of the other
destinations too. But maybe you might see, on the map, a
cluster of places you want to go to, all close to each other,
and which would cut down on your traveling time and hassle (and
possibly cost). Maybe you then find yourself having to
choose between visiting one 'must visit' destination or two or
three of the lesser priority destinations.
Also consider places that
are easy to visit on other occasions, because they are close or
inexpensive to travel to. Perhaps these are places you
might leave off the major world trip if you need to start
Step Three - Fitting your
itinerary to the different RTW choices and costs
The next step is to see how
the various different RTW fares would apply to the possible
itineraries you have in mind. Maybe some places can't be
reached on some of the RTW fares, and maybe other places would
cost considerably extra to add. This will start to inject
a note of financial realism into things.
Step Four - What is your
You need to decide how much
you're willing to spend for your world trip. Consider how
this money will be allocated for airfare, for hotels, for meals,
for sightseeing, and for miscellaneous expenses.
Maybe some destinations are
very much more expensive to stay in than others. And maybe
some destinations will cost extra airfare to get to.
So if you're starting to
reach your budget limits, you may decide it is better to
eliminate an expensive destination, leaving you more time and
money to enjoy more moderately priced destinations.
Step Five - Leave some things
for next time
As part of your eliminating
some places process, consider if your
complete world trip wouldn't be better taken in a series of
shorter excursions rather than all at once. Many of us
find that once we've been away from home for over a month, not
only do we start to get homesick, but things that we've deferred
for a month at home start to become more pressing and more
demanding of our physical presence and attention.
For example, here's a
mythical itinerary that is crammed full of travel, and gets you
to eight countries in 29 days, and nine of those 29 days (more
than one in three) are spent (ie wasted!) traveling, with much
of the world still untouched.
Day 1 : Fly from US to
Day 2,3,4 : Three full
days in Iceland
Day 5 : Fly from
Iceland to the UK
Day 6,7,8 : Three full
days in the UK
Day 9 : Fly to France
Day 10,11 : Two full
days in France (cheating by acting as if 'Europe' is a single
country for the two/three day rule of thumb)
Day 12 : Fly from
France to Germany
Day 13, 14 : Two full
days in Germany
Day 15 : Fly from
Germany to Italy
Day 16,17 : Two full
days in Italy
Day 18 : Fly from
Italy to Greece
Day 19,20 : Two full
days in Greece
Day 21 : Fly from
Greece to Egypt
Day 22,23,24 : Three
full days in Egypt
Day 25 : Fly from
Egypt to India
Day 26,27,28 : Three
full days in India
Day 29 : Fly from
India back to the US
Considering this mythical
itinerary, the thing that should obviously strike you is that
you're wasting a lot of the potential of the RTW fare by flying
around Europe. You'd be better advised to make a separate
trip to Europe by just buying a roundtrip ticket to Europe
(probably an 'Open Jaws' type ticket - this means you fly in to
one city and out of another) and travel within Europe on a
Eurail type rail pass instead.
If you did this, you'd free
up time in your RTW itinerary for adding extra stops such as
other places in Asia (China, Japan, etc), down to the South
Pacific (Australia and New Zealand), possibly a South Pacific
island (Fiji, Tahiti) and even time in South America. This
is adding many more 'expensive' and 'far away' destinations to
your itinerary. Europe is easy to get to and easy to
travel around, but some of these other places are much harder to
get to and travel about.
Finally, you have to make
the difficult choices of how much extra to pay for places you
really want to see, and which places you'll have to leave off
the itinerary. And that's a part only you can do; we can't
help you with that!
Read more in the rest of this
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14 Mar 2008, last update
26 Jun 2019
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