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Should I buy RTW ticket or wing it?

Travel Forums Round the World Travel Should I buy RTW ticket or wing it?

1. Posted by Dezafinado (Respected Member 177 posts) 9y

I'm ready to make the next step of buying tickets for my 6-month trip, which begins in May. I'm from Southern California and will be heading to Europe where I'll stay ~3 months, visiting most of Western Europe and some parts of the former Eastern Bloc and Greece. During this time I may also visit Egypt, Jordan and Turkey depending on the situation of the Iraq War and Mid-East. After that, I'll head to SE Asia where I'll base in Saigon, Vietnam. From there I'll visit Cambodia, Laos and head north to China. In mainland China, a trip to Tibet is in the plan. After about 6-8 weeks in Asia, my next destination is New Zealand with a possible short stay in Melbourne (OZ) to visit relatives. The last leg brings me back to Los Angeles.

There seems to be enough specials/discounts for flights from Los Angeles to Europe. The remaining legs I have no clue. There seems to be 2 camps: 1) those who purchase in advance and 2) those who buy as they go (with some planning). Buying first gives you a peace of mind but I kinda like the flexibility as plans/destinations may change. Let's say I got bored with Europe earlier and want to leave for Asia. Will changing flight dates and destinations involve a lot of work and fees?

Any advice is appreciated!

2. Posted by aharrold45 (Travel Guru 1281 posts) 9y

Some countries require you to have an onward ticket before they will issue a visa. Others will say that in the conditions, but they don't check to see if you have a ticket. For example to get a visa for Vietnam you are required to apply in advance and you'll need to show proof that you'll be leaving. That doesn't necessarily mean you need a ticket saying you are flying from Saigon-Shanghai or whatever. You could have a RTW ticket which has you landing in Saigon and then going overland and departing from Beijing or something like that. As long as you show that section that shows a flight from Beijing to somewhere then that should be good enough. I personally think that unless you plan on doing some huge amount of overland travel like the trans-siberian or something like that which covers half the distance of the world, well a RTW ticket is a great thing. It is very convenient and if you plan your trip well, it will allow you flexibility in areas. So for example on my last ticket I landed in Kiev/Ukraine and departed from Helsinki/Finland a couple of months later. In that time I was able to go overland through Ukraine, Russia (Moscow and St Petersburg), Latvia, Estonia and then see some of Finland. Originally I didn't plan on going to Latvia, but because I left my itinerary open somewhat well I was able to change things as I went.

On a RTW ticket changing dates is free, but their might be a problem on getting a flight when you want to change it to even if on the internet it says an economy class seat exists on the flight you want. Reason being that a RTW ticket uses RTW economy class and not standard economy class. Sometimes you'll have no problems at all, but other times you may be stuck with having to keep to the selected dates. I personally needed to change a flight from Mumbai and I was able to at short notice simply by calling up the local office of the airline I needed to change the flight with. Someone on another travel forum said they went to change a flight from Santiago-Sydney and they wouldn't be able to change it for 2 months despite the internet saying economy class seats exist on almost every date (and that person's wife had severely injured her leg so was restricted on being able to do anything for most the day).

I think that for Jordan you'd need to have some form of onward travel as most places around that part of the world are really strict with issuing tourist visas and want to know for sure you won't be staying past your visa time.

In 3 months in Europe, I doubt you'd be getting bored unless you expect to spend every single night of every single week out at a night club partying away. If you got sick of one country then you can just get a train or a cheap budget airline flight to another place. In Europe you may be able to just have a RTW ticket having you stopping in London and then buy seperate tickets on budget airlines or buy train tickets to get all around Europe before making sure you are back in London for the flight out. The continent has so many different countries and has something to suit all tastes especially if you are interested in photography.

Have a great trip.

3. Posted by samsara_ (Travel Guru 5353 posts) 9y

Hi Deza,

I've opted for travelling on single tickets, mainly due to the fact that I like the freedom that affords and also because I am travelling for 2 years and not 1.

So far, it has worked out really well for me. By keeping an eye on airline websites and special offers in travel agents, I've done well price-wise :)

The freedom is fantastic - you can buy a ticket last minute once you've decided that you'd like to move on. I travel overland as much as I can so I'm really only buying long distance flights usually.

If you have lots of time and money's not too big of an issue, then I woudl say wing it! :)

4. Posted by mdancy (Full Member 104 posts) 9y

I'd go with winging it. We've done RTW trips both ways and it worked out fine both times.

Pros to buying tickets in advance are that you don't have the hassel of spending a bunch of time trying to find cheap tickets. Cons are that you have a pre-set schedule - what if you decided on a different route? It could be expensive to cancel, or reschedule.

Pros to winging it are that it is an experience all its own just getting tickets on the run. You have full freedom of where/when you want to go. Cons are you may not be able to find cheap tickets for last minute decisions.

On our RTW tickets on our first trip we were not charged for changes - but that was several years ago. When we did change, we had to go to a local airline office and have it taken care of locally.... sometimes that was difficult due to language barriers, but not unmanagable.

I wouldn't worry too much about onward tickets - we've traveled a lot and have never been asked for onward tickets. I think it is commonly known that many people arrive by air, and leave by train or bus.

If you have a pretty good idea of where you are going to be when heading back to LA - I would suggest buying just that ticket in advance. We've been caught, twice now, with needing to get back to the states and having to buy tickets that were not cheap, and wasted many hours of the last days of the trip just trying to get home.

Or - just buy the main tickets in advance. LA to Europe, Mid East to SE Asia, China to NZ, NZ to LA. Then do the rest either overland, or cheap short hop flights.

That's my 2 cents,

5. Posted by shimba (First Time Poster 1 posts) 9y

Have you ever thought of Africa? Let me know and i'll give you first hand info on Kenya.

6. Posted by Dezafinado (Respected Member 177 posts) 9y

From reading a few blogs of American travellers, it seems London has better RTW deals than the US. I'm now considering flying to London O/W and purchase my RTW tiki there before continuing my trip. Has anyone booked tickets through a foreign travel agency and picked it up upon arrival?

7. Posted by Dezafinado (Respected Member 177 posts) 9y

Well, there it is... I booked my first leg (Lax > London) yesterday for $204.00 O/W. Not bad! I hope to find more deals once I'm there.

8. Posted by Dani girl (Budding Member 49 posts) 9y

I bought a RTW ticket for the trip I'm on and don't regret it. I paid 1300 UK pounds for 9 stops. I never had a problem making date changes. There was always availability. Even last minute and even around christmas and I've pretty much changed every flight I booked. What I would have done differently is reduce the number of stops and travelled greater distances overland as you suggested you would be doing. This does allow you much more freedom and gives you the chance to buy cheap flights to places that just crop up on the way. This is what I have wound up doing anyway. You certainly don't need more than one stop in Europe. The distances are small and there is always a cheap no frills airline to get you wherever it is you want to go.