I am planning on leaving in June 2010 to travel the Southern hemisphere, so far all I have booked is my overland through Africa and have got a few quotes for the RTW ticket.
I know the date I am leaving the UK and leaving Africa - from there everything is still a mystery and I don't want to commit myself to specific dates etc.. in case I want to spend longer here or there. So...
When booking a ticket do you have to give specific dates of onward travel?
What happens if you change your mind while you out there?
What happens if you want to stay longer than the 1 year valid on the ticket?
What happens if you change your route slightly, eg - instead of Sydney to Auckland you choose Sydney to Christchurch?
Any answers would really be appreciated - the only time I really get to use the internet is at work so it's hard to site hop trying to find this all out without the boss having a grump!!
Most of the answers to your questions vary depending on where you get your ticket and what alliance you use. The ticket is valid for travel for a maximum period of 12 months from the first date of travel. If you fail to return in that time well you have lost your fare and will need to book another flight to get you back home.
Changing of routing even slightly will get reissue fees which can cost a fair bit in some cases such as the example you gave it'd probably be cheaper to get the flight from Auckland to Christchurch than to get the ticket reissued.
With regards to giving dates you do need to give dates for the ticket to be issued. Try to plan the itinerary as well as possible with regards to the number of days in each area as changing dates last minute can result in lengthy waits before being able to move on if the rtw fare class is not available (especially with Africa and South America).
If you change you mind when you are out there what happens would depend on what you changed your mind about. If it is change of dates then sometimes contacting the airline will work in them changing your flight, but other times you will need to call the travel agency who you booked your ticket through (the way it is meant to happen).
The best thing you could really do is try to plan your trip with room to move in the different regions so if you think you will need 10 days allow 14 days stuff like that. That sort of thing will mean you at least have a bit of room to move if you find you like a place or hear along the way that a certain place you hadn't thought of is worth a visit.
It is possible to get single fares from one point to another, cheaper than a RTW ticket.
Ask your travel agent the differences. For instance, to get from Manchester to Southern Turkey and then from there to India, can be bought for under £250, if you book with the airlines direct. A good trusty agent will search thoroughly for you. Others will just get up a website and quote you one or two prices that their partners offer, hoping that you'll opt for their choice, rather than yours.
Also work out your route exactly, then look at the arrival boards (online) of what's taking off and landing at the airports you're planning to go to. Contact the airlines to get their prices. It's very often a pleasant surprise.