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Ten Tips for Planning a Round the World Trip

Up for a spot of global gallivanting? These ten practical tips will help you plan and book a round the world trip.
14 Mar, 2024
Ten tips for planning a round the world trip
Ten tips for planning a round the world trip

In Jules Verne’s classic 1873 novel Around the World in Eighty Days, an eccentric English entrepreneur makes a £20,000 bet that he can do just that — circle the planet in less than three months.

Today, thanks to the wonders of air travel, this feat isn’t half as impressive — but round world trips remain an exciting prospect for the modern traveller nonetheless. And whether it’s getting au fait with global airline alliances and airfares, mixing air and overland travel, or choosing the best credit card with points to put towards flights along the way, there are some hacks you need to know for organising the circumnavigational holiday of a lifetime.

Here are ten tips for planning a round the world trip.

1. Start with a travel wishlist

Looking to walk the Great Wall of China, go on safari in the Maasai Mara, admire the view from the Eiffel Tower, clock the northern lights in Iceland, and trek the Inca Trail? That’s a lot, but OK! Begin the planning process by nutting out a wishlist of destinations and experiences you want ideally to cover during the trip. Next, give some thought to the length of time you want to be away, and the approximate dates you want to be in each continent/country. In theory, you could zip around the world on scheduled flights in 41 hours and 18 minutes (if the current world record is anything to go by). But don’t underestimate how physically taxing international air travel can be. Less is likely to be more in terms of what you can comfortably do.

Ten tips for planning a round the world trip
Ten tips for planning a round the world trip: Create a travel experience wishlist.

2. Join an alliance

It’s time to start looking at airfares, and your first impulse may be to book one-way flights piecemeal — so that you can go everywhere and tick everything off your list. But that will get expensive — fast! Not to mention the fact that booking point-to-point airfares is risky in terms of making connections, transferring your luggage etc.

Instead, look at booking your trip with an airline alliance. There are three main global alliances — One World, Star Alliance, and Skyteam — and the first two offer integrated round world airfares across their member networks. The beauty of booking your trip this way is that all the flights on your ticket are connected. So, if one goes belly up, a fix can be coordinated between alliance members quickly and efficiently.

Ten tips for planning a round the world trip
Ten tips for planning a round the world trip: Book with an airline alliance.

Which alliance should you choose? The decision will likely come down to ticket cost, fare rules, and which airline grouping covers more of the destinations you want to visit. If you’re already a member of a particular frequent flyer programme, you may decide to travel with that airline’s alliance — as you’ll be eligible to collect points on every flight. You may even be able to book your ticket with existing points.

3. Talk to a travel agent

While you may see OTAs (online travel agencies) advertising how easy it is to book multi-city and round world airfares on their websites, it’s actually quite a complicated business. We mentioned rules a minute ago, and there are plenty that govern round world airfares. They include the times of year you can travel, the direction of travel, whether you can backtrack, the number of continents you can visit, and the total number of kilometres you can cover. Talking to an experienced travel agent will stand you in good stead. They’ll be across all the ins and outs of each type of round world ticket, and there may even be some room for negotiation on the ticket price.

4. Look for European airlines offering global fares

In addition to looking at fares with One World and Star Alliance, ask your travel agent about European airlines that offer their own abridged version (often referred to as a ‘global fare’). While not as well publicised or extensive in terms of the destinations covered, these can be considerably easier on your hip pocket. Finnair, Swiss, and Lufthansa all offer fares that permit you to travel on various partner airlines from Australia to Asia, pick up their service from there to Europe, fly on with them to hubs in South America or North America, and pick up another affiliated carrier back to Australia. Intriguing huh? And worth investigating (trust us!) for the price.

Ten tips for planning a round the world trip
Ten tips for planning a round the world trip: Look for ‘global airfares’ with European carriers.

5. Consider the weather

By now you’ll be getting a better sense of what you can actually achieve on the trip, within your budget and travel timeframe. Another important consideration at this point is what the weather is likely to be doing. Summer in the Northern Hemisphere will mean travelling during winter in the Southern Hemisphere — and if you’re traversing both, you’ll need to pack for every climatic eventuality (not easy within airline luggage limits!). The season will also have a direct impact on your bottom line. Summer in Europe, for example, is high season, and you’ll pay more for internal flights, accommodation, and even food and drink. During winter in many countries, tourism drops off and attractions close — but you may save on the travel essentials. The ‘shoulder seasons’ — spring and autumn — will likely offer a happy medium.

6. Mix flights with overland travel

When researching your round world airfare, don’t lose sight of the fact that there are plenty of other ways to travel! Trains, buses, hire cars, ferries, and even ‘Shanks’s pony’ can all be part of your travel mix. And let’s face it, you’ll see a lot more on a bus or train than you will inside a large metal tube. Let flying be the heavy lifter, but nuance the trip with plenty of time on the ground.

Ten tips for planning a round the world trip
Ten tips for planning a round the world trip: Travel by planes, trains, and automobiles.

7. Do tours

Multi-day tours are a great way to hit the ground running during a world trip, and will help drive your holiday dollar even further. Wherever you plan to travel, there’s likely to be tour to suit your dates, budget, and travel style. And generally, transport, accommodation, some meals, and basic sightseeing activities will be included in the price. You’ll also benefit from the services of a knowledgeable local guide, and travel with like-minded peeps as part of the deal. Fun!

Ten tips for planning a round the world trip
Ten tips for planning a round the world trip: Do multi-day tours.

8. Sign up for the right credit card

A credit card is an easy way to manage your money while travelling around the planet, but pay special attention to getting the right ‘plastic’ for your trip. You’ll want a card that’s widely accepted, charges no international transaction fees, has a decent interest free period, ideally allows you to collect points, and provides travel insurance are part of the deal. Keep an eye out for special offers in the months leading up to your trip, such as a big sign-on points bonus.

9. Ensure you’re properly insured

Speaking of travel insurance, it’s up there with your passport in terms of importance for an overseas trip. If you plan to rely on a policy provided by your credit card issuer, obtain a copy of the PDS (product disclosure statement) and read it carefully. It’s essential to understand what you are, and aren’t covered for. Find out what the procedure is in the event of an emergency and have a copy of the emergency contact details with you at all times. If you decide to purchase a dedicated policy, there are hundreds to choose from. Again, read the PDS from cover to cover to determine if a particular policy suits your age, needs, and travel style.

Ten tips for planning a round the world trip
Ten tips for planning a round the world trip: Have a plan for dealing with lost luggage.

10. Prepare for lost luggage

Envisage an airline losing your luggage mid trip. Nasty, huh? And it could easily happen, given the number of flights you’ll be taking. So, before leaving home, prepare an emergency kit that stays in your carry-on luggage. It should contain a week’s worth of medication, a copy of the associated prescriptions, and basic toiletries. Having some fresh underwear on hand can also dull the pain. And don’t leave the airport without a written report from your carrier; you’ll need it to file a travel insurance claim.

The information contained in this story is general in nature and does not constitute professional advice in any way. We make every effort to ensure this content is accurate, but we do not guarantee it. You should do your own research and seek the advice of professionals before acting or relying on any of the information provided in this story.

Do you have any tips for planning a round the world trip? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.

Additional images: Depositphotos, Bigstock, and Envato

Adam Ford

About the writer

Adam Ford is editor of Top Oz Tours & Travel Ideas, and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger, and photographer. He has travelled extensively through Europe, Asia, North America, Africa, and the Middle East. Adam worked as a travel consultant for a number of years with Flight Centre before taking up the opportunity to travel the world himself as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten. He loves to experience everything a new destination has to offer and is equally at home in a five-star Palazzo in Pisa or a home-stay in Hanoi.



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