I am in the early stages of planning my family’s next big trip and for the first time we’re thinking of making it a round-the-world itinerary. In the past, we’ve taken advantage of free stopovers to get two trips for the price of one. For example, last time we flew, we purchased the cheapest tickets we could find from Canada to Singapore via Europe. We spent a little over a month in Asia and then spent over 6 months in Europe on our “stopover” before heading home.
We love this routing for a couple of reasons: we get to visit countries and regions we’re familiar with and love; we have experience booking these types of tickets and know all the tricks; we prefer to take several 4-12 hour flights rather than one 20+ hour flight. For this next trip though, there are two main reasons we’re planning to circle the world. Firstly to see some new, exotic (for us) destinations. And to minimize flying over an area of the world that has seen several catastrophic jetliner downings in the past few years.
The simplest thing would probably be to contact an airline like KLM or a company specializing in round-the-world tickets and just give them the dates and destinations we want. However, we know that some airports are much more expensive to fly in and out of, some are average and some are much cheaper. We also know that different airlines pass on different fuel surcharges. These two things combined can easily mean a difference of $500 on a $1200 ticket. That’s pretty dramatic.
We’ve decided to plan and book our own around the world ticket. What I am illustrating is the price that I will be paying based on the destinations I want. My goal, here, is to demonstrate that a round-the-world trip can be shockingly affordable. A typical plane ticket from Canada (East)-Europe return will cost about $1100 in peak season. With a seat sale, it could go as low as about $800, all in, but will likely come with restrictions. The peskiest one for us is that most seat sale tickets are only valid for 30 days and we like to travel slooooooooowly. Travelling from eastern Canada to the UK will cost $400-$900 return depending on season and seat sale.
An off the rack, round-the-world ticket will cost $3000-$4000 (!!!) and will allow you to stop on some remote Pacific islands as well as to combine the Northern and Southern hemispheres.
When booking your own round-the-world ticket, it is obviously important to avoid expensive airlines and airports. It is also important to avoid airlines that charge a significant premium for one-way tickets because you will be travelling almost exclusively on one-way tickets. Listing cheap airlines/airports/one-way tickets would be a whole other blog post. Without getting into the nitty gritty of how to research this stuff, I would like to tell you about the route I have planned and its cost, by way of an example.
1. Ottawa (Canada) – Tokyo (Japan) (change planes in Vancouver)
Air Canada $520 O/W
Why: We’ve never been to Japan and flying to Japan is consistently cheaper than going anywhere else. Often even cheaper than flying within Canada!
Duration: We’ll probably spend a week in Japan visiting friends.
2. Tokyo (Japan) – Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)
Air Asia $180 O/W
Why: We love Kuala Lumpur and we love Air Asia which has its hub in KL. Plus it is in a cheap country (Malaysia) and it is central for Southeast Asia.
Duration: 4 months? We plan to use KL as our base to visit other Asian countries, some overland but mainly via Air Asia. High on the list are: Vietnam, Taiwan, Bali.
3. Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) – Colombo (Sri Lanka)
Air Asia $60 O/W
Why: We did a geo-club project on Sri Lanka and became fascinated.
Duration: 10 days?
4. Colombo (Sri Lanka) – Kerala, Tamil Nadu or Goa (India)
Ferry if finally operational and safe. Otherwise Sri Lankan Air for about $60 O/W
Why: Have never been to India and have heard many good things. Like the quieter, gentler pace of the South. Interested in yoga.
Duration: 2 weeks?
Chennai (India) – Doha (Qatar)
Qatar Airways $200 O/W
Why: Travelling via Doha, Dubai, and Oman is the cheapest way to get from Asia to Europe.
Duration: 1 week – if we’re going there anyways, why not stop and look around?
Doha (Qatar) – Istanbul (Turkey) Change planes in Dubai (maybe stay and visit?)
FlyDubai Airways $170 O/W
Why: Have always wanted to visit Istanbul and since we’d be so close…
Duration: 1 week?
Istanbul (Turkey) – Frankfurt (Germany)
Onur Airways $55 O/W
Why: Generally Frankfurt is one of the most expensive places to fly in and out of and Lufthansa is one of the most expensive airlines. I had never heard of Onur but the ratings seem good. Flying with Turkish Airlines would be $65 and with Lufthansa would be $91 – still very reasonable. Frankfurt is centrally located and efficient. We know the airport and city well so it is a good starting point for us to visit Europe.
Duration: 6 months? 9 months? Who knows. We would use this time to visit the Balkans, Central Europe, the UK, possibly the Baltic, possibly the Iberian Peninsula, possibly Morocco.
Overland from Frankfurt (Germany) – London (England)
London (England) – Reykjavik (Iceland)
Easyjet Airlines $67 O/W
Why: Come on, folks. It’s Iceland – that’s why.
Duration: 1 week
Reykjavik (Iceland) – Toronto (Canada)
WOW Airlines $216 O/W
Why: Eventually we’ll need to go home
Duration: Forever. Or until the next big trip.
TOTAL: $1528 Cdn
Now is that impressive or is that impressive?! Removing Iceland and flying London-Toronto with Westjet instead would save $50. Who wouldn’t add a trip to Iceland for $50? Removing Istanbul and simply flying through Doha without visiting it would save $45. I can’t even.
The craziest thing of all is that all prices listed are in Canadian Dollars! Quite recently our dollar was on par with the US Dollar but today it is trading at about $1.40 Canadian for $1 US. If an American were to take the trip I have outlined, the price would be $1100 US.
One of the best things about this itinerary is that it avoids the 1 year maximum placed on most plane tickets. How long are we planning to be away? Anywhere from 14-24 months. Yes, I know that’s longer than what you get by adding up the times listed above. I imagine that we’ll add a few weeks or months onto each of our destinations. Remember, we like slooooooow travel…
Today’s Quote of the Day comes from an anonymous moron and is reprinted here by permission from the blog site, Fall on Me Dear. Permission was granted by the blog owner, not the moron. The blog is the work of Lesley Buxton, whose daughter, India, died in Fall 2013 of an extremely rare neurological disease. She was 16.
I know you must be very sad your daughter died, but really, that was her journey.
My New Year’s Resolution is to never be the type of person who would say such a thing.