How to book a trip around the world, it isn't only for the uber rich!

2018-04-09 12:38 - Gabi Zietsman
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Travelling around the world isn't only for the uber rich and characters in a Jules Verne book. Did you know that you can book one ticket to travel around the world?

If you have the leave, funds and a strong passport, you can easily jet set, choo choo or even sail your way around the world's continents with one easy ticket.

A round the world trip is the experience of a lifetime, and definitely worth a spot on your bucket list and savings plan.

SEE: Record-breaking round-the-world traveller lists Top 10 favourite spots on the globe

Round the World with alliance travel

Certain airlines form part of alliances with codeshare agreements that make it easier to connect to different places around the world, and some alliances offer Round the World tickets where you can fly any of their airlines for one overall price. You can either opt for a destination-specific plan or mile-based plan, and the price is dependent on your stops and length of travel. 

The great thing about booking with an alliance instead of individual flights is that it will give you flexibility if you want to change up your itinerary without being penalised.

SEE: Airline alliances: What is Oneworld and why should everyday travellers care?

Here are a few things you need to know if you want to travel around the world by air:

  • Your end destination needs to be the same as your starting destination, and you need to travel in one direction - east to west or west to east.
  • Most Round the World programmes require a minimum of 2 stopovers (more than 24 hours in a country) and a maximum of 15, depending on which plan you choose.
  • The time before you have to book varies between 7 days and 48 hours depending on the alliance, but it's good to have a plan beforehand and to change your bookings as soon as possible when you need to.
  • Most tickets require that you make one transatlantic flight or one transpacific flight, and have certain restrictions on flying within a country.
  • Tickets are generally valid for one year.

The main three alliances that allows you to book this kind of ticket is oneworld, Star Alliance and SkyTeam.

  • oneworld (includes British Airways, Cathay, Qantas, Qatar, American Airlines): You have the option of choosing between number of continents you want to visit or a distance-based fare that focuses on the miles you travel.
  • Star Alliance (includes South African Airways, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, Turkish Airlines, United): You have more flexibility on where you want to go to - 98% of the world's countries - has unlimited transfers (stops under 24 hours) and the fare is based on four different mileage plans.
  • SkyTeam (includes KLM, Air France, Delta, Kenya Airways): This one is also very flexible in terms of changing your plans on the go and if you don't know where you want to travel the world they have some theme-based trips you can choose from like Wines of the World, Beach Vacations, Off the Beaten Track or Romance.

Cruise your way around the world

You don't have to be a billionaire with a luxury yacht to sail around the ocean - you can jump between continents with a cruise ship, but this is a trip you'll have to book almost two years in advance.

On some cruises you don't have to do the whole thing either - you can book one segment but will have to buy flights between the first and last stop. You also get repositioning cruises - when ships need to relocate to a different region between seasons - and are normally very cheap, but only goes one way. Cruise Critic has a list of these cruises for 2018. 

MSC Magnifica sets sail for 119 days across the Atlantic Ocean through the Caribbean islands to Hawaii, Tahiti and all the way to Australia, through the Asian islands and Suez Canal in the Middle East until finally returning to the Mediterranean. 

The Silver Whisper is even longer - 133 days visiting 52 ports in 31 countries along nine routes and starts in the US at San Francisco. This cruise includes going around Africa from Mombasa to Madagascar to various ports in South Africa, up to Namibia and around West Africa until the cruise makes its final stop in London.

SEE: SA's 2018 Cruise season underway: 20 dazzling cruise ships set to dock

Try out a train trip

You don't only have to travel by air to travel the world. Before the Wright Brothers changed the way we travel, everyone steamed their way to far-flung destinations, and today you can still make it a big part of journey. A few train companies offer trips that explore a country by rail, like the Blue Train in South Africa, but Great Rail Journeys offers you the chance to go around the world in 50 days.

Flying from London, UK, the trip starts in New York and travels through the US, which was once the pioneer in steam trains. You cover the width of North America up to San Francisco, from where you'll fly to Shanghai because they haven't figured out underwater tunnels for trains yet. Exploring China, you make your way across Asia through Mongolia to Russia with a final stop in Moscow.

A quick flight to Venice, Italy and you'll finally choo choo through Europe until your final stop in London. No murders on the Orient Express are expected though.

SEE: #LoveSA: Choo choo your way to Stars of Sandstone Steam Festival 2019 with the Blue Train

Travel agents are your best friend

If you're feeling a bit overwhelmed by planning such an extensive trip, you can always get in touch with a travel agent to help you batten down your itinerary and find you the best deals on flights - especially for a round the world expedition. 

They'll have the best advice from first-hand experiences and can also help you with accommodation and booking tours. Travel agents are also incredibly supportive during emergencies - a risk that gets higher when travelling on long trips. 

But make sure the travel agency has booked round the world trips before, and always look up reviews so you don't sit in Kathmandu with a missed flight and your calls to the travel agent keeps going to voicemail.

SEE: 5 Things that a travel agent 'can do for you that Siri can't'

DIY travel itinerary

If you really want to budget and think you can keep a straight head with all the bookings, you can always plan it out yourself and use websites like Travelstart, Skyscanner and Google Flights to build your itinerary and find the cheapest deals.

The key here is to stay organised and on top of everything - and sometimes the best way to do that is print out everything and organise it in a binder or flip file that you can take with you. You also need to keep a digital copy somewhere in the cloud so that you can access everything from anywhere with an internet connection. The best way would be to create a folder on your Google Drive and channel your inner Monica so you know where everything is for quick access.

SEE: Solo travelling the Indian Ocean islands

Happy travelling!