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Gustav Flaubert

Buying Round the World Airline Tickets

This blog was written before the COVID Pandemic. The COVID epidemics played havoc on the travel business. In 2022, Fifty Plus Nomad decided to focus on traveling and living in Mexico and language learning posts. We will only update these long-term travel-related posts on a time-permitting basis. We would appreciate your comments and updates on these posts.

Fifty Plus Nomads may want to consider buying Round the World (RTW) tickets anytime they plan to make a journey with multiple stops within one region or around the world.

All RTW tickets make you pre-book all your tickets in advance. However, since you purchase them in one giant bulk package, you may save on the total price of all individual tickets. (Particularly if you do not want to fly budget airlines).

RTW Ticket Agencies

Most importantly, RTW travel agencies have a lot of experience with this ticket type. Fifty-Plus Nomad can use this expertise to save considerable frustration and possibly money. 

Types of Round-the-World Tickets

There are generally two types of Round the World tickets. One type is for flying exclusively on one of the three airline alliances. (Each airline alliance has rules for how round-the-world tickets work). The other kind of Round the World (RTW) ticket comes from RTW travel agencies that use airlines from more than one airline alliance. 

Round-the-world tickets that use one alliance require you to plan an itinerary that:

  • Begins and ends in the same country,
  • Will finish within a year after the start of the trip,
  • Does not crisscross an ocean. (Meaning you cannot travel from New York-London-Rio de Janeiro-Paris).
  • Have a minimum of three stops and a maximum of fifteen. 

The alliance ticket prices are based on the number of miles you fly; the minimum amount of miles for one of these tickets is 29000 miles) and allow a set number of stopovers. (The minimum amount of miles for one of these tickets is 29000 miles). 

Travelers can change the dates and the times on their tickets so long as they don’t change the destination. Airlines often sell these tickets directly.

Round the World Tickets from Travel Agencies

However, it is usually cheaper and better to use a Round-the-World travel agency. 

RTW travel agencies are just travel agencies specializing in helping travelers plan a ticket with multiple stops worldwide. You can buy any ticket from these agencies.

Instead of creating Round the World tickets using the same alliance, the RTW agencies usually piece together individual airline tickets based on the lowest available fares they find. (Note: These agencies typically do not deal with budget carriers). 

The RTW travel agency will help you find the type of ticket that works best for you. Depending on your routing, the RTW agency may create a routing that involves more than one alliance and is not subject to the same rules as the alliance tickets above. 


The largest and best-known, round-the-world travel agency is Airtreks. I used them in 2013 to buy the following round-the-world tickets:

  • Montreal-Chennai (India)- (overland to Mumbai); 
  • Mumbai-Dubai;
  • Dubai-Istanbul; 
  • Istanbul-Madrid; 
  • Madrid-Toronto.

The ticket cost -US $2200- was around $200 less than buying the tickets individually, and I found them very helpful with planning the flights. They also helped me when I needed to make a slight change to a flight. (Note: I may have saved as much or more money using budget airlines).

Note: The Airtreks’ website is beneficial because it:

  • Allows you to play with different itineraries to see how changes affect the price.
  • Suggests destinations where you can stop for free because it is a hub for one of your flights. 

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Tips for Getting the Best RTW Tickets

 Generally, you will get the best prices if you:

  • Travel in one direction.
  • Don’t backtrack. 
  • Have a reasonably small number of stops.
  • Occasionally travel overland. 
  • Travel to large cities which serve as airline hubs like Istanbul, Amsterdam, Dubai, London, Bangkok, and Tokyo 

Additional Long-Term Related Posts from Fifty-Plus Nomad

Paul Heller has been a lifelong avid traveler and language learner and teacher, Even as a child, he told Santa Claus that he wanted to visit all the children worldwide. At seven years old, Paul wanted to retire to Mexico. At eight, he memorized the name, capital, location, and some facts about every country worldwide. At twelve, he found a book "Lonely Planet: Southeast Asia on a Shoestring" and started developing his own itinerary for a future round-the-world trip. He remained obsessed with travel; after getting a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Southern California and working as an administrator, He spent his vacations going to different countries around the globe studying language, touring, and volunteering. In 1994, he quit his job and lived in Russia as a volunteer English instructor. He discovered that he loved teaching languages. In 2004, he decided to make a living out of his travels and founded a community of people who love to travel just like him. He developed 5 three-hour classes about living and traveling long-term worldwide which he taught in over 50 adult education programs throughout the US. After his parents passed, he realized his dream of traveling around the world; cruising and touring some of the most remote places like the North Atlantic, Patagonia, and Oceania; and learning new languages (he knows Spanish, Italian, French, and Russian). Paul encourages everyone to learn foreign languages. He knows that it can be frustrating and slow but that anyone can learn a language if they put in the work and, most importantly, learning a language is well worth the time and effort because it opens up a whole new set of people, ideas, and cultures. He is currently spending the next chapter of his life in Mérida, México. He is excited about using this blog and his classes and workshops to inspire and equip fellow Fifty Plus Nomads with the language, cultural, and psychological skills necessary to be successful and happy long-term travelers and expats over 50.

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