Having dreamed of and discussed a round the world trip for years, Kay and I started casually talking about doing it for real when he started his summer internship in Germany last summer. As the summer went on, we both felt more and more like the timing was right. When Kay was done with school, I would quit my job and we would take some time off together and travel before starting something new. We both needed the time to relax, unwind, and reconnect with each other.
But where to go? We talked about this all summer and into the school year as well. Kay thought about just going to Australia for 3-4 months and renting a camper and driving around the outback, but I… I wanted to see everything! (And wives always get their way in the end, don’t they?) Also, we didn’t find ot how long we should travel until Kay graduated almost, so we waited really late and bought tickets on December 22 for 9 months of travel.
Having achieved the much-sought-after gold status with Star Alliance, I was very preferential to flying Star Alliance flights. Plus, I knew that Star Alliance offers the Round the World ticket, so while I looked at other round the world ticket offers like One World and 3rd party mixed-alliance-itineraries like AirTreks, I quickly just decided to go with the one that would give me instant lounge access, extra baggage, and the possibility of upgrades. It cost a bit more, but our first flight to Sao Paulo from Zurich was actually upgraded to business somehow, so already well worth the difference in price!The Round the World ticket does have some limitations, like you have to travel in one direction around the globe; ie no backtracking across the Pacific ocean more than once, although you can zigzag up and down a bit. You also have a limit of 15 stopovers, 16 segments (flights) and 39,000 total miles, which is easy to hit if you put in as many continents as I did!
After discussing which countries to visit and when, we made a little plan and it ended up making sense to start in South America and head west. I really wanted to visit Patagonia and Kay wanted to visit New Zealand, and we wanted to do both during their southern hemisphere summers, and the main point was that I wanted to be up in Japan by cherry blossom viewing in April, so those three countries decided most of it. So for now, our itinerary includes:
- New Zealand
- South Korea
- South East Asia (Philippines, Singapore, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar)
- United Arab Emirates
- Ethiopia (this one was unplanned!)
- South Africa
Mostly, I was trying to max out the number of stops on the ticket to save the most money per flight, also by flying direct always. You can buy round the world tickets for less money, but the cost per flight usually goes up quite a bit and you can lose value by having connecting flights that eat away at your segment limit. Our tickets cost around $6500 a person, for about $500 a piece for each one way ticket. Considering that a one way ticket from Zurich to Buenos Aires alone was over $1100, and round trip tickets would have been even more, it made sense for us to buy it. And to put it in perspective, you can buy a round the world ticket for $5200 that only takes you to 4 stopovers, for about $1050 for each ticket.
Are there cheaper ways to travel around the world? Sure. You can try places like AirTreks that search for flights on both Star Alliance and other alliances like One World, Sky Team, etc, or you can go by the seat of your pants and go where ever you find cheap tickets whenever you find them, but Kay and I are just too Swiss and we wanted to have a loose plan for the trip and the security of knowing we paid for our flights.