Do Your Homework in Advance
Once you’ve decided on your itinerary, it is important to start researching what documentation you will need for your trip.
First, you will need to make sure when you book your tickets that you have planned an “onward ticket,” or ticket out from each country to another destination. While in the past it was possible to travel with a one-way ticket and make your travel plans to your next stop later, this is no longer the case post-Sept. 11. Now you must have a planned exit for a region unless you have arranged for a permanent, school or work visa.
But while you do have to have an exit strategy, there is some leeway on how and where you travel. For instance, when you wind down your journey, you don’t have to fly back into the same airport, or even same area of the country, as where you began the trip. For instance, if you started in New York City but want to make your last stop in Las Vegas, you can do so and then buy a separate one-way ticket home from Las Vegas to New York without using another stop on your round–the-world ticket or taking up the miles you might prefer to spend elsewhere. This is an economical way to get the most from your trip.
Keep in mind that your journey’s starting point also affects the price, so some travelers buy an inexpensive ticket to another country, such as Thailand, and purchase the round-the-world ticket from there, since it costs less from this starting point than from the United States to travel in that area. (This can reduce the cost by a significant percentage but takes much planning and coordination to make it work.) Check with a travel agent to help you do something similar.
Other Travel Tips
Make sure your passport is up to date. As a rule of thumb, it should have an expiration date that is a minimum of six months after the expected end date of your trip.
- Find out if an international visa is needed in the areas where you will be traveling
- Plan to register with the U.S. embassy in locations where you will be staying for a month or longer
- Be sure all of your immunizations are up to date
- Plot your destinations using a mileage calculator
- Purchase travel insurance
- Join the airlines’ frequent-flier clubs so you can collect frequent-flier miles for your trip. You may have racked up enough miles for your next vacation by the time you return from this one
- Realize that taxes and airport charges will be added to the price of your ticket, so be sure to plan for this expense
What It Costs
The price to travel around the world can range greatly. Many round–the-world travelers don’t actually cover the entire globe, but focus on a handful of regions they want to see. A lot depends on where you decide to go, how many miles you will cover in your travels and how long you will be gone. You also have to decide how much comfort matters, so you know whether to splurge for business or first class or go the economy route.
Generally, economy trips start at about $1,500 from a discount travel broker and will allow you to see a limited number of destinations; the price goes up a great deal from there. If you choose to fly first-class with multiple stops and high mileage, your trip can set you back about $16,000.
Keep in mind that fees and taxes are an additional charge, and none of these trips include your land expenses. In addition, most round-the world-tickets originate from a major travel hub, such as New York City or Los Angeles.
One final word of caution: If you do take a round–the-world trip, never skip a prearranged flight. Many carriers will then automatically cancel the rest of your flights if you do. Therefore, if your plans change in the course of your travels, make sure to notify the airlines in advance.