Ticket hunting

Planning a round-the-world trip means spending a lot of time searching for plane tickets.

The choice of places I wanted to visit was also determined by my choice of transport.

The big question was: should I get a round-the-world ticket or hop on a cheap plane and see where it gets me?

With my planning obsession, I knew I wasn’t going be the ultra-flexible type. Plus: I already had started amassing miles on my Miles&More account for years.

I got their credit card, so that the miles would not expire. It offers a couple of travel insurances, on top.

And: I get a mile for every Euro spent. Swipe! My! Card!

For years, I paid everything with this card, flew Star Alliance wherever possible, and collected close to half a million miles in the past years.

In short: I was ready to cash in on them.

Round 1

Buying a Round-the-World-Ticket was an adventure of its own for the first leg of the journey, October ’13 to April ’14.

RTW2013- first leg (final)

Individual flights

For the flights to Istanbul and Tel Aviv, I bought individual return tickets, Zurich to Istanbul and Istanbul to Tel Aviv.

A little advice: It pays off to try different ways: A multi-destination search with Lufthansa came up with flights from Zurich to Frankfurt to Istanbul, on to Tel Aviv and back for roughly 1000 €. Turkish Airlines proposed Zurich-Istanbul-Tel Aviv-Istanbul-Zurich for 750 €.

However, I found out that, as I had to go through Istanbul on the way back anyway (a direct flight back with Swiss was way too expensive), it was best to buy one return ticket Zurich-Istanbul, and another return ticket Istanbul-Tel Aviv.

I just needed to make sure I would manage to get the connections in Istanbul on to Zurich.

I got the same flights as in the multi-destination ticket, but I only paid 176 € to Istanbul and 432 € to Tel Aviv, coming in at 608 € in total.

Quite a bargain, in comparison.

Round 2

After a bit of planning and pondering where to go, finally, on 5 March 2014, I bought the second Round-the-World-Ticket for June 2014 to January 2015.

By then I also knew that I liked travelling alone, that I was in budget, that I liked the whole experience. So I went along whit my initial plans.

RTW #2

Round 3

And in October 2014, I finally bought the tickets for the last 3 months of the trip, bringing me back from South Africa to Australia, South America and then to Europe.

Just a few tips, if you’re considering to do your own RTW trip:

  • If you buy the ticket in cash, all flights will be available for purchase – no blocked times, planes or airlines. You also have some additional mileage and stop-overs (see the conditions of the RTW mileage ticket). But then, be prepared to bleed. If paid in cash and not with miles, my first ticket would have cost roughly 5500 €, the second ticket 4650 €.
  • If you cash in on your miles, you have to be flexible. You will find that some of those flights shown in the system are actually not available for purchase with miles. I also would have loved to jump from place to place on the first day of every month, just for the beauty of it… However, I had to look for flights a couple of days before or after my preferred date.
  • Try to use your alliance’s hubs, that way you have more available flight options.
  • Sometimes an individual one-way ticket (or alternative means of transportation) might also be an interesting alternative.
  • When buying your other tickets, always check several web sites for their prices on the same flights. I usually start with Google flights and Skyscanner. But also check the different country-specific web sites. I bought my inner-Australian tickets on Expedia, but checked their respective .com.au, .de and .com sites. Result: the same flight on expedia.com was always 20-30 US$ cheaper than on their .com.au site. No idea why, but with three flights that was a nice saving of nearly 100$.

Here’s an overview of the total cost of the plane tickets.

In total I spent 7125 € for all plane tickets. Minus the 600 € compensation I received from Lufthansa for taking that later flight to Rio via Lisbon.

Not too bad, considering this includes a total of 46 flights.