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How to plan a round-the-world trip


The world is your oyster when it comes to planning a round-the-world trip. Which? Travel’s guide to booking will help you find a pearl...

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Planning a round-the-world trip

Whether you’re planning to take a leisurely tour around the world in 80 days or just a whistle-stop trip of 18 days, there’s a round-the-world (RTW) ticket for you. 

Despite higher taxes and fuel surcharges in recent years, you can still loop the earth for less than £1000, and the popularity of RTW tickets is still sky-high.

Choosing where to go

Your must-see countries will determine the general route. Most routes will include Australia or New Zealand, but you can bypass these if you want. 

Consider adding 'surface sectors' to your itinerary to take advantage of overland travel.

Trips by public transport can be some of the most memorable, and hop-on/hop-off bus passes are available in many countries.

When to go

The RTW fare will depend on the date of your first flight – follow-on flight dates don’t affect the price. The lowest fares are usually for May or June UK departures. They’re highest during school holidays and mid-December.

Specialist agents can arrange a route so you’ll reach countries when the climate might be at its best. Check if there are any dates you should avoid for specific destinations.

Avoid the temptation to cram in too many stopovers. Allow enough time to really experience each place, and factor in ‘do nothing’ days to recharge your batteries.

Getting the best deal

For the best deals, book flights at least two months before you plan to leave the UK and when comparing fares, always ask if your quotes include taxes and fuel surcharges. Find out what the agent will charge for debit or credit card payment – Trailfinders, for instance, makes no card surcharge.

Consider pre-buying open-dated national air passes and experiences or excursions.

Money

Expect to exceed your budget

No matter how carefully you plan, 'once in a lifetime' experiences will crop up to eat into your cash. 

Take a variety of payment options

Some ATMs may reject your bank card, so carry back-ups such as travellers cheques or prepaid cards.

With a prepaid card, load it with money before leaving the UK and top it up as you go along.

Essentials

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  • Visit your GP or a travel clinic at least two months before departure for any jabs or anti-malarials you may need, and take your vaccination record card on the trip.
  • Check if your chosen countries have reciprocal health arrangements with the UK at the NHS website.
  • Find out what visas you'll need and, if you plan to get a visa before leaving the UK, whether it will still be valid when you reach the country. For example, Indian visas are valid from the date of issue, not the date of arrival.
  • For countries issuing visas on arrival, check what you’ll need to take (eg passport photos, cash in US dollars). Some countries require your passport to be valid for six months after your arrival there. Are there enough blank pages for several visas and stamps? 
  • Reconfirm your flights around 72 hours before each leg’s departure date in case of schedule changes.

 

Travel insurance

Some providers won’t cover single trips of more than 30 days, or if they do offer extended trip insurance, the age limit is often 49, so choose carefully.

Ask if the policy covers the cost of cancelling the whole trip, and any activities you may be tempted to try, such as white-water rafting. Also consider an annual insurance policy. These can be cheaper and some providers allow individual trips of up to 60 days.