Overview of Round the World Tickets

Round the World Tickets

This section will review some of the popular flight options that are available to accomplish the Round the World trip.  The key is to choose the type of ticket that will best satisfy your itinerary of destinations / excursions.  Here is the summary of the available options:

Mileage Based Tickets:

This is the most common type of ticket offered.  The common features are:

  • Ticket valid to a year
  • Route must be planned prior to leaving (although the Skyteam offer a flexible reservation system where you only need to up to your first trans-Atlantic flight) the rest can be booked on-route
  • The Atlantic and Pacific Oceans can only be crossed once (no backtracking)
  • Mileage options vary from 26000 to 39000 miles
  • If you travel overland, it is still counted towards your mileage, e.g if you land in New York and your outward flight is in LA (so you make your own way to LA overland), the miles between New York and LA will be deducted from your mileage allowance.
  • Routes / dates can be changed but in most cases this will incur cost.

Round the World Ticket Alliances with Greatest Coverage of the Globe:

There are 3 major Round the World Ticket operators that have alliances with a number of member airlines.  These are Star Alliance, One World Global Explorer, Skyteam.  The 3 alliances provide the greatest coverage as opposed to alliances of less then 5 airlines.  Here is the descending order in terms of destinations and cities visited:

Star Alliance - 27 Airline Alliance with 1160 airport destinations in 181 countries
Sky Team - 13 Airlines with 898 airport destinations in 159 countries
One World / Global Explorer - 12 Airlines with 750 airport destinations in 150 countries

However as these are the top end of the spectrum in terms of price, most backpackers go for the other round the world tickets.  These are the smaller Airline alliances with limited global coverage and destinations.

Round the World Tickets  with the Smaller number Airline Alliances:

The more popular options are the following:

The Great Escapade - A three airline alliance (Singapore Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Air New Zealand) offer a 29000 mile ticket with unlimited number of stopovers.  However there is no coverage of South America and limited coverage in Europe.  Up to 4500 extra miles can be purchase in block of 1500 miles.  Each block of 1500 miles costs approx £130.  Strong coverage Australia and South East Asia. Well suited if your journey has a strong emphasis in Australasia and South East Asia.

World Walkabout (formally known as World Discovery) - A three airline alliance (British Airways, Quantas, Air Pacific). A six stop ticket, stopping at big cities across the globe.  No coverage of South America.

Single Airlines Offering Round the World Tickets

There are a number of single airlines providing Round the World Trips, however the number of stops and destination are lower.  These are Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand, Virgin Atlantic.

Continent based Round the World Tickets

This ticket  (OneWorld Explorer) is based upon the number of continents you visit, up to a total of 16 stops / segments normally comprising of 4 flights within each continent (6 for North America) excluding the entry and exit flight in and out of the continent.  However you are only allowed 2 stopovers in the continent of origin.  A good option if you wish to visit many destinations by flight, minimising the need to purchase additional flights to supplement.  Comparing against a high mileage is ticket; you get to visit more destinations with continent based tickets, as you do not run out of miles.  The only drawback is you need to fly into the Hub to get to your final destination (within a continent).  e.g.  travel from Rio - Brazil  to Buenos Aires -  Argentina.  This  will require a flight from Rio to the One World Hub in South America which is Santiago - Chile and out from Santiago to Buenos Aires.  Each flight to a hub will be taken off your your flight allowance.

Continent Passes

The Star Alliance, Sky Team and One World provide a number of continental style tickets

Budget Airlines Around the World
It is also possible to string together a number of singular tickets using lowcost airlines, but this appears to be the less popular choice based upon the limitations (baggage allowance, in flight food etc) and inflexibility of the tickets when booked (typically no refund on cancellation if a ‘cheap’ ticket is booked).  However this does allow you to book each flights and when you need it (not being locked into a route, although route options will be more limited then typical round the world tickets).  Low cost flights are typically used to supplement the Round the World Ticket. Low Cost Carriers by Country are available in the link previous for your convenience. 


  • Use your flights included with your round the world ticket in regions where low-cost airlines are not prevalent
  • Use low cost airlines in regions that are well served (S.E Asia)
  • I you are planning to fly between Santiago and Auckland (which can stop at Easter Island and Tahiti), you will need to book months in advance as it tends to be fully booked.
  • Try and keep your backpack / luggage as light as possible.  This will be beneficial as it will allow you to use no-frills low cost airlines (which have a low weight baggage allowance).  Moreover the airline companies that partake in the Round the World tickets usually have differing baggage allowance which can cause issues if your luggage is too heavy.
  • It is prudent not to make your bookings until after you have budgeted.

Each type of ticket comes with it’s own fine small print which specify particular rules for each type of ticket.  A overview of the features has been presented above.  If you are not sure which ticket to book, the recommendation is to book through agents that sell Round the World tickets from many carriers / alliances.  These agents will be able to advise which ticket is best for you based upon your requirements and budget.  The typical high street travel agent will only sell one brand of ticket that may not be the best for you.