Guest Author - Teresa Coates
Commonly referred to as Round-the-World (RTW) tickets, multi-destination plane tickets have been used by travelers for years as a way to visit several countries in one adventure. Whatever you call it, the tickets can buy bought with strict limitations or loose guideline, depending on the travelers needs.
RTW tickets are issued by airline alliances such as Air Treks, Star Alliance and One World Alliance. Their travel agents (or using their online booking tools) can help travelers find their ideal, and price efficient, route around the globe. Surprising to many is the comparably low price of such trip which start at around $2500 for a few stops. Prices increase with each stop and for variations off the beaten path (visiting Easter Island, for example) and for the number of stops.
The pros of using a RTW ticket are clear. It's cheaper to buy tickets all at once through a consolidator. A full itinerary can be planned, making the trip more organized and less chaotic. Travelers can take as long as a year to get around the globe, with the freedom to pick and choose the continents and countries they would like to visit. With RTW tickets purchased through a reputable agency, all customer service is done through that company which makes it simpler to make changes; trying to explain a flight change to non-English speakers can be taxing.
The cons of RTW tickets are the lack of flexibility in the schedule once it's been arranged. There is usually some room for changes in the date of the flight, but adding cities are countries mid-trip is prohibitively expensive. There are, also, a number of restriction on the flight. Some require that you visit at minimum three continents or that you fly only in an eastward (or westward) direction with no backtracking allowed.
Of course, you can always travel around the globe without planning it out and without purchasing more than that first ticket before you leave. This allows for the greatest flexibility in the places and dates that are used, but it is, by far, the more expensive avenue to global travel. For adventures that will last more than a year, this is the only way to go since airlines cannot book travel more than a year ahead.
Either way, pre-planned or freestyle, multi-destination tickets deserve consideration if you are traveling over a longer period of time. They are especially great in Southeast Asia where it is just a hop, skip and a jump to several countries in a small geographical area.