RTW Ticket or Buy-As-You-Go?

When we finally made the decision to leave behind our life in the U.S. and head out to explore the world, our first step was deciding our mode of travel. Did we want to purchase RTW (Round-The-World) plane tickets or flights as we go?

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For those who aren’t sure what a RTW ticket is, it is a plane ticket that allows a person to literally travel around the world with multiple stops along the way. Depending on the airline alliance you choose, there are different rules you must follow when booking the itinerary for the ticket. If you are considering a RTW ticket, check the rules and figure out what alliance best suits your travel plans. A few examples of these rules are; flying one direction without backtracking, having a limited number of segments (flights) to get you all the way home and using the full ticket within one year (365 days) of departing.

While rules for these tickets inhibit absolute flexibility on the road, the value can not be mistaken. RTW tickets are not cheap, but you can save a bunch of money versus buying one-way tickets from point-to-point. Don’t get scared away by the requirements, just do your due diligence in advance and figure out if they fit your travel style.

We initially thought RTW tickets were our best option, but we eventually decided we wanted as much flexibility as possible while traveling. We did not know our long-term itinerary and didn’t have a set time frame for returning home, so buying flights along the way better suits our needs. This approach already seems to be the right decision, as we have some backtracking scheduled early in our trip.

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Choosing the buy-as-we-go option versus RTW may end up costing more money, but the flexibility it gives us is a major perk. Plus, with some flight hacking and some bonus credit card points I’m hoping it all evens out in the end.

Have you booked a RTW ticket? If so, what alliance and was it the right choice for you?


About Matt

Matt is one-half of Great Big Globe. He loves the Green Bay Packers, chips and salsa, a strong Americano and knows an incredible amount of useless sports trivia.


  1. Whatever you do, make sure you sign up for every point program with the airlines as possible. These points add up when you are covering as much ground as you are going to. Ask at the ticket counter if they have a program. A lot of times you will have time between the check in and boarding to fill out whatever paperwork you need.
    We have run into more than one situation where we have either been able to upgrade our seats for more comfort or literally averted days long layovers away from our final destination by being able to cash in points for a one way flight with another airline.
    If you are already flying, take every point you can get. You never know when they will come in handy.

    Also, get a program for you phones like tiny scan or genius scan which will allow you to scan documents into your phone with basically turns it into a digital filing cabinet so you don’t have to worry so much about losing itineraries, check bag stubs, a photocopy of your passport, your airline members number… you get the idea.


    • Thanks for the info Andy, I will definitely look into the various airline reward programs in advance of booking any tickets. And the phone apps you mention sound like a great idea. I will be looking at getting one of those on my phone ASAP! Enjoy your time in China and I look forward to keeping up with your blog.

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