So, you have already told yourself you need to travel. You have worked out when you want to leave and perhaps who you would like to leave with. Now you just need to decide how you want to travel the world; with an organised and pre-configured route, or based on where you fancy next.
An organised schedule is good for those who are taking a career break. They offer a brilliant way of seeing a multitude of places in a confined period of time – whether this is the best way to travel or not is irrelevant. You have to travel in a way that matches your lifestyle needs. Knowing when you will be returning from your travels, say in 12 months time, can lead to opportunities arising even before you leave. Just imagine you go to hand your notice in at work and tell your boss about your plans, only to hear that they would be more than willing to offer you a job on your return! If you leave without a return date, this kind of offer is very unlikely.
On the other hand, you may not even be looking to return to what you are currently doing when you travels finish (if they ever do)! If you aren’t truly satisfied with what you are doing, this can be a huge catalyst in your decision to start travelling – there’s nothing wrong with that, accept it and use it to fuel your fire to change. If you have no commitments or constraints to one particular place, you may decide that you don’t want to set a return date. There are so many advantages to this, but also a few things you need to be aware of.
A round the world ticket is a preset selection of flights, bundled into one easily understood package ready for you to base your travel plans from. Costs range from £300 to £5,000, depending on multiple factors including; the number of destinations, how much manoeuvrability you want and also where you want to go. The last of those three is with a doubt the most important, so don’t alter your destination wish-list unless you absolutely have to.
RTW tickets take in places from all around the world, from simple 4 flights packages to 15-flight extravaganzas. STA have an astounding array of options when it comes to round the world tickets, from their ‘basic’ nor’easter route to the all encompassing booby dazzler: if you are going down the RTW avenue and are a student or under 26 years old, it could definitely be worth checking them out. I have never used them myself, but my sister has done and only has great things to say about them.
Obviously a key factor with RTW tickets is that you know when you will be back, but how long do they last? The good news is that you can customise this somewhat depending on how long you want to stay in a particular place. The bad news is that they typically have a shelf life of 12 – 18 months, though you can source ones for a longer period of time if you are particularly flighty and indecisive. Even so, you are constrained to certain dates as the flight dates tend to be agreed prior to your departure – so this can be a sticking point for some. Some companies do offer the ability to alter your dates on the road, though it is normally only allowed to be done on particular flights, so if you don’t plan it properly you could end up only having a couple of weeks in a place you would have liked to of spent a couple of months.
In all round the world tickets provide a great platform for those who know exactly what, where and how when it comes to travel. If you are travelling in the hope of really finding a connection with a place, the RTW option could mean you end up leaving before you have a chance to fall in love – is the convenience and pre-planned timeline really worth the risk of that?
The other option is of course, to buy your flights as and when you need them. While it may seem a little daunting initially, there are a few benefits to doing so – most importantly you’ll never miss the chance to fall in love with somewhere. The thought process behind buying flights on a as-and-when basis, is that you have the opportunity to set you route as you go along it. If you want to stay in Delhi for a couple of extra nights in order to experience the Holi festival, no problem – crack on, you can delay grabbing that flight to Sri Lanka.
Now, you may think that buying flights individually would be vastly more expensive – this is definitely not the case. A little bit of research on Sky Scanner and you will soon realise that the financial difference between the two is minimal. If you plan on taking in the likes of Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam; you have the option to jump on a bus or an overnight train (save on accommodation too). Travelling in these ways will open you up to all kinds of different experiences that you just wouldn’t get from jumping on a plane, you really can go anywhere, anyhow without having to change plans your came up with 10 months ago when you were still working your 9 to 5.
The other clear benefit to some, is that you don’t have a time limit slapped on your backpacking dreams. You can continue on for as long as your travelling soul craves – no questions asked. Now it may not be the case that you fall in love with travelling and you could decide that it isn’t for you. Good news – you haven’t forked out for an expensive RTW ticket, instead you can book a flight home and use the cash you saved to get back on your feet!
If this is starting to sound like your preferred approach, there is one thing you need to consider and then plan for. If you are entering a country without proof of ‘onward travel’, you could come unstuck. To get around this you can either book flights in advance, book your flight and then cancel it when you land or purchase an overland/oversea ticket. What ever way you decide, there pros and cons to each – so ensure you understand what you’re doing and why it is needed before you commit.
For those who don’t want to be tied to a strict timeline and prefer the idea of being able to stick around, flight by flight travelling has a load of benefits. If a job offer arises or you simply decide you don’t want to leave that golden sandy beach, you can hang around – perhaps indefinitely. If the busy streets of Jaipur have your head in a whizz, pack your backpack and head to the airport – you don’t have to love everywhere!
Don’t just jump into one or the other. Heck, you might even decide you want to have a RTW ticket as a base to then buy smaller flights in-between! You travel goals and requirements will need to match the type of tickets you go for, if you can’t stand not knowing what you have planned for dinner – get a RTW ticket, you may not be able to handle the uncertainty when deciding where to go next!
When you make a decision, stick with it. Research into it as much as you can and make sure you’re making the right decision either way. Don’t be afraid of going back on what you previously thought and told all your family you were going to do, things change! Me and Scott have decided we’re going to opt for a flight by flight approach, the flexibility really resonates with us and we feel it’ll help when it comes to finding work and meeting new people. Perhaps you have had an issue with a RTW ticket, or maybe you regret not opting for one? Let me know below, I would love to hear how you would do it.