Should you choose an RTW ticket or buy tickets as you travel?

Air France on the rise

Source articnomad

Modern technology has made it easier for people to be their own travel agent, begging the question of whether you should purchase around-the-world plane tickets before you depart or after.

If you like to read indie travel blogs, you’ll know that these intrepid souls are out there doing it for themselves, but should you trust their advice? Is it even right for you?

To help out with this difficult proposition, I’ve compared the two options: purchasing a round-the-world ticket (RTW) ahead of time versus buying a flight to start your trip then a series of one-way tickets as you need them.

Here are the benefits of each method:

Pre-purchased RTW ticket method

  • All prices are locked in ahead of time
  • You can formulate your travel budget with hard numbers
  • You have all your onward tickets
  • You know exactly how and when you’re getting to your next stop
  • A lot of the stress and unpredictability of travel is removed

Associated personality traits: logical, practical, methodical, punctual, informed, astute, meticulous

Buy as you go method

  • You can go anywhere you like
  • You can go any time you like
  • You’re not locked into a set itinerary
  • Itinerary/date changes are for the most part unnecessary

Associated personality traits: adaptable, patient, lucky, flexible, unflappable, optimistic, creative, resourceful

Both these options seem tempting but for entirely different reasons. Before you decide which of them is better for you, it’s best to take a hard look at yourself and try to determine who is doing the trip? Which kind of person are you, not who you want to be but who you are on a day-to-day basis. It’s a tough question but since your decision will affect the overall quality of the trip, be honest about deciding your personality traits as a traveler, then look at your itinerary.

Combination of both

Our recommendation is to have a happy medium of both versions. It’s unwise to start your trip with no tickets, setting you up for purchasing expensive last minute tickets (especially during peak season), it’s also unwise to start with too many tickets, potentially leaving you with a ticket you don’t want.

The happy medium is to buy all your long-haul flights (those longer than 6 hours) ahead of time and fill in the short hops as you go.

This will allow you to lock in prices for the most expensive, budget-killer legs without sacrificing the spontaneity encouraged by the indie travel blogs, booking the main skeleton of your itinerary first and leaving out short hops to book as the need arises. You’ll be avoiding any last-minute desperation fares while still keeping alive your spirit of spontaneity.

With AirTreks, getting a “happy medium” ticket has never been easier. Here’s how:

  • Visit TripPlanner
  • Plot out your itinerary using only flights over oceans and big continents
  • Use the “overland leg” option to get between points within one region for purchase while you’re traveling

Don’t forget, most airlines allow you to change your dates of travel along the way, so if you’re hard-pressed to leave that Southeast Asian bungalow, call the airline (or AirTreks) and arrange for the change to be made. A fee may apply but it’s usually significantly lower than if you tried to purchase a last minute one-way flight.