We finally sucked up the nerve to actually purchase our first set of multi-city, one-way tickets today! *insert cheering and clapping soundtrack here* So, for all of those people who keep asking us if we are “really” doing this, the answer is YES.
When we started researching our options for the flights, we read a lot about RTW tickets vs. buying as you go. We started researching flights of all varieties, and spent way too many hours crafting (or attempting to craft) itineraries and playing with the interactive RTW ticket maps.
Through our many many attempts to create a workable RTW itinerary it became very clear to us that the RTW tickets were just not going to work for us for a variety of reasons.
- You generally have a limit of 12 months in which to use the flights. We have given ourselves a very open timeline and we may or may not be back in 12 months. Heck, we might be back in 3 or 4 months, though I seriously doubt that will be the case.
- You need to have a relatively stable notion of where you are going. We know we are going to start in Peru. We know we are going to Chile and Argentina. We know we’d like to go to Bolivia, Colombia, maybe Ecuador as well. We’re pretty sure we are going to make India, but haven’t decided for sure. Beyond that are a whole lot of maybe and we’ll consider it, and we’d really like to ideas, but nothing solid.
- There are some restrictions (they vary from ticket to ticket, so read the fine print!) on how many miles you can travel, and which directions you can go, and how many legs there can be, and how many times you can cross an ocean. This stuff caused us more headaches than I care to mention, mostly because we couldn’t/weren’t willing to nail the itinerary down.
- This is the big one. We want to be free to do what we want based on a whim, or a great flight deal, or a piece of advice picked up along the way. Maybe we’ll be in South America for 3 months, or maybe we’ll stay for 6. Maybe we’ll love it so much that it won’t end up being a RTW trip at all, but rather a Round-South-America trip. Who knows!
That said, buying as you go isn’t all flowers and ice cream. To start, it will probably be more expensive in the long run. It also takes WAY more time and effort in terms of research. We’ve been looking at prices for just the first few legs of our trip for months. I generally know what a good flight price is between say, Denver and NYC. Or NYC and anywhere in California. Or even pretty much anywhere in the USA to almost anywhere in Europe. Between the USA and anywhere in South America…no clue. Within South America…no clue. We’ve done some research, and I’ve been looking at flight costs constantly for months. One thing we’ve done is look at different combinations of cities based on where the flights to Peru were being routed through. We searched lots of different sites, tried to figure out what the local airlines were and looked on their sites.
We eventually found the flight we bought today, which we think has a good balance of what seems to be a decent price, and one that gets us there in a reasonable amount of time since I do not really want to spend 27 hours and 6 layovers getting to Peru. We could have save $150 or by getting a slightly different flight, but that would have required us to spend a night partway through in an airport (or pay for a hotel near the airport in a random country we weren’t even staying in), AND it would have brought us to our destination at 3:45am, which is not so ideal. We did, however, save a fair amount of money by getting a multi-city ticket, basically taking us from the USA to Peru, and then on to Chile. These are the only two places that we have solid dates for so it was helpful to just buy the whole route, and it saved us $600 off the prices we were seeing for buying the tickets separately.
Once we’re in Chile we’ll mainly be travelling overland by bus since it’s far cheaper and we’ll have the time to meander around more at our leisure. Hopefully that will allow us some time to start researching the next big flight, which might be to India. Or Bali. Or….?