One of the most important decisions one has to make when planning a trip around the world is how to go about actually getting around the world. The decision of whether to buy a traditional round the world plane ticket vs. buying one-way tickets as you go is an important one that will have a major impact on your trip.
When Megan and I took our trip in 2008-2009, we went with one-ways, primarily because we wanted the freedom to do what we want, when we wanted. Hindsight is always 20/20, but the next time we take a long-term trip, we will certainly dig deeper into our options.
A new option
One new tool that has come along since our trip is BootsnAll’s Indie, a multi-country flight tool that allows you to search, price, and book multi-stop tickets up to 25 legs, completely online! With the instant pricing and buying options, it makes it easier to break your trip up into multiple legs if you want the best of both worlds – combining freedom with having a plan.
There are several issues that travelers have had with booking a traditional round the world ticket.
- Rules: So many rules, including, but not limited to: traveling in one direction only (east to west or vice versa), having a mileage or stops limit, a continent limit, no backtracking, etc.
- Having to go through an agent for everything, including getting a price.
- Making a decision on your entire itinerary up front before leaving.
With Indie, the only rule is that the trip has to be less than 25 legs, which takes care of 99% of the round the world trips that people take. Getting an instant price makes planning and budgeting so much easier. Plus they have experts at the ready should you need assistance. If you’re a planner, you can plan everything out in advance with indie like you would with a traditional RTW ticket, but if you want to have more spontaneity for your trip, it’s easy to split the trip up into sections, having the best of both worlds.
Why we won’t buy one-ways again
Traveling as a couple offers a different dynamic than solo travel or traveling as a backpacker in your early 20′s. While spontaneity certainly is nice, and there’s a lot to be said about taking advantage of opportunities that pop up while on the road, sometimes too much freedom can be a bad thing, especially when there is another person involved.
Megan and I are notorious for our lack of decision-making skills. Something as simple as what to have for dinner can evolve into an hour-long process.
“I don’t really care, what do you want?”
“Whatever, I’m not in the mood for anything in particular, what about you?”
“Doesn’t really matter to me, what sounds good?”
“What about Vietnamese?”
“Eh, I just had that for lunch earlier in the week. How about pizza?”
“You always want pizza – let’s get something different.”
“I don’t always want pizza. Fine, any other suggestions?”
“I don’t know, you always shoot down my suggestions.”
“No I don’t!”
And so it continues along those lines for a while before the conversation turns back to the decision we were trying to make in the first place.
Now try to picture that scenario over the course of a year-long trip around the world. A few times a week we had to make the decision of what to do next. If we had that much trouble deciding on dinner on a Tuesday night, how the hell were we supposed to decide and agree on our next destination for our trip?
While we obviously did make those decisions, I don’t want to know how many hours, or days, or weeks we spent over the course of a year having a variation of the conversation – “Where do you want to go next?”
So next time, it’s going to be that much easier while on the road if we make some important decisions before leaving. Using Indie, we can break our trip down better and have at the very least a broad outline of where we are going to go.
What we could have done
The map at the top of the article is from our trip and is the flight path we took, except that we booked most flights one at a time. We knew going into the trip that we were starting in S. America and would end up in SE Asia. We contemplated the Galapagos, and if we would have went there, we would not have added in New Zealand. Ultimately we decided on New Zealand instead, and if we would have just made that decision before we left, we could have booked the following before leaving:
Looking back, it would have been very nice to have those decisions made before leaving. And even had we booked the above trip before departing, we had plenty of room for spontaneity. After our first flight into Lima, we had over 3 months until we left Buenos Aires for El Calafate and Patagonia. 3 months gives you a lot of opportunities to take advantage of any opportunity that arises.
During our trip, we spent an inordinate amount of time searching for that next flight instead of actually traveling. I can’t tell you how many hours we spent in our little apartment in Buenos Aires trying to figure out the best and cheapest way to get up to Colombia before moving on to New Zealand. If we had only just made the decision before leaving, we could have had SO much more time to actually travel.
Had we gone this direction, we then could have turned our sights to the second leg of the trip. We already knew where we wanted to go, and even with the freedom of buying one-ways, our plans didn’t change. We stuck to largely the same route we envisioned. So at some point at the end of time in S. America or during our 5 weeks in New Zealand, we could have booked our second leg, which would have looked like this:
Spontaneity is nice. I agree with that. But there’s also something to be said about being able to actually travel on your trip and not constantly be thinking and having to make decisions about what to do and where to go next, especially when your significant other is involved.
I’m not sure exactly what we’ll do the next time around (especially since this couple has since turned into a family), but I can assure you we’ll be looking into all options a lot more seriously, and we’ll do most of decision making prior to leaving.