A trip around the world. Sounds like the ultimate bucket list item, doesn’t it? For a long time, I thought the idea of doing a Round The World (or RTW) trip was terrible. Even if I could get that many days free to make it around the world, it seemed so expensive. But what if I could do a round the world trip for less than $1500?
Colour me intrigued!
What is a RTW trip?
A round the world or RTW trip is literally a trip that goes around the world. It doesn’t mean you see every country or every countinent (though the itinerary below lets you see quite a lot!). It means you pick a direction, east or west, and set off in that direction until you make it back to your starting point. So a round the world trip could be as simple as Vancouver to London to Singapore to Sydney to Vancouver. In fact, many RTW tickets (more on that in a second) look exactly like that with only a couple of stops in big cities.
RTW tickets vs. Booking individual tickets
Many airline groups offer RTW tickets. But you won’t find a round the world trip for less than $1500 with one of these guys. Generally these tickets are $2000 for a couple of stops and $5000+ if you actually want to see more of the world. You’re restricted to certain airlines, a certain number of stops and a certain timeframe. You have to book everything in advance, you can’t backtrack and there are lots of little stipulations and rules you have to follow. In my opinion: RTW tickets don’t seem worth the hassle or the cost.
How to make the most of booking individual tickets
In order to go on a round the world trip for less than $1500, you have to be a little bit flexible. If you have a very rigid timeline or list of destinations that you must see, then maybe consider a RTW ticket. But if you’re willing to mix it up and take advantage of cheap flights, you can save a ton of money by booking each leg individually.
Here’s how to do it:
- Go to Skyscanner and set the site to your local currency
- Click on “one-way” instead of “round-trip” or “multi-city”
- Enter your departure city (Pro tip: try a few cities near you to get even better prices. For example, Vancouver is my home airport but with a short drive down to Seattle, I can save quite a few bucks.)
- For the destination, set the field to “Everywhere”
- For the departure and return dates, you can sort by specific dates, whole months or the cheapest months, depending on your flexibility
- Press “Search Flights!”
Round the world trip for less than $1500
If you’ve followed the steps above, you should already be blown away with the amazing prices you can get when you’re flexible with your destination and your time. I was not expecting to see one-ways for less than $100 from Vancouver but there were a few! But how does all of that add up to a round the world trip for less than $1500? Let me show you exactly how it can be done with a little trip I mapped out.
*Full disclosure: I kept my dates as “cheapest month” so these prices are the cheapest available in the next 12 months. Obviously, if I was booking this, I would need to make sure the dates all line up sequentially (i.e. if my first flight is November and my second flight is June, that wouldn’t exactly work). To account for this, I’ve actually rounded up to get to $1500.
**All prices below are for one-way flights and in Canadian dollars.
Vancouver to Europe
The first thing I wanted to do with my RTW trip was get across the Atlantic Ocean. Most RTWs start with a leg from North America to Europe. Of course, you don’t have to do this. You can go the opposite way and jump across the Pacific Ocean. You could also do a bit of jumping around in North America first and then leave the continent. But I just wanted to get started!
In order to save a bit of money, I actually chose to leave out of Seattle (just a few hours drive from Vancouver). So my first round the world flight would be:
Seattle -> London = $248
All around Europe
Once in Europe, I’d want to take advantage of the insanely cheap airlines, like Ryanair, EasyJet and WizzAir, to see more of the continent. In fact, Ryanair is having a sale today with $0.49 one-way tickets from places like Spain and Italy to Greece and the UK. That’s insane! Having already been to many places in Western Europe, I would be most interested in visiting some of Eastern Europe (Poland, Bulgaria, Lithuania), Southern Europe (Greece, Turkey), Western European spots I’ve missed (Austria, Scotland, Czech Republic) and some places I need to go back to (Amsterdam, I’m coming home!).
There’s also the possibility of getting down to Africa with some cheap airlines servicing Morocco. Morocco would be such a cool spot to visit! But honestly, I would probably just let the airfares dictate where I went in Europe.
Jetting around Europe = apx $75
Europe to the Middle East
Next on the round the world trip for less than $1500 is getting from Europe to the Middle East en route to Asia. In my research (aka time spent clicking around on Skyscanner), I found flights from London to Tel Aviv, Israel or Dubai, UAE for less than $100. However, these were connecting flights that stopped in Turkey, Romania or Lithuania. So I wouldn’t actually need to backtrack to London. I could leave out of another European city and save some time and money!
Romania -> Dubai = $60
The Middle East to Asia
From Dubai, it’s time to get to Asia. India has always been a place that I am both excited and terrified to visit. I’ve heard that India is an assault on all five senses. I think it would be a very overwhelming trip with all of the sights, sounds, smells and the heat. But it would also be incredible. And for these prices, I couldn’t pass it up!
Dubai -> India = $95
A few stops in Asia
Just like Europe, Asia has lots of low-cost airlines. From India, you can get to lots of amazing spots for less than $100 (e.g. to Malaysia for $43, to Sri Lanka for $64, to Bangladesh for $71, to Nepal for $86, to Singapore for $90, to Indonesia for $96). My mom was actually raised in Malaysia, so I think that would be a really cool country to add to my RTW.
India -> Malaysia = $43
After Malaysia, I wanted to spend some time in a place I have been dreaming about for a while: Bali! Bali sounds like the ultimate paradise. And I’m sure by this time in the trip, I would want to do some relaxing. And can you believe this price!?!
Malaysia -> Indonesia = $17
Asia to Oceania
From Asia, I would want to make my way to Oceania. Luckily, I’ve worked my way to the Southern tip of Asia in Indonesia, so hopping across to Australia isn’t too expensive.
Indonesia -> Australia = $68
This gets me to the west coast of Australia, which is a place I haven’t been before. I’ve been to Sydney, Melbourne and the Gold Coast but would love to discover the west coast and some of the interior. Of course, if I’m so close, I’d also need to make it over to New Zealand.
Australia -> New Zealand = $126
Oceania to back home
And then from Oceania, it would be time to head home. To get across the Pacific Ocean, it’s a bit cheaper to stop in Hawaii first. And would I really complain about having to stop in Hawaii on the way home? Absolutely not!
New Zealand -> Hawaii = $257
After some days spent lying on the beach, visiting sea turtles and checking out volcanoes, it would finally be time to head home.
Hawaii -> Vancouver = $245
What happened to South America?
Yes, I know. This itinerary totally leaves out South America. And it barely touches Africa. Of course, in your own itinerary, you can add South America, more of Africa, and wherever else you want. Unfortunately, it’s not that cost-effective. I looked at going to South America on the way back from New Zealand, but one-way tickets were super expensive! One option is to go to South America first and then to Europe, but this would add quite a few $$$. For example, Seattle to Central America is about $250, then assume another couple of hundred to get to South America, add a bit more to travel around South America, and then Brazil to mainland Europe (Germany/Italy/Spain) is about $350.
As much as I’d love to visit more of South America, I don’t think I’d include it on a RTW trip – at least not a round the world trip for less than $1500 because that budget would get blown. I think for South America, I’ll wait for an awesome round-trip flight deal from Vancouver/Seattle and spend more time there then.
Okay, so if you add up all the legs, you have:
(Seattle -> London = $248) + (Jetting around Europe = apx $75) + (Romania -> Dubai = $60) + (Dubai -> India = $95) + (India -> Malaysia = $43) + (Malaysia -> Indonesia = $17) + (Indonesia -> Australia = $68) + (Australia -> New Zealand = $126) + (New Zealand -> Hawaii = $257) + (Hawaii -> Vancouver = $245)
(I swear I did not plan this so it would be 1-2-3-4! Must be a sign that I should book it…)
That’s a complete round the world trip for less than $1500. In fact, it’s $266 less than $1500. But, as mentioned above, I rounded up to account for price fluctuations on different dates.
If you wanted to make this even more affordable, you could cut out lots of the trips around Europe, flights in Asia, one of either Oz or NZ, etc. However, the most expensive flights are always going to be the ones across the ocean (i.e. Seattle to London, New Zealand to Hawaii, Hawaii to Vancouver). Unfortunately, you can’t cut these flights as you do need to make it across the ocean to go around the world. So, if saving a few bucks is really important to you, you can go from London straight to Dubai and cut out the rest of Europe. But, in my opinion, spending $75 to fly to a handful of European countries will always be worth it.
For less than $1500, this itinerary takes you to five continents (if you make it to Morocco), anywhere from 10 – 15+ countries (depending how crazy you go in Europe) and all the way around the world. Not too shabby, right?
Would you go on a trip around the world? What are your must-see stops?