Part 1 and part 2 of this three part series on how to find a cheaper flight discussed tips and techniques on how to use travel search engines for best results and how low cost airlines can save you a lot of money and should always be considered too- even if they don’t fly to your city (yup, you read that correctly). Today I’m going to discuss the third and last option that can save you a lot of money, however this time it should only be considered when you have a decent amount of time for your trip. How much is “decent”? Well, it will depend on each individual, but I would only consider any of these options if I had at least 2 full months and the places I really want to visit are in different continents. Truth is you can spend this time travelling within a few bordering countries, but hey, it might not be where you really want to go. You also have to realize that choosing any of these options will mean that you will have some sort of schedule and itinerary to follow. What’s the difference between them? It’s quite simple: round the world flights (RTW) have the same departing and final arrival location, where as the other two don’t.
Multi Stop Flights
Multi stop flights can be arranged by two means. The first one would be by setting yourself an itinerary and looking for all the flights of your trip using any of the tools discussed already, making the appropriate reservations, and you’re set.
The other option would be using the services of a well know travel agency that arranges these kinds of trips and has a long history of success, as well as good customer service, well priced deals, and offers all the flexibility you need. If this is what you want (makes things easier for you) I highly recommend Airtreks (click on banner). I used them in 2003 and was extremely satisfied with what I got- I was even able to change the departure date of two flights during the trip, one of them free of cost (this is not always the case). To organize your trip, choose one of their specials or use their Tripplanner (interactive application in which you specify your itinerary and whether you’re flying or going overland between the cities) and you’ll be rewarded with a few price options: your specific itinerary, best bang for the buck including your itinerary, and your itinerary with a few extras. If you’re interested in one of their options you’ll fill a form and will be phoned by a customer service agent shortly for confirmation and/or further arrangements. Easy peasy.
Single Continent Passes
Single continent passes are that precisely: a combination of within-continent prepaid flights that usually belong to a same airline and/or airline alliance. All destinations have to be stated prior to departure from country of origin (passes are normally only available to visitors from another continent) but just the first leg of the trip requires flight and date confirmation (in other words, you have to make a reservation for the first flight). Good side- you have your flight reservations made, you know how much you have spent, you fly with a reknown carrier, and you get frequent flyer miles. Bad side- you have to stick to the airport list you gave and I don’t find them very cheap.
Around the World Flights
Around the world flights are a different kind of story, being your best bet to choose one of the several options that an airline or airline alliance (One World, Star Alliance, Skyteam) offers. In some cases the stops are already fixed, in others you choose where you want to go, the latter being an option usually given by the airline alliances; this makes sense because not all airlines fly everywhere. Pricing is based on the number of continents visited, class of travel, if you want a continent pass, and there are other restrictions that you must be aware of that might seem weird: sometimes you can only fly east, others west; you can only fly north of the equator, or then you might only be able to fly south of the equator; crossing the equator can mean an additional surcharge; you have to fly exactly once across the Pacific and Atlantic oceans… the list goes on. I can think of four advantages if you are considering one of these tickets: the dates do not have to be pre-planned (however confirm that you can change the departure dates at no cost), you get frequent flyer miles, you may have access to Continent Passes limited to RTW flights (this means that for an additional but good price you have access to a few more flights within the continent) and that you know before you leave how much you are spending on flights. Probably. Supposed to. The truth is that eventually you’ll be charged for a change you will want to make, whether it be because you want to depart from Zanzibar and not Nairobi or because you are having so much fun in Samoa that you want to stay a few more days lying on a hammock sipping that oh-so-good coconut milk.
There are a few online travel agencies that specialize in these kinds of trips. Airtreks (mentioned earlier) is a good bet, and so is www.roundtheworldflights.com , company based in the UK that has received a good share of positive reviews. I have only booked a RTW once and it was because it was the cheapest way of getting from Australia to Spain and back on a short notice. Otherwise, I have not and don’t plan to do so in the near future because of two reasons: I wouldn’t like or want the restrictions imposed if I can enjoy a long trip (read vacation), and I don’t think they’re particularly cheap either.
Photo credit (spaceship)= Cambridge Engineering
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