- The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes. Marcel Proust
Travel Around the World
Traveling around the world at once is often a cheaper option than breaking it down into segments. The secret is to plan carefully and purchase the ticket well in advance. The cost is more than made up for by the amazing experience of seeing many places in a short period of time and the memories you'll have for a lifetime. Here are some tips for how to travel around the world.
Hack Into Travel
Price your trip as an "Around-the-World" ticket
This will be much cheaper than booking a dozen one-way flights. The two largest airline alliances are Star Alliance and Oneworld. The Star Alliance is the bigger alliance.
Star Alliance is based on how many miles you travel and they offer passes in 29,000, 34,000 or 39,000 miles increments. To put that in context, 29,000 miles (47,000 km) you will roughly get 3 continents (outside of the United States), 34,000 miles (55,000 km) will get you 4 continents and 39,000 will get you 5 or 6 continents. The more miles you do, the more destinations you can see and vice versa. Each pass allows up to 15 stopovers (a stopover is considered 24 hours in one destination) and you can get the ticket in first, business, or economy class. Star Alliance also requires passengers to start and end in the same country, though not necessarily in the same city. (There are also passes which are limited to geographic regions in the world.)
Oneworld offers two different pass options: one that is segment based and the other that is mileage based. Global Explorer is Oneworld’s more conventional, mileage-based ticket. There are three levels – 26,000, 29,000 and 39,000 miles in economy class, as well as a 34,000 in business and first class. Just like the Star Alliance mileage-based RTWs, all miles are counted, including overland segments.
- Air travel is generally the most expensive way to travel. Use flight comparison websites like Travelsupermarket, Skyscanner and Kayak or flight brokers such as Travelocity, Expedia and Opodo. Pay close attention to restrictions. Many "Around-the-World" tickets mandate that you must always be travelling in the same direction, eg. L.A. to London to Moscow. You could not go L.A. to Paris to London. This takes significantly more preparation.
Get into the frequent-flyer mile credit card deal
If you have good credit, aren't afraid to use credit cards and have some savings, you can score thousands and thousands of miles to pay for your airfare.
- There are tons of offers out there--most banks have some version of a credit card that has partnered up with an airline, such as the American Airlines Citi card. You have to spend a certain amount of money in a set period of time, but the rewards can be huge--tens of thousands of miles. You'll need around 120,000 to get an RTW ticket.
Consider alternative methods of travel
For most of us, frequent flyer miles just aren't an option. It requires a lot of forethought and money. Luckily, there are plenty of cheap options -- and they're often more interesting, leading to more memorable experiences.
For train travel: In the US, you can travel by rail with Amtrak (if you booked in advance, it can fit any budget). For non-EU citizens in Europe, look into Eurail passes; for EU citizens, Interrail passes are a good bet. In Asia, the Trans-Siberian railway goes from Moscow to Beijing. There you can connect to Shanghai and onto Tokyo.
- A Global Eurail pass is around $500 (€390) and will get you to 24 different countries.
- Moscow to Beijing on the Siberian railway (with stops in Irkutsk and Ulaanbaatar) costs $2100 (€1635) for the no-frills, 16-day trip. For each extra person, the cost lowers.
For bus/coach: Greyhound is the line to travel in the US. The European equivalent is Eurolines -- where you can travel between 50 or so cities. And Megabus actually operates on both sides of the lake, only going intercity, though.
- All Greyhound buses are equipped with air conditioning, an on-board restroom, reclining seats with headrests, footrests and tinted windows. In addition,buses make rest stops every few hours, and meal stops are scheduled as close to normal meal times as possible.
- Lille to London through Eurolines can be as little as $36 (€28) one-way. If you're only visiting a handful of cities, it can be a good alternative to Eurail. They also offer a free luggage allowance of two medium-sized bags.
For ship/ferry travel: Cruises can be a frugal option of you think about the money you're saving on accommodation and food. Some companies even offer operate transatlantic cruises; ferrying from New York to Hamburg, you can feel like you're on the Titanic!
Look into hotels and hostels
Of course, if you have family and friends in the area, stay with them. But if they're all back home, hotels and hostels are the standard option. Some hostels are slightly fishy, so do your research beforehand.
- Don't let the one bad hostel ruin the whole bunch. There are quite a few reputable chains and you don't have to go wandering up a dark alley to find one. Hostelling International makes finding one easy and just like booking a 4-star hotel. If you're willing to share accommodation with strangers, you can really get a bang out of your buck. And you might meet some fascinating people.
Consider couch surfing or woofing
Though it may seem too good to be true, couch surfing has a huge following and is a completely legit form of travel. Couchsurfing can set you up with people just like you all over the world.
- If you're willing to stay a bit longer, consider woofing. You'll work on an organic farm for as little as a couple of weeks in exchange for a roof over your head and a some meals. You can build up your skills and get much more into the culture than if you stayed in a hotel, frequenting your mini bar.
Get into house sitting
Even better than couch surfing, house sitting has entire networks now that let you stay in a place for free just to feed the cat. On many house sitting sites, for an initial fee, you can put up your listing (and don't forget to sell yourself) and meet people looking to leave their home in trustworthy hands.
- Understandably, there are far more people looking to house sit than house sitters. When you sign up, do some research on creating a striking profile. Think of it as a job interview where you're in a pool of thousands of applicants (because you are). Set yourself apart from the herd in whatever way you can.