Well today officially hit about the 6 month to leave date on the calendar and things are ramping up. There are tons of details to plan with a trip of this magnitude and we are excited, overwhelmed, and somewhat anxious about all of it. The RTW (round the world) tickets are close to being purchased which has been a big decision with LOTS of research. I think we’re going to go with the Oneworld Alliance (American Airlines, Qantas, LAN, Cathay etc) Explorer ticket. These tickets are actually a pretty good value especially when you find the loopholes I was able to find. You can buy these tickets based on the amount of continents you want to explore – 3 up to 6. The price is based on this as well as your country of origin. This is where it gets a little interesting… I found out (through a great website called Flyertalk – more on that later) that you can buy these tickets for a LOT cheaper starting in other countries. First, like usual, the US tickets are just plain more expensive than every other country. Second, when you add the recent rise of the dollar in comparison to some other currencies the prices can vary immensely. Through this research I found that starting our RTW ticket in S. Africa would be a considerable value – even when you factor in having to buy separate tickets to get from the US to S. Africa. Oneworld has even given some great perks – they just started a 10% off sale for their 10 yr. anniversary of the RTW tickets!! They also have now allowed booking of these tickets to be done online with a super cool planner (upon which you can start to plan your own adventure!) Of course with a ticket like this there are many rules and regulations but overall they are really a good deal. The basic rules are you must travel east to west or west to east – example: Africa to Asia to Australia to S. America OR Europe to N. America to Asia to Europe; you have 16 segments or flights; 4 segments per continent except the initial continent you only get 2; the dates are flexible without a fee – itinerary changes are possible although there is a reticketing fee of $125. Other airline alliances have similar tickets except they are based on the mileage traveled – 24,000 miles or 29,000 etc. You can also go with an airline broker although we found that the price for a ticket like this was better going with an alliance with the added bonus of getting miles for our flights.
I promised more about flyertalk and here it is… It all started when Erinn and I visited Alaska a couple of years ago. We met a tour driver who told us about his way of accumulating miles by simply flying on cheap or “mistake” fares covering long distance for no other reason than the miles. He was an Alaska Elite member which meant he often got double or triple miles and by flying a cheap fare from Anchorage to Chicago to Atlanta back to Anchorage he accumulated enough miles that all of his intentional tickets became award tickets which actually saved money. He told me about this website so I went. Part of the sociologist in me is always fascinated with different segments of people and this was an interesting segment. They have their own language (acronyms galore) and know more about airline tickets than most ticketing agents I suspect. They scour the internet for mistake fares and notify everyone else of good “mileage runs”. Well, I for one am glad someone out there is doing this because I never would have thought to do what we’re doing which ended up saving us a good chunk of $ which is good for a trip like this.