Planning a Round the World (RTW) trip can be quite daunting and expensive if you don’t do your research. There are a number of different airline alliances that offer RTW tickets. If you’re looking to go on airline miles, or at least earn some, there are a number of choices out there…

The best way to start planning your RTW trip is to make a list of dream destinations then site down with an atlas and plot them out. Your plans will change a hundred times between now and then but at least you have a starting point. The main thing to keep in mind is that you always want to travel in one direction – no backtracking. Not only do you waste money, but you waste time. You must decide if you want your trip to be a blow n’ go type where you see a bunch of places in a short amount of time, or a trip that’s more relaxed allowing you to spend more time in each destination.

Most around the world tickets are based on mileage and stops but some alliances are now building itineraries based on regions which offers a greater combination of destinations. None of these tickets are better than others, it all depends on where you want to travel. After plotting out your trip you should naturally fall into one of these alliances…

The Global Explorer
BA, Qantas, Air Pacific, Cathay Pacific, AA, Iberia, Gulf Air, Lan Chile and more
This RTW ticket is a good option if you want to travel between South America, Africa and Asia. This airline ticket is priced by mileage and offers 3 different levels of travel. Here’s a sample Global 3 itinerary:

Auckland – Papeete – Sydney – Manila – London – Nairobi – London
Rio de Janeiro – Dallas – Los Angeles – Auckland

The Great Escapade
Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand, Virgin Atlantic
This RTW airline ticket is great for those who want lots of stops in Southeast Asia, Australia or the Pacific and is rumoured to be one of the cheapest ways to travel around the world. This ticket allows you to traverse 29,000 miles and cross both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and is valid for one year. Here’s a sample itinerary:

London – Hong Kong – Singapore – Perth – Cairns – Sydney – Auckland
Fiji – Los Angeles – New York – London

The OneWorld
BA, Qantas, Cathay Pacific, AA, Iberia, Lan Chile, Lan Peru, Finnair
This ticket is based on “oneworld continents” – the fare you pay is based on the number of zones you visit or pass through. Here’s a sample itinerary involving all 6 continents:

Los Angeles – New York – Shannon – Dublin – Glasgow – Manchester – London – Nairobi – Harare – Johannesburg – Hong Kong – Bangkok – Singapore – Jakarta – Perth – Broome – Alice Springs – Melbourne – Sydney – Buenos Aires – Santiago – Sao Paulo – Dallas

The Star Alliance
Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand, United Airlines, Thai Airways, SAS, Lufthansa, Air Canada, Mexicana
As long as you don’t want to visit Australia, this is a great RTW with stops all over the world. The price of this ticket is based on miles traveled – you can have anywhere from 3 to 15 stopovers. The Star Alliance RTW ticket is valid for up to one year.

The World Discovery
BA, Qantas, Air Pacific, Cathay Pacific
For those headed from Europe to Australasia, this is probably your best bet. This RTW ticket allows one or two stop overs on the way and internal flights Down Under.

The World Journey
Continental, Northwest, KLM , Air Pacific, Alaskan Airlines, COPA, Emirates, Malaysian, South African, Jet Airways
Travelers to Central America and India will be best served by this RTW ticket… while there are numerous options for Africa and Asia, you cannot travel to Australia. The price of this RTW airline ticket is based on mileage. Backtracking within a continent is permitted but is subject to the maximum mileage allowance.

The World Navigator
KLM, Emirates, South Africa Airways, Northwest
If you’re looking to get to Africa and the Indian sub continent this is a great RTW ticket that also allows stops in the Pacific. The Navigator is unique in that you may travel over the Atlantic Ocean both ways when travelling to Europe or you may travel around the world. Here’s a sample itinerary:

Auckland – Los Angeles – New York – Amsterdam
Rome – Amsterdam – Kuala Lumpur – Auckland