Foolishly, I believed that after I had finished working my project planning days would be over. But travelling round the world is a major enterprise. Of course, the first thing that I launched into was planning the trip itself. That, after all, was always going to be the fun part.
I’ll be honest and admit that it was never my intention to rough it round the world. This isn’t going to be a late life gap year trip where we travel on budget airlines and sleep in backpackers’ hostels. I decided early on that business class was the way to go, if I could get it at the right price. The easiest way to achieve that was to look at the major airline alliances and decide which would be able to support the kind of itinerary we had in mind. In the end, we settled on the One World Alliance.
The conditions on a RTW ticket are very specific. You need to keep going in (roughly) the same direction: East-West or West-East. (North-South doesn’t seem to matter much.) You need to cross the Atlantic and Pacific oceans once each and once only. And you can only have 15 stops before returning to your start point. Even if you make your own way between two points – say land in Sydney and depart from Brisbane, that counts as one of your 15. Also, if there’s no direct flight and you have to make a change to get from A to B, that counts as 2 flights out of your 15.
These conditions don’t seem particularly onerous and leave plenty of scope for seeing a lot of the world, but we were surprised by how much it forced us to compromise on where and when we visited. The best way to maximise the 15 stop condition is to run the RTW planner side by side with the route map tool, so you can see whether your flight will be direct or require a stopover.
The planner allows you to save itineraries as you go. We ended up with five possible routes before finally settling on this one.