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Aug 21 2012

Should You Get A RTW Ticket Or A One-Way Ticket?

Should You Get A RTW Ticket Or A One-Way

The journey not the arrival matters

(T. S. Eliot)

The dilemma

Should you get a round the world ticket (RTW) or a one-way ticket?  That’s one of the things you will have to think about as you plan your journey.  It is certainly something you need to consider very carefully as it will have an impact on your travel experience.

When I was organising my journey, I thought about whether I should get a RTW ticket or just buy a one-way ticket and go from there.  The latter was what I really wanted because of the flexibility it would give me.  I would be able to just go with flow and make decisions when I was on the road rather than in advance.  I had never travelled like that before so it was an experience I wanted to have.  But (and it’s a BIG but), as it was my first time backpacking solo, I was concerned about getting a one-way ticket to a country I had never been to before.  I thought it might be a step too far for me at the time.  Back then, the security of knowing I had a ticket that would get me from one place to the next and eventually home turned out to be more important to me.  So, for that reason, I bought a RTW ticket.

Which route?

If you decide to buy a one-way ticket, you just need to choose your first destination.  Once you are there, you can decide where you want to go next and how you are going to get there.  If you decide on this method of travel be aware that it isn’t possible to gain entry to some countries unless you can prove, with a return or onward ticket, that you will be leaving the country.  If you have decided to buy a RTW ticket, the next decision you have to make is, which RTW ticket you should buy.  There are many different routes on offer but it will depend on the travel experience you want, where you would like to go and for how long.  If you are in need of some inspiration, have a look at BootsnAll’s RTW Tickets Tips for some great ideas.

Which way round?

About two months before I travelled, I knew where I wanted to go and my basic route but I just didn’t know what RTW ticket to buy.  So, my inexperience and overwhelm took me into a local high street travel agency that specialises in this type of travel.  At the time, I needed to talk it through with someone who had the experience and knowledge I was lacking.  This was really useful because I found out that I had yet another decision to make and that was which way I wanted to travel around the world.  I would never have thought about this.  Going to South America was top of my list so it seemed like a ‘no-brainer’ to me.  That was until I found out how much cheaper it would be to go clockwise and begin in Asia.  Obviously, I wanted to use my money wisely and, as it meant having more money for my travels, I decided to go clockwise and not anti-clockwise around the world.


One last decision you have to make before booking your ticket is when to start your travels.  This will depend on a number of factors that include which way round the world you go, your route and what you want to experience.  The cost of the ticket varies throughout the year.  This is worth remembering when you book your ticket because you can save yourself a substantial sum on the ticket and have it for when you really need it.  When I found that out, I went for the cheaper option and left for my travels in May rather than wait for another month or two.

The pros and cons to buying a RTW ticket

The pros:

1.  It gave me the security of having a planned route so I knew roughly where I was heading.
2.  There are some countries where you have to prove that you are going to leave.  The RTW ticket is evidence of that.
3.  It gives you the flexibility to travel overland on local buses and trains and take the next flight from a different location, which is what I did.  My RTW ticket included the following flights: London-Delhi, Singapore-Bali, Bali-Darwin, Perth-Cairns, Sydney-Christchurch (NZ), Auckland-Santiago, Buenos Aires-London (via Sao Paolo).
4.  It was definitely cheaper than buying separate tickets.
5.  If I ran out of money, I had my ticket home.
6.  Because I had to keep moving to get my next scheduled flight, it actually encouraged me go to all the countries I wanted to visit and the flexibility of it enabled me to go to other countries I hadn’t initially intended on visiting.

The cons:

1.  I really wanted to extend my trip for longer than a year.  I was happy to pay extra to do so but, unfortunately, that wasn’t an option.  If it had been, I would have continued travelling for a while longer.
2.  If I had bought tickets as and when I needed to, I would have stayed a lot longer in certain countries such as China and wouldn’t have felt the need to keep moving as quickly as I did.
3.  There was some flexibility in changing the dates of the flights for a small fee but I still had to be in a certain place at a certain time to get my next flight.  That did mean I wasn’t as flexible as I wanted to be.

What should you go for?

Your choice will depend on a number of factors such as what’s important to you, the type of experience you want, how long you will be away, where you are going and how much security or freedom you feel you need.

When I had to make this decision, I opted for the RTW ticket since it gave me the certainty (security) I needed before I left for my travels at a time when things were very uncertain (backpacking solo).  However, as I became more comfortable with the uncertainty of travelling solo to unknown destinations, I wished I had bought a one-way ticket.  Over time, my need for freedom overtook my initial need for security.  Because of that, if I was doing a similar journey again, I would buy just a one-way ticket and not a RTW ticket.

The decision is yours

There is no right or wrong choice because we are all individuals.  What is right for one person may not be right for another.  You need to make a decision based on what is right for you at the time by weighing up the pros and cons of both types of tickets.  Whatever decision you make, whether it is a RTW ticket or a one-way ticket and then ‘buy as you travel’, you can be sure of one thing, which is… you will have an amazing experience.

Further information

If you need additional help or information, please contact us.

Related posts

Travel Insurance: Are You Covered?

Jan 2012 Update:  If you decide on a RTW ticket, it might be worth having a look at Indie, a new multi-city flight finder from BootsnAll.  You will be able to search and book a trip with up to 25 stops.

About the author

Teresa Keane

Teresa has been to almost 60 countries. She started travelling independently at the age of 38 when she gave up her job, rented out her house, put her possessions in storage and spent a year travelling the world. It changed her life. She now creates, publishes, & promotes online travel content and is an experienced freelance trainer & EFL teacher.


3 pings

  1. Libertine

    going through the same crisis haaa thanks for giving me more food for thought 😎 think im still on the one way method, it’ll be unpredictable, challenging, spotanious, exciting, terrifying and full of everything life throws at us arghhhhh got a rough idea though to go gradually through europe, onto india and surrounding countries, then to thailand and surrounding places, maybe austrialia but not sure yet and i also want to get to america, feel like it makes sense hopping around instead of longer flights missing out places inbetween

  2. Teresa Keane

    Hi Matty,

    A one way ticket is certainly all those things you mentioned. It’s my preferred option now when I am not restricted by time. Just be aware that in order to enter certain countries, you need to show proof of an onward journey: a ticket that will take you out of the country.

    Your forthcoming journey sounds fantastic! Have fun!


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