17 Nov Initial Route Development
Our biggest and most ambitious trip ever, passing through 5 continents and lasting 3 months.
We’ll be seeing parts of North and South America, the Caribbean, Peru, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Spain, Switzerland, and finally either Tokyo or Beijing before heading home to Perth.
While this blog will be a great way to catalogue the trip, we hope it might also serve as a useful resource given the time and trouble it’s taken (and is still taking) to nut out the best way to do it, even with the help of agents. Typically we’ve always organised our own tours, but this one is complex and the online information is unclear.
At this stage it’s looking like the “Round the World” ticket offered by OneWorld is probably preferable to the “Circle” ticket, in terms of flexibility.
We want to kind of make it up as we go along on this trip because we could land in a place and decide we want to stay a longer, or less time. And we want to be able to book flights when we’re ready, and book AirBnBs as we go as well.
So we have lots of unanswered questions around the exact process for booking flights as we go, whether we do that online, whether we have to do that via the travel agents, or whatever.
Hope that other travellers find it enjoyable and useful.
We started off with a plan to travel to Mexico, Southern USA, the Caribbean, and South America.
We picked certain key locations being the Copper Canyon Railway in Mexico, New Orleans, a Star Flyer clipper ship cruise from St Maarten in the Caribbean, Machu Picchu and Lake Titikaka in Peru, Chile (possibly including Patagonia in the deep south), Mendoza and Buenos Aires in Argentina.
Initially we researched using the One World “Circle Pacific” fare being the only one that really included South America (Latam Airways). However this turned out to be too restrictive in number of stopovers, allowing only six even though the itinerary could have a total of 16 sectors.
So this drew our attention to the One World “Round the World Explorer” fare which although more expensive did not have a limitation on stopovers. In fact you can have a stopover between each of the 16 allowable sectors if you really want to.
Thus we extended our trip to Spain and Switzerland (mainly to catch up with friends).
We were initially planning a stop in Hawaii at the beginning of our trip as we’d done that before travelling to the US, just stopping for two or three days in Honolulu. This time we investigated staying on one of the other islands, but became disillusioned with the high prices for relatively ordinary accommodation. We therefore decided to drop Hawaii and accept the long trip from Australia to the US, and extend our round the world trip to include a brief tour of Japan, altogether increasing our trip from 80 days to 92 days.
This could be done with no significant increase of the “Round the World” fare, although of course costs of travelling and accommodation in Japan are not low.
On our previous trips we have done planning and booking of travel by ourselves on the internet. However we soon found that it was in practice highly desirable to engage a travel agent because of the complexity of the ticket and because some of the available information was either missing or contradictory.
For example the flight from Madrid to Tokyo arrives at Narita airport, while the flight from Tokyo to Singapore leaves from Haneda airport.
The RTW Explorer planner on the One World web site sees this as an extra sector (ie, arriving at one airport and leaving from another) putting us over the 16 sectors allowed for the entire trip. Ultimately when booking with the travel agent this issue was sorted for us.
One of the challenges is to find a travel agent who is sufficiently skilled in the intricacies of the complex RTW fare. We tried a company in Adelaide that promoted itself as RTW specialists but were not satisfied with the responses to our questions.
Then we discovered that Flight Centre had a department that specialised in RTW itineraries and our dealings with Ella were very informative and efficient. With a bit of to’ing and fro’ing we have finalised our itinerary.