RTW Ticket vs Point-to-Point: Our Experience

In the very beginning, we were convinced that a round-the-world ticket is the way to go. It just seems so much easier: you establish a rough itinerary beforehand, buy the ticket, and adjust the departure dates as you go (with a minimal fee)… it’s simple.

Too many countries, not enough time -- agroffman

We like RTW ticket because

– The question, “So, where are you going?” becomes 100x times easier to answer because there is some sort of a blueprint. Your itinerary’s locked in and would be very hard to change. In a weird, liberating way: It’s nice to have one less thing to worry about.

– We assume (rightly or wrongly, we don’t know) that a RTW trip would be enough as a ‘proof-of-onward-journey’ often requested during visa applications.

– We have a better idea how much our transportation cost will be which makes budgeting the rest of the trip a hell lot easier. Since transportation usually makes for the biggest chunk of the total trip cost, getting it out of the way earlier would give a better sense of how much money we have left for the rest of the trip.

– The specials are super cheap. Take a look at this example I got from current Airtreks RTW specials:

New York – Bangkok – Munich – London – New York

For a total of $1200!

– Pricewise is comparable to point-to-point rundown we made — within a couple of hundred bucks (see point below)
– The promise of having one contact person to help you out with your itinerary while you’re on the road is pretty nice too.

The reason we’re ditching the RTW ticket idea

We don’t know where we’re going. It seems that the more research we do the more headache we have. We’ve gotten to the point where we’re ready to throw in the towel and just play it by the ears. If we never get any further than the first country we’re going to, so be it.

Potentially cheaper. We’ve laid out the estimate we got from the AirTrek agent side by side with separate ptp quotes — in most cases the ptp are 200-300 bucks cheaper. It’s not a scientific comparison by any measure, especially considering that depending on day of the week that I do the ptp search, they could end up being roughly the same price… but enough for us to continue analyzing both options.


More flexibility. Not having a locked itinerary means that if you happen to see a mega deal on an airfare to a country originally not on your list, there’s nothing stopping us to go for it because we do not have to worry about getting back on the RTW track.

Even more flexibility. We know that we want to try to hit Africa, Asia, South America, and Eastern Europe. None of the specials we’ve seen offer that kind of route. We’ve tried modifying the existing RTW specials but they ended up to be much, much more expensive than we think it should be.

No weird rules or restrictions. I know some people have gotten really good deals with airline alliances tickets, such as One World… but there are weird restrictions and we kept breaking their online trip planner app from apparently breaking one of their many rules.

Commitment free. RTW tickets are usually non-refundable (unless you buy some sort of insurance) and have a one-year limit. We might luck out and are able to make some money and extend our travels indefinitely. Or we might get burned out 3 months into it. As someone who’s terrified to enter a 2 year contract cellphone plan, I guess the idea of purchasing an expensive non-refundable anything with a time limit is a little too committing.


Even though we’re still somewhat on the fence right now, we’re leaning towards getting a point-to-point ticket or a combination of the two. E.g. we might get a cheap RTW ticket for the Asia part of our trip (and just don’t take the last leg home) and continue point-to-point.

What we’ve discovered is that RTW trips makes a lot of sense in terms of ease and cost if you can find one of their special deals suited to your itinerary with only a little modifications. But if you’re like us: unsure of where to go and actually want to be able to do crazy things such as crossing the same ocean twice (OMG!)… and tend to organize things in a haphazard way (– that doesn’t even make sense, does it?), a point-to-point ticket sounds like the better option.

We gave ourselves a ticket purchase deadline and we have 3 weeks to decide. This is scary.

Have I mentioned that I have a thing about commitment?


If you’ve done any research into this, what has your experienced been? What did you decide to do and why?


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21 Replies to “RTW Ticket vs Point-to-Point: Our Experience”

  1. Good to read! I've done some research too and the RTW (well from Canada at least) tickets were really restrictive or really expensive and I couldn't find something that would pleased me…I'm glad to know the ptp option can be equal in cost but with so much more liberty. I'll keep that in mind for sure:) Thanks!!

    1. There are definitely drawbacks to ptp ticket — some people prefer to having more structures in their plan. We did too until we kept fighting with each other over the 'structure' :p

  2. Exactly the same reasons I decided to ditch the RTW ticket idea as well. I also didn't like that most of them required we return to the same country at the end of the trip. Thanks for sharing your experience. Helps to see others have run across the same concerns.

    1. Since we have a vague plan of settling in Indonesia after our trip rather than coming back to our starting point, we totally agree with you. Thanks for coming by.

  3. We started looking at RTW tickets but were mainly turned off by the fact that you have to use them within the year – we were always planning to spend at least 18months on the road.

    Also we weren't really planning on taking that many flights – on the Beijing then Singapore – oz and then who knows?

    Our plans have changed so much we are now just going to stay in South East Asia for the foreseeable furture somehting we would have never been able to do if we were tied down to rtw tickets.

    I think the tickets are good for gap year travels before uni or people who know they will only be away for a certain amount of time – that means that they want to have a bit more of a rigid itinerary so they don't miss anything

  4. I completely agree, flexibility is so important! I like to be able to change plans along the way, and without a pre-bouth RTW ticket this is so much easier!

  5. Completely agree on all points. The most important thing for me when I travel is to feel free to do and go wherever I want. I like the freedom of being able to change plans along the way, and without a pre-bought RTW ticket this is so much easier!

  6. Completely agree on all points. The most important thing for me when I travel is to feel free to do and go wherever I want. I like the freedom of being able to change plans along the way, and without a pre-bought RTW ticket this is so much easier!

  7. In the past I've done 2 trips on a RTW ticket, and the one I'm currently on has been made up of point-to-point tickets. Each time it's been the right choice for the situation. It really depends on what you want to do, although I echo the comments on flexibility above. For me – coming from Australia, a RTW ticket can be just a little more expensive than a return flight to Europe, with so much more ability to stop-off along the way – the two trips on the RTW were because I wanted to visit both Europe and North America, and having dates booked in gave me some structure to work to. I changed a couple of things, skipped a flight or two, and it wasn't a big deal. I believe it's slightly more complex to change destinations rather than just dates.

    The reason I went point to point with this latest one was for a couple of reasons, the first being that I was travelling a long way overland (from Central Asia to Europe) but you are still docked the miles, and secondly because I'm planning to stay in Canada for the 2 years my visa allows, I know I want to visit home at some point, but no idea when, so it may have rendered the last leg useless. So I got a point to point ticket to Tashkent, with a stopover in KL, then once I got to Europe I could access all the cheap budget airlines, then redeemed my flight to Canada on frequent flyer points. It was definitely the way to go this time.

  8. In the past I've done 2 trips on a RTW ticket, and the one I'm currently on has been made up of point-to-point tickets. Each time it's been the right choice for the situation. It really depends on what you want to do, although I echo the comments on flexibility above. For me – coming from Australia, a RTW ticket can be just a little more expensive than a return flight to Europe, with so much more ability to stop-off along the way – the two trips on the RTW were because I wanted to visit both Europe and North America, and having dates booked in gave me some structure to work to. I changed a couple of things, skipped a flight or two, and it wasn't a big deal. I believe it's slightly more complex to change destinations rather than just dates.

    The reason I went point to point with this latest one was for a couple of reasons, the first being that I was travelling a long way overland (from Central Asia to Europe) but you are still docked the miles, and secondly because I'm planning to stay in Canada for the 2 years my visa allows, I know I want to visit home at some point, but no idea when, so it may have rendered the last leg useless. So I got a point to point ticket to Tashkent, with a stopover in KL, then once I got to Europe I could access all the cheap budget airlines, then redeemed my flight to Canada on frequent flyer points. It was definitely the way to go this time.

  9. I have to agree with the other commenters here. When we started the research we were enamored by the concept of the RTW tickets and did all the research. However, with all the restrictions and requirements it quickly turned out to be an obvious choice. We bought our first ticket to Ecuador and have just been going from there. Last week we had to buy our 1st ticket, and while it was hard swallowing the fee after so many bus fares, it still was far better for us.

    One additional thing we have noticed, which surprised us both, is how much we dislike any timing restrictions. We love the freedom provided by selecting where we want to go, when we want to be there, and how we will travel. With a RTW ticket not only do you need to use them within a time period, but also you get dinged for land travel between cities. I believe when you hit the road you guys will love the freedom of taking alternative travel whenever you can, and flying if/when you like. Plus, once you get on the road the lure may be so great you want to stay out here.

    We look forward to seeing you guys somewhere in the world and sharing a drink. Happy planning and loving following along from afar.

  10. Well we haven't booked one of these specials, but we have booked our tickets from a rtw company. The itinerary we have got is completely custom made. We have had a number of really long phone calls with the company rep, building and adjusting our itinerary so we have got exactly what we want. In the UK this has worked out MUCH MUCH cheaper than buying flights point to point. Buying just two flights seperately would have cost us about the same as the whole trip!

    The best thing though, is that the company we have gone with allows us to change our flight dates free of charge! We can do it via phone or email and can move the dates forward or back depending how we get on in each destination. No fees at all, so in that respect its pretty flexible.

    I think ultimately, for us this was the best decision, because it is the first time we will be doing anything like this, so at least we have a plan, and targets. Its nice knowing that we should aim to get to our airports for the dates we have provisionally booked, but if we don't, its not a problem.

    I can see that rtw tickets aren't the right choice for some people, but I don't think thet should be discredited completely.

  11. We worried about this one too and, in the end, decided on point to point as we went. We purchased only our first flight and continued on from there. It worked out to be about the same as a RTW ticket would have been but we had MUCH more freedom. We did change our plans along the way and didn't even have to think about it. It was work on the road though but once J got into a pattern of where to look for deals he did a great job…even scoring a $0 flight from Turkey to Jordan by making use of layover options! Good luck! And buying that first ticket….well, there's no feeling like it!! Cheers!

  12. I have yet to meet a person who was happy with their decision to purchase a RTW ticket. On the road they are always stressed and pissed off they have to pay extra fees and have such a set schedule.

    I can see the lure of it but I think it never lives up to the hype.

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