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Avoid Around World Airfare Mistakes

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Avoid Around the World airfare mistakes - photo beach in Aqaba Jordan with camel

12 Around the World (or any more than one stop long trip) airfare mistakes:

1. Have too many stops close to home

Cafe in Livingston, Guatemala

When young (or retired), you may have many opportunities to travel for longer periods.

As you get older and family and other obligations pile up, it becomes more difficult to travel more than two or three weeks at a time.

Save easier-to-reach destinations for later and head for the more distant exotic locales now when you have time.

2. Have too few stops

Former teacher with small children at Landa township near Cape Town, South Africa

Lower cost Around the World airfares drastically limit number of places that you can stop and also their locations. Decide whether or not these cheaper prices are really worth it.

Note: Many international fares allow up to 23 hours and 59 minutes to connect. That gives you a chance to sample a place like Copenhagen between flights, without counting it as a stopover.

3. Have no “focus stops”

Happy western travelers in Arab dress at Petra in Jordan

Some travelers plan to spend approximately the same time at all destinations.

That becomes a mistake on longer trips.

A longer stay allows you to linger to learn a language, to do volunteer charity work, to become friends with local people, and to enjoy all sorts of other opportunities. You just have to plug in adequate time.

Most of all long stays give you an opportunity to feel at home in a different culture.

Choose a place in the same way that you would choose a place to live. That is exactly what you will be doing. Pick one not too large to know well.

4. Set up connections between airlines not on same ticket.

Happy couple on small boat on Pacific coast of Mexico

Perhaps the most dangerous ticketing mistake many travelers make is using tickets from different airlines for the same journey without adequate connecting times.

Let’s say

  • Denver to Hong Kong costs $1100 on United Airlines.
  • Denver to Los Angeles on a Southwest ticket + Los Angeles to Hong Kong on a United ticket costs $950 in total.

You should book the second choice for same day travel, right?

Not if your United ticket is non-refundable or has severe change penalties. If Southwest arrives late, why should either airline be responsible for your missed connection? You booked it, not them.

Note: This caution does not apply to two or more airlines on the same ticket.

Note: Even with what seems to be adequate connection time, two tickets for the same journey always creates risk. For instance, what if one airline significantly changes the time of its flight or cancels it altogether?

5. Do not use “open jaw” stops on tickets

Shark spotter at beach near Cape Town, South Africa.

Many Around the World and other airfares allow you to arrive in one place and depart from another and still count that as one stop. Airlines call the portion not traveled by airline between them an “open jaw.”

For example, on a Around the World ticket, you could

  • Fly from Kathmandu to Bangkok,
  • Travel by train and bus around Thailand/Cambodia/Laos/Vietnam and onward to Singapore via Malaysia, and then
  • Fly Singapore to Australia.

What you probably could not do on a Around the World ticket is to

  • Fly Kathmandu to Singapore,
  • Travel from Singapore to Bangkok by land, and then
  • Fly Bangkok to Australia.

Airlines call that “backtracking.”

Open jaw opportunities exist around the world.

6. Fail to book adequate connecting times.

Traveler looking out at Colco Canyon Peru from high perch.

Qantas allows you as little as 70-minutes to make a connection from American Airlines flights to its (on same ticket) at Los Angeles.

However, if you miss that connection you find that the next available flights to Australia do not leave at least until next evening. That’s the sole time period Qantas departs and those flights may already be full.

I would much rather enjoy downloaded books or films during longer connections than the hassles of missing flights.

7. Fail to compare Around the World airfares with individual tickets

On the hunt--with cameras--at Ngala Game Reserve, South Africa

You may be far better off buying a series of cheaper individual airfares, instead of an Around the World one. Besides saving, you may avoid mileage restrictions of Around the World airfares.

Look for unexpected exotic airline routes. You might even find it cheaper to fly from Brazil to South Africa via Dubai, instead of directly between them.

Research!

8. Buy one-way tickets without checking entry requirements

Mother with 2 little girls relaxing on hammock on Mexico coast near Puerto Vallarta.

You cannot enter some countries without having a ticket to leave them, e.g., Australia (except New Zealand passport holders).

Even when allowed, you risk far more intense immigration scrutiny. Be well prepared to prove your financial stability.

9. Do not calculate actual airfare cost

Carefully add up mandatory and optional fees and even more carefully if you plan to use budget airlines like Ryanair.

I find carry on only travel liberating and nearly never pay fees to check luggage. You really do find laundromats, etc. around the World.

I am not saying do not use budget airlines like Spirit. Sometimes their savings are immense.

Nevertheless, budget airlines even more so than regular ones can drench you in a multitude of fees, including even carry on ones, as well as other problems (as seen above).

Determine how much you really save (if at all) by using them. Also, check their luggage weight and size rules that may be more restrictive.

10. Do not pay with credit cards

Young traveler with small children at Landa township near Cape Town, South Africa

Buy tickets with credit cards. That gives you a far better chance of disputing charges if anything goes wrong than paying with cash or ATM cards.

Moreover, using ATM cards at merchants and at non-bank ATM machines comes with far more risk. If hacked, you will likely find it difficult to prove that someone else drained your bank account.

11. Do not safely buy consolidator (bucket shop) discount tickets

See "Buy Consolidator Tickets Safely."

12. Pick destinations without checking exchange rates & local costs

Fine African food at Moyo in Jo'burg area, South Africa

This is a big one.

Want to upgrade your experiences, have more of them, and stay on the road longer? Then include some countries that give you more opportunities for the money you exchange.

There are huge differences in prices of accommodation, meals, etc. even without favorable exchange rates. Research them.

As an example, the difference between daily costs in European countries and in South African cities for the same quality is simply remarkable.

Avoid mistakes setting up your airfares and then enjoy every moment of your Around the World or other long trip! That’s my wish for you.

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