Before coming home for Christmas, I tallied my travel expenses from my year-long trip around the world.
A lot of readers expressed surprise at the total cost: travelling 3 continents, 26 countries, 84,000 km and 13 months, I spent a total of $25,200 CAD (about $25,200 USD).
My total expenditure wasn’t surprising to me, as I was roughly keeping track of I was spending on a daily/monthly basis on accommodations and food expenses. However, this was the first time I added up the cost of my flights.
From the 19 flights I took during the year, the total spent was $4,520 Canadian.
I expected this amount to be more, as I was buying individual flights as I traveled and $4,500 is actually in the same price range as round-the-world flight packages I was considering before I started in my trip.
I’ve summarized the flights below by distance, but for details on all the flights I took, please see my round-the-world expenses spreadsheet on Google Docs. It shows the destinations, prices airlines and how I booked it.
Summary of the 19 flights:
- 6 long-haul, inter-continental flights – distance ranged from 1,665 km to 16,077 km, prices $289 to $828
- 5 short-haul, international flights – distance ranged from 310 km to 994 km, prices $75.80 to $295.47
- 8 domestic flights – distance ranged from 286km to 684km, prices $36.60 to $130.17
Why I went with point-to-point tickets in the first place
I initially considered a round-the-world ticket and two months before my trip I started visiting travel agencies for quotes. I immediately found out that part of the pricing process required providing date and locations.
In addition to the inconvenience of having to make up dates and locations for my flights for months down the road (I had only planned the first two months), different travel agencies were giving me different prices despite having provided all of them the same itinerary and dates.
Then I tried to check fares online on the websites of airline alliances like, Star Alliance and One World. However, their websites weren’t as easy to use as they should have been and I still didn’t get a clear price.
Irritated at the lack of transparency and clarity, I decided to just go with individual (one-way) tickets. I figured that if just the act of buying a round-the-world ticket was such a pain, take or modifying the flights later would probably be even more of a hassle.
Looking back, buying individual tickets as I went was the right choice for my trip.
If you’re debating between a round-the-world package or point-to-point tickets, here are a list of benefits I found from buying flights as you go.
Benefits of individual tickets
1.) Save money by using regional and low-cost carriers that aren’t part of the major airline alliances. There are lots of airlines who aren’t part of an alliance, which is what the travel agents were using for the round-the-world package quotes. See Wikipedia for a list of low-cost airlines by world region. For example, the flight between Bangkok and Chiang Mai (northern Thailand) is under $100 on Bangkok Airways or Air Asia, but roughly $150 on Thai Air, which is part of Star Alliance.
2.) No need to provide travel dates in advance. Planning for an extended trip requires time and energy, and realistically it’s easier to plan a month at a time rather than months in advance. Before leaving for my trip, I only had the one or two months organizedand having to provide travel dates and cities for months down the road felt like I was being forced to make arbitrary commitments.
3.) Room for spontaneity and change of travel plans. My original itinerary was Toronto to India, Southeast Asia, Australia/New Zealand then back to Toronto within 5 months. At 5 months, I decide to travel longer and to head the opposite direction to Turkey and Europe. If I had a round-the-world ticket, I would have had to pay change fees to alter the flights.
4.) Selection of airline, if you have a preference. Coming home to Toronto from Bangkok on the last flight, I paid about $60 extra so I could fly with Etihad Airways instead of India Air because I was so impressed with Etihad’s service on my flight from Amman to Bangkok. On my final flights between Bangkok and Chiang Mai, I also paid $10 extra each way to fly with Bangkok Airways instead of Air Asia because I love that Bangkok Airways provides a free lounge with WiFi, snacks and drinks.
5.) Easier on cash flow. Round-the-world packages require payment for all the flights up-front. From a money management perspective, it’s easier to break-up the cost as I go.
>> If you’ve taken a round-the-world trip, how much did your flights cost? If you’re planning a trip, which type of tickets are you considering travelling with and what prices have you been quoted?
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