I have a confession to make.
I confess, when I wrote that blog asking if I should go to Peru or Myanmar, I’d pretty much already decided the answer. I was just curious what you’d say.
For the language, the NGO’s, and continued exploration of South America, I was heading to Peru.
But then. I found myself looking for reasons to go to Myanmar. And not in order to feel like I’d given it a fair chance, but because I wanted to be convinced. The change already underway there was a compelling reason, but more importantly, Peru felt like taking the easy way. The easy way? No way!
But then. I was drinking a cup of green tea after breakfast, looking at the giant wall-sized map of the world in the house I’m taking care of, whose owners are finishing up their round-the-world trip. Around the world?
But why skip straight to Myanmar, when there are oh-so-many places in between?
I researched round-the-world (RTW) tickets, and have found that they are much like Eurail train passes: a really good idea in theory but priced way too high by companies who think you won’t notice. They may be cheaper for some routes, and offer other advantages*, so I’ll share the results of my admittedly brief research just in case.
*The main advantage is that a RTW ticket would presumably satisfy that god-awful onward-ticket requirement that many confused countries are currently demanding. God I hate that idea. My plan is to book a flight in advance, though this will reduce my flexibility. Did I mention how much I hate the onward-ticket requirement? I’ll also probably fly between the capitals of SE Asian countries, which will deprive me of the quintessential traveler experience of border scams, but I figure I’ve seen enough of those already.
Also, since you pay for the 39,000 miles, you can save money with a RTW if you’re going to expensive destinations like the Seychelles, or Galapagos, or are really going to use all those miles (say hi to Australia for me).
There are several options, but the biggest one with the most flights and airports is through StarAlliance. They have a trip-planner here which was the most fun I’ve had online since crossword puzzles. You get 39,000 miles to play with (though there are other options if you fly business class I guess) over the course of a year.
Rule #1: You have to end in the same country (but not city) where you started.
Tip #1: Don’t start in the USA! Americans don’t travel enough I guess, so a RTW ticket starting here costs much more than one starting just about anywhere else. Even Europe. It is cheaper to book your own one-way to Europe, then do a RTW from there, even if you don’t use the whole thing. And that way you get to stop off for some Belgian beer, chocolate, and fries, and that’s always a good idea.
Rule/tip #2: You only get 16 “segments”, i.e. flights, so try to fly direct, hub to hub, then fritter around by land from there. But you’ll probably want to return to the same airport where you landed in each country, because traveling on your own by land and flying out of somewhere else counts as a flight! Sneaky bastards!
But check individual flights before you book a RTW! Even using my fantasy itinerary, individual flights seem to be a fraction of the cost of a RTW. For starters, you can fly from Western Europe all the way to Istanbul for about a hundred bucks. Cross an entire continent* for $100? Awesome.
*For now we’ll pretend Europe is a continent. Socio-political cartography at its best.
And from Istanbul you have access to the network of budget Asian airlines. So instead of a RTW ticket, I’ll just go to Istanbul, and wing it from there. Pun pretty much intended, and only barely regretted.
I’ve already booked my first three flights…