I had only asked for water. Why was she running after me? Was I not supposed to take the glass? I turned around.
“You forgot your snack.”
Phew, I wasn’t some rampant water thief that had to be run-down the aisle of the enormous, double-decker Japan Airlines’ plane.
I was a backpacker and I wasn’t used to this five-star treatment.
“Sorry Miss you were asleep when we came by before.”
Ahhh if there was ever a time when nine hours on a plane was worth it, this was it.
This? One of my segments in my around-the-world ticket, which placed me on one of the highest rated airlines in the world. I was starting to understand some of the benefits of these tickets.
Was buying the around-the-world ticket worth it? Yes and…..no. Thanks Robyn, that clarifies everything!
Tough crowd. Ok, I will try to explain. For my first tip I will tell you how much mine cost (just over $5,000), and where I got it from (I purchased my ticket from the One World Alliance, which consists of American Airlines, British Airways, etc… visit www.oneworld.com for more details). But you can also buy tickets from Star Alliance (www.staralliance.com) or if you’re young enough (i.e. 26 or younger) some companies such as STA Travel (www.statravel.com) might help. Be careful, however, because many agencies (other than from Star or One World) do not have flights that start from Bermuda. Sure you could start from New York or Toronto, but then you still need to buy a ticket to these cities and be sure you know when you’re returning home (otherwise one-way tickets can be expensive!)
But with the cost, and this is a big tip two: figure out how much of a ticket you need. Huh? Ok I’ll explain. The ticket I bought was one of the most extensive and expensive (at the time) and it wasn’t necessary. I had sixteen segments. What’s a segment? Well when we talk about segments in around-the-world tickets we don’t mean flights. Nope.
Segments are a mixture of both overland and above-land travels. Example? I landed in Prague via British Airways. My next flight would be from Istanbul, Turkey, which meant I had to get myself from Prague to Istanbul. I could do it however I wanted to, but One World was not going to be involved.
Which leads me to tip three and more on segments. If I were to do the trip again (and I would love to) I would buy the basic level ticket. On OneWorld Alliance, now, that would mean my ticket could cost as little as $3,699 for three continents. What does that look like? Well a sample they give is: Los Angeles-Tokyo-Hong Kong-Moscow-St Petersburg-Madrid-Miami-Los Angeles (obviously ours would start from Bermuda).
And tip four is I would choose the basic ticket because once you land in Hong Kong or Madrid (or basically any continent) there are cheap flights and buses that make travel very easy once you’re on the continent. In Asia there is AirAsia or even Air Malaysia to give you $20 flights from Hanoi, Vietnam to Bangkok, Thailand. That’s got to be cheaper than paying for a four continent ticket, which starts at $5,299.
An added bonus and tip five for why buy a basic around-the-world ticket is: their dates are not carved into any stones. Dates can change as often as you like (though the ticket overall is only valid for 12 months from the first date of travel). Believe me that’s helpful when you never know what you’re going to do or who you’re going to meet.
Which means that while on the road tip six is Skype will become your best friend. Well Skype and the OneWorld Alliance or Star Alliance helper at the other end of the line. Sheila (aka my adopted mother) is going to get a Christmas Card.
What is not negotiable? Destinations. Tip seven is to know where you want to go before you call. Maybe that should be number one? Before you book your ticket sit down (or stand-up it’s your preference) and write-down where you want to go. Decide on the cities that you would like to visit (i.e. are you going to go to Australia or give it a miss? Would Thailand be a better visit?) It will make life easier when you try to find the around-the-world ticket that will not have to be altered and cost you more money.
And that brings me to tip eight (which got lost last week!) is changing the destinations on your around-the-world ticket costs money (about $125) and is almost impossible to do with the structure around segments. Any flight or overland portion will be counted as a segment so if you’ve booked all of the segments in your three or four-continent trip then changing a destination could be tricky unless it mirrors exactly what you had booked. Make sense? Another rule? Tip nine is: you can only go one way around the world. Mine? Bermuda to Europe to Asia to South America to home. I could have gone the other way, but I could not have gone to Europe and then to America (it’s backtracking if you start from an isolated island).
Still lost? Still not convinced? Well that makes ten easier to give you: convenience, comfort and (another c?) security. Having an outline of your trip via flights provides much needed structure for the trip, while the beauty of booking with the “big-name” airlines does provide comfort (especially when you’re fed gluten-free good on Japan Airlines) that, especially backpackers won’t get on the discount airline, Air Asia between Thailand and Australia. And Security? Well let’s just say that money gets tight, you already have your ticket home. No calling the relatives asking for help.
Which brings us to next week and what are you going to bring home. Everyone has their travel quirks and their collections. What do you bring home? Visit here for your daily travel tips and your Rock Fever Column next week.
Categories : Rock Fever Column