Three Ways to Travel Around the World | Kanebridge News
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Three Ways to Travel Around the World

There’s the fast way, the posh way and the slow way. Here’s what to know about each.

By BARBARA PETERSON
Sun, Aug 27, 2023 7:30amGrey Clock 4 min

Five countries and four continents in under two weeks? Or how about seeing the Taj Mahal, the Pyramids and Machu Picchu in one mad 25-day marathon? As travel rebounds in 2023, that staple of bucket lists and reality TV shows—the journey around the world—is back in vogue.

“Since international borders reopened, we’ve seen demand coming back in a big way,” says Christine Drpich, manager of e-commerce at the Star Alliance airline network founded by United and Lufthansa.

In the past six months, she says, the group has noticed a “significant surge” in searches for the round-the-world itineraries it offers on its site. Oneworld, another aviation fraternity anchored by American and British Airways, recently launched an AI-driven planning tool that helps guide fliers through all the possible routings for circling the globe, with suggested itineraries like a Jules Verne-inspired circumnavigation that can be done in far less time than the 80 days of his novel.

There is a long history of adventurers and daredevil pilots making the trip, but it became far more attainable when Pan Am launched its first scheduled round-the-world flights from the U.S. after World War II, says David Mink, a businessman who is president of the 120-year-old Circumnavigators Club based in New York (past members include Harry Houdini, John Philip Sousa, Arthur Ashe and Sally Ride).

Pan Am’s daily Flights One and Two, departing from San Francisco (later Los Angeles) and New York, helped to bring a lot more people into the club, he says.

What counts as a true round-the-world trip? To join his club, Mink says you need to travel in one direction only (no backtracking allowed), cross every meridian and return to the same place you departed from. (Some purists say you must also cross the equator and cover more distance than the circumference of the earth, or more than 24,901 miles.) That aside, any mode of travel counts, from small sailboats to hot-air balloons. “We have members who have done it in very strange ways,” says Mink. “One man traveled the entire world under the sea in a submarine.”

For those seeking a tamer version of these exploits, here are three—fairly easy—ways to travel around the world.

1. The fast way: one ticket that covers everything

Pan Am may be gone, but the latter-day version of its globe-circling flights are the “RTW” air tickets offered by the alliance airlines that let you customize a trip selecting from dozens of carriers and destinations.

Star Alliance and Oneworld can handle the entire itinerary with a single ticket; each has a global network of airline partners to fill out their route maps. They can tailor trips by distance, number of stops and class of service. This gives you the option to mix ultra-long-haul flights (those in the air for more than 16 hours) with shorter hops. And the price is generally less than if you simply booked a series of one-way tickets. You can do the trip in as little as 10 days, or take up to a full year.

The cheapest tickets through Star Alliance start at around $5,000 for a journey in coach, or $11,000 in business class, with three to five stops covering 26,000 miles. The price goes up with the number of flights and continents visited, up to 15 destinations and 39,000 miles. More than half of the RTW tickets sold by the Star group are in business or first class. It can be tough to redeem frequent-flier miles for these tickets, although member carrier ANA does offer an around-the-globe award ticket that’s popular with some high-mile fliers.

You can also cobble together a string of one-way flights, but that is more expensive than the single-ticket method—unless you follow the example of one Noel Philips, a British travel reporter with a large YouTube following, who recently flew around the world in 80 hours exclusively on low-cost airlines. He stopped in five countries on four continents, and his total airfare was under $3,000.

2. The posh way: chartered jets and luxury digs

For a price tag in the six figures, you can fly around the planet in comfort on a chartered aircraft, enjoying catered meals, flowing Champagne and swanky digs on the ground. With an all first-class layout, the jets used for these jaunts typically have a capacity of around 50 passengers, and demand is such that flights tend to sell out fairly quickly, according to Pamela Lassers, media-relations director at Abercrombie & Kent, the high-end tour operator known for its African safaris. The company is offering three RTW trips in 2024 of 25 or 26 days, via a Boeing 757, and just added a new wildlife-focused trip which stops in Hawaii, Fiji, Tasmania, Bali, Sri Lanka, Zambia and Brazil.

And there are other advantages to the private route, according to Diana Hechler, president of D. Tours Travel in Larchmont, N.Y. “You can get to some out-of-the-way places, like Easter Island,” she says, and “you avoid the delays and airport hassles we associate with flying today.”

TCS World Travel, another luxury private-jet specialist, is adding departures for its round-the-world tours—with 10 trips scheduled from October this year to December 2025. One culture and history itinerary includes Easter Island and East Africa and requisite wonders of the world from Egypt to India—via a 52-seat Airbus A321—all in under four weeks.

The cost: from $168,000 per person for A&K’s 26-day Wildlife & Nature Around the World trip, $130,000 for TCS’s 25-day tour.

3. The slow way: cruising the high seas

The reopening of the world has revived interest in circling the globe by the oldest form of intercontinental travel—ship.

Cruise lines were virtually shut down during much of the pandemic, but now business is booming, and at least a dozen lines offer a round-the-world voyage, which usually takes at least three to four months. Several lines are reporting that 2024 sailings are already sold out.

The cost: Prices range from around $20,000 to more than $100,000 per person. One example is a 128-day voyage aboard Holland America Line’s MS Zuiderdam departing Fort Lauderdale Jan. 3. The price—including all meals—starts at $23,600 per person, based on double occupancy.

At the higher end is Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ 132-night trip aboard the Seven Seas Mariner, round trip from Miami, with calls at ports in Costa Rica, Australia, Indonesia, India and Israel. Rates start at $91,000 all-inclusive, and there is already a wait list for some cabin categories on the first 2024 voyage departing Jan. 6.



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