Our #1 Tip for RTW Flight Planning

It’s time to make multi-stop route planning simpler.

By using our #1 tip – building your route around hub cities – you can save quite a bit of money (see below for the details).

Background

For the past 7 years, we’ve begun the New Year with an article choosing the top 10 Indie Travel Destinations for the upcoming year.

We published the 2014 version a few weeks ago, but this year’s list was different. Instead of trying to predict industry trends and the that next big destination, we used data from Indie, our long-term flight planner.

All cities on the 2014 list were the top searched cities on Indie in 2013.

These are the cities that people are adding to their multi-stop flight route. These cities are the ones we see over and over on routes built on Indie. For example, Bangkok, the #1 city on the list, was seen on 20% of all routes.

The hub city difference

What does this mean for you?

We’ve long known that flying in and out of hub cities is cheaper – simple logic tells us that.

But what we wanted to know is, how much cheaper?

To test, we built 10 different multi-stop routes.

  • 5 built around the most searched cities on Indie in 2013.
    • All 5 routes went to 4 different continents – North America, Australia, Asia, and Europe
    • All 5 routes had 11 flights
    • All 5 routes originated from a different hub city in each of the 4 continents – New York, Los Angeles, London, Sydney, and Hong Kong
  • 5 built around smaller cities in the same regions as the above routes
    • All 5 routes went to 4 different continents – same as above
    • All 5 routes had either 5 or 6 flights
    • All 5 routes originated from a different hub city in each of the 4 continents – same as above

Five routes using hub cities

The first 5 were built around the most searched cities on Indie in 2013 – ie – big, hub cities. Here are the routes and prices at the time of writing (1/14/14):

Note: To be able to price these routes yourself, you do have to be a BootsnAll Member, which is completely free – sign up here.

  • RTW from New York
    • New York > Los Angeles > Honolulu > Auckland > Sydney > Bali > Singapore >overland> Bangkok > Hong Kong > Tokyo > Istanbul > Paris >overland > London > New York from $4294 taxes and fees included
  • RTW from Los Angeles
    • Los Angeles > Honolulu > Auckland > Sydney > Bali > Singapore >overland> Bangkok > Hong Kong > Tokyo > Istanbul > Paris >overland > London > New York > Los Angeles from $3804 taxes and fees included
  • RTW from London
    • London > New York > Los Angeles > Honolulu > Auckland > Sydney > Bali > Singapore >overland> Bangkok > Hong Kong > Tokyo > Istanbul > London from $4415 taxes and fees included
  • RTW from Sydney
    • Sydney > Bali > Singapore >overland> Bangkok > Hong Kong > Tokyo > Istanbul > Paris >overland > London > New York > Los Angeles > Honolulu > Auckland > Sydney from $4130 taxes and fees included
  • RTW from Hong Kong
    • Hong Kong > Tokyo > Istanbul > Paris >overland > London > New York > Los Angeles > Honolulu > Auckland > Sydney > Bali > Singapore >overland> Bangkok > Hong Kong from $4046 taxes and fees included

The average price, per flight, on all 5 routes, is $470. 

But is $470 per flight a good price when circumnavigating the world? Is using these big, hub cities a good idea when building a multi-stop flight route?

Wanna learn more<br />
about multi-stop flights?
Wanna learn more
about multi-stop flights?

Five routes using smaller cities

The second five routes were built around smaller cities in the same regions as the above routes. Here are the routes and prices at the time of writing (1/14/14):

  • RTW from New York
    • New York > Christchurch >Brisbane > Saigon >overland> Phuket > Bucharest >overland> Marseille > New York from $3287 taxes and fees included
  • RTW from LA
    • Los Angeles > Christchurch > Brisbane > Saigon >overland> Phuket > Bucharest >overland> Marseille > Los Angeles from $3251 taxes and fees included
  • RTW from London
    • London > Denver > Christchurch > Brisbane > Saigon >overland> Phuket > Bucharest > London from $3720 taxes and fees included
  • RTW from Sydney
    • Sydney > Saigon >overland> Phuket > Bucharest >overland> Marseilles > Denver > Christchurch > Sydney from $5292 taxes and fees included
  • RTW from Hong Kong
    • Hong Kong > Saigon >overland> Phuket > Bucharest >overland> Marseilles > Denver > Christchurch >Brisbane > Hong Kong from $5762 taxes and fees included

The average price, per flight, on all 5 routes, is $789.

The results

So let’s ask the question again – is $470 per flight a good price when circumnavigating the globe?

In this test, the difference between using hub cities and smaller cities is $319 per flight. That’s a pretty big disparity, and when you’re planning a trip with multiple flights, that can add up to thousands of dollars difference real quick.

What does this mean when planning a long-term trip?

Planning your flight path around big, hub cities will give you more options. All travelers have a different reason for taking a big trip. Some want to see as much as they can. Some want to dive deep into one culture. By planning your flight route around hub cities, it’s gives you more freedom to do exactly what you want on your trip.

No matter what provider you use, Indie, AirTreks, one of the Alliances, or Kayak, or if you choose to buy all your flights up front or just buy them as you go, it is smart to employ this same tactic when building your route. Flying in and out of hub cities is most likely going to be cheaper than flying into smaller, regional airports (obviously exceptions can be made, and it is possible to find deals on smaller, regional airlines).

Using this tactic might not be as feasible when planning a one or two week trip, but when you’re traveling for months or even years, it’s far easier to fly into a hub city then make your way around the region via overland transport, which is typically much cheaper than flying.

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Photo credits: Eric Kilby

 

 

 





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