BootsnAll indie travel guide

14 RTW Airfare Tips

One of the most important decisions you’ll make regarding your long-term trip is how to purchase your flights.

Contrary to popular belief, there are a load of options to consider. Here are our top tips for learning about your options and making the best decision for your trip.

You have lots of options

  • After initial research, travelers think they have 2 options – a traditional, all-encompassing (typically restrictive) round the world ticket from one of the airline alliances, or buy one-way flights on your own as you travel. There are many more options – read on.

Look into all possible options, then decide

Try Indie

  • Indie is BootsnAll’s own multi-stop international trip planner. Indie is the only planner of its kind which allows you to get instant pricing on your multi-stop trip without having to go through an agent.

Use Indie at any stage of your planning.

  • If you’re at the beginning of the planning stage, use Indie to get an idea of what your flights will cost. Just enter your destinations and dates, click “search fares,” and get prices. This is a great way to start estimating what your biggest expense – the flights – will cost. (Note: You have to be a BootsnAll Member – it’s free – to price routes on Indie)

Do it your way


  • If you already know your route and find a price you like on Indie, go ahead book online without speaking to anyone. If you need assistance with your route or want to find a better price, get in touch with one of our experts and let them help.

Get expert help

  • Get expert help on both Indie and AirTreks. AirTreks specializes in multi-stop tickets and has agents at the ready to assist in your planning if you don’t know where to start.

Break your trip up

  • Many travelers think it’s one or the other when it comes to multi-stop tickets – either buy all your flights before leaving or one at a time once on the road. But the truth is that you don’t have to do it that way – you can book your trip in segments. Do it however is most convenient for you!
    • Keep in mind that airlines only release prices and schedules 11 months in advance, so if you want to travel for longer than a year, consider breaking your trip up into a few different legs. This also gives you flexibility in case you change your mind and want to stay longer somewhere or want to add a destination that wasn’t originally on your itinerary.

Frequent Flyer Miles

  • If you have frequent flyer miles that you want to take advantage of, or if you want to build frequent flyer miles for future travels, you probably want to look into using one of the airline alliances.

Airline Alliances

  • Star Alliance, One World and Sky Team are some of the largest airline affiliate programs. Using one of the alliances for your round the world trip will afford you to use or build frequent flyer miles.  These alliances are also good for shorter trips.  But keep in mind that there are a lot of restrictions in place with the alliances.  There are mileage caps, you can typically only travel east to west or vice versa, there is no backtracking, and you are restricted to a year.

Join the Program

  • Once you get your RTW ticket, find out what partnerships the various airlines are a part of, such as Star Alliance or One World. Before you go, get frequent flyer cards with one of the partner airlines that you will be using the most in the future.

Free or Cheap Stopovers

  • Some destinations may be cheaper than you think. For example, Icelandic Air offers free or cheap stopover options on flights to/from Europe. Or if you’re into flight hacking, you can hack your own free stopover using Indie.

Airport Hubs


  • Want to cut down on the costs of your RTW ticket? Fly in and out of major airport hubs such as New York, London, Bangkok, Sydney, Nairobi, and Buenos Aires. Large hubs have numerous and frequent flights, increasing your likelihood of snagging a reasonably priced ticket.

Overlanding on RTW Trips

  • Don’t forget, overlanding is an option, too! You can fly into one city and fly out of another one. For example, arrive in London , tour Europe, and fly from Rome to your next destination. Booking flights like this is a good way to combine making a plan with flexibility. Even if you have that flight booked out of Rome 2 months after arriving in London, you can be completely spontaneous in between.

RTW Itineraries

  • Price out possible RTW itineraries and tickets as far in advance of your trip as you can. This way, you have a idea of what your trip airfare will be and you can budget accordingly.
    • A year in advance is not too early to start getting prices and researching which hubs are cheaper and how routing works.

What are your top tips for purchasing flights for a long-term trip? Comment below to let us know what you did.

Read more on multi-stop flight planning for your trip:

Photo credits: David McKelvey

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