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A few months ago I toyed with the idea of booking an “around the world” trip. It’s in quotes because you can’t really call a trip of merely 4 destinations an around the world trip, but it would still be a circuit.
I’ve also challenged myself to piece together the cheapest around-the-world itinerary I can find. These must have at least seven stops and cross both the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean. Typically, I try to see if I can ring in under $1,000. Sound plausible? Let’s see.
Pro tip: Know your budget carriers and cheap routes
This is always where I start. If you’re putting together an around the world itinerary, you could always call up a travel agent who would probably get you a decent “deal” on full-service carriers. But we can do better. I’ve submitted quotes to a couple companies that offer such services, and the result has always been poor, in my opinion.
Budget carriers is where its at. Besides generally offering cheaper flights on the whole, the one-way pricing is also competitive. I encourage you to do some research to find some of the best deals departing the U.S. My gateway is always Oakland, which offers flights to a number of European destinations on Norwegian. Once you get to Europe, look for cheap hops on Vueling, RyanAir and WizzAir. A cheap Middle Eastern carrier is Flydubai, and there are a few in India as well. Southwest Asia obviously has AirAsia.
These are great building blocks that make an $1,000 around-the-world ticket plausible.
An around-the-world itinerary for less than $1,000
This is not my first rodeo, so putting together this cheap itinerary took me less than 15 minutes. I wasn’t particularly choosy with my destinations. But I also didn’t dig as deep as I could to find the very best deal.
The following itinerary is real. I put it together yesterday. Beginning in the San Francisco Bay Area, you make 7 stops across Europe and Asia before returning back to the Bay. The final flight is a deal I found a few days ago that I just booked for a trip next year (SEE: Booking a one-way trans-Pacific ticket for $186 per person). The air travel consists of:
- Oakland (OAK) to Barcelona (BCN) on Norwegian – $149
- Barcelona (BCN) to Rome (FCO) on RyanAir – $16
- Rome (FCO) to Tel Aviv (TLV) on RyanAir – $56
- Tel Aviv (TLV) to Dubai (DXB) on Pegasus – $145
- Dubai (DXB) to Delhi (DEL) on Oman Air – $99
- Delhi (DEL) to Kuala Lumpur (KUL) on AirAsia X – $120
- Kuala Lumpur (KUL) to Taipei (TPE) on AirAsia X – $115
- Taipei (TPE) to Los Angeles (LAX) on Xiamen – $201
- Los Angeles (LAX) to San Francisco (SFO) on Delta – $52
An eight-destination itinerary spanning a timeframe of approximately a month. The total cost? A very affordable $953. If you cut out Israel and replace Rome with Stockholm, you can cut the cost down even further to ~$875.
Full around-the-world itinerary
If you’re curious about the full itinerary, here are the exact flights and dates I chose, including timing and connection:
If Google Flights isn’t already your best friend, it should be (SEE: 6 reasons Google Flights is the BEST flight search engine). There is no better tool for searching itineraries like this. I can’t imagine ever being able to piece together anything like this as quickly and painlessly as I have been able to do.
While there may still be a couple mileage programs that offer decent deals for around-the-world business class itineraries (I’m looking at you Asia Miles and ANA Mileage Club), I wouldn’t ever consider booking an around the world trip in economy using miles. It’s simply too easy and cheap to put your own together. The taxes and fees would easily eat up a third of what this whole trip costs.
Are you as intrigued by a cheap around-the-world trip as I am?