Flight tickets are probably the largest lump sum expense of travel. If you are smart with how you book flights and the type of ticket you get, however, you can save yourself a lot of money.
For booking individual flights there are so many websites and there is so much information out there. It can be quite confusing and overwhelming, it can be difficult to know what to choose and if you are definitely getting the best deal. Google flights can often bring up some cheap deals and/or give you a good estimate of home much a flight may cost with a quick search. For actually booking flights I like to use Momondo. I usually find that they can get you the cheapest flight possible as they compare multiple flight websites and companies to find the deal. They even give you a price comparison for the whole week that you are interested in so, if you are flexible you can fly on a cheaper day. Momondo is particularly good if you are travelling to an obscure place or long haul and you are willing to make multiple changes. They will often book you long flights with multiple stops but if you aren’t in a hurry, are young and want to save money it is often the best option. Sky scanner is a similar website but I still prefer Momondo and think it works out cheaper. A good example of how much money a longer route can save you comes from my boyfriend’s last-minute tickets from Antigua to London. It is going to take him about 24 hours but he will be paying about $500 instead of about $1,500+ for a direct 8 hr flight. He has the time as he has no timeline and is saving a lot of money that can, in turn, be used for lots of other things. Or my flights to and from Cuba were almost $200 less using Momondo than other places I had looked at. The one thing to watch out for with these tickets are the layover time and whether the country has visa requirements for people in transit. If you are not fussed about location or time you can also generally look through the internet to find flight deals at that moment as often the last minute tickets can drop significantly.
The Round The World (RTW) Ticket
A RTW is a good option if you have a set length of time you would like to travel and want to go to multiple continents. I did this for my first long backpacking trip as it worked out the most economical option and guaranteed I had flights, not as many possibilities of running out of money and not being able to get home (it does happen to people). There are two global airline alliances that offer RTW tickets and multi-stop tickets, Star Alliance and One World, you can also book these tickets through travel agents and sites specialising in RTW tickets. The benefits of using an alliance, despite the fact that they can end up being slightly more expensive, is that they are responsible for your connecting flights, you can earn valuable points for future travel, and they are usually higher quality airlines that include checked baggage and or meals.
When choosing an alliance you should look at the tickets offered, and also the countries they service, and whether they have a partner airline you already have points with. I do not know much about Star Alliance as I chose One World as they fly to Antigua which was important to me as I wanted to stop there as my last country on the way back. One World offers multiple tickets. They offer the One World Explorer (continent based) and Global Explorer (distance based) RTW tickets both with different rules and pricing and then they offer ring tickets which are multi-stop tickets that operate within a certain region i.e. The Pacific ring (countries bordering the Pacific Ocean). The tickets work in price tiers dependent on stops. I had a one world explorer ticket with 17 stops (including layovers) and it cost £2,500. Now, this was a big upfront amount to spend but I had 17 flights on reputable airlines for the next year most including a checked bag and meals. Some of the individual flights such as my Hong Kong – Canada leg or Antigua – England leg can cost close to $1000 or more direct anyway. The rules for this ticket, are that you must go forwards you cannot go back on yourself and you must finish where you started, and the destinations you choose must be destinations those airlines fly to. The way I chose countries was pretty dependent on these rules as, I wanted to maximise the number of countries I could visit. It is best to do as many overland segments as you can to maximise countries you visit. So I flew from London to Portugal and then made my way by land to Austria, flew Vienna to India via Qatar and then made my way from India to Nepal and back again by land and so on and so forth to maximise my number of stops.
I have also found out since that your starting country can lower the price so you have to play about with where you start to get the best price. So, for example, it may have been cheaper for me to fly to Portugal on a cheap Easy Jet make my way across Europe and then fly from Vienna. The One World RTW has a super useful interactive map you can play around with to find the best and cheapest route.
Other General Tips for Saving on Travel Expenses
Pack a carry on backpack, you can get away with up to about 50 litres as a carry-on if you compress it, saving you money on a lot of airlines. I switched to a 50-litre backpack I bought on Amazon.com before travelling the Americas as all flights I had charged for an extra bag.
The bag was $20 lasted super well and I was never asked to weigh it or check it once (you can get away with being over the 7-kilo limit if you make it look light i.e. the one shoulder trick). Choose visa-free countries or countries with the cheapest visas. Use air miles, this can be done using certain credit cards or from Previous travels. Travel by land and try and buy return flights if only travelling to one region, one way costs a lot.