How to Travel Around the World

Four Parts:Hack Into TravelFind AccommodationPreparing for Your TripLive Cheaply & Easily

Traveling around the world at once is often a cheaper option than breaking it down into segments. The secret is to plan carefully and purchase the ticket well in advance. The cost is more than made up for by the amazing experience of seeing many places in a short period of time and the memories you'll have for a lifetime. Here are some tips for how to travel around the world.

Part 1
Hack Into Travel

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    Price your trip as an "Around-the-World" ticket. This will be much cheaper than booking a dozen one-way flights. The two largest airline alliances are Star Alliance and Oneworld. The Star Alliance is the bigger alliance.
    • Star Alliance is based on how many miles you travel and they offer passes in 29,000, 34,000 or 39,000 miles increments. To put that in context, 29,000 miles (47,000 km) you will roughly get 3 continents (outside of the United States), 34,000 miles (55,000 km) will get you 4 continents and 39,000 will get you 5 or 6 continents. The more miles you do, the more destinations you can see and vice versa. Each pass allows up to 15 stopovers (a stopover is considered 24 hours in one destination) and you can get the ticket in first, business, or economy class. Star Alliance also requires passengers to start and end in the same country, though not necessarily in the same city. (There are also passes which are limited to geographic regions in the world.)[1]
    • Oneworld offers two different pass options: one that is segment based and the other that is mileage based. Global Explorer is Oneworld’s more conventional, mileage-based ticket. There are three levels – 26,000, 29,000 and 39,000 miles in economy class, as well as a 34,000 in business and first class. Just like the Star Alliance mileage-based RTWs, all miles are counted, including overland segments.[1]
      • Air travel is generally the most expensive way to travel. Use flight comparison websites like Travelsupermarket, Skyscanner and Kayak or flight brokers such as Travelocity, Expedia and Opodo. Pay close attention to restrictions. Many "Around-the-World" tickets mandate that you must always be travelling in the same direction, eg. L.A. to London to Moscow. You could not go L.A. to Paris to London. This takes significantly more preparation.
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    Get into the frequent-flyer mile credit card deal. If you have good credit, aren't afraid to use credit cards and have some savings, you can score thousands and thousands of miles to pay for your airfare.
    • There are tons of offers out there--most banks have some version of a credit card that has partnered up with an airline, such as the American Airlines Citi card.[2] You have to spend a certain amount of money in a set period of time, but the rewards can be huge--tens of thousands of miles. You'll need around 120,000 to get an RTW ticket.
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    Consider alternative methods of travel. For most of us, frequent flyer miles just aren't an option. It requires a lot of forethought and money. Luckily, there are plenty of cheap options -- and they're often more interesting, leading to more memorable experiences.
    • For train travel: In the US, you can travel by rail with Amtrak (if you booked in advance, it can fit any budget). For non-EU citizens in Europe, look into Eurail passes; for EU citizens, Interrail passes are a good bet. In Asia, the Trans-Siberian railway goes from Moscow to Beijing. There you can connect to Shanghai and onto Tokyo.
      • A Global Eurail pass is around $500 (€390) and will get you to 24 different countries.
      • Moscow to Beijing on the Siberian railway (with stops in Irkutsk and Ulaanbaatar) costs $2100 (€1635) for the no-frills, 16-day trip. For each extra person, the cost lowers.
    • For bus/coach: Greyhound is the line to travel in the US. The European equivalent is Eurolines -- where you can travel between 50 or so cities. And Megabus actually operates on both sides of the lake, only going intercity, though.
      • All Greyhound buses are equipped with air conditioning, an on-board restroom, reclining seats with headrests, footrests and tinted windows. In addition,buses make rest stops every few hours, and meal stops are scheduled as close to normal meal times as possible.[3]
      • Lille to London through Eurolines can be as little as $36 (€28) one-way. If you're only visiting a handful of cities, it can be a good alternative to Eurail. They also offer a free luggage allowance of two medium-sized bags.
    • For ship/ferry travel: Cruises can be a frugal option of you think about the money you're saving on accommodation and food. Some companies even offer operate transatlantic cruises; ferrying from New York to Hamburg, you can feel like you're on the Titanic!
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    Know if you need a visa. The last thing you want to do is to get stuck in Saigon getting yelled at by a man who tells you that you have to go back to Hong Kong. In certain countries, you might have to pay an exorbitant fee to get a visa immediately, but it's hands down best to know what paperwork you have to have.
    • The length of your stay and your citizenship are both important factors. For most Westerners, it's easy to assume you can go wherever you want. Unfortunately, that's not the case. Do your research well ahead of time--it can take weeks to get a visa approved. And if you're exiting and re-entering a country, know that process, too. You may need a different type of visa.

Part 2
Find Accommodation

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    Look into hotels and hostels. Of course, if you have family and friends in the area, stay with them. But if they're all back home, hotels and hostels are the standard option. Some hostels are slightly fishy, so do your research beforehand.
    • Don't let the one bad hostel ruin the whole bunch. There are quite a few reputable chains and you don't have to go wandering up a dark alley to find one. Hostelling International makes finding one easy and just like booking a 4-star hotel. If you're willing to share accommodation with strangers, you can really get a bang out of your buck. And you might meet some fascinating people.
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    Consider couch surfing or woofing. Though it may seem too good to be true, couch surfing has a huge following and is a completely legit form of travel. Couchsurfing can set you up with people just like you all over the world.
    • If you're willing to stay a bit longer, consider woofing. You'll work on an organic farm for as little as a couple of weeks in exchange for a roof over your head and a some meals. You can build up your skills and get much more into the culture than if you stayed in a hotel, frequenting your mini bar.
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    Get into house sitting. Even better than couch surfing, house sitting has entire networks now that let you stay in a place for free just to feed the cat. On many house sitting sites, for an initial fee, you can put up your listing (and don't forget to sell yourself) and meet people looking to leave their home in trustworthy hands.
    • Understandably, there are far more people looking to house sit than house sitters. When you sign up, do some research on creating a striking profile. Think of it as a job interview where you're in a pool of thousands of applicants (because you are). Set yourself apart from the herd in whatever way you can.

Part 3
Preparing for Your Trip

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    Pack lightly. Unless you have your own personal assistant laying down rose petals 4 paces ahead of you that can carry your 12-piece luggage set, you'll want to pack as lightly as possible. There will be a time (or two or three or four) when you have to carry it all around. It could be between checkout and check-in times for a few hours or it could end up being all day when your hotel reservation gets lost or your flight gets delayed.
    • In addition to a few basic sets of clothes, some reading material, some hygienic products, and small electronics, make sure to bring an international plug adapter. You'll be incredibly grateful when you're stuck in Phnom Penh with a dead computer needing to book the next leg of your trip.
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    Set a budget. Based on where you are going, how long you will be there and whether the country is 1st, 2nd or 3rd world, you'll need a matching budget. There will always be unexpected expenses, so add a solid "for emergency" category.
    • Obviously, first world countries are the most expensive (Europe, Canada, USA, Japan). Second world countries are a bit harder to define, but are usually somewhat developed (Mexico, Eastern Europe, China, Egypt). Third world countries are the cheapest but most difficult places to travel (most of Africa, Bolivia, Peru, SE Asia).
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    Think safely. Going around the world can be as dangerous as you let it be. Take the appropriate precautions to avoid being taken advantage of.
    • Alert your bank. Some banks are highly security-oriented and will cancel your cards if it mistakes your overseas transaction as suspicious activity. To avoid this, call them before you leave to inform them of your exact itinerary, not just that you're traveling. It's also a good idea to call them when you get back.
    • Don't carry around your valuables in a bag that can get easily swept of your shoulder or cut without you noticing. Invest in a money belt or small purse that is worn close to your body. Keep your cash, credit cards, and passport in this.

Part 4
Live Cheaply & Easily

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    Buy your own groceries. Making your own meals will dramatically cut costs, as opposed to eating out every meal. Europe doesn't have to be as expensive as they say it is.
    • Living like a local will be much more rewarding than traveling like a tourist. Go to local supermarkets, bakeries, and general stores to get a feel for the local flavor. Not only will you save money, but you'll get an experience you cannot get at home and see things you've not seen before.
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    Do your research. If you're on a shoestring budget, don't fret. You can still find things to do that are either very cheap or free. Most bigger cities have an arts or theatre scene that is so lively you'll have more options than you can manage!
    • Time Out, Trip Advisor, and similar travel sites have comprehensive listing of things to do and see for some of the bigger cities in the world. If you find yourself in one of these cities, check it out to get the most out of your trip.
    • Guidebooks can be great--but they can also be misleading. What happens when a popular guidebook lists a spot as a best kept secret that no one's going to? Everyone starts going to it. Do use it as a general guideline, but take everything with a grain of salt.
    • Ask around. Who knows better than the locals? If you're staying at a hotel or hostel, ask the staff. If you're couchsurfing, sometimes your host will volunteer to show you the ropes. And if you're worried about the language, keep your eyes peeled. Where do the people seem to be flocking to?
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    Stay in touch. For safety purposes, every few days find an Internet cafe and email your parents or friends, so they know where you are in case of an emergency.
    • It's not difficult to get a cheap phone if you're staying in an area for a reasonably significant amount of time. It may be as simple as switching out your sim card.
    • Only bring your computer if you're working or otherwise truly need it. Otherwise it will be cumbersome and you'll just worry about it being stolen.
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    Make the most of it. You're about to embark upon a journey that will be life changing. Let it. Meet new people, do things you didn't see yourself doing, and learn from it. This may be your one opportunity.
    • Go with the flow. If you run into a group of Colombians that are looking for a 6th to go skydiving, don't write it off. If 100 people are standing in line at a nearby comedy club, join them. Spontaneity can pay off with the best of them.
    • Skip the knife and fork and burgers. It may take a little voice inside you pushing you along, but cave to it. Venture from the backpacker area and find a cafe full of men smoking, drinking and playing some foreign card game and order that rack of live prawns that gets grilled in front of you. You'll leave not only with photos and souvenirs, but memories to last a lifetime.


  • Get international health insurance, so no matter where you are, you can get medical help or be evacuated if necessary.
  • Realize that you don't need to bring everything and the kitchen sink, only the essentials. The idea is to save money. Get a backpack and some exercise and get out there. This is once in a lifetime experience and you don't need sleep, you just need heart and soul. Trust some people to give you some yummy in your tummy cultural food and some nice living quarters. Now get out there and have a good travel!
  • Find out what currencies you will be using throughout the trip and plan ahead. Although traveler's checks are safe, they can be hard to cash in smaller countries. You can almost always find an ATM, and they will dispense cash in the local currency.
  • Get your international data-only sim card in advance. You'll need an internet for using google maps, searching for some local places to eat or for free calling and texting, bookings and etc.


  • Check for travel advisories from your State Department in order to avoid the risky regions in the countries you want to travel to.
  • Make sure you get all the necessary vaccinations for your trip (e.g. yellow fever, hepatitis, typhus)
  • If you prefer host families, contact them through Skype or just call them ahead of time. It's important that they're trustworthy. Look at the history of their guests and hosts.

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Categories: Travel Tips