Can you make a round the world (RTW) trip using only budget airlines? RTW tickets bought through travel agents or airline alliances will cost you thousands of dollars even if you book the cheapest ticket. They only use full service airlines but budget airlines have been ever increasing their long haul routes and expanding their networks so let’s explore the possibility of constructing a RTW journey on budget airlines exclusively.
The Hard Bits – Start Here
There are a few sticky points for planning a RTW trip on budget airlines. On some routes options are very limited, mainly crossing the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, so it’s best to start with those and work your itinerary out from there. Here’s where your options are limited:
- Oceania to North America – The only way to cross the Pacific on a budget airline is to fly on Jetstar from either Sydney in Australia to Honolulu in Hawaii. Both great spots though and it’s likely that you’d want to include them on your RTW itinerary anyway! Once you’re in Hawaii, you can hop to the mainland US on budget carrier Allegiant Air. The cheapest airports to fly at this point are Las Vegas, Los Angeles or Boise, Idaho.
- North America to Europe – There are a few budget carriers that will get you from the East Coast of the US or Canada into Europe like Norwegian who fly New York to London cheaply. Condor will get you into Germany from a few points in North America. Getting yourself to the cheapest hub in Europe is the main goal. From there it’s easy to make connections around the continent.
- South America to Europe – Adding South America to your RTW itinerary certainly complicates things and increases costs. From South America, the only budget options to get to Europe are flying Condor, a German charter airline. It’s slightly cheaper than flying with a full service airline but not much. Getting to Europe from South America is expensive full stop. If you’re in the Northern part of South America you may even be better off flying back to Florida and flying to Europe from there.
- Europe to Africa – You can dip into North Africa with budget airlines like Vueling who have flights from Spain to Morocco, Senegal and Algeria.
- Middle East to Africa – Fydubai can get you from Dubai to Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Djibouti but you’ll have to back track to continue on travelling with budget airlines.
The Easy Bits – Fill in the Blanks
Filling in the rest is easy. Europe, Asia and the Middle East have an abundance of low cost carriers. Getting around the bigger continent-sized countries is also easy as budget airlines have sprung up out of necessity for the local populations. Here’s what you need to know about fly budget airlines around the rest of the world:
- Europe – You should have no trouble getting around Europe on budget airlines. In many cases it’s cheaper than taking a train or bus.
- Middle East – Budget airlines are springing up all the time within the Middle East hubbing out of points like Dubai and Istanbul. Flydubai, Air Arabia and Pegasus.
- Asia – Air Asia rules the skies when it comes to budget airlines in this region. Air Asia makes it really easy and cheap to flit around South East Asia, into India and up to North Asia. Scoot, Tiger Airways all offer flights into Australia from Asia.
- Australia & New Zealand – Jetstar is going to make your life very easy when getting to, from and around New Zealand and Australia. Fares are reasonably low, especially when taking into account the large distances covered. You can fly direct from Tokyo, Singapore and Bangkok into Australia on Jetstar, all across the country and then to New Zealand from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane or the Gold Coast. Once you’re in New Zealand, Jetstar will take you up and down the country too. You’ll need to back track to Australia to find a budget airline that flies out of Oceania and onto the US or back to Asia though.
- North America – There isn’t a huge difference in price between budget and full service carriers in the North America. In fact, some budget carriers tend to be more generous in terms of services offered! Southwest is great and fares includes baggage, drinks & snacks. You can get around the US and Canada on budget airlines as well as to destinations in the Caribbean and Central America.
Building your own RTW ticket with budget airlines CAN be done. Check out my sample itineraries coming up soon.
Skyscanner – Use the Destination anywhere function to search for flights out of any location. (Also displays non-budget airlines in search results.)
Which Budget? – Find out which budget airlines fly between which countries. (Also displays non-budget airlines in search results.)
List of Budget Airlines – Wikipedia’s very helpful list of budget airlines broken down by continent.
List of Airlines That Accept Paypal – Useful for avoiding credit card fees, lots of budget airlines on this list.