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Yesterday I discovered how easy it is to build a cheap RTW ticket using Skyscanner’s Everywhere search function. I quickly and easily planned out my own 16 country, five continent RTW adventure for under $3000. Naturally, as I was thinking of myself, I started and finished in New Zealand.

Because it was so much fun (yes, I am that much of a travel nerd!) I thought I’d plan one out for my North America friends to show just how simple and effective the Skyscanner tool is to use. Getting to and from New Zealand is a costly exercise so I predict that a independently built RTW ticket from North America will be even cheaper.

Here are the rules in case you missed them yesterday:

I’ll travel around the world by picking the cheapest destination that the “Everywhere” option provides as my next stop provided I’m:

  • Not backtracking to any previous country, region or continent except on connecting flights
  • Always moving East
  • Stopping no more than three times on one region or continent

As it’s a central point and major hub I’m going to start the route in Chicago.

Beginning in North America

Chicago to Toronto, Canada on Porter Airlines $136

Leg total – $136

Hop Across to Europe

Toronto to Reykjavik, Iceland on Iceland Air $445

Reykjavik to Cologne, Germany on German Wings $92

Cologne to Katowice, Poland on Wizz Air $32

It was hard to find flights from Katowice outside of Europe so I searched from all of Poland instead.

Warsaw to St Petersburg, Russia via Riga Latvia on Air Baltic $152

Leg total – $721

Exploring the Middle East

St Petersburg to Yerevan, Armenia on Aeroflot $199

Yerevan to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (via Dubai) on Fly Dubai $295

Riyadh to Karachi, Pakistan (via Doha) on Qatar Airways $150

Leg total – $644

Into Asia

Karachi to Bangkok, Thailand on Thai Airways $285

Incidentally, if you wanted to fly from St Petersburg to Bangkok you could do so for under $600 saving $300 but skipping over the Middle East. 

Bangkok to Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Air Asia $47

Phonm Penh to Guangzhou, China (via Singapore) on Tiger Aiways $140

Leg total – $472

Homeward Bound

Guangzhou to Chicago on Hainan Airlines (via Beijing & Seattle) $694

Leg total – $694

That’s 3 continents, 12 countries and only $2667. Not too shabby. What do you think?

On a traditional RTW ticket you wouldn’t visit countries such as Iceland, Armenia, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Personally I think this is more interesting than a standard RTW ticket because I’ve been to many of the typical destinations. But for a first time traveller, Riyadh and Yerevan aren’t exactly high on the list.

A typical RTW ticket would go something like this Los Angeles – New York – London – Paris – Rome – Bangkok – Singapore – Sydney – Auckland – Los Angeles. Let’s see how this stacks up to my more creative method of RTW planning.

Starting in North America

Los Angeles to New York on United for $141

New York to London on Iceland Air (via Reykjavik) for $530

Taking in the Best of Europe

London to Paris on Easy Jet for $43

Paris to Rome on Ryan Air for $33

Getting a Taste of Asia

Rome to Bangkok on Sri Lankan Airlines for $444

Bangkok to Singapore on Air Asia for $66

Going Down Under

Singapore to Sydney on Air Asia (via Kuala Lumpur) for $247

Sydney to Auckland on Jet Star for $123

And Heading Home

Auckland to Los Angeles on Air Pacific (via Nadi, Fiji) for $804

That’s 4 continents and 8 countries. The grand total for this bog standard cheap RTW ticket is $2431. 


Which of my cheap RTW tickets would you prefer?




Cover image used with permission © Friendlydragon | Dreamstime Stock PhotosStock Free Images




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Showing 21 comments
  • Kate

    Fantastic post Bethaney. I think flight research is your travel ninja skill 😉

  • Kate - CanuckiwiKate

    This is awesome, Bethaney! Puts it all into a realistic perspective, rather that off the in the abyss of imaginary “Oh a RTW is too expensive” $3k is an achievable amount to save for flights! And if you pay in advance, before you leave, that’s one less thing to worry about! Just sucks being locked into dates, but even that’s okay!

  • Peter Parkorr

    Nice work lady! I’m also a big fan of skyscanners functions like using the map to see where I can fly direct. Currently in need of a RTW ticket to take up my NZ working hol visa so will try building my own to see how it compares too!!

    • Bethaney Davies

      Thanks Peter. I did another one starting from NZ, you should check out that post too. Getting to and from NZ is pricey!

  • Larissa

    I’ve got to admit, Bethany, you’ve got me beat. I love playing with the Skyscanner Everywhere function, but you’ve taken it to a whole new level. . . you are a Travel Nerd Goddess 🙂

    • Bethaney Davies

      Lol. I’m happy to accept the title of “Travel Nerd Goddess”… Thanks Larissa!!!!

  • Nicole @ Suitcase Stories

    Both sample itineraries are awesome! Its really good to know there are cheaper ways of flying! Its one of the biggest costs of long term travel, or any travel for that matter, so its good to know how to save money on it!

  • thelazytravelers

    this seems way too easy AND really reasonably priced. might have to use skyskanner ourselves soon…

  • Andrea

    Thank you Bethaney! I would love to do this for my 40th birthday next year!!!

  • Jenna

    Amazing that it could be that inexpensive. Thanks for the great tips!!

  • D.J. - The World of Deej

    Great tips….if only Skyscanner applied this to hotels as well!:)

  • wandering educators

    great tips – and i have to say, food for thought!

  • Lillie - @WorldLillie

    Very useful advice!

  • Reply

    What a fun exercise. I’m going to play with Skyscanner next time I have some free time!

  • Sally@Toddlers on Tour

    Wow I can’t believe how many stops you got on one ticket. Much better than years ago when it was a maximum of 5-6 stops.

  • Reply

    My dad is amazing at hacking flights (my mom is coming “just because” from chicago to seville for 250 bucks!), and I sadly lack that skill.

  • lola

    if i decide to do a RTW trip i will be asking you for help!!

  • GT

    woohoo! Yerevan, Armenia great choice! SUCH an interesting city! My sister lives there!

  • Scott - Quirky Travel Guy

    You wrote this post specifically for me, without even knowing it. I’m a Chicagoan hoping to do a round the world trip sometime soon, so seeing all these prices laid out concisely is very informative 🙂

  • Penny Sadler

    Great tips Bethaney. I hope I get to try some of them soon!

    • Bethaney Davies

      Lots of them are second nature to me now but some I need to constantly remind myself of. I hope you get to use them too!

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