'Round The World' tickets offer internationally travelers tremendous flexibility and often big savings when visiting to several destinations. Of course, it is simple enough to purchase point-to-point tickets, say San Francisco to Tokyo, Tokyo to Delhi, Delhi to Singapore, and so forth, but such one way fares often become costly. And, if you decide you are having a grand ol' time in Delhi and want to stay a few extra days, think the airline will let you escape without paying a hefty change fee? This is where 'Round The World' tickets become your traveling companion.
Each airline alliance is different, but in general, you are permitted to fly in one direction (West or East) and visit between 3 and 15 cities around the globe within a certain window of time - usually 12 months. You have some flexibility of flying to Northward or Southward destinations as well. Total mileage caps start at 26,000 miles - meaning you can fly one direction around the globe as long as your total mileage doesn't exceed 26,000 miles. The cost? Not as bad as you might think. The One World alliance quotes $3,900 for a 3 continent trip. Star Alliance at $4069 for up to 26,000 miles.
For example, using the Star Alliance online calculator, I priced San Francisco to Atlanta to Rome to Vienna to New Delhi and back to San Francisco. The total cost was $4069 in economy. In Business the fare is slightly more - only $7,880.
A key benefit to 'Round The World' tickets though is the flexibility. Other than your initial departure from San Francisco, you often need to provide the airlines little notice, as little as 24 hours, when you are ready for the next destination.
With these tickets, remember to think big and exotic. Easter Island, Africa, Tahiti, go someplace that would otherwise cost a fortune to purchase separately.
And, as if it doesn't get any better, you can earn frequent flier miles for most of your flights. Be sure to check with your alliance for a few exceptions.
Finally, we are currently living in a time where airline fees have reached uncomfortable levels. When you get a quote for a 'Round The World' ticket, be sure all international taxes and applicable airline fuel surcharges are included.
I've provided links below to the three global alliances' 'Round The World' websites.