Cheap around-the-world airfares

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of November 16-23, 1995

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Cheap around-the-world airfares
Q: Which airline offers the best Round-the-World fare for one-year excursions, with the ability to fly to regions such as Spain, Egypt, Russia, Nepal, Thailand, Borneo, Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji? Also, what company do you recommend for travel/health insurance for RTW trips?
Fred Grover
Denver, CO
[email protected]

A: Unfortunately, you won't have much luck finding an airline that'll fly you to all of the countries you mentioned, so you'll need to combine travel on several carriers. Your best bet for sorting through who flies where and which airlines team up on package deals is to head down to your local travel agency. Before you go, make a rough outline of the cities you want to visit, and they'll submit it to a consolidator--a company that specializes in working with multiple tickets--for pricing. In most cases, consolidators will not deal directly with the public, so you'll need to go through a travel agent. Even though consolidators can get you a RTW fare for a lot less than if you go through the airlines themselves, expect to fork over somewhere in the neighborhood of $3,000 for the ticket. For example, a RTW fare using Delta, Singapore Air, and Swissair will cost you about $2,570 plus taxes. Not bad, considering you have a year to fly to any or all of the countries served by these three airlines--Russia, most of Europe, and the South Pacific. Be aware that there are some restrictions: You'll need to have a minimum of three stopovers, cross two oceans, and travel in a forward direction only. Backtracking will cost you extra.

As for insurance, it really depends what kind of individual health coverage you have; most insurance plans will cover you for six months of travel abroad, so after that, you might want to consider signing up for medical insurance with a company that specializes in travel coverage. Travel Guard International's 90-day medical policy will cost you $179, plus $5 per day after that (800-826-1300); Access America has a 30-day health plan for $79, plus an extra $4 per day after that (800-284-8300). For more information, contact a travel agency or call the one I spoke with, Rio Grande Travel, at 505-982-3555.

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