Year long world tour budgeting: why one way tickets is the most efficient way to travel the world

Year long world tour budgeting: why one way tickets is the most efficient way to travel the world

In 2019, I went on a year long  World Tour   traveling the world, as I explained in a previous blog post about how I prepared for a world tour.

You can easily save 30% off your tickets by booking single legs instead of a whole pre-planned world tour, and my whole budget of $2000 per month, or $24000 in total, was met, by respecting a few basic tips.

But now that my  World Tour   is over, I can reflect about how much I spent overall for my year long world tour, what went well, what didn't, and what I would change if I had the opportunity and will for the next year long world tour.

What went well in my world tour ?

Flexibility to choose where to go

By opting for single leg tickets, I had more flexibility than with a pre-booked already arranged world tour.

My initial idea was to do a tour Germany - Costa Rica - Canada - Australia - South Korea - Kazakhstan - Germany, which would cost 3800€, and that I wouldn't be able to change as the destinations and dates choosen are fixed.

However, by opting for one-way tickets all along the way, all I had to do was to always have at most the next two flights booked: exit flight from current country, and when using it, the exit flight for the next country.

This is necessary as most countries require an exit ticket to be able to enter, and airlines won't let you board flights if you don't have an exit ticket already, issue that only arises when traveling with one-way tickets. If you are used traveling with round trips, this issue never happened, as airlines know you already got the inbound flight inside the booking you're currently using.

By using one-way tickets, I've been able to change my plans on the spot. From my initial plan, I switched to the following: Luxembourg, Portugal, USA, French Polynesia, New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Thailand, China, South Korea, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and back in France through Germany.

None of these destinations were booked more than a few weeks in advance, and I changed a lot of my initial plans, but also while traveling, for example I shortened my stay in New Zealand, instead of staying one month as initially planned, after a few days there, noticing I didn't like it much, I booked another exit flight earlier, staying only 10 days, and only losing a $100 ticket to Australia by booking another earlier one.

One way cost effectiveness

By using only one way tickets, and a few miles from my Frequent Traveller program, I managed to spend only 2674€, or $3035, for a total of 19 various one way tickets around the world.

Much lower than the 3800€ for only 6 stops with a StarAlliance Round the World ticket where everything is arranged in advance and you can't change much of your itinerary once you've started!

This amounts to a staggering 33% savings on the whole flights bill, which could easily being spent in other budgets such as entertainment.

Comparing accomodation prices and booking last minute

By booking last minute, I actually never had an issue to find good solutions, mostly hotel rooms with private bathrooms, in most places, for around 20€ per night, which was within my budget.

Only a few times I used AirBnbs, in the most expensive locations such as New Zealand and Tahiti in French Polynesia, and a few times I got a private room in a hostel, in New York and in Australia, but except that I could always find a satisfying hotel, getting the overall accomodation at less than a third of my total budget.

To get them, I often compared various booking platforms, as explained in a previous article how to compare flights and hotel prices, and usually managed to find a good last minute solution, often in city centers.

Getting a flexible travel insurance

Often overlooked, it's important to travel with a comprehensive travel insurance - in most cases, your traditional insurance, such as the one included with your credit or debit card, won't cover trips longer than 90 days, and in many cases they won't cover one-way trips at all.

Therefore, before leaving, make sure you are covered by a flexible travel insurance that will cover you anywhere you go and however long you stay.

The most comprehensive solution for long-term travelers, such as the ones going on year long world tours, might be a digital nomad insurance, that will cover them regardless of their travel plans.

A flexible travel insurance like the ones they are using will follow a traveler on the whole journey and be valid even with travel itinerary last minute changes, such as it was my case during my year long one-way tickets world tour.

SafetyWing is a comprehensive Nomad Insurance that can be subscribed even after you’ve started traveling, and is flexible, as you can stop it anytime, and it is a monthly subscription without engagement. They cover everything from global travel medical insurance by default to adventure sports or electronics theft as supplements, and US travel also as an extra coverage. It’s the most adequate insurance for travelers even with only one-way tickets!

What went wrong in my world tour ?

However, despite all the preparation I did, and already being an avid traveler, a few things went wrong during this tour.

I got robbed in Bali

While it is not to be blamed on the destination itself, I unfortunately got robbed in Bali, my phone got stolen by a scooter passenger's passing next to me, at night in a small alley, while I was walking back to hotel to save a $1 taxi, and because I enjoy walking.

All things considered, in a country you don't know, avoid walking alone at night, take taxis when possible, and it better to save on a drink than a safe taxi, therefore avoid the last drink and take a safe transportation home.

The second lesson, as I got my phone stolen, is to make sure before you start travel that all your data is safe on the CLOUD, and that you can easily get everything back on a new phone should you need it - phone stolen isn't the only issue, it can also get broken or lost.

I changed my travel plans last minute

As mentioned before, upon arrival in Auckland, New Zealand, which was one of my dream destinations, and as I didn't pre-book anything, I quickly realised how expensive and uncomfortable the place actually is, and how far from my dream it is.

Therefore, after only a few days there, I decided to give up on my next one-way ticket to Austtralia, which had cost me 120€ and was about a month after my arrival, and instead booked another flight earlier, 10 days after arrival, for 220€.

While more expensive, it was ultimately worthy, as it was cheaper to stay at another destination for longer, not mentioning also more comfortable, than to spend more days than necessary in New Zealand.

Conclusion: What I'd change or will for the next one ?

Now thinking back about my world tour, it was amazing, and I was lucky enough to be able to do it in my life, to finish it before COVID even started, and to stay on budget. However, here's a few things I'd change now that I can reflect back on it.

Don't stay so long

Unfortunately, by stayling so long away from family, I missed a lot of what was happening. A whole year is far too much, and it is probably better to go on a few shorter tours, visit your friends and family meanwhile, than to go so far for so long.

For the next one, I'd go for 3-4 months, with less locations in one trip, and go on another tour after a short break, a few weeks or a month, ideally at the best period to stay near my family.

Get a checked luggage

I traveled the whole year with a cabin luggage, as I initially intended on traveling light, and ended with two cabin-sized luggage, one with me and one checked-in.

Also, I often missed some of my stuff, as I did some drastic choices. Traveling with a well packed big luggage wouldn't have stopped me from doing anything I wanted to, woulnd't have been much more expensive, but would have been very useful, as I bought a lot of stuff that I was missing, only because I couldn't take them with me.

Stay longer!

And finally, while I was happy to see my friends and family again, I wish I didn't stop, and was only visiting them, and would keep traveling over the world for a few months at a time.

My initial intention was to travel for a whole year, which I did. But it is probably better to plan on traveling forever, a few months at a time, well prepared, going back to visit friends and family from time to time, and enjoy the lifestyle indefinitely!

Michel Pinson
About the author - Michel Pinson
Michel Pinson is a Travel enthusiast and Content Creator. Merging passion for education and exploration, he iscommitted to sharing knowledge and inspiring others through captivating educational content. Bringing the world closer together by empowering individuals with global expertise and a sense of wanderlust.

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