Celebrating 50 Years - Our Trip Around the World

Old Apr 19th, 2020, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Candace View Post
Shelemm, I had never given Poland, or Krakow, much thought as a potential travel destination, but you've intrigued me with your comparison of Krakow to Prague. Now I have it on my travel radar. Thanks for the tip!

Thursdaysd, Riga looks beautiful! Thanks for the links. We loved Quebec City, so if you enjoyed Montreal even more, we know we've definitely been missing something by not traveling there. Ottawa, we agree, is a lovely city.

Trophywife007, if we were to do another RTW trip, we would go in the opposite direction. Depending on pricing, we'd probably start in Europe, then head down to Cape Town, South Africa, which we understand is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. After that, a lot would depend on the routes available using the OneWorld partners, but we know we would love to explore more of Asia, including Vietnam and Thailand, Hong Kong, and maybe South Korea. As far as revisiting places we've already been, I think we would be happy to go back to most of the countries we visited on our first RTW, but first we would probably want to explore new places. On a second RTW, we would want to spend at least two months, if we could swing it, and if obligations at home didn't limit us. Won't it be wonderful when the world finally opens up again, and we can all begin to plan new trips? But at the same time, I have to wonder how much will be changed when that finally does happen. Things will never quite be the same, I'm sure.
I've copied and pasted this response from your thread on the Europe board to here, in order to expand a little on a response to your last paragraph. Certainly this is partly a reaction to me having WAY too much extra time on my hands but hey, it's a free country/world so if this is intrusive or over the top, forgive me.

Let me pose an imaginary second RTW that might appeal. I've really enjoyed your description of the trip just ended, so I hope this trip might address some of the things it looks like you thought were highlights from the first one. This trip would also be based on the Oneworld Explorer ticket product.

Depending on pricing, we'd probably start in Europe... Mainly due to currency devaluation (the result of falling oil prices, hence national income) the cheapest place to begin business class Oneworld RTWs at present is Norway. A four-continent Oneworld Explorer in business class begun and ending in Oslo has a base price (as of today) of just over US$5500. (The same ticket started in the US would be $10,299, so quite a savings. In the UK or Euro zone it would be around $7500, about the same starting in Canada.)

Starting in Europe, aside from the cost savings, also can provide some additional advantages. As you know, the Oneworld Explorer allows a maximum of 16 flights, with flights limited to a maximum of four per continent touched except for North America, in which six flights are allowed, only one of which can be a transcontinental nonstop (e.g. NYC to Los Angeles or Seattle to Philly, etc.) However you're also limited to two stopovers in the continent of origin, so by starting and ending in North America, you're limited as to how much you can use the ticket for intra-North America travel if you'd like to go on, say, a separate short trip from home. You'd have six flights, but, aside from a "stopover" at home, you could only go to one other destination for, say, a short vacation or a business trip during the time you're in North America.

By starting in Europe, the same rule would apply, but (a) with only four flights allowed, the ratio is better, and (b) intra-Europe flights are generally cheap and short, so using conventional tickets (not to mention trains or a rental car) would be more cost-effective than using a precious RTW segment for a flight from, say, Scandinavia to southern Europe, or central Europe to the British Isles, etc.

So bearing those things in mind, here's an imaginary second RTW route that - I think - would accomplish the sorts of things you're desiring.

Here's a map (and link - https://tinyurl.com/yd7b6m7r ) of the imaginary route.



You'd start in Norway and head to South Africa via Doha. You could also fly to Joburg or Cape Town via London, but that would add a lot of British Airways' surcharges to the ticket price, and you seemed to enjoy Qatar Airlines' business class product. This shows you flying first to Johannesburg, then to Cape Town. I did this order in case you want to go on safari to the northern part of South Africa, which is more conveniently begun from Joburg, but if you have no interest in safari, then you could fly to Cape Town instead. In either scenario, I'd recommend starting the trip in early to mid-September, which is both a terrific time for safari in the Kruger National Park area (late winter, the dry season, better sight lines for wildlife, no malaria risk) OR for seeing the spring wildflowers on the Atlantic coast an hour or two north of Cape Town. (See this post - The Self-Isolating "I Miss Africa" Thread - to see what I'm talking about.)

From there you'd shoot over to Hong Kong then up to Korea. By this time it ought to be autumn in Korea, past the heat of summer but not yet too cold. Visit Korea, then fly down to Kuala Lumpur (using Malaysian Airlines, a Oneworld member) for your touring of SE Asia. Aside from Malaysian and Cathay Pacfic (Hong Kong) Oneworld doesn't have a lot of regional coverage in SE Asia but that's okay because there are numerous discount airlines operating out of KL, Bangkok and Singapore which can move you around quite easily - under $50 for a 2-hour flight from Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh City, for example.

Asia done, you'd then fly home from Hong Kong. This might be a couple of months after you started the trip in Norway, but you'd still have 9 or 10 months of validity for the ticket, so hang out at home, or take a midwinter trip to someplace warm (remember the Caribbean and Central America are part of "North America" for the purposes of RTWs.) Or, as the map suggests, stay put for a few months and travel to Alaska when the weather warms up. (One note is that by summer 2021 Alaska Airlines is joining the Oneworld Alliance, hugely expanding the range of potential destinations in the far west and Alaska, not to mention the west coast of Mexico.)

Then the following summer finish the RTW by bouncing around Europe or the Middle East. On the map I've shown Qatar and London, but it could just as easily be somewhere in the Mediterranean, the Baltics, maybe Madeira or the Canary Islands... whatever you choose. You'd end back in Oslo close to the expiration of the 12 months. As with SE Asia, there are lots of cheap intra-Europe flights that you could use outside the RTW ticket, due to the flight and stopover limits on the ticket. You'd have earned enough frequent flyer miles over the course of the year to fly home on award tickets.

Like I say, this is all imaginary, but it's eminently doable and the price for ex-Norway Oneworld Explorers is pretty attractive at present. Obviously in this pandemic period it's all a bit of optimism or even wishful thinking, but remember this too - you can buy the ticket and schedule the first flight for as much as 11 months from the date of purchase, which will "grandfather" the price. The ticket is valid for 12 months, so while you'd make all the flight bookings when you buy the ticket, the dates for all subsequent flights after the first can be changed for free, so the ticket has a potential de facto lifespan of 23 months (hope the math is clear.)

Anyway, hope this isn't too confusing. Maybe worth some thinking, though.

Last edited by Gardyloo; Apr 19th, 2020 at 12:38 PM.
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Old Apr 19th, 2020, 01:49 PM
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Interesting that it is so much cheaper to start in Oslo. I did my RTWs in business class on American FF miles on a OneWorld award that I think no longer exists? That award allowed just one open segment, sounds like that is not the case if you are paying for the ticket?
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Old Apr 20th, 2020, 07:00 AM
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Originally Posted by thursdaysd View Post
Interesting that it is so much cheaper to start in Oslo. I did my RTWs in business class on American FF miles on a OneWorld award that I think no longer exists? That award allowed just one open segment, sounds like that is not the case if you are paying for the ticket?
Yeah, the old AA Oneworld award was probably the best mileage redemption option ever, but it's long gone.

The Oneworld Explorer allows open (or surface) segments, but each one uses one of the 16 maximum segments (a result of the e-ticketing systems.) Even a trip across town, e.g. to fly into JFK but out from La Guardia, or Heathrow v. Gatwick, uses a flight "coupon." So when putting routes together with this product, it's always beneficial to know where the next flight departs from.
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Old Apr 20th, 2020, 07:08 AM
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Thanks for the info. Yes, that award was a steal in business class. My open segment was always huge, so using one "coupon" would be OK.
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Old Apr 20th, 2020, 12:55 PM
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Gardyloo, thanks so much for taking the time to map out a second RTW itinerary for us, and to outline all the possibilities this One World Explorer ticket would make available to us. The trip you designed looks fantastic, and the price, if we depart from Norway, is amazing. You are the guru of RTW travel, I know, and your tips and input have proven to be invaluable.

Definitely, a safari in Kruger National Park should be included in our visit to South Africa, and those beautiful wildflower photos you took near Cape Town seal the deal for a visit in early to late September. I do love wildflowers. Using Hong Kong as a center point for traveling in Asia makes good sense, and though I never would have thought of it myself, flying from Hong Kong to JFK seems like the most practical way to get back to the USA. I like the idea of going home part way through the trip to take some time to regroup, although we probably wouldn't travel to Alaska during this phase of the trip, as we had a wonderful vacation there just a few years ago. Either Central America or the Caribbean would be great destinations to take advantage of at this point, I think. Then back to Europe via Madrid sounds wonderful, as does the opportunity to visit Israel.

Wow! Now we have something to dream about while we are stuck here at home. When going through uncertain, and unpleasant, times, having something positive and special to look forward to really makes a difference. Thanks so much, Gardyloo, for helping out on that front.
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Old Apr 20th, 2020, 12:59 PM
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Thursdaysd, and Gardyloo, you both seem to be so well traveled. What have been the highlights for you in Asia, or anywhere else included in this itinerary, for that matter? If anyplace stands out as special or not to be missed, please let me know!
Thanks!
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Old Apr 20th, 2020, 03:11 PM
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Candace - that's really difficult! Not only because there are a lot of places, but because some of them have changed so much. I haven't been to Beijing since 2004, and even then it was hardly recognizable for the Beijing I saw in 1997. Luang Prabang, which I loved in 2002 and 2004, had been over-touristed when I went back in 2011, and from what I read Siem Reap is even worse. That's not to say you shouldn't go to either - of course the temples at Angkor Wat are a must-see.

More time in Japan would be a good idea - there is so much more to see. Taiwan is often overlooked - Tainan and Taroko gorge were highlights for me. I love mountains, so Nepal and Bhutan were standouts. Riding the "toy" train up to Darjeeling was special. I had a lovely lazy time resting up on island off the NE Malaysian coast.

I had a wonderful time in Myanmar in 2004, but I'm hesitant to recommend it. I skipped it in 2002, because of the boycott, but a woman I met in Vietnam visited then and virtually adopted her driver, so in 2004 I traveled with both of them. I felt that I was seeing the SEA of a few decades before. However, firstly tourism picked way up, and now there is the issue of the Rohingya.

For my 2002 trip to SEA, see: Wilhelm's Words -- Travels Round Asia 2002

If you're going to Oslo I highly recommend a Hurtigruten cruise. Also, Stockholm was my favorite of the Scandinavian capitals.
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Old Apr 21st, 2020, 06:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Candace View Post
Definitely, a safari in Kruger National Park should be included in our visit to South Africa, and those beautiful wildflower photos you took near Cape Town seal the deal for a visit in early to late September. I do love wildflowers. Using Hong Kong as a center point for traveling in Asia makes good sense, and though I never would have thought of it myself, flying from Hong Kong to JFK seems like the most practical way to get back to the USA. I like the idea of going home part way through the trip to take some time to regroup, although we probably wouldn't travel to Alaska during this phase of the trip, as we had a wonderful vacation there just a few years ago. Either Central America or the Caribbean would be great destinations to take advantage of at this point, I think. Then back to Europe via Madrid sounds wonderful, as does the opportunity to visit Israel.
Originally Posted by Candace View Post
Thursdaysd, and Gardyloo, you both seem to be so well traveled. What have been the highlights for you in Asia, or anywhere else included in this itinerary, for that matter? If anyplace stands out as special or not to be missed, please let me know!
I confess that my travels have not included much of east or southeast Asia at all - really just short visits in Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore, so I am not one to consult on more in-depth Asia experiences or destinations.

One thing the RTW gives you that's harder to manage with conventional tickets is the ability to visit some pretty remote or hard to visit places without the travel cost being a barrier. The classic example of this (using the Oneworld products) is Easter Island, in the Pacific, a couple thousand miles west of Chile. (Sadly, Latam airlines is leaving the alliance this year, so Easter Island is going to be harder to reach in the future.) But there are other places that - depending on your tastes and interests - might be similar. A South African expat friend who is also a serial RTW junkie always uses his tickets to visit family in Sydney, but then uses the ticket to visit Lord Howe Island, 500 miles off the Australian coast, and a place I had frankly never heard of until he mentioned it.



In my own experience, my RTWs were all about Africa; in addition to Southern Africa, my late wife used her RTW tickets to start and nurse to maturity a little charity she founded which leveraged treatment and medications to treat kids suffering from a common (treatable but otherwise deadly) pediatric cancer that's endemic in East Africa, especially around Lake Victoria. I posted some of her pictures in the same thread as the west coast images - The Self-Isolating "I Miss Africa" Thread

During this hiatus of travel, what I'd do in your situation is to think big, but in the context of where the Oneworld airlines fly. For example, I'm sort of kicking myself that we never got to Mauritius, in the Indian Ocean off the African coast. It's reachable on Comair, the British Airways South African affiliate, a couple of times per week. See this trip report on Flyertalk - https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/trip...mauritius.html - to get a sense of the place.

But that's me. You might have other priorities. Remember too that the RTW is just a plane ticket; it's what happens between the flights that really matters.

One thing, however, if your keen on seeing the African wildflowers. I haven't been there at the time personally, but friends (and pretty much everybody) who have experienced Namaqualand in the spring (typically mid-September) have nothing but ecstatic accounts of it. Namaqualand is a region of western South Africa a couple of further hours' drive north from Paternoster and West Coast National Park, so not a day trip from Cape Town, but not hard to reach. And the rewards are, well... I'll let the pictures talk.




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Old Apr 21st, 2020, 12:48 PM
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Thursdaysd, as you suggested, I visited your "Wilhelms Words - Travels Round Asia 2002", and then from there, I explored more of your travel adventures on line. I believe calling you "well traveled" is a real understatement. Someone who has experienced so many parts of the world and seen as many places as you have deserves a special designation, like "world traveler extraordinaire", or something equally grand. No wonder my question asking you to describe "the best" would not be easy to answer. But your Asian posts have given me a lot to consider. That island off the Malaysian coast where you nursed your hurting foot looks and sounds lovely. And we would love to visit Angkor Wat, even if it is overcrowded. Plus, your suggestion of Taiwan is a great idea. I recently read an intriguing article describing someone's travels through that country, and his descriptions made me believe Taiwan would be a beautiful place to visit. Also, thank you for the tips about taking a Hurtigruten cruise in Norway and your preference for Stockholm over other Scandinavian capitals.

I've really appreciated your responses throughout my trip report, which with all your travel experiences, have added so much to it. Hopefully, you are weathering these tough times in good health. Stay safe and thank you again.

Gardyloo, what an amazing person your wife must have been, to see a situation like that and then take the steps she did to make such a difference. Those children in the photos are beautiful, and I can see why she was drawn to Africa again and again. How wonderful that she could help them overcome a terrible disease, and live better lives. What a special legacy! Hope and joy, positively.

All your tips on places to visit will give me plenty of destinations to explore as I sit home and dream about another big trip. Mauritius popped up when I was researching flights from Johannesburg to Asia. It looks gorgeous. Also, Lord Howe Island seems lovely and exotic, if we ever get back to Australia. And more beautiful wildflower photos. Brilliant! With all this to think about, I will certainly take to heart your reminder that "the RTW is just a plane ticket; it's what happens between the flights that really matters". Absolutely true.

Best wishes for safe travels when all this is over.
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Old Apr 21st, 2020, 04:47 PM
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Thanks Candace, but I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. I took early retirement in 2000 so I could travel before I got too decrepit, and have never regretted it. Especially not since 2017, which I spent mostly on the couch with a heating pad when not visiting assorted medical practitioners. Eventual diagnosis of a variant of rheumatoid arthritis. I am now taking a (ridiculously expensive) immuno-suppressive drug, which has the symptoms in check, but my test trip to the UK was not a success, and of course now I can't go anywhere for the foreseeable future. At least I finally made it to Samarkand in 2016. Definitely travel while you can!

My Taiwan trip is on my other website (links at the top of the page): https://mytimetotravel.wordpress.com...oon-on-taiwan/
Also, crellston is another fan of Taiwan, not sure whether it was his site that you were reading, if not: https://accidentalnomads.com/category/taiwan/
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Old Apr 22nd, 2020, 12:16 PM
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thursdaysd, so sorry to hear you've had to slow your travels down. But you certainly covered a lot of ground in those years since retirement. What a wise decision that was, to retire early and see the world. I'm now following your different websites from beginning to end, which is perfect escapism right now. Plus, I've been gathering lots of good information from your sites to file away as reference, in case we are actually able to do another big trip some day. And the more I read about Taiwan, the more interesting it seems as a destination in Asia for us.
Thanks for your input.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2020, 08:20 PM
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Candace - thanks for letting me know you're enjoying my reports. I'm looking forward to your next planning thread. And beside Taiwan, consider Vietnam....
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Old Apr 23rd, 2020, 12:47 PM
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Yes, thursdaysd, Vietnam is high on our list of places to visit. Thanks for the recommendation.
Stay safe!
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