Around the World - September 2008 to February 2009
'I bought a ticket to the world, but
now I've come back again' (Spandau Ballet - True)
The idea of visiting some of the world's more remote, exotic and spectacular sights has been on my mind for some time. I've flown around the world a couple of times but the most exotic places have been Fiji and Tahiti in the early 1990s, unless you count my visit to the Antarctic Peninsula in 2003.
I would like to take a trip to the South Pole, a flight in a MiG over Moscow, or some other fantastic and excitingly unusual escape. But those are at the extreme end of most people's budgets. Indeed, why stop at journeying to the South Pole, or reaching Mach 3 and 80,000 ft in a MiG? These days you can reserve your seat for the first flights into space.
Thinking about a round the world trip is one thing. It's even fun to go to plan the tour. However it is another matter when you have to reach into your wallet and pay for the flights (and another to contemplate months of living out of a suitcase).
The reason for the round the world ticket was to see Easter Island, although that's only one of many amazing places on my tour.
I chose the One World alliance that includes British Airways and Qantas as the most versatile round the world ticket. One World used to offer a 20 segment journey, but in June 2008 the rules changed and now e-ticket restrictions limit you to 16 segments. The good news is that the One World explorer has no mileage limitations.
When travelling on a One World Explorer ticket you have to spend at least ten days away, and complete your travel within 12 months. Four flights are allowed in each continent except for North America where six are allowed. It's important to note that Central America and the Caribbean counts as part of North America.
It is easy to spend many hours refining your travel plans, finding flights that directly connect cities to minimise unnecessary flight segments and allow an interesting choice of destinations as you cross continents and oceans.
My tour combines elements of the exotic with the more familiar and allows me to catch up with friends around the globe.
The panda paintings are by a Chinese artist, Zhang Qikai.
Trivia time. My shortest flight is Melbourne to Sydney, at 456 miles. The longest is Los Angeles to Auckland at 6517 miles.