It has been over two months since my return from London. It has been about a month and a half since the beginning of the spring semester. Wellesley has now entered midterm season which somehow continues on until final season. How it is possible to have a midterm the week before a final, I will never understand. And yes, there are classes here with that structure. Thank goodness none of the classes I am taking this semester rely on exams for assessing my ability to learn!
As I settle into the monotony of school–okay, that’s a lie, let me restart. As I struggle to find ways to avoid the many problem sets that exist for a Computer Science major, I turn to travel, or dreams of travel, to distract me. Unfortunately, I am not currently at a place where I can travel wherever I wish. The recent semester in London without a job has reduced my working capital. And, honestly, there isn’t much time for me to explore a new city or spend quality time with friends who aren’t at Wellesley with me.
But to procrastinate and satisfy my urges, I have searched for flights. Recently, I learned about TripAdvisor, which has a wide variety of resources for a traveler. I have found some fantastically cheap flights on this website while I dreamed of flying out to London or LA to reconnect with friends that I made this past semester. I don’t know if they’re the cheapest but it is definitely a site worth exploring.
But the crown jewel for me is OneWorld. OneWorld is an alliance of 12 of the world’s biggest–and supposedly best–airlines. Together, these 12 airlines and their 20 affiliates fly to almost 150 countries with over 750 destinations. That’s all well and good. The thing that made me fall in love with this alliance was the ability to plan a trip around the world and book it all online.
I have played around with this planner at least three times in the past week. This trip here is a round trip from NYC and cost less than $7,000 total for economy class tickets. I get to spend, on this itinerary, about two weeks in each location which consists of Madrid, Berlin, Helsinki, Vienna, Amman, Hong Kong, Taipei, Tokyo, Singapore, Sydney, Auckland, Santiago and Buenos Aires. You can only have 16 destinations, which is a bummer. But this trip here allows me to leave immediately after my friends graduate and arrive back home in time for Christmas. What could be better?
Unfortunately, I am not graduating and will have to be back at Wellesley this coming fall. I don’t even have the summer to travel as I must spend it productively doing research or working at an internship. But one day, if I have the time and the money, I will travel around the world. And perhaps when I do go on this trip, I will allow myself an entire year. There are no restrictions as to where I start or end. So as long as I plan my trip to be home for Christmas, then all is well. And with that break right in the middle it’s almost as if I am simply traveling for six months, taking a break and taking off again for another six months!
There are a few restrictions. You must hit at least three continents (as defined by them) and once you leave a continent you can not backtrack. You must always head in a westward or eastward direction when moving from continent to continent, basically. In each destination you must stay a minimum of 10 days but must finish your itinerary within 12 months. There is a limit to the number of flights within a continent you are allowed and total number of flight segments (16 flight segments, so pay attention to connecting flights). All of these limitations are daunting when first read but definitely easy to work with.
For OneWorld explorers, fare is determined based upon what class you fly and the number of continents you land in–including your continent of origin. Hence, the marvelous price of under $7000 for me to hit up almost every continent. Antarctica is missing but, well, that’s a little out of my control. Africa is also missing from my list but I’ll find a way to work it in to another itinerary, I’m sure. To put the fare in perspective, my friend’s roundtrip flight to France this summer will cost her about $1000. So $7000 for 5 continents, round trip from NYC is a pretty fantastic deal. And once you pick all of your flights, it’s simple to book online. And I have been so close to booking this itinerary…
With a marvelously helpful map to track your destinations and flights, you can see which cities are one flight away, which cities are a connection or two away, etc. Quick little reminders about restrictions will pop up so you don’t begin planning an impossible voyage. And it’s truly inspiring when the map is covered with green dots, representing all the fantastic cities that are only one flight away.
But remember, I haven’t actually booked any flights with OneWorld and probably won’t for a long time. So if you do so, please let me know what it’s like! I will dream and live vicariously through you!
So, GoGirls, go off and explore! Frequent flyer miles/points can be accumulated to help fund future trips, just as added incentive.