Travel Tips: Save Money and See More with One-Way Tickets

As Angela and I prepare for our 2018 Trip Around the World, we have decided to include our readers in the process. Not only as a way to share the lessons we have learned, but also to ask you for feedback to avoid the inevitable pitfalls that remain hidden to us.

That said, these posts may get a bit involved, will likely feature very few photos, and are subject to change as politics and policies around the world dictate. So, let’s get the disclaimer out of the way. If any information in these posts is incorrect or outdated, please let us know, and we will rectify it as soon as possible.

Now, on the subject at hand. I have become a devoted believer in one-way tickets. That’s not to say that we won’t still book something roundtrip if there is a single destination or major airport hub in the mix. (Hard to resist a SecretFlying $193 USD roundtrip ticket from Fort Lauderdale to Havana, Cuba!) But, if you’re determined to see the entirety of the world, then it’s impractical to always come back home before launching out again. Additionally, travel circles and one-way loops that involve short segments are better if you want to see more. Something I learned long ago on our cross-country road trip.

For this adventure around the world, we wanted to leave from our home airport in Chattanooga. That way, we could park the cars in the garage for the duration of the trip and not have to worry about a long shuttle bus trip to Atlanta at the beginning or the end.

As far as airline ticket prices, I’m going to use Google Flights as the baseline. Yes, there are better aggregators out there, but Google tends to be the most inclusive of all airlines and provides the most robust schedule options. Plus, Google allows you to search for flights within the airline alliance networks, making it much easier to use American, Delta, or United miles on associated airlines. But more on that later.

So, here’s the first big leg of our trip, from Chattanooga, Tennessee, to Barcelona, Spain, with all stops and the total cost per person included:


Departure Arrival Stops Cost
Chattanooga, USA Toronto, Canada Atlanta for 3hr $133.53
Toronto, Canada Keflavik, Iceland Nonstop $197.96
Reykjavik, Iceland Sørvágur, Faroe Islands Nonstop $108.44
Sørvágur, Faroe Islands Edinburgh, Scotland Nonstop $139.64
Edinburgh, Scotland London, England via train $34.00
London, England Lisbon, Portugal Nonstop $84.23
Lisbon, Portugal Ponta Delgada, Azores Islands Nonstop $50.49
Ponta Delgada, Azores Islands Funchal, Madeira Nonstop $59.94
Funchal, Madeira Las Palmas, Canary Islands Nonstop $103.93
Las Palmas, Canary Islands Barcelona, Spain Nonstop $54.00

If we left from Chattanooga on May 30, 2018, then these flights would get us to Barcelona for a total cost of $966.16 USD, including taxes and carry-on baggage fees. If we spent an average of three days in each location, we could see ten countries and territories during a 30-day period.

Compare that to a one-way flight from Chattanooga directly to Barcelona on the same date, with a total cost of $1745 USD and stops in Newark and Dublin for three hours and two hours, respectively. It’s nearly twice the price as all of the other tickets, combined. And we will have seen only one country, Spain, since the stop in Ireland wouldn’t give us time to step outside the airport. Granted, we would be able to spend all 30 days in Barcelona, but it’s still a more expensive ticket. And, at least in the case of this trip, quantity IS a factor.

Now let’s consider the benefit of a one-way airline ticket combined with a car rental. It’s so much more economical because, when you travel by car, you DON’T pay per person. A rental car is a rental car is a rental car.

This is particularly effective when you fly into a major airport near to a country border. Later during the trip around the world, we plan to fly one-way from Rome, Italy, to Vienna, Austria. At just $37 this is already an amazing flight deal. But, if we add a rental car for around $36 per day, we can complete a driving loop that takes us to Dolní Věstonice, Czechia (home of the oldest permanent human settlement on earth), through the Little Carpathian Mountains to the stunning capital of Bratislava, Slovakia, down to Siófok, Hungary, on the southern shores of Lake Balaton.


Beautiful Bratislava. You know you want some of this.


Then, continuing along the south of Lake Balaton, we could loop back up to Vienna.

The entire loop would only take about eight hours without stops. Doing this in four days would give us plenty of time to see the primary destinations as well as the incredible spaces in between. That’s two plane tickets for a total of $74 USD, and four days of rental car at $36 USD each day, for a total of $144 USD. So the total transportation cost for this portion of the adventure would be $218 USD. In an economy car, fuel costs are negligible, even in Europe. So we both get to experience FOUR countries for just over $200 USD, total.

Needless to say, we will be incorporating one-way flights and driving loops as often as possible during this trip around the world. As we confirm flights and rentals, we will be sharing those details with you, as much as possible.