Believe it or not, you can buy yourself a ticket to fly around the world. The basic advantage of buying a world ‘single’ ticket versus 20 or 22 tickets is price; theoretically the worldwide ticket price is cheaper. But with this ‘cheaper’ ticket comes rules. For example, you have one year to do the travelling, you always have to keep going in one direction (including hopping up and down the globe) and you are restricted by the total number of miles you can fly and the number of stops (called ‘hops’). With Star Alliance and One World, you can buy a maximum 39,000 miles. Depending where you're flying to, it might be cheaper to buy a world ticket but you will need to add up all individual tickets and compare the pricing.
There are also advantages for One World and different ones for Star Alliance. With the worldwide merger/ alliance of airlines over the past ten years, One World now has members including British Airways, Cathay Pacific, American Airlines and Qatar Airways. With Star Alliance the partners include Air Canada, United, U.S. Airways, Lufthansa and Air India. You really need to know where in the world you’re travelling to take advantage of either of these partner programs. It’s not rocket science to understand that if you’re not going near India that Star Alliance may not be your preferable choice.
For us, it boiled down to total miles and the specific countries we were going in to and Star Alliance seemed the best. When I first started planning, it would take me 2 hours to plan out a trip and compare. Now I can do various scenarios anywhere on the planet in less than a minute. (When we get back, I'd be pleased to help anyone with this).
The big conclusion out of this is that the world is a very large place and with our 22 country visits, we seem to be touching a small part!! That said, we are using 38,190 miles with the round the world ticket and then some!