Surface Sectors

Surface Sectors are the portion of your journey that you complete on your own, without the assistance of an airline. This could be because you’re taking a train, bus, or other form of transportation between two cities that are served by different airlines. On most round-the-world airfares, you’re permitted to make your own way between two points, and the surface sector is included in the maximum calculation of 16 sectors on any one e-ticket. This means that you can save money by planning your own Surface Sector, rather than purchasing a separate ticket from an airline. Of course, Surface Sectors can also be a great way to see more of the world on your own terms. If you’re planning a Surface Sector, be sure to factor in the cost of transportation and accommodation, as well as any other activities you want to do while in transit. With a little planning, a Surface Sector can be a great way to see the world on your own terms.

What does that mean?

This means you will fly in and out of a different city or country. In other words, you will travel between them by other means, perhaps by train, bus or boat or occasionally a Low Cost Carrier.

What’s so good about that?

By choosing the right overland journey you can see and experience more of a country.  A round the world trip should be more about seeing things you’ll never see again, rather than rushing through airports and sitting on buses ‘just to get there’.  Really “see” the countries you go to rather than just “visit”.

Is it cheaper?

Can be, but by embracing a slower form of travel and using local transport, you can get a much larger feel for a country or continent. Also, your money tends to stay local rather than straight into the hands of some massive and rapacious multi-national corporation. We think this is a good thing. What’s more they don’t usually cost any more than single stops, so you can get more destinations out of your RTW for a similar price. Also, by doing some sections of your RTW journey overland, you can visit regions & countries that wouldn’t have otherwise been possible at the very well-priced fare you have paid!

See countries not airports

Airports throughout the world are fast turning into homogeneous shopping malls with a distinct lack of seating. By and large they’re not great.  By travelling between two airports, you can experience the country, talk to people, and embrace your inner traveller.

An environmentally friendlier way to travel

Surface sectors are environmentally friendly. By doing part of your journey by local train or bus, you will be responsible for less CO2 than by doing your entire trip by air (usually)

Isn’t flying quicker?

Yup it is, and we do recommend it for long distances for most people, but speed isn’t always the point. Until you’ve slept overnight on the Chiang Mai to Bangkok Express how will you ever know the smells, noises and experiences you’ll stick in your memory bank…It’s also a great way to blag more countries


What are the most popular surface sectors on a RTW?

  1. Bangkok surface Singapore
  2. Hanoi surface Bangkok
  3. Sydney surface Cairns
  4. Lima surface Santiago
  5. Christchurch surface Auckland
  6. New York surface LA
  7. Moscow surface Beijing
  8. Saigon surface Hanoi
  9. Nairobi surface Cape Town
  10. Delhi surface Kathmandu

Is it not more dangerous?

Well crossing a road in London is dangerous, but there are certain safety considerations to take into account. We suggest you read our Health and Safety section especially the sections on Female safety and Security and safety

Rubbish surface sectors

We strongly recommend that you take heed of what the FCO say. They have long experience of travellers being killed or taken hostage in dodgy parts of the world. The whole world is not open to visitors. Don’t be naïve or pretend to be so. If you don’t take the FCO’s advice or indeed our hints, then you can be killed. Not sure we can put it any more plainly than that. Here are a few surface sectors currently off limits

Hiking on the Afghan/Pakistan border – not so much

India to Thailand via Burma – not open yet

Panama to Colombia – unless you really know what you’re doing then that’s a no no

The best surface sector

Well it’s The Trans-Siberian. Most of us at have done it and we’ve got loads of stopover options in Siberian and Mongolia. Tis a great trip to build into your RTW. 9001km of real travel.

And finally

Because it’s the best way to actually travel and see the world.

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