Hello, I am travelling for 6 months around India, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos (not in this order, although India will be first we haven't properly decided on the rest).
We will mostly be getting trains and buses as they are cheaper than flying, but for the trips that require flights (India to Vietnam say), I was wondering if it would be better to book flights in advice of the trip or if it would be best to wait and just do it when we're there?
We don't want to be tied down by having a specific time we have to leave a place, so we'd want to have flexible flights if they were organised in advance, so I'm worried about the cost of this. But then I don't want to get mugged off if we leave it to the last minute.
You should have no problems booking flights as you ago along. In fact, I found it cheaper to book flights on Vietnam Airlines in Vietnam than outside of Vietnam. Sometimes, local travel agents can find cheaper fares. In India, I mostly use Jet Airways and IndiGo. Their flights usually are more reliable than Air India. It's best to have some idea of when you want to fly. Booking at the last minute is likely to cost you more. But not always.
If you're flying from point to point overseas, make sure the airline Web site you are using reflects the country you're flying from; and not your home country. For example, I purchased a Singapore Airlines ticket from Perth to Beijing using the airline's Australia Web site instead of the U.S. Web site The fare was a fraction of what it was on the U.S. Web site. Of course, the transaction was in Australian dollars. But it was WAY cheaper. My credit cards have no foreign transaction fees, which helps.
Flying in Asia is really inexpensive. Remember that big cities, such as Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok are served by many airlines; and such competition often results in cheaper fares. But some special destinations, such as Macau (popular with gamblers), also might have attractive fares. Some Middle Eastern airlines offer cheap fares on some legs of their flights, such as from Bangkok to Hong Kong, or Bangkok to Hanoi.
Finally, it might be cheaper to book code-share flights on one airline than another. Lao Airlines, for example, code shares flights with Vietnam Airlines and Thai Airways. I once flew on Thai Airways from Vientiane to Bangkok on a Lao Airlines ticket. The fare was cheaper than what Thai Airways was selling the ticket for. So it pays to check.
On my current trip, I purchased an Air Timor ticket from Denpasar to Dili at a fraction of what it cost on Garuda Airlines. On that route, Garuda provides the daily flights for Air Timor. Silk Air provides the flights for Air Timor from Singapore. The Air Timor tickets are cheaper than the Silk Air tickets.
So, not to worry. Book as you travel. I do it all the time.
You should have no problems booking flights as you ago along.
Okay great, this is really helpful, thank you! I think this is what we'll end up doing, rather than trying to sort it too far in advance. Thanks
Another thought. It might be helpful for you do plot a route using the Travellerspoint.com mapping system. Then do a timeline with dates and potential places to visit. I find this helpful. For example, my timeline showed that I didn't have enough days on my current trip time to visit Tasmania. That will have to wait until the fall, when I return to Australia before going to Papua New Guinea. Before I retired I used to be employed in a field that required lots of research and investigative work. A timeline proved to be useful in seeing the overall picture. Together with the Travellerspoint maps, you should get a clearer picture of your trip. But, of course, sometimes it's difficult to tell until you're actually there. So flexibility is key. Know that you have options. Good luck!
P.S. I used to use another travel Web site that has a similar mapping system. But with my new cameras (with higher megapixels) it was a too-time-consuming process to upload photos to that Web site. So I've migrated to Travellerspoint, allowing family and friends to track my travel and view photos. Technology has helped to make it much easier to travel and keep in touch.