So, you’re traveling to Indonesia? Lucky you! There is so much to see and do here! You’re probably a little overwhelmed about where to even begin. Here are some hints:
Starting in Bali is a safe bet. Bali is like “Indonesia Light” – very “Western” and friendly. Just a few of Bali’s incredible offerings:
- cheap, accessible accommodation
- all kinds of Western and Indonesian food
- spas galaore
- night life
- beach life
- yoga retreats
- it’s all here!
And almost everyone who works in tourism in Bali speaks English. So if you’re an English-speaking newbie to Indonesia, spend your first stint in Bali.
Starting in Bali, you need to bring only the bare necessities.
- swimsuit and cover-up
- camera with extra battery and memory card (can buy converter for charger here)
- 1 pair of flip flops or sandals
- one more substantial pair of shoes
- one pair of shoes you would wear to a decent dinner
- clothing for covering up (please! cover up when not at the beach!)
- a couple of t-shirts, tank tops, shorts and/ or skirts, dresses
- one lightweight long-sleeved top that goes with everything else
- one “nice” lightweight outfit suitable for a temple, ceremony, wedding, etc. – you never know when you might be invited!
- bank card and credit card (call banks ahead of time and alert them to your approximate itinerary)
- travel documents
- international driver’s license if you have it and intend to drive a motorbike or car
- an inexpensive unlocked cell phone – one with WiFi and internet capabilities is great, but not necessary (can also be bought fairly cheap here)
- prescription drugs and copies of your prescriptions
- a good toothbrush and dental floss (difficult to find)
- a sturdy day bag (waterproof helps) with many compartments and secure zippers
- cards with your contact info (esp Facebook and email)
- sturdy hair brush if you need it. I have broken 2 here; replacing them is not easy
- prescription glasses and a copy of your most recent prescription. Rx glasses here are SOOOO cheap!
- E-Reader or Kindle. Great for managing heaps of books you don’t want to lug around with you. Some also have currency converters – very helpful.
- Some kind of small writing journal and a couple of good pens. Great for recording thoughts, tips, nots about trips, email addresses – all kinds of info you will want to remember.
- travel and/ or health insurance – your call. I’ve never been able to use mine.
- Cash money. Currency changers are a rip-off. First stop at the airport should be the ATM. Your bank will almost always give you a better rate than a currency exchange – and who wants to lose a load of cash?
- Laptop. If you have a WiFi-ready phone, you can get online in a lot of places. And if not, internet cafes abound. Unless you’re a digital nomad or running a business while you’re away, that laptop is going to weigh you down and become a worry.
- A lot of toiletries. Besides tampons (sorry guys) and sunscreen (expensive), you can buy everything you need here, and at lower prices than in your country. So unless you’re super-picky about your “brands,” bring what you need for 1-2 days, then get the rest here.
- Excesses of drugs such as imodium or ibuprofen. Pharmacies (apoteks) here supply many non-prescription and prescription drugs without an Rx; if you have special drugs you need, bring them from your country.
- A lot of extra clothes. Laundry here is cheap, smells GREAT, and is done for you at a very reasonable cost.
- Towel – you can buy one or a sarong on the beach for a couple of bucks.
- A lot of “extra” “I might need this” kind of stuff. You won’t, and you won’t want to lug it around.
- Keep your nice jewelry and watches at home. Though theft here is EXTREMELY rare, you don’t want to be a target. Same for designer sunglasses or other flashy accessories, electronics, bags, etc. They attract unnecessary attention.
Things to buy here:
- Converter for wall outlet. Cheaper here than at home and available everywhere.
- Local SIMM card for that unlocked cell phone. Very inexpensive here. Vendors are everywhere; locals and tourists can recommend company and/ or rate plans.
- DOT-approved motorcycle helmet, if you plan to ride OR be a passenger. They are cheap and a no-brainer (sorry!) Give it to a local when you leave – they will appreciate it.
- Things you need, as you need them – umbrella and/ or poncho if it rains, etc. You honestly don’t have to plan ahead much at all.
Debates about backpack vs. wheelie bag abound. For me, a small wheeled bag (large carry-on size) is perfect. I can squeeze in what I need and can check it or carry it on. Inconvenient in sandy locales and on broken sidewalks, but I can pick it up and carry it if I need to.
Some people insist that the backpack is better. I opt for a large day-pack to use with my wheelie bag. If I go on an overnight trip somewhere, I can stash my large bag and things I don’t need at my favorite Bali hotel or local’s home (yes, people here are that honest!). All of what I need for a 2-3 day trip fits into my day-pack. It’s also my carry-on for longer haul flights.
When you’re in Bali, you will have plenty of opportnities to talk to locals and tourists about other places to visit and what to do in Indonesia. Then you can acquire things you might need – but again, they will be few. Unless you’re going to a remote area to do a very specific sport or taslk, most of what you need can be easily acquired for a good price in the larger cities.
Most importantly – bring your open heart and mind, and your sense of adventure. Indonesia is a truly incredible place I’m proud to now call home. You will have the time of your life here!