A confession: we have never been to Bali before. And, part of us didn’t want to go, either. You see, we are adventurers who have crossed the TianShan, hiked for weeks in the Andes and crossed 40 degree Central American borders while pregnant…
And… it seems that many people take a family holiday to Bali. And so, Bali didn’t really fit our idea of our self-perception of travellers. But even adventurers need breaks – right? And that’s why we recommend travelling to Bali with Kids. With lots of things to do in Bali, it is is the perfect place for a family holiday.
Even when your soul longs for adventure, the realities of travel with two small kids means you need to be practical! Bali ticks all the boxes – short, cheap flight – plenty of sunshine, great weather, and culture! We started out on a tight budget – intending to also make this a cheap holiday but then upgraded and expanded the budget as time went on.
We read a lot – way too much – and over-thought. Google searches for “Bali for kids” consistently came up with a list of resorts; and even though we tried to stay firm with our intuition, in the depths of winter it’s hard to do that! We ended up booking a travelling holiday – that is 5 different locations over a 3 week period, meaning that we broke our own rules and stayed at some places just 2 nights – which predicably meant unsettled (therefore cranky) kids on a couple of occasions.
To answer the question: How travel to Bali with Kids – and not stay in an expensive resort for a week – this is our guide!
We started out in Tuban (which we loved), to Nusa Dua (which wasn’t our cup of tea), to a place halfway between Singaraja and Lovina (our favourite), to Munduk, then Ubud, and finishing up with a splurge hotel in Taro. Still to come for us:
- Why travel to Bali with Kids
- Where to Stay in Bali (for a family holiday)
- Things to Do in Bali (for an active family holiday!)
- Plus – some Restaurant reviews and much more.
Our reflections on How to travel to Bali with Kids, see some of the culture and try to stick to a budget. Bali is what you make of it. There is something for everyone. There is also a billion blogs out there offering stories and advice. If you are an experienced traveller go with your gut instinct. Bali is easier than most places you have travelled to; and there are more options.
- Bali with Kids can be affordable. Just because there is a lot of information on the internet recommending resorts in ‘Bali for Kids’ it doesn’t have to be like that. There are lots of great little hotels, which are much more affordable. (They probably don’t have a kids club or babysitters – but if you want you can organise that when you get there.)
The caveat to this is – the cleanliness of the pool. Oh, actually, that the place must have a pool and secondly, because the kids tend to swallow a lot of water, it’s important that the pool is clean. We checked out of one hotel after a day because of a dirty pool.
Also: if your children are small and not swimming, do ask about the depth of the pool as places with shallower pools were better for a 2.8 years and 6 years. (but not ‘paddle pools’ as they were too shallow!!!)
- Hotel Rooms – at first, when we mentioned we were a family of 4 – many places wanted to put us in two rooms. We negotiated and Master 2.8 slept in our bed most nights and they added an extra bed for Miss 6. We saved a lot by doing this – so if you don’t mind co-sleeping (or that’s what happens anyways) do negotiate, even by email.
3. Hotel Reviews – go with your gut instincts and if you read Trip Advisor do so with a ‘grain of salt.’ Trip Advisor is a great tool, but it is also a bunch of people’s opinions and is not moderated. Strangely enough, our favourite hotels were ranked quite lowly… and the most highly ranked hotels were not as enjoyable.
4. Bargaining is what you do for souvenirs. An old traveller’s habit (refined by living in South and Central America) is to estimate a fair price in your head. Common sense and a bit of shopping around defines what is a fair price. If the starting price is way too high, we walk away. Otherwise, if the starting price is reasonable we bargain a tiny bit or hardly at all… especially if we are talking a couple of dollars.
- Negotiation of prices is different in our mind, and usually refers to services like hotel rooms, transport or guide services. A couple of the not less hotels were open to “negotiation’ and we made savings of between $10 and $30 a day – simply by asking if they could do a better deal. With transport, we needed a large car and it seemed that prices were relatively consistent. Transport is not something we want to skimp on, and look for well-maintained cars and slow, careful drivers.
6. Transport – we hired drivers from the hotels, and carried 2 car seats the whole way. They were included in our luggage allowance, and so there was no point paying a Bali baby hire company. (As we were moving around, we used a range of drivers). Both kids seemed very happy to have their own car seats, especially Master 2.5 who would prefer to be moving about the car!!!
- Food – this is definitely a “plus” for Bali – there is an enormous range of food options so some nights was Pizza and Pasta (requested by Miss 6) while other nights she could have something she liked (if it’s not Pasta, it’s a fish) while we got to try a fantastic range of Balinese and Indonesian foods. Master 2.8 has always been fussy – which is why I packed a huge bag of snacks and frequented Mini Marts a lot. Our nightly meal budget ranged from $10 to $70.
8. Learn the Language! We learnt a few basic phrases and the numbers and not only did it help in less touristy places but got big warm smiles, and Sama Sama!
- The Balinese were, as expected warm and caring towards the kids, taking their hand and wanting to talk with them. They seemed particularly partial to our little boy and we understand that every family wants a boy… From the moment we flew in, to the moment we flew out, he got a lot of attention from the Balinese (I should note, he didn’t particularly like it, making him shyer than normal) this was unexpected all around – especially his reaction to the attention.
Our next trip: Yes, there will be one!!! We were entranced. We love adventure and can see how Bali is an adventurous destination for those who want to find it!