A friend of mine, Dyan has just returned from her first holiday to Bali with her little girl Miss B who is about 14 months old... I was surprised to learn that this was this Dyan's first trip, hasn't every Australian been to Bali - especially if you work in the travel industry? Isn't Bali where all Australians head off for a cheap and often drunken holiday ? Hence not a destination on my bucket list. Cliche right? - However following my catch up with Dyan I soon realised I may have judged Bali too harshly all this time - So was really thrilled when Dyan agreed to share her holiday with us and her tips on travelling with a toddler (Another friend with 2 year old Miss O joined the duo as well)
This was your first trip to Bali, why did you choose Bali?
Yes first time to Bali can you believe it! We choose Bali as it was close, straight forward flight (hence no connections), flights were cheap and the accommodation reasonable. Plus I wanted to get away to Asia which I hadn’t been to in 2 years.
How would you sell Bali to a client who has never been and only knows of its cliche drinking parties?
If you plan on going to Kuta then yes you will see what you imagine Bali to be. But don’t be fooled, it’s a wonderful destination. We went in November which is slightly off season and meant to be the raining season (though we only had one thunderstorm at night during our 10 days there) November meant there weren’t many people travelling to the region, the roads weren’t congested with traffic and there were mainly ex-pats in the more touristy areas. The food is great and the staff are AMAZING with children, I have never been anywhere in the world where they are genuinely wonderful caring people towards your kids. Many tourists we saw were from Java or other parts of Asia.
The airport was easy and fast (the new airport is fantastic) no big lines. And it’s still cheap. Even staying in a big resort we only paid an average $30-$40 AUD per day and that included meals, drinks, spa treatments, airport transfers and 2 day trips with a private driver.
What was your itinerary to ensure you could see the real Bali?
Though we stayed in resort we choose to hire a driver and car to get us out of the family tourist zone. It’s cheap, you can hire baby car seats and you can see what else Bali has to offer. While we were in Ubud we went to a nice local restaurant which had a large grassy area for the girls to explore, a tire swing and chickens! Sitting in an open air restaurant on cushions eating some lovely local food with their hands – the girls loved it.
You travelled with another single mum and her toddler, how was that helpful?
Very helpful! As the girls were similar ages they played well, we had a wonderful set up in our accommodation. We booked a private 2 bedroom villa with a private pool in a resort. It had a large lounge and kitchenette. The kids loved the private pool for a quick dip while the other took a nap. Travelling with someone in a similar situation to me meant she understood the “meltdown” moments, knew we couldn’t push the little ones with long days out in the humid hot weather. Was there to help with luggage or cuddles when needed. Both of us are experienced travellers and little Miss O’s mum had lived in Indonesia and spoke some Bahasa. Added bonus!
You were an experienced traveller prior to having a baby, how has this changed how you plan your holidays?
I take more notice of flight time and connections. Bali was a great option as I stated above for its direct flights and flight times. I had considered taking my little one back to the US where I lived for many years but after this flight realised that 15hrs by myself on my knee was just insane J I will wait until she has her own seat and can semi-entertain herself.
Taking more note of the hotel and their facilities – I wanted to be sure Miss B had options like the kids club, playground, pool, highchairs etc.
PACKING! That takes more planning for sure!
What tips could you give to other first time travellers to Bali with a young toddler?
Bali is notorious for 'Bali Belly', did you escape it and what measures did you take to prevent it?
Good question – I actually never really thought about it to be honest! Little Miss B is a fantastic eater so she pretty much had anything I put in front of her. The only preventative measures we took was to put Milton tablets in the bath at night as my child is a bath drinker! No-one got sick.
The single most useful/practical item that you had with you on the trip and should not leave home without?
Pre- motherhood I used to say my ipod and kindle for reading on the plane and when I lounged around the pool! However I soon realised unless she is asleep on the plane I didn’t get time to retrieve those 2 items from my backpack! Now travelling with Miss B, I would say snacks for the plane and one of her favourite toys, it’s not about me anymore.
Any other good tips when planning your holiday?
Consider all options. We spent a lot of time looking for the right accommodation for us. Private Villas vs Resorts. We were sold on the private villa option until we discussed it more and wanted to have access on site to things like a day spa, kids club (even though the girls were too young to be left we loved laying in the air-con talking to the staff while the girls played), resort pool and room service. When looking at Private Villas ensure you can get a pool fence either included or put up. Some villas come with driver/cook etc which is a great option. The resort has its benefits also consider it all.
Now that Miss B and you have done your first overseas trip - any plans for another one and where to?
I would love to take her back to Asia – maybe Vietnam or the Philippines we just need to find reasonable flights and some great child-friendly resorts and we are off!
Dyan stayed at in a two bedroom villa at Novotel - Nusa Dua -
Further tips & info:
- Sharon from Where's Sharon? has put together an amazing post about Bali with kids
- My Little Nomads post - Bali with Kids