In March last year I decided that it was time to head back to Bali. It had been 8 long years since I had visited this fantastic island and I was very keen to head back. My first trip was in July 2001 which to be honest was a haze of Bintang and Jungle Juice. My girlfriend and I enjoyed our mid year uni break lazing around the pool at Troppo Zone, shopping the streets in Kuta and partying all night long at the Sari Club and Paddy’s Bar. We were oblivious to any sort of danger especially the thought that anyone would consider bombing such a place. Even though most of our trip was spent partying, I fell in love with the place. The chaos, the smells and of course the lovely smiles of the Balinese.
3 years later I convinced my future husband to be to come to Bali with me. It was August 2004 and security was still tight. Our first overseas trip together was exciting and we enjoyed the countryside as well as Seminyak beach. I was well and truly hooked! Time passed and other countries were discovered, Israel, Egypt, Thailand, Cambodia, Jordan, Malaysia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Singapore, Croatia, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, Netherlands and Italy.
After the year I had endured it was time to head back to Bali. The plan was for Charlotte and I to fly to Bali from Melbourne and meet Jed, who was to be flown from Port Hedland to Perth, for his week of R and R, with us needing to organise the flight from Perth to Bali. We needed to do it on a budget of less than $200 per night for accommodation and find the cheapest flights possible.
My first port of call was Tripadvisor. I have long been a fan of Tripadvisor mainly for the reviews and forums. The Bali forum in particular is a great source of information and most of the TA’s are very helpful. Reading through the reviews of different hotels can be very time consuming but usually yields great results. I tend to read the negative ones first and if there are multiple issues that people have had that I can not cope with it gets crossed off the list.
Location is one of the most important things to consider and if being close to the beach is a must then do not go for the hotel advertising itself as a “10 minute” walk to the beach. More than likely this means that it’s at least a 20 minute stroll and in the Bali heat can put a real dampner on your holiday.
Finding the best priced flights can take patience and a bit of luck. When I happened to be on the Tripadvisor Bali forum one Sunday in March I noticed a post about cheap Garuda fares. I was quite reluctant to even consider them as an airline to fly especially after their domestic crash history but I was reassured by the Bali regulars that it was the best airline to fly from Australia to Bali as it was the only full service airline and had customer service to match. So onto Garuda’s website I searched. Well when you come across $177 return flights inc. taxes Perth to Bali it doesn’t take long for the credit card to make an appearance. Pity the $353 return flights from Melbourne didn’t fit our dates!
I decided after some research on 1 week in Sanur. I had briefly driven past Sanur on our previous trips and had read that it was a great family friendly place with the footpaths alot easier to navigate than Kuta or Seminyak. We still wanted great restaurants and were keen on the nicer beach that Sanur has. My next challenge was to find either an interconnecting room at a hotel or a 2 bedroom villa that matched our budget. As Jed works 4 weeks with just 1 day off during this time, it’s imperative that he gets his rest during his r and r. Sharing a room with Charlotte wasn’t an option but keeping under budget was a challenge.
Most hotels that I was happy to stay at, like the Bali Hyatt, were out of our budget so I decided to investigate villas. Well this opened a whole new can of worms as a lot of them are privately rented out so you need to ensure that they are legitimate especially when using sites like Flipkey.
My list of must haves:
- 2 bedrooms with AC
- Enclosed living area with AC
- Grassed area for Charlotte to run around
- Good location, was happy to have 10 minute walk to main shopping area/beach
- Under $200 per night
I found some great places but they were all at least $250 per night. So I nearly relented until I came across Zen Villa. It was a privately owned villa which was a part of the Zen Villa complex. For $179aud per night we had a 2 bedrooms, plunge pool, separate living and kitchen with AC and a garden for Charlotte to run around in. They were also able to provide a high chair, baby walker and portacot for an extra $15 per night.
With our Sanur accommodation booked my attention turned to our flights from Melbourne. Garuda’s flights for our dates were around $850 return for us both and I was going to book these as Jetstar and Virgin were only $150 cheaper. The day I went to book I received and email from Jetstar informing me of cheap fares to Bali. Well I was sold when with luggage return it totaled $500 return for Charlotte and I. This price was only possible with booking Charlotte as an infant which meant her siting on my knee for the flights if there was no spare seat next to us. This I wasn’t so keen on especially when I realised that she would be nearly 2 when we flew!!! The cheap fares also meant that we would fly out 3 days earlier than planned which I was secretly very pleased with.
I had previously visited Ubud on day trips and was keen to spend a few nights there with Charlotte before Jed flew in. So back to Tripadvisor to find a cheap but clean and central hotel room. A newish hotel in Monkey Forest Road called Inata Hotel ticked all the boxes. It had good reviews, nice pool area, central and decent sized rooms with a lovely verandah area overlooking the gardens. It came in at a great price of $70 per night including portacot and breakfast.
With everything booked I turned my attention to the list of things that I would need to take. Traveling with a toddler meant a lot more planning was needed.
I packed especially for her:
- Quick smart stroller (around $180 and able to be purchased at department stores in Australia. Great as it folds up and can be taken on as hand luggage)
- Sunscreen (very expensive in Bali)
- Mossie spray (bug-a-bug by ecokids)
- Milton tablets (for cleaning drink bottles and for the bath)
- First aid kit (bandaids, nurofen, panadol, gastrolyte etc.)
- A couple of empty drink bottles for water and milk
- Charlotte’s favourite books
Places to visit:
- Taro Elephant Park near Ubud
- Lobong cooking class in Ubud
- Peek a boo Play Centre Sanur
- Waterbom Park
- Potato Head Beach Club Seminyak
- Biku restaurant Seminyak
- Massage at Karma Kandara and dinner at Nammos beach club
I also, through Tripadvisor recommendations, booked a nanny for some of the days. As Charlotte was still having a long afternoon sleep I thought it would be a great opportunity to spend some time with Jed. I liaised with Berta via email and her rates were extremely reasonable, about $4AUD per hour.
So we were set. I had my fingers crossed I had thought of everything and looked forward to our first overseas family holiday. Does anyone have any great holiday planning tips to share?
Disclaimer: I have included a couple of affiliate links to Tripadvisor in this post. I may receive commission from them if you click on these links and book accommodation. All other links are there to help as well but I receive no commission.