Planning a trip to Indonesia? If you’ve read any of my blog posts about ‘things to do’ in different parts of Indonesia, you should be feeling very inspired to head over and enjoy this beautiful country. If you’re visiting Bali, Lombok, Sumbawa or one of the other beautiful islands in Indonesia, but unsure what to take with you, I’ve got you covered with these tips on what to pack.
If you’ve been lucky enough to visit Indonesia and have some tips I may have missed, please share them in the comments below.
Keep it light – The thing about Indonesia is it’s very affordable and very hot, which means you don’t have to pack everything you own ‘just in case’. Budget airlines like Jetstar usually have sale fares which don’t include checked baggage, but truth be told you can definitely survive a week in Indonesia with a backpack’s worth of clothing.
Money – You will need money in two different currencies when you arrive in Denpasar, US Dollars and Indonesian Rupiah. A Visa on arrival costs US$35 per person and you have to line up and buy your visa(s) before you go through passport control, make sure you have this money with you. ATMs are a dime a dozen and safe, in my experience. Just make sure you remember to take your bank card out of the ATM once you’re finished, remember to tell your bank you’re travelling so they don’t think you’re a fraudster.
Need some inspiration? Watch this…
Understand cost – For Australians, Rupiah usually roughly converts like this: $1AU = 10,000 IDR. If you’re paying 25,000 IDR for a beer, it’s costing you $2.50AU. You have to bargain with shop owners, obviously not at McDonald’s, in the smaller shops set up along places like Poppies Lane. A pair of plastic sunglasses should cost around 35,000 IDR ($3.50AU). You should also read my guide on ‘How to haggle like a professional in Bali.’
Medicine – It’s called Bali Belly for a reason, so make sure you’re prepared. Visit a travel doctor before you leave and arrange some gastro-stop or Imodium as well as a general dose of antibiotics to clear up any nasty bacteria that find their way into your tummy. Depending on where you’re visiting, you may need to take anti-malarial medication or get some injections. You may also want to pack travel sickness medicine for long car and ferry rides.
Bug spray – Buy a bottle of good quality insect repellant and use it regularly, this is more important for those visiting places like Lombok and Sumbawa where Malaria is a bigger threat.
Swimwear – Boys are pretty lucky as board short material is quick-dry whereas our bikini material takes longer to dry out. I recommend packing two swimsuits so one can be drying out while you’re wearing the other one.
Clothing – Indonesia is very laid back, so leave your vintage Valentino skirt at home. Things to pack include comfortable, loose-fitting shorts, singlet-tops, kaftans, board shorts, summer dresses, t-shirts and other items you routinely wear during summer at home. A whole bunch of cool new bars and hipster spots have popped up all over Bali, in particular, so you might want to pack a few nice outfits, that are still breathable and light-weight. The weather can be quite sticky, so choose breathable light fabric where possible.
One other tip with clothing, pretty much every hotel room has air-conditioning that will keep you really cool when you sleep at night. I tend to get really cold, so if you’re like me, it could be worth your time to pack a warmer set of jammies.
Shoes – Most people get around in their flip-flops. I had a small child pee on my foot at Kuta Beach once, which really turned me off wearing them anymore. If you plan to hike a mountain or trek into the jungle you will need appropriate closed-in shoes. If you plan to sprawl out on the beach for 10 days straight, one pair of flip-flops or sandals will do. The clubbing scene in Kuta is brutal, you won’t need high heels.
Sun-smart gear – You’ll definitely need a hat and sunscreen with high SPF to protect you from sunburn. I always recommend the Cancer Council’s sunscreen as you know it’s good quality. Remember, sunscreen is only as good as its user and it’s up to you to reapply during the day to ensure you don’t get burned. Similarly, a rash-shirt or sun-shirt is a good idea too. Remember, cloudy days mean U.V rays! Don’t be deceived if there’s no sun, you can still burn.
Beauty products – Ladies, you won’t need to apply a full face of makeup each day and even if you do, it’s just going to melt off. You’ll most likely only need something light like a BB cream. I also recommend packing loofah gloves, to scrub away dry skin and clean out sunscreen grime, as well as a face scrub.
One thing to consider, if you need specific beauty products for things like sensitive skincare, bring them with you rather than relying on buying them. If you do find yourself purchasing beauty products at a convenience store they may not have a suitable range for you.
I found my hair became really dried out and started to resemble a birds nest after swimming, sun and daily washing took its toll. You can buy good quality shampoo, conditioner and hair masks cheaply at convenience stores like Circle K, good hair products are essential to help your hair stay thick and healthy.
Tissues – Always keep a pocket pack of tissues with you, just in case you forget to grab some toilet paper off the communal roll before you go into a toilet stall at a local market.
Good quality luggage – Bags tend to get thrown around quite a bit and it’s worth investing in good quality luggage that can stand a good punch and lock securely.
Charging station – You’ll need a power converter to ensure you can recharge your camera, phone and other electronics. In Indonesia, the one you need has two round prongs. I always pack a power-board with me too, it means I can charge my iPad, iPhone and camera while using my laptop. Yep, I’m a technology addict. If you forget a converter you can buy one there.
Beach bag – Pack a light tote you can put your beach essentials in, this will make it easier to pack up your towel, hat, sunglasses, book, camera and sunscreen when you head down to the water or go for a walk around town.
Electrolyte drink – Tap water isn’t drinkable and you may not drink as much water as you normally do at home, so give your body a boost with an electrolyte drink, especially because of the humidity which you may not be used to. You’ll be especially happy to see an electrolyte drink if you experience stomach problems from eating food you aren’t used to.
My packing tips and travel hacks
Eco-friendly bags – Stash some eco-friendly bags and reusable sandwich bags in your luggage, they come in so very handy for storing dirty shoes and clothes as well as bars of soap, wet swimwear or leaky toothpaste tubes!
Tupperware – I use Tupperware or similar hard plastic containers to put all my toiletries in. This ensures no leaks will destroy my clean clothes and makes it really easy for me to grab my toiletries in one easy swoop, keep them together in the hotel and makes re-packing easier too. I also use a small container for all my jewellery and another one for electronics like adaptors, cords and chargers. It keeps me organised and stops me from losing things!
Dryer sheets – Put dryer sheets in your suitcase to keep your clothes smelling good throughout the whole trip, easy! No more musty smelling clothes for you, my friend.
Power board – As freelancers, we travel with a lot of electronics so we can work on the road. This can mean two laptops, an iPad, two phones, a camera and a GoPro! If this sounds like you too, then you’re going to need more than one power point. Buy one power-point converter and take a power-board with multiple plug-ins on it. It makes life so much easier!
Trackstick II – The Trackstick II is so very cool and will appear to the nerdy data types out there (i.e. my husband). It’s a GPS receiver the size of a memory stick, it can be used to track your every step for weeks! Take it with you in your pocket and you’ll have a satellite album of your travels. You can see where you’ve been, shown via a red line that is traced on satellite photos and 3D terrain. Told you it was cool. It continuously records its exact route, stop times, speed, direction and other valuable information, all of which is easily downloaded to your computer.
Watch our ‘Bali for first-timers’ video
Phoebe is a travel writer and photographer with a love for storytelling and making people laugh. Matt is a videographer and photographer with a passion for the great outdoors and big adventures. Together we inspire big adventures through our guides, videos, vlogs and photographs. Find out more about us here.