TRAVELLING TO BALI WITH BABIES & TODDLERS
You may have noticed that I have fallen off the blogging bandwagon of late. That’s what tends to happen when you come home from a few weeks spent in the tropical paradise that is Bali, you refuse to return to reality! But now my sun kissed tan tragically has started to fade, sunset cocktails are no longer part of my daily routine and no one wants to massage me for $10 an hour. As they say, I must Keep Calm and Carry On…
The truth is I have never wanted to travel to Bali. I think it was the vision of culturally inappropriate Kuta bogans swilling Bintang (beer) in their matching souvenir singlets that always put me off wanting to travel there. But an invitation to a friends wedding changed all that and I am so glad that it did because it really is an incredible place to visit. Even with kids!
It was our first family trip to Asia with a toddler in tow so it was always going to be a little different than heading over the ditch to NZ where we spent last Christmas with a baby that didn’t move much or eat solids. Our friends who we travelled with us also bought along their teeny six week old so I’ve put together a few helpful hints and suggestions for parents travelling to Bali with babies and toddlers that I wish I knew before going there…
BEFORE YOU LEAVE
Do an infant first aid CPR course. Book into one preferably before your baby is born or before they start eating solids. Trust me on this, I’ll write more about Harlow’s choking incident below…
It’s easy enough to say ‘pack light’, but we all know that it’s impossible to even knick down to the shops without packing for the apocalypse! But bless the souls in Bali who cleverly have set-up baby and toddler equipment hire for as little as a few dollars a day. That means you can hire a plethora of things like cots, monitors, high chairs, bottle sterilisers, toys, car seats, sun shades, etc etc without worrying about going over your 20kg bag limit. These angels, and there’s quite a few different companies now to choose from, also deliver to your accommodation before your arrival so you don’t even have to lift a finger! Because who wants to be doing that on your holiday…
Don’t pack your bulky pusher. Your Bug-a-Boo might be your pride and joy but for goodness sakes do not pack it. Firstly you can’t take bulky prams or strollers all the way to the aeroplane gate which is a nightmare in itself and secondly it would be a physical impossibility to haul that thing over the tiny footpaths in Bali. Get yourself an el cheapo small stroller from Target or Kmart and take that instead. For little bubs that need a bassinet, take a carry pack instead and hire a pusher over there.
Do pack nappies, swimmer nappies, wipes, formula (if using), baby creams, baby and toddler food and snacks, these things are expensive and hard to come by.
THE PLANE RIDE
If you are travelling with a bub who is still on the boobie milk / bottle only and sleeps in your arms, your plane ride will be a breeze. Time your feeds for taking off and landing and their ears will naturally pop.
If you are travelling with a toddler, well, sorry your plane ride is not going to be as pleasant as it once was. Relaxing movie with G&T in hand? Forget about it. Instead you’re the entertainer / wrangler of a small child who doesn’t want to sit in their seat pleasantly but wants to crawl underneath their seat, also wants to pull the hair of the person in front of them and conveniently shits their pants just as the plane is taking off and decides that they want to eat a lot more than usual. So my advice to you is pack loads of food and snacks. Silly me didn’t realise that you could take fresh snacks with you on the plane so naturally I felt like the worlds worst mother when other parents were offering their children cut up watermelon, slices of cheese and sandwiches. I think the other parents felt sorry for Harlow sucking puree from a squeezy bag so they offered her their food.
Travel friendly toys and books. Take as much as you can fit into your already bulging handbag.
Pre book your transport so that there is someone waiting for you and your family when you arrive, you don’t want to bargain with the hundreds of cab drivers trying to ‘help’ you with your suitcases, plus you can book a baby seat in advance.
Baby capsules are a rarity in Bali, so you may find you just have to hold your baby instead.
Baby / toddler car and booster seats are common but ensure you arrange this with a driver before you land as taxi’s don’t carry them around. Holding a toddler who doesn’t want to be held is quite difficult and dangerous.
*Updated October 2017*
I have recently returned to Bali and discovered Villa Rona (aka Heaven) in Canggu that accommodates for babies and toddlers providing things like cot, mosquito net, child friendly cups and utensils, a pool fence and even kids pool toys! Honestly, this place is the stuff dreams are made of and it even comes with Kadek, the house keeper, who can help out with the kids whilst you can work on your tan. There is a god!
Canggu is a sweet little spot that is more for the free spirited traveller who wants to experience a taste of the ‘Old Bali’. The villa is located down a lush laneway that is quite and secluded but is right around the corner from cafes, rice paddies and the beach. You can even order meals in (which we may have done a few too many times but when Nasi Goreng is only a phone call away….you get the picture!) We hired a scooter to get around because Canggu is easy to ride around, unlike neighbouring Seminyak! But it’s so easy to pop in a taxi and take a date night out to Seminyak as it’s only a short cab ride away so you can still experience the ‘glam’ of Seminyak whilst chilling out in Canggu during the day with the kiddies. Canggu is also home to an epic waterpark Splash and play centre the kids will love!
If you do choose to stay at Villa Rona, make sure to mention The Wholehearted Cook as the gorgeous Ratna (owner of the property) may throw in a special freebie for you! You can book also via AirBnb.
If you are staying in a villa that has an open pool with no fencing fork out the extra dollars for a temporary pool fence, it is worth every cent for peace of mind and so that you can relax.
I have always been one for Harlow to taste everything I am eating, however please exercise caution when introducing new foods to your baby in Bali as they may have an allergic reaction. Unfortunately we found out Harlow has a cashew allergy after eating some dip, instant hives and two very scared parents! Fortunately it wasn’t anaphylactic however it did swell her throat which caused a choking incident a few days later. If you missed my very first tip it is to do an infant CPR course, trust me, seeing your baby choke is the scariest thing you may experience.
I am not a huge advocate for prepacked baby food, but occasionally it’s fine, its completely safe and its convenient. Stock up on these as you will need them when you are out and about.
The Balinese are very helpful people, if you ask for baby food (puree, extra soft, well cooked) they will oblige and make it specially for you.
Be extra cautious to sterilise your bottles, I don’t do this at home anymore but I boiled a pot of water and let them boil in this for about 5 – 10 minutes. My friend bought her bottle steriliser with her but it didn’t fit in the microwave at our villa, the microwaves are small. I recently discovered Medela Quick Clean bags which are super convenient that you pop your bottle and accessories into and place in the microwave for 3 minutes, you can use each bag up to 20 times also. Wish I had known about these before I left!
Bring formula if you are using, you can also easily purchase UHT long life milk, which is easy to source if your baby drinks milk.
Ensure you have a mosquito net that you can place over the cot, the mosquitos did not bite me or my partner but they attacked the babies.
If your baby is a bit older and needs toys to be entertained it’s a great idea to hire some.
We went to the Bali Marine and Wildlife Park Safari which was fantastic! It is quite expensive to get in though so I suggest you make the most of your time there and enjoy the many activities. In saying that, we stayed for no more than a few hours as I pulled my neck out and then Harlow cracked it and wanted to go to sleep. Still, we won’t remember that part in years to come, surely?
The nannies we hired in Bali were incredible, very trustworthy, reliable and affordable. We paid anywhere from $5 – $10 US per hour. Often we would pop Harlow to bed and then the nanny would sit outside our room or in our villa. And we got a night out on our own. Heaven! Trust me, you’ll find a great nanny wherever you are staying.
THE WHOLEHEARTED RETREAT
If you can take time off from being a mum for a week (dreamy!) next year I will be hosting The Wholehearted Wellness Retreat in Bali from 1 – 6 May and 10 – 15 July.
Imagine you have one whole week to nourish your body with delicious wholefoods. One week to nurture your soul with sunrise salutations and twilight cocktails. One week just for you. (Read: no work, no laundry, no kids, no demands, no interrupted sleeps. Yeessssss).
If this sounds like something you may be interested in, check out all the goodness on The Wholehearted Wellness Retreat page.
This post has turned into a mega blog! But I hope that you find it helpful if you are travelling to Bali with babies and toddlers as it really is a magical place to relax and enjoy some quality family time together. We had the best holiday and can not wait to return one day!