Bali with Toddler - Tips!

We recently spent ten days in Bali with both of our families, and of course Ella, who is nearly two years old. Prior to our trip I scoured the internet for advice on travelling in Bali with a toddler. Now that we've been, here is my advice on flights and what to bring:

Getting There/Away:

When booking flights to Denpasar, Bali, the only options for direct flights from Melbourne were with Garuda Indonesia and Jetstar or Qantas. Qantas was the most expensive option by far, with Jetstar and Garuda fairly similar in price. After a bit of research I decided to book with the Indonesian carrier. They had good reviews and I prefer to avoid Jetstar when possible! The flight is about six hours long. After both flights I think we made the right choice, I would definitely recommend flying with Garuda and would probably book with them again if we ever get the chance to return to Bali.

On our way out we had a 9am flight from Melbourne Tullamarine airport. They are currently renovating the International terminal (yay! It has to be one of the most boring international terminals ever, so the renos are long overdue), but that meant there was not much in the way of shopping/entertainment while we waited for our flight. After a quick breakfast at Movida, which is frankly always a disappointment, we headed to our gate. On our way we passed by a random little playhouse, which I have never seen before in this airport. Ella loved it and we ended up staying there until our flight boarded.

The only thing that was slightly annoying about the airline was that they wouldn’t let us take our Mountain Buggy Nano with us on board. We specifically bought this pram as it folds up to meet airline regulations in terms of size and weight for carry-on baggage. Garuda made us check it at the gate, saying that some customers had started opening the pram on board making it unsafe. I wonder if this is a rule on all airplanes now? I hate it when stupid people ruin things for the rest of us!

The flight attendants were excellent with Ella, they paid a lot of attention to her, talking and playing with her throughout the flight. On our flight to Bali we were given bassinet seats, although she is way too big for them now. The extra legroom did give her some room to play down by our feet, but keeping her contained and out of the aisles was hard work. At the start of  the flight they gave Ella a little pouch with two finger puppets that kept her amused for a while, and also a little stuffed toy. They also gave us some pretty good baby food when the meals were served.

Playing with her finger puppets courtesy of Garuda Indonesia
We thought Ella might have a sleep on the flight a few hours in, when she would regularly have her afternoon nap, but of course she ended up falling asleep 12 minutes before we landed! Not having our pram right when we got off the plane was annoying here, as we had to wait for it with the rest of our luggage. Poor Andy had to carry our sleeping toddler off the plane, through immigration, to the baggage claim area. A sleeping toddler is a total dead weight, like carrying a 12kg sack of potatoes with you everywhere. Needless to say, she did not stay asleep long and was pretty cranky and unhappy when she woke!

We had arranged an airport transport with our villa (rented through airbnb), so getting out of the airport was quick and easy. The drive to Canggu took about 45 minutes, and was an eye opener for our parents! I don’t think either had experienced the chaotic roads of South East Asia, with families on scooters whizzing by. Ella was pretty amused as she was not in a car seat for the first time in her young life (more on that below). She sat/stood on Andy’s lap, and discovered the handles above the window to hold on to, insisting that everyone else in the car also hold on to their handles.

Our flight back to Melbourne was a night flight, departing at 11:30pm. Ella fell asleep in the car on the way to the airport and pretty much stayed asleep until we landed in Melbourne. So in that way it was a pretty easy journey! We did not get bassinet seats this time, the flight was full and there were quite a few younger babies on board. In a couple of months we will have no choice but to book a seat for Ella when she turns two years old. While I’m not looking forward to the extra cost, the extra space for our toddler will be a relief!

Packing Guide

It’s pretty much impossible to pack light when you travel with a toddler, especially when you are going somewhere for the first time. Here are some of the things we took with us to Bali, and how I’d pack differently if we were to come here again.

Port-a-cot. Our villa quoted us $15 (AUD) per day to rent a cot, which I thought was extortionate for a 10-day stay. You can buy a port-a-cot for less than that! Some villas might include a cot, but unfortunately ours did not. There are lots of baby rental places in Bali (here and here for example), but the prices of rental gear start to add up. In the end we opted to bring ours, as you can easily check it in on a flight, and we had transport to and from the airport both in Melbourne and in Bali. I’m glad we did in the end, as Ella is used to sleeping in it and it really was not a hassle to bring with us at all. We did buy some mosquito netting for the cot at Baby Bunting prior to our trip, but didn’t end up using it. Instead we pushed her cot right beside our bed, and then just hung the netting from our bed around her cot. Simples! (She did not like this at all though. The first two nights she woke up and when we tried to calm her down she would just be saying “out! out!” until we took her outside of the netting. Fortunately there were never any mosquitos in the house anyway, and she did eventually get used to it.)

Car Seat. We ummed and ahhed about whether or not to bring or rent a car seat in Bali. In the end we decided not to do either, based on advice from a friend. We were only in a car a few times during the trip, and not all taxis would have been able to fit the seat anyway. The drivers we had were all recommended by our villa manager, and were excellent. If we go to Bali again I would do the same and not bother with a car seat. 

Nappies and Swimming Nappies. Take lots of these! Swimming nappies don’t seem to exist, even at the large ex-pat supermarket we went to, and nappies in the right size can be hard to come by. Although we brought enough regular nappies I did check a pharmacy for them just out of curiosity, and the one I went into only had infant size. We had to ration the swimming nappies as I only brought 10 in total. This meant there was lots of nudie swimming for Ella! Thankfully she lets us know when she wants to poo now.

Baby food. Baby specific snacks and food don’t really exist, which was mostly fine as Ella eats a lot of what we eat. But we did bring some fruit and veg pouches which were great to have on the plane. Ella also loves these dried apple slices, and they were good to have on hand. I only brought one pack so I'd probably bring more if we went again.  

Baby carrier or pram.  We brought our Mountain Buggy Nano pram with us, which is an excellent travel pram. However, after about two days we stopped taking it out with us. The pavement (when it exists) was too narrow and bumpy and she likes to walk now unless she is tired anyway. It was useful for our day trip to Sanur, where there is a wide path along the beach and she could nap it in as we were out all day. When we went out for food or to the beach we either walked slowly with Ella, carried her, or put her in the baby carrier. The baby carrier was really only useful at night, as during the day it was too hot to put Ella in it. I did see lots of other, younger babies in carriers out and about though. Basically, we just relaxed and followed Ella’s lead, taking our time to get around Canggu. We weren’t in any rush.

Sunscreen. You can buy this readily in Bali, but if you have a specific one for babies that you know doesn’t irritate your child’s skin then I’d bring that with you.

Mosquito spray/cream. There were way less mosquitos than I thought there would be in Canggu. They were only really around at dusk when we would be going out for dinner. It was surprisingly hard to find any spray in the pharmacies, so if you have a brand you like, bring it with you. We also got  electronic mosquito repellents, which emit a high pitched sound (nearly inaudible to humans) that you can clip to your clothing. As a group we did not get many bites at all, so they must have worked?

Popsicle (ice lolly) moulds. This one is a bit random! But Ella loves an ice lolly and we found this a very good way to ensure she was staying hydrated. We filled the moulds with chopped up fruit and dissolved hydralyte tablets in water to make her some ice lollies every day. She’d happily eat two or three a day outside by the pool.

Nappy cream. Perhaps TMI here, but Ella did have diarrhoea for the last few days of our trip. Her poor bum was red and sore and we only had a little bit of nappy cream that we were rationing out.

Baby monitor. We did not bring one of these and totally regretted it! Our villa was pretty big and you couldn’t hear her crying if she was in bed and we were outside by the pool. Someone would have to stay inside or just constantly check on her when she was having her naps. It would have been great to have had a monitor to take out by the pool.

Baby floaty. We got the one pictured below from Baby Bunting for $30 before we left and it worked a treat. Ella loved it, there is a steering wheel attached so she pretended to drive it around the pool. It also had a detachable shade cover, which was very practical However it did end up with a hole in it before the end of the trip so for the price it wasn't very durable!

Clothing. All you need in Bali are light, cotton/bamboo clothes. Some of the things I brought for Ella were too heavy, even though they didn't seem that way for summer in Melbourne. Basically it's hot and humid all day and all night! Also at least one hat is a must.

Toys. We brought a few of Ella's smaller favourite toys. They were good for some distraction when we were getting ready to go out and we didn't want her in the pool. We ended up buying a bucket and shovel set for the beach at a market for about $4 (which we later gave to some Balinese kids). 

Grandparents. I highly recommend bringing these along whenever you travel with a toddler. They will occupy your toddler for hours and let you pretend you are on a holiday as just a couple. You may even get to eat a meal out just the two of you which is just heaven. If this is not possible, lots of people hire babysitters in Bali for about $5/hour. The Balinese are great with kids and if you live in Australia, chances are you know someone who has been to Bali with their kids that can give you a recommendation.

Those are my main tips. We had a great time in Bali and I'd totally go back. We stayed in the Canggu area, which I loved. You can read more on what we did while in Canggu here.


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