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Indonesia: Things to Know (2020)

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Backpacking Bali, Indonesia




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Backpacking Indonesia, what to pack

(I overpacked from the beginning, read below to learn from my mistakes!)

Yay adventure awaits! So you've booked your ticket at this point, right?...Squaring away the last minute packing todos before you throw all that you know to the wind and head for South East Asia?...If you're anything like me, this won't be the first blog post you're reading to help determine what to pack, what essentials to bring, and how in the world you're going to decide what favorite outfit you're going to leave behind...I hope that I can help, so you won't make the same packing mistakes as me and have to pay $100 to ship unnecessary items home, oye...

Let's start with a little background context. I have been backpacking for over 3 years on and off, I'm no amateur. I know less is best and the minimal route is preferred for several reasons. First, you will want to save space to buy a couple new unique and "backpacker trendy" outfits or accessories. Second, you want to flow like the river, blow in the wind, be light as a feather, what ever metaphor you resonate with to understand easy movement is critical, you don't want to be lugging around a burden from place to place. And third, you honestly end up wearing the same thing over and over again (bi-weekly or monthly washing haha) so you don't need near as many clothing items as you think. If you can manage to only bring a carry-on size backpack, you are golden! I haven't quite mastered that yet, working on it, but I still have my 80L pack on the back and small backpack with electronics and essentials on the front (that also serves as a day-pack).

Know, these tips are mostly recommended for a backpacker / long-term traveler. If you're coming for a week get-away or glamorous holiday, you're packing list I'm sure will be quite different and you'll mostly likely need to look elsewhere for advice... This packing list will reflect my hippy, minimalist, traveler-over-tourist persona.

So what to include inside your temporary home? What are the essentials and must haves when coming to Indonesia? Here's the low down, take or leave it as you please...

When leaving your home country...

In your carry-on have: something warm and comfortable for the plane journey, a tooth brush/paste, wallet, passport and travel documents, electronics and chargers, camera, journal and pen, headphones, a book, healthy snacks, & refillable water bottle. I advise to wear a pair of close-toed shoes (tennis shoes or hiking shoes*).

*You will rarely wear or find yourself needing close-toed shoes. However, if you plan to workout or run, as you will find many backpackers do, especially on Bali, then you will want a pair. Also, if you plan to climb any volcanoes or do trekking you will want them. If you are solely coming for beach days, don't bother! To get from island to island you'll often find you have to take your shoes off anyway to walk to the boat.

In your pack (for the adventurer with a little extra money to spend) have:

One outfit

A pair of pajamas

Yoga clothes

A bathing suit

7 pairs of underwear

2 pairs of socks

Rain poncho

Quick dry towel


Snorkel and mask

A couple items that are unique to you (instruments, yoga mat, essential oils, small singing bowl, another book or 2, flow toys, cards, games, frisbee, etc.).

Any medications needed or extra contacts

Shower needs.

Small first aid kit can always come in handy

Flash light and pocket knife never hurt to bring*

And hmm...that about sums it up haha!

*Make sure your pocket knife is always in your checked luggage. Also, a phone can often suffice as your torch.

Shocked?!? Take the risk and trust me! Well, I'm assuming you're flying into a semi-big city (possibly on Bali) and plan to hit at least a couple well visited backpacker hot-spots during your trip. When this is the case, you're going to be overwhelmed with the trendy and affordable clothes for sale at road-side stalls or in cute boutiques. You've left generous space in your pack and you need're going to want to buy everything you see...but, try to just choose 3-5 outfits that are must haves.

Don't think you're the "hippy clothes" type? Spend two days out of your comfort zone in the midst of other travelers and you'll open up faster than you think. Besides, there are so many clothing options you're bound to find at least 300 things you want and have to narrow it down to 5 or so. With the excitement of a new world, you're going to want to explore, shop, eat, soak it all in, staring on your first day, so don't stress that you packed so lite...

Check the list below for what you're especially going to want to keep your eye out for that will be practical and necessary for your travels...or the following list will help those that aren't so risky...

In your pack (for the adventurer bringing comforts from home) have:

First of all, know, that you will shop, haha! I'm almost certain that you will acquire some new outfits, the options are just too hard to resist. And it makes a practical and unique souvenir. Often, depending on where you travel as well, you can find sustainable and handmade articles.

However, I understand that setting off into foreign land with just one outfit or two is a bit unsettling. So, here is my recommendations for what you'll need:

I pair closed-toed shoes

1 pair sandals (comfortable, to wear at all times)

4-7 pairs of underwear (can hand wash as needed)

2 pairs of socks

1 bra

1-3 sports bras (depending on if you plan to do yoga or workout)

2-3 bathing suits (if you can mix and match, this gives you variety...and keep tan lines in consideration haha)

1 pair pajamas (omit if you will be staying in private rooms haha)

1 sarong (can easily purchase on the first beach you visit, women are always hustling you to buy one)

1 towel (quick dry is always best)

Toiletries (shampoo/body wash, tooth paste, tooth brush, floss, contacts, deodorant (if you use haha))

1 long dress (I find it super useful my dress can also be worn as a skirt to diversify the wardrobe)

1 short dress

1 skirt (I recommend long but flowy and breathable)

1 pair overalls

1 pair shorts (loose or fitted, as long as they are comfortable and go with different tops)

2-3 tank tops (can be paired with skirt, overalls, shorts, or worn during yoga/workout)

2 yoga tops (can omit and just wear sports bra or tanks)

1 short sleeve shirt (that can also be used for trekking)

2 pair short yoga pants (when you have a regular practice or plan to workout)

1 pair loose long pants

1 pair leggings

1 jacket (for trekking or sometimes different regions are cooler, especially at night)

1 rain poncho

Remember, that anything you forget, didn't bring, or need, you'll be able to buy it abroad!

You can easily go more minimal than this packing list and you can easily go more in excess. I believe this is the happy medium! You'll have wardrobe options without excess pack weight or feeling like you're constantly wearing the exact same thing over and over again. You can layer up and stay warm or be bare naked on the nude beaches, depending on your destinations and itinerary. You'll find you only do laundry when it's seriously time (you'll know), so rewearing items multiple times is OK. In the heat, you'll often find you live in your beach attire and although people are in trendy suits, I vote for practical and comfortable that leaves for an even tan line.

Pack light. Travel far. Enjoy the journey.



Visa requirements Indonesia

Knowing a country's visa requirement well before departure date is a must. Some countries require you to apply for a visa before arrival, some you can obtain a visa on arrival, and some you don't need a visa at all! It varies from place to place, even within South East Asia, and it varies based on your nationality. Visa problems could potentially hinder your travel plans, so it's best just to inform yourself, to the best of your ability, with the most up-to-date information, prior to your travels.