Travelling with kids in Bali - Part 1
PART 1 - Bali accommodation, transport, money, nannies, baby items and rad resources.
Ticket booked for Bali? You lucky sun-chaser. You’re in for a treat because Bali is a great destination for a family holiday. Sure the kids will still be calling out “Muuuum” 173 times per day, but it’s a little easier to hear when you’re poolside with a Pina Colada.
I’ve just returned from 10 nights (boooo Melbourne’s cold weather) and would love to share some key info to help you plan a smooth trip. For some context, at the time of travel (July 2019), our family consists of 2 adults (I’m Holly and never takes photos of me with kids hubby is Gav), plus two boys (an 18 month old and 4 yr old). We travelled over with my lovely friends and their fams. We were a party of 12 (6 adults and 6 kids aged 1-4 yrs).
I’ve broken our trip down into two blog posts for you. PART 1 is about key logistic info such as an accommodation review, getting around, money, hiring nannies and what essential baby items you need to bring or hire. PART 2 is about fun for kids, places to eat and day spas.
Image: Villa Atmo managed by Villa Finder
Villa Atmo in Seminyak was our home away from home. A villa was the best option for our large group of 12 (6 adults and 6 kids). Villa Atmo has four spacious bedrooms, with four outdoor bathrooms, a large living area, with 10-seat dining table and a kitchen. There’s a 12 metre pool (we had a pool fence installed by Villa Finder) and it’s surrounded by a tropical garden, deck with sun loungers and a giant undercover daybed.
Look & feel
The villa is spacious and fit our group of 12 without feeling like we were on top of each other. The layout worked well to host a big group and the bi-fold doors allowed us to enjoy indoor/outdoor living. The villa design was a beautiful blend of modern delights meets traditional Bali. Each interior piece had a feel-good-vibe about it. We all loved the large swinging chair.
Villa Atmo is managed by Villa Finder which made organising our trip really easy. We were assigned one concierge to liaise with before our trip and they helped us to organise a pool fence (which was already installed before we arrived), airport transfers (with baby car seats), cot and highchair hire and also organising a private chef to cook up a storm in our villa on the second night. Communication was friendly and also timely.
When we arrived, we were warmly greeted and introduced to the villa staff which came in daily to clean the villa, attend to the garden, clean the pool and organise our laundry. I loved that it was all done through one reliable company rather than trying to coordinate multiple services. We were also given a mobile phone so that we could make contact with villa staff and book appointments and make reservations.
Image: Adrian from Villa Finder meeting with Holly from Motherhood Melbourne
Location was great. We weren’t in the hustle & bustle of Seminyak, which provided a quiet sanctuary. However, we were close enough to grab a $2 taxi to get there. We were also close enough to go and explore Canggu (which is a very hip and peaceful area). There were plenty of cafes, spas & convenience stores within walking distance. The only slight inconvenience was that the taxi companies we used (Blue Bird Group and GOJEK) were not able to pick us up from our villa door. We had to walk to the main road to meet them (which was only a 2 minute walk). However, they were allowed to do drop-offs to our door and private drivers were allowed to do both.
In Melbourne, long-term parking at the airport is costly and kind of annoying as you have to wait for the shuttle bus (which is usually jam-packed). You have to take your keys with you and remember where the heck you parked your car when you return. We found a Groupon with Parking Port and it was so much better. 10 nights for $63, with a shuttle bus to ourselves and they parked our car for us and had it ready when we returned. Super easy and professional.
Ok, on to Bali transport topics now -
Ok, not technically transport but when you arrive in Bali, there are lovely locals with official looking uniforms and tags that say “Porter” on them. They will offer to move/carry your luggage. This is not a FREE service. You will get hit up with a fee. Just say “no thanks” when anyone approaches. They’re not rude and they don’t hassle you but if you don’t know any different, you’d think it was a nice service offered by the airport. It is not.
If you haven't been to Bali before, the roads can be a little confronting at first. However, you soon realise that there's a method to the madness. There’s a lot of beeping but not in the aggressive way that we’re used to in Australia. It’s a polite “hey, I’m here and coming through” type of beep. The traffic is usually quite slow.
One thing you’ll notice is the lack of seatbelts or the under-use of them. If you’re planning on going out daily with little kids, then a private driver would be the way to go so you can request working seatbelts and kids car seats.
However, if you’re in and out of taxis for short trips, you’ll have to decide what seating arrangement you’re comfortable with. In Australia, children over 12 months are permitted to use a seat belt in taxis if no other car seat option is available. We applied this approach during our trip. There are some portable car seat options that you can bring from home (e.g. a traveller booster seat).
Ask anyone who’s been to Bali before and they’ll say “I have this guy...” You’ll usually communicate with drivers via their Facebook page before you go and then through WhatsApp when you’re there.
A private driver is usually hired for half or full days. They will usually wait around for you in the car park. To give an example of cost, we hired a driver to pick us up (a group of 12) at 8am to drive us to a destination that was over an hour away and then picked us up at 3pm to drive us back to the villa. This cost approx $50 AUD in total.
Our airport transfers were organised through Villa Finder which made it super easy. They were able to find a van big enough for the 12 of us. Plus, baby car seats were already installed.
We mainly used taxis (or taksi as they’re referred to) to get around. Blue Bird Group is the way to go and they’re everywhere. Just wave them down and make sure they turn the metre on. Now the confusing thing is that there are a lot of blue colour taxis and have similar names to Blue Bird Group or have a bird image on them. Unless you’re familiar with the costs for a particular distance and happy to discuss prices, don’t bother. They will take overcharge you. You don’t have to tip taxis but we just rounded it up and let them keep the change. I think the most expensive taxi trip for us was $6.50 (7km trip).
Image: Private Chef In-Villa Dining
Before you go to Bali, download the GOJEK app. It’s like a pimped up version of Uber and UberEats. But download the app before because it sends you an SMS code and you don’t want that expensive text coming through in Bali. You don’t have to attach a credit/debit card to use this. There is a ‘pay cash’ option. When you put in an order, they will message you through the app, so don’t assume anything is confirmed until you hear from them. You can select normal car or large vehicles if you have a big group.
GOJEK drivers are only permitted in some areas of Bali. We used them in Seminyak and it was fine. However, I’ve heard that some areas (e.g. Nusa Dua) don’t allow them or it causes disagreements between the local transport industry.
You can use your normal debit/credit cards basically everywhere. Some places have a surcharge. ATM withdrawal fees ranged from $3.50 - $10 AUD. You’ll read a lot about card skimming happening in Bali. We didn’t experience it but to be on the safe side we ordered a Travel Card (it’s just like a debit card) from our bank. That way we just transferred what we needed each day into it. Therefore, if our card was skimmed or stolen, they wouldn’t get much.
Don’t bother changing money over here in Australia. The rate is much better when you arrive. There are money changers at the airport if you need some local cash immediately. The exchange rate at the airport in Bali was the same as when you went into town.
If the exchange rate looks too good to be true, it’s probably dodgy. Any cardboard signs claiming to be “authorised” are anything but legit. Your accommodation will be able to point you to a real authorised money changer.
Most places will automatically bill you for a service charge. It’ll state this on the price list beforehand. However, if you feel the need to tip for exceptional service, it’s nice to do so (but not required/expected). Some people you might like to tip are drivers, restaurant staff, nannies and housekeeper/cleaner.
If you’re unsure of how much to tip, then usually rounding up and letting them keep the change is fine with drivers and restaurant staff.
With nannies and house staff, approximately $10 per week minimum would be fine.
I have to be honest that I felt nervous about this. I’ve heard nothing but great reviews about hiring a nanny but I still wasn't sure. This all goes out the window when you arrive and then totally want a break from your kids.
Quite a few people had recommended Bali Babysitter / Nanny Eka Bali and Friends as they manage a team of nannies. As we had six kids, each family hired a nanny (1 nanny per 2 kids). It was easy to organise it through the one business.
There was a minimum of 5 hours and the cost was $10 AUD per hour. We’ve heard of cheaper options but you can’t beat trusted recommendations.
We hired the nannies most of time as an extra pair of hands. So the kids were able to get used to them whilst adults from our group were also present. The nannies were lovely and it was great to have continuity of the same nanny for each family throughout the trip. They even entertained the kids by making balloon shapes and animals.
Consider hiring a nanny to come along on outdoor adventures (e.g - Water parks or dining out). Just to make it more enjoyable.
Offer them a meal or pay for their meals. Most of the time they will turn it down but it’s best to ask. No one can keep up with a toddler on an empty stomach.
Ask them if they can swim and let them know when to bring their swimwear. Ours didn’t go in the pool with the kids and it’s something I would have liked.
Nappies & wipes
We assumed these would be cheap but they’re weren’t. We went to a few different supermarkets and pharmacies and the options were limited. Also, many of the options for babies were nappy pants style instead of the pull tabs. Also, the quality wasn’t great, they didn’t hold much liquid and despite buying the correct weight category, the nappies were cut on the smaller side - basically my big booty baby was showing more flesh than usual (HA!).
Just bring your own. They are so light to put in your luggage and then you don’t have to worry about finding them (unless you run out).
Milk & Formula
There is fresh milk and long-life milk available from supermarkets and convenience stores (aka - Mini-marts) which are everywhere. However it is quite pricey. For example, the cheapest fresh milk we could find was about $4.50 AUD for 2 litres. The milk tastes quite sweet over there (they love their vanilla). Also, the baby formula options were limited and expensive. IMPORTANT - The toddler formulas are vanilla flavoured.
Bring your own formula or powdered milk. My youngest son kept throwing up the milk because it was really sweet.
Cot, highchair & pram
We hired a cot and highchair through Villa Finder and it was $200 AUD for 10 nights. The cot was wooden and came with a covered mattress, pillow and mosquito net. It was set up in the villa before we arrived.
We brought along a cheap stroller from home. We didn’t use it much as the footpaths are not pram-friendly in Seminyak. They’re hardly, people-walking-friendly. Good to use though at the airport to detain wondering children.
If you want to save money, you can bring your own portable highchair and cot from home. However, bring a firm and thick mattress/base because most flooring accommodation is tiles. I knew our son would sleep better in a proper cot so it was worth hiring it. Also, we just couldn’t be bothered carrying any extra luggage.
Image: My Big Adventure - Bali Activity Book
Melbourne Mum - Kate, inspires families to travel to Bali with kids. Kate shares useful articles via her website and also has a helpful community in her Facebook group. I highly recommend joining this group.
This kids Bali activity book is fun to use before, during and after your trip. It’s created by a Melbourne family (Kirstin and Tom). This interactive book helps turn your holiday into a learning experience.
Are you ready for Part 2?
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