I learnt ALOT during my brief visit to Bali and Lombok, most of which I would have had no idea about untill I got there, even more of which I didn’t learn untill it was too late.
So, to prevent you from making the same mistakes that I did, I present my top 5 travel tips for Bali/Lombok.
1: DO NOT DRINK THE TAP WATER.
This doesn’t mean don’t just not drink the water, avoid any situation when tap water could end up anywhere near to your mouth, including ice cubes, fruit that can’t be peeled and brushing your teeth. I took so much care buying bottled water, avoiding ice etc thinking I was being super safe while brushing my teeth with tap water. I ended up getting really sick and not being able to take part in a chunk of my tour through Lombok, all because it didn’t even cross my mind.
2: Make sure you can carry your suitcase/backpack or whatever around with ease.
More importantly, make sure that you are able to lift it and throw it, carry it above your head when wading through waist deep water and generally just be able to give it a really rough time. Make sure you ONLY take what you need and nothing more. Because, sometimes, these things happen, and you will find yourself in a situation where the extra weight from those clothes/lack of straps on your nice wheely bag makes getting around a nightmare. Obviously this is dependent on where abouts you are travelling, a wheely suitcase that maxes out your luggage limit may be fine in Europe but become the bane of your existence in South East Asia. A good tip is to only pack half of what you intend to take with you.
3: Take malaria seriously.
The risk for malaria is high in Lombok and can be present in parts on Bali, increasing in the wet season and in rural areas. Malaria tablets are expensive and can have side effects, but not nearly as bad as getting Malaria, or something worse like Dengue fever. Make sure that you cover up in the evenings and keep some mosquito repellent handy in your day pack. It’s pretty easy to prevent and can save you an early end to your dream trip.
4: Be mindful of the local customs.
Bali is predominantly Hindu and the Balinese are generally forgiving of skimpily dressed tourists or the accidental stepping on of offerings (which is harder then it sounds not to do). Lombok is mostly Muslim and it pays to dress more conservatively, especially around the more rural areas. However, it doesn’t take much effort to cover up in either place, little things like keeping the bikini for the beach and covering up around temples make a difference and can stop locals from feeling embarrassed or uncomfortable.
5: Be safe.
Travelling always has its dangers, especially for solo travellers, and even more so for female solo travellers. It’s important to always keep your wits about you and to trust your instincts. Most of it is pretty obvious, don’t go walking down dark alleys, try to avoid arak unless you know it to be safe ( this is a local type of alcohol in Bali that has been linked to deaths of tourists when incorrectly made) and be careful of drink spiking in clubs. The less obvious stuff, like checking to make sure that any boat you use is seaworthy and has enough life jackets, and not going out on water in bad weather can be a (literal) lifesaver, the waters can be rough around Bali and Lombok so it pays to double check. I got caught out in some rough weather off the coast of Nusa Penida in a tiny fishing boat and it was terrifying. Don’t eat anything that looks dodgy and try not to get run over by cars/scooters and possibly horses that you will encounter on your travels
Lastly, have fun! All the safety stuff saying don’t do this and don’t do that can make travel seem daunting or can seem to be over the top at first, but speaking from personal experience and of the experience of the fellow travellers that I have bumped into along the way, a little bit of extra care can make your trip hassle free and awesome. You won’t regret it if you do, but you will definitely regret it if you don’t.
If you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments below or just say hi.