Oh how we love Bali! When my Mum suggested a last minute trip to this beautiful island I jumped at the chance. This was the 2nd time we had travelled to Bali with Knox (see previous blog post of Bali with a Baby). Travelling with a baby is much easier, you can wear them through-out the airport and they usually sleep anywhere. Fast forward to travelling with a 2 year old, and you need to be prepared for every situation, the more tricks you have up your sleeve to keep your toddler happy, the better.
So firstly...packing! Being prepared is the key to a successful flight with your little ones. I have listed some of my essentials below, with links to where you can buy and more information...
If you still use a pram with your toddler, I would highly recommend travelling with one. We did research into a good travel pram and bought the Bugaboo Bee for all our upcoming travels. It is so easy to use, compact and most airlines will let you use the pram at the airport and check it in at the gate before boarding the plane. Check with your airline before travelling to confirm you can gate check your pram. We flew with JetStar to Bali and I was told they don't allow you to gate check a pram. However when we left Bali, we saw a couple checking their pram in at the gate so definitely worth confirming with your airline.
So anyway....thinking I couldn't gate check our pram (and really wanting to use one at the airport to contain Knox) I borrowed the QuickSmart Easy Fold Stroller from my friend. It was so good to have on hand and much cheaper option than the Bee if you're considering buying a stroller to travel with. The best feature of this stroller was that it folded up into a compact bag which meant we could take it on the plane as carry-on. The version we used didn't recline and Knox was a bit squished in, however being able to strap him on while walking along the busy Bali streets was a life saver.
Before arriving in Bali, book a private transfer to your hotel/ Villa. As most flights from Australia arrive late at night, it is much easier to have a car meet you and saves being harassed by hundreds of Taxi drivers as soon as you walk out of customs.
We stayed in an AH-MAZING Airbnb villa on the outskirts of Seminyak. Villa Manis is a 3 bedroom villa about a 15-20 minute walk into the main area. Taxis are easily available however we quite enjoyed the walk through the rice paddies. A short walk through the back streets bought us out on the beach in front of the W Hotel. The Villa Manis manager was so nice and accommodating, they even put up a pool fence to stop Knox walking straight into the pool.
This adventure only lasted for 5 days, and...I am going to be honest. Knox was so difficult and super cranky for a couple of days. It was after a tough day that I saw he had cut a new tooth. I instantly felt relived as there was a reason he was acting out of sorts. Any parent knows that a teething toddler is very challenging at the best of times, but add a different country and change of routine to the mix and said child turns into the devil. However, as soon as the tooth was through he was much happier.
One of the hardest things when travelling with toddlers is meal times (and getting them to sit still). Not only are they out of routine and eating foods which are foreign to them, but getting any kid to sit still through a meal for an hour is quite hard. We could have colouring in pencils and books, but the meal would always end with Knox watching a movie on my phone. Not ideal, but with a cranky teething toddler, I was open to doing anything to keep him happy long enough for me to eat my meal.
If you have a 2 year old, you know they can be fussy with food at the best of times. And when Knox is teething he really goes off food altogether. Our 2nd day in Bali all he ate was a banana. So, cue fresh juices and smoothies. Every time we ate out we would order ourselves a cocktail (as you do) and we would also order Knox his own smoothie. Beause toddlers get bad FOMO and he would want our cocktails. I would recommend having some greens powder on hand to mix into their smoothie, no harm in adding some extra goodness into their day. Oh and also no harm in ordering some chips keep your toddler happy when eating out.
THINGS TO DO
So...things to do in Bali with a toddler? The busy streets and markets are usually pretty entertaining for them to watch. And of course swimming! Get yourself some pool toys to keep them entertained for hours when swimming. Travelling and exploring is exhausting, so I always make sure Knox has a decent nap and I usually let him sleep for however long he wants (a few times it was 3.5 hours) which means we would we able to venture out for dinner knowing he wouldn't be over tired. Lots of quite time in the villa playing with toys and reading books helps Knox not get so overstimulated with all the new things around him. A visit to the monkey temple in Ubud is a great adventure for kids, but make sure you don't have anything on you that the monkeys cause take.
I find any bar/ restaurant which is outside or on the beach much easier with kids. You can let them run around which will make them happier to sit down when your meals arrive. I find if trying to make Knox sit down as soon as we arrive somewhere, by he time our meals come he is well and truly over it.
EATING, DRINKING & RELAXING
There are so many amazing places to eat and drink in Bali now. However, our favourite place in Seminyak is still Sea Circus. The food and cocktails are so delicious. And it is right next door to Bodyworks if you feel like treating yourself. We've been going here for years and there are so many packages available which are really reasonably priced. Across the road from bodyworks you will find the super trendy Motel Mexicola, worth a visit for a cocktail, some amazing Mexican food and just to see the space, super cool. If you are after some wholesome goodness, a visit to Sisterfields is must. There are so many places on the beach to sit, have a drink and watch the sunset. On the Legian end of the beach in Seminyak there are multiple places to choose from, however La Plancha has good vibes, food and drinks.
Travelling with kids can be challenging and stressful at times. Before having Knox we had travelled the world, which was something we decided to continue to do with him. Seeing him take in new places and cultures truly is priceless, and the memories you make while travelling are amazing, not to mention the locals you meet and how much they love kids. Everywhere we went Knox was so adored. If you have any more questions about travelling with a toddler, please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org and I would be happy to help.
Thanks for reading, and happy travels to those of you adventuring with your little ones. xx