By Honey Writer
One of the questions we get asked all the time by people getting ready for a Bali cycling tour is ‘what should I pack?’ The answer? It depends…
As a teenager, I spent as much time as possible at other people’s houses. What my friends were doing was infinitely more exciting than what was happening at home. By the time I was 16 I could pack a night bag in five minutes flat and without even thinking about it, know everything I needed was in there, and be on my way to greener pastures.
It’s a handy skill to have down-pat when you spend your life jet-setting. My one flaw with travel packing is taking too much stuff. I always pack for emergencies and, thankfully, never end up using them. At least being good with spacial relations means I get it all in the case.
So, if you aren’t a natural packer, and you’re making your way over to Bali for an UpShift Tours cycling holiday, here’s some tips, as well as what you actually need, so you don’t bring too much of the things you don’t.
The Official Stuff
So if you’ve read up on Bali visiting requirements on government websites you’ll already know the following. It’s always good to refresh though because these are important:
Passport valid for 6+ months
You need to have at least six months remaining on your current passport. You will not be allowed to check in at the airport if your passport is close to expiration. Check your expiry date and if it’s close, even seven months out, don’t take any chances, order in that new one now.
Ability to leave the country
You will need an ongoing ticket, some kind of proof that you are abe to leave the country. Again, you will not be able to check in at the airport without this. I know of people who have gone online at check-in and purchased the cheapest ticket to anywhere, usually Singapore for about $100 Australian dollars, so if you are not ready to book your dates home, at least have a cheap ticket up your sleeve. The visitor visa stamp you receive is for Indonesia so travelling to Java or any part of the Indonesia archipelago won’t count as a flight out. You’ll need to pick a country other than Indonesia.
Fill in your landing card
Know the name of a hotel. Even if you aren’t staying there, fill in something on your entry card. When you’re staying with UpShift Tours on our Bali by Bike trip we will provide you with printable villa info so you have the address and phone number ready to go.
Have a pen handy on the plane as well as your accommodation details so you can write it all out in flight and save time in the customs queue. Landing cards are handed out soon after take off.
You 30-day visitor visa is included with your stamp into the country. Currently, the entry visa is completely free. Yes, it is a visa to Indonesia. Welcome!
Bali is very very strict on drugs so be sure you have prescription papers for any medication you require and never travel with any recreational drugs of any kind or accept any drugs while you are here.
The majority of Indonesia is Muslim and prohibit pork and alcohol but not drugs. It might sound minor but they are savage on these restrictions.
Bali was acquisitioned by Java much more recently in history and, unlike thmajorityty of the country, continue their own beliefs and customs of Hinduism and their prohibitions are reflected by their religion. Pork is a celebrated food and beer will be offered with breakfast, while drugs are a major no-no. This causes tension with Java, the main Indonesian island, which is very accessible to Bali and highly profitable for Javanese to sink their teeth into.
If you are offered the sale of drugs in Bali it will be by Javanese, who do not live on the island and do not share the Hindu belief that drugs are bad. So many Australian’s make the mistake of seeing the two people as one, that the Balinese sell drugs then arrest you for it. Um, no, they come from completely different islands, religions, languages and have vastly different attitudes towards tourists, so say no to Java and yes to Bali.
Bali is also strict on all pornographic material so all toys, movies and magazines are best left at home.
You wouldn’t stick your feet on your mother in law’s coffee table, so while here, get comfortable, but be polite, you’re not at home.
What to pack?
My favourite part of school camp was the list of what to pack. Nothing made me happier than getting this list perfect.
• Summer Kits (at least two)
• Personal bug spray for mozzies**
• Sunblock brand of your choice
• After-sun gel if you are prone to sunburn
• Garmin and charger
• Laptop for uploading photos, posting and charging your Garmin
• Laptop charger
• Waterproof case for your phone (sandwich bags work)
• Undies/Socks (a few, you’ll be getting sweaty)
• If you have something very specific for your bike, bring a spare or two.
• Allen keys etc to reassemble/disassemble your bike
• Cotton shirts
• Cotton dresses
• Thongs (as in, the ones you wear on your feet, flip flops)
• Phone charger
• Boxer shorts/pjs
• Personal hand sanitiser
• Deodorant (you’ll get sweaty)
** There are no vaccination requirements for travel to Indonesia, however, you might like to consider a Hepatitis shot and Tetanus if you haven’t had one in a while. The most common health problem in Bali is Dengue Fever, which is a virus spread by mosquitoes. At the moment there is no vaccine or treatment for this one. You don’t want this nasty nasty headache. Keep yourself safe and healthy by wearing mozzi repellent, either spray or cream, when you are out and about, day and night!
Roll and Stuff
Best way to fit your clothes into a case is to roll them. Cotton is great for Bali weather, it’s light, breathable and absorbs sweat. It also doesn’t crease easily so feel free to roll it up. Shirts, dresses, shorts and boardies are all good for rolling tightly and this also makes the rolls stackable or squashable in nooks and awkward spaces. It’s more space efficient than folding and enables you to fit clothes in around any other item and stuff tight.
Ladies (men, avert your eyes)
Tampons are not stocked in Indonesian supermarkets, or, if they are they’re outrageously priced, so if they are your preferred product bring some with you, otherwise pads are cheap and a wide range is available. Please note that women on their period are not allowed to enter sacred sites (temples).
Coffee and Tea
If you like instant coffee or are a tea fan we highly recommend that you bring your own stash. Bali Kopi takes some getting used to but cafes have a great range of fresh ground options including iced for that post ride cool down.
It’s not exact, but the easiest way to think of money in Indonesia is to round it to the nearest full number. So that means $1 is roughly 10.000 rph, $10 roughly 100.000 and $100 roughly 1 million.
A Bali by Bike holiday with UpShift Tours offers everything you need while you are here so you won’t want too much cash on hand. Air-conditioned ATM booths are everywhere and will take most cards if you ever need more cash at short notice.
We recommended that you have $100 worth of Indonesian Rupiah which you can get from the airport or your bank before you leave. That’s roughly 1 million (1.000.000 Rph) for souvenirs and personal items (ie bottle of water at the airport when leaving).
Packing Your Bike
Okay so without patronising you I‘d like to make this post complete with a quick bike-pack once over.
Purpose built bike bags and cases are superior over cardboard boxes no competition. Tougher with segmented compartments and pockets, they are easier to manage (ie, wheels) and infinitely more attractive than cardboard. They happen to cost a heap so if you don’t travel with your bike often, it’s not really worth doing. Hiring a bike bag is more cost effective and keep in mind the hard cases are BIG and heavy.
So they are cheap, cumbersome and made of cardboard, the plus side is they are cheap and easy to come by. Bike boxes are best got from your local bike shop, simply because they are free and a lot easier to get to than the airport. Every delivery of bikes comes boxed so they have like a million cardboard bike boxes just lying around. You might even be lucky enough to score some padding or foam stem protectors.
If you’re not sure about all this and are up to your neck in everything else, consider booking your bike in for a service and plane boxing at your local bike shop. Drop it off and they will schmick it up, get it perfect, disassemble and do everything on this check list below. All you need to do is collect the box.
Boxes don’t weight zero. Not only are the things giant – please factor this in for your trip to the airport – expect the box to add around 4 to 5 kilos to your weigh in. Your bike is considered luggage so whatever your luggage allowance your bike will be included as part of this. You can expect a boxed road bike to weigh in at around 12-15 kilos, while a hybrid 15-18 kilos and mountain bike 18-20 kilos (including tools).
You also can’t drop oversized luggage in at the usual bag drop so factor in some extra time at the airport to get your bike tagged in, then locate the oversized drop off section and scan in (x-ray) to ensure there is nothing bad in with your wheels. Your passport and boarding card are needed for this process.
Some people will only ever carry their helmet on the plane. The other option is to have it (as well as shoes, tools etc) packed into the bike box. Never put your helmet in with your luggage. Bags get treated appallingly and even if your helmet comes out intact, you don’t know that it isn’t compromised.
For the rest of you cycling fanatics who do this all the time, you’ll be super happy to pack up your bike yourself and this for you will be as easy as me packing an overnight bag.
Aeroplane ready bike checklist:
Pedals and seat off with seat stem lowered or removed
Tires half deflated (we reinflate at this end so no need to pack a pump unless you really want to)
Wheels detached and quick release rods removed and taped to spokes.
Remove rear hanger and detrailer (remember to tighten the hanger bolt again so it will be where you left it) Be generous with the bubble wrap and tape the wrapped mech to the rear stays for added protection.
Handlebars detached and facing downward
Everything taped together tight as one unit with as much foam padding or cardboard as you can get your hands on between pieces and between the frame and box. Zip ties are a great way to secure your wheels to your frame once it’s in the box. It’s a good idea to tape your flight number and contact details inside the box as well as any tools you might like when you are unpacking.
Shake test. Close your box and give it a good shake. If there is any rattling you need more padding, tape or filling.
Seal the box and make sure any old airport or ID tags are fully removed.
There are plenty of You Tube instructions as well as illustrations on the bike boxes for what our final disassembled product should look like.
Make sure your bike is insured for travel. Best place to check this is with your Home and Contents insurer.
Take photos of your bike happy in its bag or safely disassembled before it’s boxed as well as when it’s tagged in, showing that that box is intact and solid and your bike undamaged and check it over before you clear customs so you know of any transit damage before you leave the airport. Get written confirmation of any damage from an official there or bag handling crew to assist with lodging your insurance.
Airlines will not take any responsibility for any damage to equipment on the grounds that the luggage handlers are employed by the airport and not the airline so you will need to tackle complaints at the handlers end. It’s my belief that their haphazard handling of luggage is simply due to the fact that there is no reprimand. If you are flying with a high-class airline you might be lucky enough to get some assistance and direction from staff there.
Okay, so this isn’t going to make you feel better if your frame is shattered by some gorilla handler in the back, but we do assure you that if you arrive and your bike does not, you will be given a free loan bike for the rest of your UpShift Tours Bali By Bike experience to ensure you can ride and enjoy this beautiful island. Obviously theses are worse case scenarios, and not something that happens regularly, I warned you, I like to plan for emergencies that never happen 🙂
Knowing your insurance will cover you for a new bike when you get home will put your mind at ease so make sure you have all that covered, as well as travel insurance for yourself.
While some insurance companies won’t cover dangerous activities in Bali, including motorbike riding, cycling is generally covered under standard insurance, please do check with your company to be sure of your coverage allowances. Our guides won’t take you riding without travel insurance, so please keep this in mind when you’re preparing to travel.
So, now you have all that, you are all set to throw it all together and get to greener pastures. Just like me you’ll find better food, better company, loads more fun and memories and skills you can keep for a lifetime.