A short travel time from Australia, affordable accommodation and a huge variety of activities are just three reasons why Bali is an excellent choice for a family holiday.
Stories of exploring ancient temples, hanging out with wild monkeys and elephants, and meeting friendly Balinese locals are tales the kids will tell for years.
However, for an unlucky few, a trip to Bali is memorable for all the wrong reasons. Fast Cover Travel Insurance reports that Indonesia has one of the highest claim rates for Australians, assisting a whopping 1,476 travellers between 1 July 2014 and 30 June 2015 (based on data from AGA travel insurance claims).
Here’s what you need to know to avoid some of the most common risks travellers experience in Bali and keep your family happy and healthy on what is sure to be an unforgettable holiday.
- Prepare for health risks
Wherever in the world you plan to travel, it’s important to visit your doctor for a thorough health check-up before you leave, including asking about any necessary vaccinations.
You can also prepare by packing a few supplies such as antiseptic and antibacterial creams, diarrhoea treatment (rehydration solution and stoppers), band-aids, throat lozenges, paracetamol and DEET-based insect repellent.
If you’re taking any prescription medication remember to pack enough for the trip plus extra in case you’re delayed as it can be difficult to find the same medicines overseas.
- Be wary of food and water
Street food is something you shouldn’t miss out on, but be mindful when choosing where to eat. Food that has been poorly handled or left sitting out all day in the sun may make you sick, and children are usually more vulnerable to food poisoning.
Choose stalls or venues that look busy and have a fast turnover, or where you can see the food is cooked fresh to order with minimal handling to minimise your risk.
Water in many Southeast Asian countries can make you sick, so only drink and brush your teeth with bottled water, avoid ice cubes in your drinks, and keep your mouth closed in the shower!
The same goes for fruit and vegetables that may be contaminated. Try to stick to fruit that you can peel yourself and avoid uncooked vegetables and salads that may have been rinsed in tap water.
- Get travel insurance
Travel insurance doesn’t just cover your luggage and belongings. It can also provide cover for something minor such as a doctor’s visit for an upset stomach, to something more serious like hospitalisation and treatment if someone in your family is seriously injured.
Travel insurance can also provide cover for unexpected cancellations, travel delays or missed connections, such as when all flights in and out of Denpasar were grounded due to volcanic eruptions several times in 2016.
- Avoid mosquito bites
These pesky pests can carry Dengue Fever and Malaria which are endemic to Indonesia. Your doctor may advise you to take malarial medication if you’re travelling to a high risk area, but there’s no preventative medication for Dengue Fever.
Neither disease is something you want to experience and can be especially dangerous for young children, so prepare to fend off mosquitoes by packing DEET-based insect repellent and wearing light coloured clothing that covers most of your body. Also avoid hanging around pools of stagnant water such as rice paddies or wandering outside at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active, and use mosquito nets at night if supplied.
- Dodge wild animals
Ubud’s Sacred Monkey Forest is famous for its playful inhabitants and a must-see on your family holiday to Bali, but keep in mind that the monkeys are wild animals and they carry diseases. They may be very cute, but it’s not a good idea to feed or play with them.
The same goes for dogs and cats too, which are a common sight on the streets in Bali. Keep a close eye on children who might be tempted to try and pat stray animals.
- Use reputable transport
Hiring a motorcycle or scooter to get around in Bali may be a cheap and appealing option, but traffic laws are rarely enforced and there is virtually no regulation when it comes to the mechanical upkeep of hire vehicles. For safety’s sake, stick to licensed taxis on your family holiday and let an experienced local do the driving.
Unlicensed taxi dangers are not as common in Indonesia as in other regions in the world, but you may encounter scams from tour agencies or individuals selling bus or train tickets at a cheap price. Purchase tickets directly through your hotel, at the airport, or online through reputable companies if you’re concerned about getting scammed.
- Swim safely
Bali has some great water parks that make a fun day out for the whole family, as well as its famous beaches and resort swimming facilities. However, keep a close eye on children around pools and at the beach too, even if they’re strong swimmers.
Rough seas and strong currents have led to numerous drownings in coastal areas, including Kuta beach and other tourist locations. Respect local warnings and be aware that beach rescue services are not of the same standard as our Surf Life Savers in Australia.
- Be cautious but enjoy Bali
Don’t let any of these risks deter you from taking the family to Bali.
Tens of thousands of travellers from every corner of the globe have an amazing holiday each year and many Australians return annually for a Bali break.
The best way to protect your family is to simply be aware of the risks and remember to pack some common sense in your suitcase.
Safe and happy travels!
This article was written in collaboration with Fast Cover Travel Insurance.