If I had a dollar for how many times I got asked how I afford to travel I could probably fly around the world for free! I get it – travel seems expensive. It doesn’t have to be. I spent a week in Bali and only spent $1,000 including my flight. Want to know my secret for going to Bali on a budget?
I’ll admit – one of the reasons we picked Bali over other places is because we knew that the American dollar went further in Indonesia. The cost of living is so different that we were able to do things we never would have spent money on in more expensive countries (we may have had more than one massage during our week in Bali). After flying almost 24 hours to, we didn’t want to stay in a dorm hostel or eat from the grocery store. We wanted to really enjoy our time there. We stayed in a beautiful resort, ordered fresh juice at all most every restaurant and even had a personal driver for 2 of our days. But we were still doing our trip to Bali on a budget.
Bali on a Budget
Here’s a secret to traveling for less: plan ahead. I’m serious. You don’t have to plan out every detail of your trip. But working out the expensive stuff incredibly cuts down on unnecessary spending when traveling on a budget.
- Get a travel credit card and start earning points. The biggest help for cutting down on my trip to Bali was having my flight practically paid for. If you are responsible with credit cards and pay them off in full each month, the credit cards pay you. Last fall, I applied for the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card that had a sign up bonus of 100,000 points if you met the minimum spending requirement in the first 3 months. I used the card for anything I would normally use cash for and paid it off each month. Once I met the requirement, I could use these points through the Chase Travel Redemption portal for $1,500 worth of credit. This credit card sign up bonus paid for my flight! Quick tip: if you carry a balance on your credit card, the interest costs more than any perk you’re getting. Don’t do this if you can’t pay your balance in full each month.
- Look for hotel deals early – especially if you have flexible travel dates. I booked my hotel in Ubud two months before I even had a flight there. I used booking.com and reserved a room that had free cancelation until the week before my intended travel dates. When my flight was confirmed I was able to update to the exact dates without losing the early bird pricing. We stayed for 8 nights, at arguably the nicest hotel I have ever stayed at, for $840. Since I went with my BFF, we split the cost and each paid $420. Over the course of the year, I earned enough points to redeem half of this on my credit card even after redeeming for my flight. Our hotel included a 3 course (delicious) breakfast every morning so we didn’t have to worry about paying for any breakfast meals. They even offered a shuttle to and from the center of town that we used a few times to save on taxis.
- Travel with a buddy! If you go with a friend (or two), you can split a lot of the costs. Bali is cheap, as in rent a personal driver for 10 hours at $40 cheap. When you split that with one or two other people, you cut your costs in half! We split all of our transportation costs which helped a lot with traveling Bali on a budget.
- When in Bali, walk a little off the beaten path to find food at incredible prices. Our hotel had good food and not at a bad price. When we walked a little off the popular streets in Ubud, we were able to find amazing food for just a few bucks. One night I ordered a chicken curry dish with a fresh smoothie for less than $3.00. Eating closer to the attractions would have been closer to $10.00-$15.00.
- Bargain! We didn’t take a taxi often but when we did, we never took the first price they gave us. After the first ride, we were able to tell other drivers the highest price we would accept and they usually agreed. In the markets, vendors will start high but come down as you say no or start to walk away. Never take the first price!
- All inclusive activities can be a lifesaver. We did a 4 hour spa experience that picked us up from our hotel, drove us to the spa and even gave us a little gift at the end. We spent a little over $40 for a massage, flower bath, manicure and pedicure plus a crème bath for our hair AND a facial at Verona Spa. There are TONS of spas in Ubud, some offering transportation and some not. By picking out a spa that included it, we lowered our overall costs. We did a similar thing when taking a cooking class. We picked a class that picked us up/dropped us off and included the food/class for only $33. By bundling what you need, you often save money (and stress).
A Complete Breakdown of My Bali Costs
Bali on a Budget Breakdown
A few notes on the table above: The hotel cost was split by myself and my friend. The total for the hotel was $820, so my half was $410. We had a few meals, a spa experience and a few taxis arranged by the hotel that make up for the total cost of the Hotel Meals and Spa category. I rounded the costs to the closest dollar and converted from IDR to USD for ease of reading.
When all was said and done, I spent just about $1,000 on my trip to Bali (the cost of a new iPhone X). With a little planning ahead, you can be in Bali in no time.