5 mistakes to avoid in Bali

No matter how perfect a trip is, there are always mistakes to be made and lessons to be learned. Especially when traveling to a new country for the first time. My Indonesian debut visit was no exception. I had an absolute blast in Bali {though it's a bit too touristy for me}, but I also got scammed out of money, left with a major sunburn, and found it so strange that so many people go to Bali for the beaches and never leave the beach clubs. 

Here are 5 mistakes to avoid making in Bali...

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1. Not reapplying sunscreen...generously

Seems like a massive 'duh?!', right? I am a sunscreen queen as of this past year, and I got so busy snuggling dogs on the beach that the last two days of my trip were...painful to say the least. I now have a high-waisted bikini tan that is utterly cringe-worthy {see picture above}. One application isn't enough, guys. Reapply your sunscreen and be generous about it! Also, use an ocean-friendly SPF if you are headed out into the water. Please, please, please! 

2. Just going to any random money changer

Luke and I learned this the hard way. After finding a money changer {with a legit sign} that had a fantastic rate, I hopped off the motorbike and ran into exchange my hard-earned U.S. Dollars for Indonesian Rupiah. The next day at lunch, Luke and I laughed in bewilderment that I already needed to exchange more money. It didn't make sense. We are both mid-range budget travelers who watch their money carefully. Neither of us like trinkets or souvenirs and we hadn't even been shopping? It was so strange. A few days later, at lunch again, we realized we were once again short on money. Luke's research and the help of local friends allowed us to solve the mystery: money changer scams are major in Bali! We were told to avoid places with dreamy exchange rates that looked too good to be true because they were. Stick to places inside banks, convenience shops, and hotels and you'll be fine. 

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3. Only booking accommodation in tourist zones

I've known people who have stayed in really nice resorts near Kuta beach and the Seminyak area. The beaches in this area are beautiful and there is a lot to do, which can all be accessed easily via walking or {more likely} taxis. But, I didn't want to stay in 'little Australia.' I found a treasure of a private villa on the lower East side of the island for a bargain. It included free laundry service and cleaning daily. Not to mention an outdoor kitchen with all the appliances you'd ever want and an outdoor tub and shower. It was also only 20-minutes from Ubud, 10-minutes from famous waterfalls and Sanur beach, 3-minutes from a private black sand beach, and 30-minutes {plus traffic time} from Seminyak and Nusa Dua. Don't be afraid to stay somewhere a little less known. There are so many gems outside of the tourist hotspots! The last two nights of my Balinese experience was spent in central Seminyak at the Aswana Hotel. I'll be writing a full guide to Bali accommodation soon, so keep reading! 

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4. Spending all day at Bali's beach clubs

After spending an afternoon with Luke at Potato Head Beach Club, I feel like I understand the mass appeal of these places. You have staff who bring you the {overpriced} food and drinks you order directly to your personal cabana. There are security guards watching everything at all times. You have access to a pool, sometimes a jacuzzi, and showers to wash up. There is music to set an atmosphere. And most have views of the beach. But...why spend all that money to play in a pool when the ocean is right there. And free. And beautiful. I'm not telling you how to live your life, but if you never spend a day rubbing our toes in the sands of Bali outside of the famous beach clubs...I think you're really missing out. 4 hours of dipping in the pool and chatting on a luxurious couch and we were more than ready to feel the sand between my toes and have a yummy meal off of a menu that wasn't total mark-up. 

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5. Not trying the vegan food because you aren't vegan

Luke isn't vegan and he found delicious Oreo-covered waffles at one of the cafes on my list {brunch guide coming soon!}. He also had vegan Creamy Carbonara while meeting up with my German sister and her boyfriend at a place called 'Divine Earth.' The vegan food around Bali is superb whether or not you're vegan. Some of it is a little...strange...{i.e. the raw vegan pizza Luke ate}, but most is delicious and will have your body feeling so good!