Hello and good morning, Bey Hive members (to everyone else, I bid you a simple and less energetic "adieu").
Although it's been awhile since my trip to Bali, I want to close out my musings about the trip with a brief walk through of my first solo travel experience. For those of you that saw two other lovely humans in my photo gallery who appeared to be my travelling companions, your eyes are not failing you. For my first solo travel experience, I thought it best to spend a week in Bali with two of my linesisters and a week exploring the lay of the land on my own.
There's nothing like having a small crew when you travel. I personally love the number 3 as far as my travel groups go because of the ease with which you can move around and book reservations. Though my girls and I had gone as far as to list out our desired hot spots using both a Google spreadsheet and a shared Google map prior to takeoff, most of our actual activities once we got to Bali were pretty impromptu.
Some of my favorite group activities included a full-day tour we booked through Viator.com and a full spa experience at De Nyuh Spa in Seminyak. The viator tour was great because of the timing flexibility that it afforded us. We decided midday during our first full day in Bali that we wanted to do a tour and we were able to hop online and book one for the next day. For about ~$45 USD per person, we got shuttle service to and from our hotel and a private tour guide that walked us to and through each stop on our tour and took as many group pictures of us as our hearts desired. I thought the price was more than reasonable since we spent almost 8 hours visiting local crafts shops, traipsing through a monkey forest, hiking through a rice terrace, musing in a temple, and frolicking under a waterfall.
Not a bad deal.
Group travel also helps when it comes to late night fun. Let's face it, it's nice to go out in a strange place, but it's even nicer when you have a solid group. My sisters and I finally made it out to the Engine Room Club for their last night in Bali after I successfully fell asleep "on accident" immediately after arriving home a few nights in a row. Bali is a really friendly, really safe city (in my experience), but it always feels good to have two people keeping an eye out for you when you have to take a bathroom break instead of just one. And it didn't hurt to have two people advocating to take a taxi home at the end of the night when one is willing to risk it all and take three scooter taxis since those were the first available.
I admittedly don't make my best judgement calls when I'm sleepy.
Comfort was important to me when it came to seeking lodging for my one week alone in Bali, but I didn't think about the true capacity of the comfort that security provides until I was already in the midst of my trip. When I say "security," I mean actual security. The Ritz-Carlton, Bali was the first resort or hotel that I've stayed at in life that had full car security checks, police dogs and all, and metal detectors at the entrance. While you're probably gawking at the though of what sounds like a high-security prison, the checks are designed to be as seamless and non-intimidating for guests as possible. I understand that President Obama vacationed at a property two resorts down during his time in Bali, so that helped me understand exactly what kind of clientele they're capable of servicing and why the security needs were so high.
I say all that to say, consider asking about local and in-house security if you're planning to vacation alone. Even if it's not offered to extreme extent as that which I'm describing here, it may put you more at ease to know exactly who might be responsible for ensuring your safety during your stay.
While we're on the topic of The Ritz, I might also add another plug for paying for your stay with points. I may write a post at some point that does a deep dive into everything I've purchased (things and experiences) with points to date to drive home that point a bit more than I did in my brief mention of the benefits of rewards points in my previous post on booking flights for the low. But at the core, a friendly, repeated reminder: sign up for these rewards programs, y'all. I paid for my hotel accommodations in both Cozumel and in Bali using points. There's nothing like that type of currency.
I mentioned the benefits of going into vacation with a "go where the wind takes you" mindset with your friends. I took this to the next level during my week alone. I would wake up and decide I wanted to take a trek to Ubud and take a class at the Yoga Barn. I would go to sleep catching up on the last season of Greenleaf. I would spend hours in a cabana on the beach, reading, studying, taking selfies, and truly just chilling. I'd take another tour (this one a bit more expensive since I was by myself - transit in general, taxis especially, are really expensive when you're traveling by yourself). And I'd sleep. A lot. I think there's often this unspoken belief that vacations have to be jam-packed to be impactful. I was so fortunate to have a full week to myself, for myself, because it allowed me the time that I needed to take long baths, nap midday, go to sleep early, or go to sleep late - whatever made me feel best in the moment. Without the pressure of moving with a group or on a schedule.
The final component of solo travel that I'll mention is one that I see discussed often but that I still want to touch on is taking pictures. I like to believe that my self-timer is my best friend. My dad is a professional photographer and he kindly gifted me a point-and-shoot and a tripod for Christmas, but I actually didn't have either of those tools with me during this trip. On some occasions, I was fortunate enough to have employees or tour guides at places like Ice Cream World take plenty of pictures for me. In other instances, I'd kindly ask other folks that were pretty obviously on tours at the same attractions that I was visiting to take a picture for me after they captured their own. And at the most extreme, I'd make sure no monkeys (or humans) were close enough to grab my phone, prop the device up on my purse, a cabana pillow, my book, or whatever was nearby, and I'd have a field day.
I definitely encourage solo travel for those who are considering it. I'm not sure where I'll head next with only God and my thoughts to accompany me, but I know that this trip for one certainly won't be my last.