On my way home from Australia, I’ve found myself back on the island of Bali for one last hurrah, and my friend Morgan has come to meet up with me again! As a follow-up from my Choose your Own Surf Adventure mini series, I’ve been tracking my spending, to provide specific evidence for my claims regarding affordability. This post is a lot more factual than fun, but I wanted to exemplify how cheap it really can be to travel! I’ve broken down my spending from the past five days, and have found that, while traveling is a luxury, its easy to save money somewhere like Indonesia.

1.  Food

Of course eating is a necessity, so spending money on food is inevitable, but whether you’re eating like a local or splashing out on some fancy meals, it is possible to maintain a tight budget in Bali. One of the best meals I’ve had this week in Bali was a Nasi Campur dish from a local Warung. Nasi Campur consists of rice and a handful of small servings of native cuisine, such as marinated tofu, grilled tempeh, corn fritters, and stir fried veggies - its delicious. This place was not catered to tourists, with super spicy chilis on everything and no avocado toast in sight. The total price of my meal was 12,000 Rupiah, which currently converts to about 78 cents.

On the other hand, sometimes it can be nice to enjoy a western-style meal, and there are new trendy cafes popping up all the time in Bali. The food and drinks are a lot more expensive at these places than at the local spots, but especially after leaving ever-costly Australia, it's still pretty cheap. A normal breakfast type meal, something with eggs, and a juice or a coffee, sits at around 115,000 Rupiah, which is $7.50. Although that isn’t terribly expensive, I’m trying to be reasonable about saving money, so I’ve been keeping the visits to western style restaurants to a minimum.

2.  Transportation

Getting around Bali is super easy, whether you choose to rent a motorbike or hire a driver, and the cost is entirely dependent on how much you plan on moving around. I personally don’t trust myself to ride a scooter, but according to my friend who is renting one at the moment, the cost ranges from 40,000 to 70,000 Rupiah a day, or $2.63 to $4.60. Getting around mostly by foot doesn’t necessarily cut this cost, however, because just one taxi ride through the neighborhood could end up costing more than a whole day of scootering.

For the most part, we walk around as much as possible, and only take taxis when traveling from one part of the island to the other. We went from the airport to Seminyak, from Seminyak to Uluwatu, and tomorrow, will be taking a taxi to Canggu, with one more taxi ride to the airport on the last day. These rides average at about 250,000 Rupiah, adding up to 1,000,000 Rupiah, plus maybe another 300,000 for when we get lazy and find a lift around town. Total, this is only $85.50 for the entire trip... divided by the two of us!

3.  Accommodation

Because I’m headed home, and not setting off for a year of traveling, my budget is a little bit more relaxed this time around, so accommodation-wise, I’ve been doing a bit of treating myself. We booked all of our rooms ahead of time online, and per night, the average rate is $25 USD per person. That said, we are choosing to live large, and these prices are getting us standard rooms at some very nice villas and resorts!

The last time I was here, on my extreme budget, beds in dorms and splitting small homestay rooms cost $12-$15 each night. When I say we are in “very nice” villas and resorts, I’m referring from a young 20-something who is used to dilapidated shack’s perspective, so staying at super fancy private villas, or all-inclusive chain resorts (like Four Seasons or Club Med) would definitely still ring into the hundreds or even thousands each night.

4.  Souvenirs

Bali is famous for its epic souvenir shopping, with market stalls set up on every street corner, all of which selling pretty much the same exact tchotchkes. The hot items at the moment are woven basket purses, visors, and of course, the ever-present endless supply of sarongs. When I was here a year ago, I had no room in my bags for extra stuff, so I hardly bought any junk - difficult for a bargain hunter like myself! Now that I’m headed home, I’m looking to find gifts for my friends and family, and a couple of keepsakes for myself. So far, after buying five decent quality souvenirs, I’ve spent 300,000 Rupiah - $19.76. I probably will double that amount, which is still ridiculously low in cost!

5.  Entertainment

As I stated in my previous post about affordable travel, drinking can easily become the most expensive aspect to any surf trip. I am not a huge drinker, so my overall alcohol expenses would probably be lower than most, but this can at least be a guideline to about how much entertainment costs in Bali. Most bars in Bali do not have cover charges, but day clubs with pools and whatnot tend to have 100,000 Rupiah ($6.58) entry fees. On top of that, a cocktail at somewhere like that will run you a whopping 130,000 Rupiah - which is basically a US priced drink at $8.55!

However, mini marts sell beers and occasionally set up little cocktail bars outside, where a long-neck Bintang i s only 30,000 Rupiah, or $1.97, and a mixed drink is 50,000 / $3.28. By the end of my trip, I’ll probably have gone out four or five times (hey, I’m on vacation!), adding up to 1,000,000 Rupiah total. Do keep in mind, this is a very minimal amount for a ten-night holiday... I’m a cheapskate and I don’t party very hard, I know plenty of people who spend that much in one night.

While this doesn’t include the cost of flights, and is obviously only reflective of my personal spending habits and tastes, it provides a rough estimate of how much it costs to visit Bali. Once I add up and divide all five categories’ costs by 11 days, including two Indonesian meals and one western-style meal per day, I reach a total of approximately $50 per day - give or take a few dollars. Not too shabby for spending time on a beautiful island paradise!