Laura – Bali

May 10, 2024


Hello everyone,

I would like to introduce myself. My name is Laura and I am currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Anthropology. My research primarily focuses on early human evolution and primates. In a few weeks, I will be traveling to Bali, Indonesia, along with my academic advisor and twelve other students to gain some real-world primatological experience. We will be spending a month observing the Long-tail Macaques (Macaca fascicularis) at the Ubud Sacred Monkey Forest in the village of Padangtegal. This forest is a nature preserve and also a Hindu temple complex, with three Hindu temples within the complex: Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal, Pura Beji, and Pura Prajapati. These temples, built around 1350, serve as both places of worship and cultural heritage sites.

As a visitor, I am thrilled to have the unique opportunity to observe primates in their natural habitat and learn about the delicate balance between humans and wildlife in Bali’s ecosystem.

I have been fortunate to have traveled to many amazing countries across the globe, but for many students considering studying abroad, this may be their first time leaving America and traveling alone, which can feel both exciting and stressful. There are many things to plan for and consider before heading out, so I thought I would share my preparations for my trip to Bali. Here is my checklist.

6-3 Months Pre-departure

  • Order or check your passport
    • If you don’t already have one then this is priority number one. They can take well over six months to arrive. You can pay extra for an expedited passport.
    • If you already have a passport, check the dates. You need to have a minimum of 6 months left before it expires based on the end date of your trip. Some countries require up to a year before expiration.
    • Make color copies of your passport and send them to your family or close friend along with your itinerary, flight information (once you have it) the address where you will be staying. You will also want a copy of all of this information in your carry-on bag for your flight.
  • Visa
    • Your program will have information regarding your visa so keep a lookout for any emails regarding this. Tourist visas are typically done on the flight or upon arrival but longer stays may require a different visa.
    • For Bali, I am getting a business visa and it takes 3-6 weeks for it to arrive. In addition to a passport and additional photo, it requires a bank statement showing at least 2,000 dollars (this is different from most tourist visas so it was a surprise).
  • Vaccinations
    • Check and see what vaccines are required or recommended for your area of travel. Your regular doctor may not have these on hand and need to order them or send you elsewhere to acquire them, so don’t put it off.
    • Consider COVID tests and masks to pack for your trip as well
  • Flights
    • If you are responsible for booking your own flights, download some flight tracking apps such as Hopper and plug in your travel dates. The app will let you know if prices are going to increase or decrease and when is the best time to buy.
    • Travel credit cards are a good option too but that is a whole blog post in and of itself.
    • When buying your flight, it’s generally best to go directly through the airline company or go to the airport and buy it there. Apps are great for tracking prices, but I only buy through them when I’m feeling wealthy and lazy.
  • Travel health
    • In addition to any prescriptions you already take you will want to consider additional medication depending on your destination.
    • Upset stomachs, adjustment to new foods, and parasites are common when traveling for long periods of time. Ask your doctor if you need a prescription for travelers’ diarrhea medication in addition to over-the-counter options such as Pepto.
  • Fitness
    • This is one topic that many don’t consider before boarding a plane. What sort of activities will you be engaging in on your trip? What is the general temperature and humidity? What is the elevation? Warmer more humid air or high elevation can have you feeling like you have never exercised a day in your life! If you will be facing any of these obstacles or think you will be more active than you typically are at home, consider beginning a simple fitness routine that mimics what you will be doing abroad. Often the addition of a daily walk can make a huge difference.
    • You will also want to take into account what clothing will have you feeling the best when active abroad. Beyond appropriate shoes, consider moisture-wicking and anti-chafe garments if you are headed to a tropical environment.

6-3 Weeks before departure

  • Coordinate with your roommate
    • If you will be sharing a room with another traveler, reach out and schedule a call. You can take this time to divide who will pack certain items if you wish. This could include
      • Hairdryer/ toiletry items
      • Textbooks/school supplies
      • Closeline, hooks, housecare items
    • It’s also a great time to start a group chat with the other students on your trip. You can coordinate flights as well as any free time activities you may wish to book
  • Start shopping
    • Make a packing list and confirm what you need with your program coordinator and then go shopping for anything you don’t already have.
  • Check luggage requirements with your airline and pack your bags.

Once you’ve ticked everything off your to-do list, it’s time to get excited. To really connect with the culture of your destination, I like to pick up a book by a local author, either a non-fiction or a fiction novel. You could even start practicing some phrases in the local language and keep a journal or blog to document your adventures. And if you’re thinking of studying abroad, I hope my post will give you the courage to take that exciting leap!