There will always be some people who think you are mad for planning a road trip, but there’s something special about heading out onto the open road that can make a holiday. If you were inspired by my Indonesian road trip or you are just planning your own, here is a guide that covers some of the essential things you need to know.
You will find that there are big gaps between the major cities and tourist attractions. Plan your road trip in sections, with regular two to three day breaks along the way (if you’re in Bali you could check out these things to do around Lovina or Ubud). This will give you a chance to explore an area and actually appreciate your road trip instead of feeling like a long haul lorry driver.
I’d recommend avoiding the main roads as much as you can, because there is nothing more stressful than fighting traffic and struggling to overtake that annoying bus that is kicking out noxious fumes. Of course avoiding the main roads will make for a longer journey, but it’s a worthwhile trade off. I guarantee you’ll come across many jaw dropping sites along the way.
The roads of Indonesia can be a mess. Traffic rules are often little more than suggestions. There’s overloaded trucks, crazy bus drivers that seem to be in an amphetamine induced rush to reach their destination, mopeds that are holding more people than can be fitted in the average family car and wandering wildlife to look out for. However, despite the many dangers, the roads are in the main well kept and the further East you go, the less traffic you’ll have to deal with (I crossed the whole Island of Sumbawa in little more than six hours on near empty roads). Motorbike rental costs plus petrol will leave you with a Rp120,000-170,000 bill for every day of your travels.
Accommodation in Indonesia is still cheap. You can find places to stay for as little as Rp50,000 a night if you really wanted to (though what you get might not be to your tastes). If you are searching for a decent deal and looking for something a bit more mid range, expect to spend somewhere between Rp250,00-500,000 per night.
Small hidden hideaways and gifted street chefs make any Indonesian road trip a culinary adventure. As long as you are not a fussy eater, street stalls and small restaurants will provide you with tasty food day in day out. If you make sure to travel along coastal roads you’ll have plenty of fresh seafood on offer. A lot of restaurants, especially in the more touristy areas, also offer European and Chinese cuisine, though the quality of this food varies significantly. Outside of the main cities, expect to pay Rp60,000 per day per person. If you’re going to treat yourself this will shoot up to around Rp100,000-150,000.
There’s really not a lot of room on a bike for your stuff, but if you pack sensibly, that’s not actually a problem. Make sure to wear your heavier clothes – jacket, shoes, etc. – and bring along a couple of changes of clothes along with the other essentials that you need to manage in the modern world. Whatever you do though, don’t forget your beach stuff, I guarantee you’ll be needing it.
Working on the Road
Working while on the road – or even just keeping in touch with the outside world – in Indonesia can be tough. Internet is patchy at best and the further you travel away from the main tourist and urban spots, the worse the connection gets. I found myself banging my head against a table in frustration while I was in Labuhan Bajo, but it’s manageable if you just want to do some very basic things.