Since this article is aimed primarily for beginners, please keep in mind that this might be a travel-style backpacking guide that can be suitable for a city-hopping-wanderer. But for those who already have experience in backpacking, this information can add your understanding about the situation in Indonesia.
KILL (Keep It Light LOL)
The first rule of thumb of city-hopping-wanderer backpackers. You may want to carry a hand luggage sizes rather than a huge carrier case, as this could save you a ton of messing around at airports.
The second thing is to learn how to pack your stuff as simple as you can. I am a bit shocked to find out that my sister packed better than I did.
These lists can give you an idea of what’s the best gear to have in your luggage:
Two pairs of very lightweight trousers.
A bunch of T-shirts (my recommendation is to find a thin-absorbed material, Uniqlo sell one of those)
One Polo shirt (a shirt without a collar is not acceptable in many official institutions like immigration office etc.)
Enough underwear and socks
Don’t forget also to carry a thermal shirt for colder areas or when you are traveling on buses or trains (I found that Indonesian trains are using air conditioning too much).
A waterproof coat (very handy if you are visiting a colder city like Malang, Bandung, or some other close-mountain area).
A folding baseball cap or a mountain hat (please stay away with a cowboy hat, it only attract locals attention)
A pack of wet wipes
A pack of wet tissues – could be useful to substitute a soap in a washroom when you can’t find one.
A microfiber towel.
A couple of black bin liner – when you visit a restroom area of a bus stop and find out that there’s nothing to hang your clothes.
Make a Super Light Sleeping Bag
Yes, you can make it on your own. Using a thin cotton material, at least a meter wide and two and a half times of your height.
Sew it and turn it into a nice long bag that easy to carry, open at one end only. The reason why you should make this sleeping bag is to avoid biting-insects.
Although it rarely happens in a stars hotel in Indonesia, but if you choose a low-cost room like bungalows or “losmen” with poor maintenance, you will thank me later with that easy-to-make sleeping bag.
At the first arrival, check to Indomart and buy some of these:
Shampoo in sachets (IDR 1,200/each)
A nice folding toothbrush with a container (about IDR 6,000)
A soap bar (IDR 4,000)
Sunblock or protection cream
Small sachets of an insect repellent like AUTAN (some area have many mosquitos)
Those are mandatory stuff for your beginner backpacking trips when in Indonesia. If you are really into backpacking things, spending in a budget hotel won’t guarantee you to provide those stuff.
Pack that lot into a light rucksack and you’re good to go for a week or more. For information, laundry service, in general, is IDR 6,000/kg. But for next day service could cost you IDR 10,000/kg.
Hidden Wallet is The Best
Keep your valuable documents like passport, credit cards, and a large amount of cash on a hidden wallet. If you prefer to wear a waist bag, I suggest choosing also a hidden waist bag or a neck wallet. This way you can still have a wallet that easy to reach but hard to steal from without you noticing.
Be careful on public transport like buses and trains – keep your stuff close and stay on sight. Also, bring your belonging when the bus stop for a break. Always use an air-conditioned bus, in some case that the route is not supported by air-conditioned bus, book two seats so you can stretch out or even lie down on the seat.