13 Travel Traditions in Indonesia

Travel traditions…do you have some? We have traditions for all sorts of different occasions throughout our lives, so why not have some travel traditions too, right?

Travel traditions are a great way to create lasting memories over the years of all the places you have traveled to. Travel traditions can be small things, perhaps a quirky photo you take on every trip you go on or perhaps something bigger, such as an annual holiday to your favourite place every year. {This is totally me with my annual holiday to Indonesia!} Whatever the scale, these travel traditions are sure to add a little extra fun to your travels as well as create lasting memories that will live on forever. And lets face it, no one wants to forget all the great travels they have done over the years.

Now that I’m a Mama and I’ve taken my little man on his first overseas travels to Indonesia, I’ve been considering my own travel traditions. Of course, I still plan to continue the old traditions and share them with my son, but I’ve also begun thinking about some new travel traditions too, ensuring lasting memories of our family travels together. So, I’ve added some ideas below if you are also looking to add to your own travel traditions.

My 13 Travel Traditions whilst travelling in Indonesia:

1. Start every holiday with a sunset cocktail

A sunset cocktail is obligatory for the start of a tropical holiday in Indonesia! It’s not a holiday in Indonesia without a moment to admire one of Indonesia’s famous magical sunsets {wherever you are across the archipelago!} whilst sipping on a tropical cocktail!

Cosmopolitan Sunset – Gili Air, Lombok

*Bonus tradition: Get up early {or stay up all night!} to view an Indonesian sunrise! A truly magical moment to watch the sun rise to begin a new day in Indonesia. It’s totally worth it, believe me!

Sunrise – Pulau Derawan, Kalimantan

2. Go somewhere new

I know it’s tempting to continue to go to the same old places that you’ve been to before – it’s familiar and easy but it’s also really cool to venture somewhere new each holiday and it’s my favourite thing to do! So, try a new restaurant, stay at a new hotel or private villa or better still – visit a new town, city or island and experience a new environment and possibly a new culture and language. Remember Indonesia is made up of 18,000 islands, so the possibilities of different destinations is endless!

‘Siwi’ – Tanjung Puting National Park, Kalimantan

3. Start your holiday by buying a new book

There’s nothing like a holiday to delve into a new book, and one that focuses on Indonesia is even better, so you can soak up some extra Indonesian related info whilst you are in-country; whether it be language related, cultural, traditional, contemporary, historical, fiction, non-fictional and so on, it doesn’t matter – whatever grabs your interest.

*I always stop into Periplus when I first arrive in Indonesia and pick-up a couple of books to read on my travels. One of my absolute favs whilst travelling are The Naked Traveler books.

4. Check out the street art

I LOVE to go wandering along the streets and little alley ways to check out the local street art in each different place I travel to, it gives me a feel of the city through the eyes of local artists.  It’s also an opportunity to take some great photos of traditional and contemporary local art. I LOVE IT!

Street art – Yogyakarta, Central Java

5. Eat all the yummy foods!

Remembering that Indonesia has a huge variety of cuisines, each region specialising in their own Indonesian dishes with their own unique flavours and aromas. When I travel to a new region or island, I always make sure that I try the local traditional dishes from each different area I travel to. Another fun tradition is to pick one typical traditional Indonesian dish be it; nasi goreng, sate {satay}, rendang or my fav, nasi campur. Order your chosen dish at different places you travel to, you’ll find it’s the “same-same but different”, which makes it really interesting.

*Tip: Try some local fast food outlets such as; CFC, Pizza Hut or McDonalds, you’ll find their menus are different to what you might expect and you wouldn’t want to miss out on a chance to try a rendang burger!

6. Gather things – from the local markets to the beach!

Gathering things, or souvenirs as such, is another tradition to ensure you remember all the different places you have traveled to. From the colloquial collector’s souvenirs such as; postcards, key-rings, fridge magnets and t-shirts to gathering things that are more unique to the local culture such as a piece of jewellery, textiles or a local artefact. It could even be something a little more unsual such as; a ticket stub of all the places you have visited or events attended, even something that costs you nothing such as a pebble, stone or a shell that you have gathered on your travels. They all help to remember the good memories you created on that trip. So, overtime you can look at all the things you have gathered on your travels and you’ll possibly find that you have a great collection.

*I have a weak spot for collecting local handcrafted products in Indonesia. Some pieces I have stored away and some I use around my home so I can see them everyday and remember past adventures in far away places in Indonesia, whether it was from the mountains of Tana Toraja in Sulawesi or from a small village in Flores – each piece carries fond memories with it. Also, buying local traditional handcrafted products is so important to the local economy and the culture of that region as these local artisans are preserving cultural heritage and traditions. Crafts such as textiles and art contribute greatly to the culture of a destination and the travel experience. So buy local handcrafted products as you will be giving back to the local artisans and their community.

Handcrafted traditional textiles and “betel nut” bag from Tana Toraja, Sulawesi.

7. Try something new

Indonesia is the best place to learn a new skill with so many options available. So, why not gain a little more cultural knowledge while learning a new skill and sign up for a class whilst you are on holidays. {*And if you are a teacher this is bonus in-country Professional Learning for you!} From traditional cooking classes to batik courses and silver jewellery making amongst other arts such as; painting, drawing, wood carving, offering making and sculpture – how could you not want to sign up?

*Over the years I have taken numerous classes and courses whilst travelling in Indonesia – my top pick is a 3 day batik course in Yogyakarta, Central Java!

8. Visit a place of worship

This is something I really enjoy doing in different places I visit. Firstly, it provides greater understanding of religious traditions, practices and beliefs of the people in that area or region and secondly, pretty much all places of worship are so peaceful and beautiful architecturally and also spiritually.

*I’m not particularly religious but when visiting a place of worship in Indonesia, whether it’s a Balinese Hindu temple or a mesjid {mosque} in Lombok or a small Catholic church in the mountains of Flores or even the famous Buddhist temple of Borobudur in Central Java, I always say a prayer for guidance and safety on my travels through the lands that I venture and explore. {And I get some great pics while I’m there too!}

Candi Borobudur, Central Java

9. Buy an article of clothing

Buy an article of clothing in every place {island/region/city} you visit, so that each time you wear it, it reminds you of your holiday travels and all the different places you have been to.

*I always tend to buy a new piece of batik or ikat, be it clothing or a sarung {sarong} or a selendang {scarf} – it doesn’t matter, just something small to remind me of the special places I have been.

10. Buy spices {bumbu-bumbu}

I always make sure I have a trip to an Indonesian supermarket before heading home, so I can pick up some essentials such as; Indonesian spices to take back home {just ensure you declare all food items at customs to be on the safe side}. You’ll pay half the price for them buying them locally in Indonesia and you’ll have all the essential spices you’ll need to cook up some traditional Indonesian dishes when you get home, which will transport you straight back to Indonesia with their amazing aromas.

*Tip: Buying a recipe book is a great souvenir for yourself and provides you with an abundance of traditional dishes that you can add to your cooking repertoire back at home.

11. Buy Indonesian books, DVDs and music CDs

A must on every holiday for me! {Yes. I know I mentioned books earlier but you can never have too many books! ;)} At the end of my holiday I always ensure a trip to PERIPLUS and Gramedia book store and buy some Indonesian books, magazines, DVDs and anything else that takes my fancy to take home with me so that I can read or watch an Indonesian story and transport myself back to Indonesia and it’s great for maintaining language skills and fluency too! Also, there is nothing better than picking up some current local music CDs so that you always have Indonesian music at the ready!

12. SPLURGE!

Stay at a private pool villa for the last few days of your holiday. If you’re like me, holidays don’t come around all that often, {generally once a year for me now – if I’m lucky!}, so I believe it’s important to REALLY enjoy your holiday and splurge a little on some luxury accommodation and nothing is better than a private pool villa to end your holiday.

*Tip: Check out the spa treatments that your accommodation offers and try out a traditional massage to fully relax and unwind before you have to face reality again and your holiday is all but a distant memory.

The Elysian – Seminyak, Bali

*Click here to read more about my reasoning behind staying at luxurious private villas.

And last but definitely not least…

13. TAKE PHOTOS! {And don’t forget VIDEOS too!}

This seems pretty obvious enough, of course, we all take photos whilst on holidays right? Oh, except for when we are having such a good time that we forget to pick up the camera! Photos are the biggest memory triggers out there {and of course we all want to fill our Insta accounts with all the amazing travel photos too! ;)} but remember to take photos of all the things – big and small, amazing and every day – as sometimes it’s the small every day things that are missed the most.

*Some photo traditions you might like to try are; take the same photo in each different place you visit or perhaps go back and visit the same place each year and take the same photo annually.

Offerings to the Gods – Bali

And that brings me to the end of my 13 travel traditions in Indonesia. Hope you have found something on my list that you could perhaps incorporate into your own travel traditions – great to add to old traditions with some new traditions to keep things interesting! And remember, it’s all about having fun and creating lasting memories of all your wonderful travels to far away places!

Do you have any travel traditions?

Any of your travel traditions on my list? Which ones?

Want to share any other travel traditions that you have?

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