Many people ask me about how I travel, when I travel, where to go, what to see, etc. I usually have some general answer with a lot of enthusiasm to push them over the edge into a commitment of getting out. That’s the biggest step. Saying yes, I will make travel a priority. That’s what it takes. You have to value exploring new places over other things in life. For me, I want to move travel higher up on the list.
So when one of my best friends broke the news that she was getting married (a completely crazy notion from this friend) she followed it up with, “the wedding is going to be in Croatia, in September, and I’d love for you to be there”. There aren’t too many people in this world I would travel across the globe to watch say “I do”, but this is one. So as soon as she told me I started stashing money away trying to save up. I also recently made a “new years resolution” of sorts to start traveling more and pick one big trip per year (you can read that blog here). This year we were leaning towards Paris or somewhere tropical but we’ve decided to make the Croatia commitment. As I prep and do some research on the trip I figured I would fill you guys in on how I go about this, since many are interested in how I make it happen. Maybe it will inspire you to make a big trip, even if it’s just a few hours away and not thousands of miles. This blog may also be helpful for those that are making the journey across the globe to Split, Croatia either for the same wedding or another adventure.
Credit Card First.
This is going to be a substantial amount of miles traveled. I don’t want to waste these airline miles so I want to get a credit card that tracks miles. There are several out there so it’s best to do some research and figure out what will work best for you. This site lays out the best cards for travel: cardsfortravel.com. I highly recommend taking a look at where you are going, what airlines you will be traveling and then setting up a credit card that will help you make that trip less expensive. After a bit of reading I think I’m going to go with Chase Sapphire. A general card that offers a ton of rewards points that can be transferred over to miles. These cards can save you thousands of dollars! Here is another website with credit card referrals: thepointsguy.com/2014/01/top-5-credit-cards-for-travel-rewards.
Now where will I be traveling from and to? And will I make any stops? Important to figure out prior to actually purchasing your ticket. The destination is Split, Croatia located along the Adriatic Sea across from Italy.
Find out the airports you can fly into. Luckily, the bride is also from Croatia, so she provided us with a list of airports that are doable. By doable, that means you fly in and have to rent a car, take a boat or train to get to Split.
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
After looking at the list and factoring in travel time and cost from the other airports we decided to spend our time exploring around Split and not fly in elsewhere. The options are tempting though: Fly into Italy and take a ferry across the Adriatic Sea. Sounds very appealing but with the cost and time it makes more sense for us to pay the extra cost (it was about $200) to fly directly into Split. We are still debating the idea of making an airline stop. Fly through Paris or London and stay a few days there before continuing on to Split. It looks like the best way to do that is pick your route and buy your tickets separately. The booking sites charge outrageous prices for trying to be your actual travel agent. So be your own and plan it out. We’re going to do the most cost and time effective, yet still want to see some of Europe.
Purchase the ticket.
There are better times to purchase tickets than others to get the best price. Also you want to make sure to clear your internet history after searching for tickets as airlines and booking agencies will hold your searches and increase the price on you, as they know you need that ticket. Horrible, but true. So your best bet is to clear your browser history and cookies after searching for plane tickets. Here is a great article to inform you on when to purchase your ticket: lifehacker.com/the-best-time-and-time-of-day-to-book-airline-tickets-1507704370.
The fun part.
Where do you want to go when you are at your destination? What do you want to see? I usually like to look up the popular destinations in a new area. I don’t want to miss something that everyone visits in a location just because I didn’t know about it. So I start making my list with the must sees. If you google “things to do” in any city, hundreds of activities and must sees come up. I read through everything and pick out the things that interest me. Usually I’m looking for scenic beaches, cheap great local food, open air markets and experiences. Experiences to me are things that look like a blast! For example, since Split is surrounded by small islands, it will be high on my priority list to make it out to an island.
So here is my list for Split Croatia so far:
- Bistro Black Cat – I was sold on this restaurant with the mention of filled croissants. Even if I don’t make it to this exact one, I know I must eat croissants. I love a good warm preferably chocolate fresh croissant.
- Brela Beaches – pebble stones, mountain views, clear water. Noted in Forbes magazine as one of Europe’s best beaches. Yes.
- Split Market – daily market of fruits, vegetables, clothing, nick nacks, etc. I love visiting markets where I live and even more when I’m out of town. Can’t wait to browse the markets. I also read there is a fish market, which brings me to my next one…
- Seafood. – I don’t care where, I just know I want every meal to have fresh ocean yuminess. Living in Dallas, I am a little seafood deprived. I read about Buffet Fife, a restaurant for the locals that offers up cheap food, including seafood.
- Diocletians Palace. Ancient ruins: Roman emperor Diocletian built the building in the heart of Split at the turn of the fourth century AD. Located in Old Split this would also allow viewings of the old city and famous “let me pass streets”.
- Hike up Marjan Hill! This looks like it may be my favorite. A wooded peninsula near split, that opens up to spectacular views.
- Blue Cave! What?! at Bisevo Island. That’s right, the water is blue and it looks magical.
- Krka Waterfalls. Holy wowza that looks amazing. Located in a National Park too. Here is a pic:
Ok so you get the idea. I start making my dream list of things I want to see and do.
Next I look for apps on my phone. I did a quick app search and found several free apps that suggest places to go, give you directions, tell you how far you are and more. Some work offline, meaning you don’t need internet or data to use. So here are the apps I found and downloaded. There are some paid versions, but I can’t help it, I’m a cheapie:
- Croatia Travel guide by Triposo
- Split Map and Walks
- Croatia Travel Guide with Offline Maps
- MX Split Travel Guide
I’m not sure which will work best for me, but I like my options. Browsing the apps themselves can help you decide what to do as well.
Be careful using the apps overseas. You want to avoid high roaming costs on your phone. Here is a great article to help you avoid any outrageous costs: Everything you need to know about phones and how to avoid huge charges. Also before you leave the states, make sure and tell your friends and family about WhatsApp, KakaoTalk or Viber. They are all free apps that you can text message for free anywhere in the world with internet. Some also allow voice calls for FREE!
Next up: Wildlife!
I start making my wildlife checklist. I hardly ever see anything on my list, but the act of making the list itself gets me ready and looking for wildlife while I’m traveling. Otherwise everything is too overwhelming to me and I honestly just forget to keep my eyes peeled for wildlife as well. Making a list of the unique things I could possibly see helps me take notice of everything around me. So here is my list so far: Griffon vultures, White storks, Dalmatian Pelican, Imperial Eagle, Little Grebe, Great Bittern, Purple Heron, Glossy Ibis and Eurasian Spoonbill, brown bear, and lynx, wolf, red dear, and roe deer. It looks like marine life includes dolphins and sea turtles. Diving looks great but snorkeling looks marginal. I may still pack a snorkel as reading suggests it’s doable just about anywhere. I found one wildlife app for a national park in Croatia: NP Paklenica Official Travel Guide. It may be for just one park but it lists all the species they have. There’s a good chance many of those can be found throughout as well.
Where to stay.
You can see where to stay is not really a priority for me. Yes, I want to have a place to lay my head at night and I want it to be safe, but I don’t need the Ritz Carlton. So here are some cheap places I found that are worth more investigation:
- hostelinsplit.com – Double bed with shared bathroom about $30-40/night. They also had 4 bed apartments for the same price. So if anyone wants to double up!?
- hostelworld.com/findabed.php/ChosenCity.Split/ChosenCountry.Croatia – A ton listed here from $12-$40 dollars. Even bed and breakfasts! Most indicated credit cards not accepted, must pay in Kuna (local currency).
I urge you to do your own research as well. There is plenty in Split that I did not mention such as several Museums, catching a show, beautiful churches and more. I am more of the keep me outside at all times kind of gal so my choices reflect that. TripAdvisor is a great place to get started looking for more.
Here are some great websites and information I came across that may be of help or just fun to look at!
- Found this great blog about a family hiking in the Mosor Mountains. Best part was a bus can take you right to the hiking trail starting point!
- This site is great to find real people that know where they are and can show you the way. The prices look expensive at first but are per tour. So, if anyone going on this trip wants to book an excursion with 2 people to keep costs down, email me! Toursbylocals.com
- OH MY – look at all these awesome excursions. I think my number one off of this list is a sea kayak excursion as well as a one day trip to Dubrovnik. getyourguide.com/split-l268/
- Stay safe while traveling. This has some good tips and some crazy ones. Here are some quick good ones: keep cash because most places do not have credit card machines. Bring swim shoes because of rough rocks on the beach and sea urchins. Sea urchins ya!!! While driving make sure to have your passports, because there are lots of checkpoints!
- Unusual Wedding habits and customs in Croatia!! I can’t wait!
Unusual Wedding habits and customs in Croatia!! I can’t wait!likecroatia.com/news-tips/wedding-in-croatia-habits-and-customs/
Hopefully this helped you get a better idea on how to make it happen, especially those traveling to Split. But for those not, I hope you get off your butt and start planning your trip! Half the fun is planning the adventure. I actually fully enjoy all aspects of it. Planning, traveling, taking pictures, writing and sharing everything with all of you.
Now, cross your fingers that everything works out and financially and physically we can make all of this happen! Even though I can find some cheap routes, it’s still going to take some cash to carry out. So cheers to saving.
Croatia looks amazing and I’m ready to Adventure!