I hope you have been enjoying your summer as much as I have! I have been a bit absent from the blog world, mainly because I needed a little break to just enjoy life. I have been traveling a lot this summer and also have been playing tourist in my own city. I have been documenting it all, though, and am excited to share with you one of my highlights of summer 2019 – my European adventure to Croatia (Dubrovnik, Hvar, Split) and Italy (Venice).
Since first visiting Europe my senior year of high school, I fell in love with the idea of seeing new countries and cultures. It took a while to get back overseas after that first trip, but several summers ago I ventured out again, going to Spain and Italy (read about it here, here, here and here). I knew after that trip, my goal would be one big out of the country adventure every year. So, the following year I went to Cuba (read about that trip here and here). The next year I bought my condo in Chicago, so my wallet didn’t allow for an overseas adventure too. But this year, I was back in action!
I traveled with one of my closest friends, Emily, who has actually been a part of every European trip I have taken. (We’ve been friends since 1st grade.) This year, when we were contemplating where to go, we first thought about Greece. But Greece in summer, we soon learned was hard to get to, expensive and as every thing I read said “very romantic.” So we decided, not the trip for us. I had always wanted to visit Croatia, because it was a rare gem, that didn’t seem over-saturated with tourism, so I suggested it to Emily. A few Google picture searches later she said “of course.” So, our adventure was starting to take shape. We decided we would meet in Barcelona (hint: it’s a great place to fly from Chicago as it’s usually pretty cheap, then you can hop to other locations in Europe equally as cheap), fly to Dubrovnik, make our way north to the island of Hvar and continue moving north (by ferry) to Split. Flying home from Croatia was pricey, so we looked at the nearest cities/countries, which could get us a good flight home. After a little map study and flight checking, we decided to end our trip in Venice, Italy. We both love Italy, so it was an easy decision.
I promise to share more about each location, along with tips for making each city an amazing stop on your journey. I will give you my recommendations on where to stay, what to eat and what to do. But in this post, I want to specifically highlight tips for traveling to Croatia. Whether it’s your first time abroad or your tenth, it never hurts to hear tips from someone who has recently been.
- Do your research: One of the easiest ways to decide where you want to travel today is by making a quick stop to Pinterest. Seeing the beauty of the places on your wish list will help you decide what should be at the top of that list. Knowing we wanted to go to Croatia, my friend and I looked up information on the cities we thought would be most fun and beautiful. We also wanted to balance our vacation, with plenty of time for relaxing and being active, so we chose our destinations based on this. I also really like to have an actual travel book to take with me. One of my favorite lines is from DK Eyewitness. (I buy them at Barnes & Noble.) They give great detail on sites to visit, neighborhoods, transportation and more. Plus, they always have handy maps to tear out!
- Have lots of cash handy: And maybe a calculator too! Croatia uses the Kuna for money, and it’s much higher in value so it can be confusing to figure out the difference from USD to Kuna. Overall, the cost of items in Croatia is quite cheap though. They operate on a mostly cash basis, so take plenty with you, or know what type of ATM fees you will encounter should you need to withdraw cash. (To get cash, I just went to the exchange in the airport.)
- Take ferries to get from city to city: Ferries are a popular mode of transportation in Croatia, making it both cheap and easy to travel by boat from one location to the next. We chose to ride the Jadrolinija line, which offered many departure times, so it was very convenient. It was a clean ferry, with food and drink on board, and gorgeous views along the way. While you don’t need to book in advance, I do recommend doing it when you arrive to each city, just to ensure you can get on the boat at the exact time you want.
- Know a couple basic Croatian words: The people in Croatia were amazing. Some of the friendliest I have ever encountered. Thankfully, they almost all speak English. Looking at the language before the trip, we were quite worried we would be LOST. Have you seen or heard Croatian? It’s a tricky one! But knowing just a few basics like hello [zdravo] and thank you [hvala], were enough. (I think even though they speak English it’s respectful to greet people in their native tongue when you’re in their country.)
- Don’t rely on taxis: This truly depends on where you are at in Croatia. Some cities, like Split, have Uber now. Some don’t and some, like Hvar, don’t even have easy access regular taxi cabs. And when you do find them, they can be quite expensive. Think ahead and book things in advance if you can. In Dubrovnik and Split, walking is easiest and you can also take public transportation. In Hvar, I recommend exploring the island by renting an ATV for a full day. This way you don’t have to pay an exorbitant taxi fee and can wander on your own time. It’s also fun to rent a boat for a few hours (with a driver) and see the sights from the water.
- Carry a cross body bag: Just a good safety tip for any woman carrying a purse when traveling. A cross body bag helps keep your items close to the body and harder for a pick pocket to snatch. It’s also a good idea to make sure you have one that zips or fully closes, so someone else’s hands can’t easily sneak into it. I will say, while I recommend this regardless, I felt incredibly safe in Croatia. Not one place did I feel uncomfortable or like I was in an area I shouldn’t be. It’s the clean, people are very hospitable and as long as you pay attention to your surroundings you should be fine.
- Wear comfy shoes: Another standard travel tip, especially if you know you will be doing a lot of walking. And in the heat and humidity, when tootsies tend to swell, it’s best to have shoes you know will comfortable no matter what. With that said, make sure you have a couple back ups – you don’t want to be stuck with blisters from the one and only pair you take. For this trip, I still did take a pair of “Dress Shoes,” but unlike most trips where I take a heel, just took a dressier sandal. I was thankful, no need for heels over there!
- Dress for heat & humidity: My experience tends to show me that Europe (mainly the Mediterranean and Adriatic) are hot, hot, hot. And humid! Granted I have traveled mainly in the summer months, but just be forewarned that you will sweat. Take back up clothes so you can change for the evening if you want, and take underwear that can easily be washed so you don’t have to pack 2 pairs for each day. The same goes for swimsuits. Since you will be in them quite a bit, make sure to have more than one, so you don’t have to put on a wet one.
- Pack a travel tote full of your essentials: I travel for work multiple times a month, so I have it down to a science in regards to what I need to pack in my carry on. You know, all the little things that you know you need but could easily forget. Read all about what is in mine here. You can also see my recommendations for packing your checked bag here.
- Journal: I have a terrible memory. And I mean terrible – like I can barely remember what I ate for breakfast. So, in order to make sure I can look back on my trips and remember all the fun I had, I journal while I’m on vacation. It’s not the sappy, let me pretend my journal is a person and tell them about my feelings type of entries, but rather simple notes that will trigger memories. Where I stayed, where I ate, what I saw and did, as well as people I met and my favorite moments. I do this for all trips, even quick overnight work ones! On this particular trip I used My Travel Journal, which made my daily writing so easy!
Stay tuned for my travel guides for Dubrovnik, Hvar, Split, Venice, Burano and Murano. Plus, I’ll be sharing some great fashion shoots I did during my trip and styling tips for a fashionable travel wardrobe. A girls got to look good on vacation right?!
Signed with Style,
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