Croatia is an Eastern European country known best for its long coastlines, many islands and postcard looking towns. I’d heard about it over the last few years with many people visiting festivals etc, but was most interested when I started travelling to Slovenia for work. Ignorantly, I would have never considered visiting Eastern Europe if it wasn’t for the beauty of Lake Bled in Slovenia.
Planning a road-trip can seem daunting at first, especially if you’ve never done it before. I remember having so many questions when we first started thinking about it. Hopefully in this short guide, I’ll be able to answer a few of those questions for you as well as give you some tips about Croatia.
Planning a road-trip
When planning a road-trip, you need to do your research. There are so many travel blogs, review sites, and guides that you can look at to get inspiration. Although building a trip from scratch can seem daunting, you have to remember that you will be doing exactly what YOU want to do, when you want to do it. As a couple we know that we are quite active, enjoy an adrenaline rush and love to find secluded spots. These things definitely helped when picking which places to visit and choosing which things we wanted to do. For example, we really wanted to do zip-lining so we knew to go to Omiš – versus potentially going somewhere else.
We made a list of all the places we wanted to go, and decided a route which made the most sense. We used a handy tool on Google Maps (click here for a guide on how to use it) to map the route and this a really good way to show how long the drives would be, and if we had to pay for tolls.
I also made a list of all the activities we’d do in each place to make sure we were making the most of our time. This left room to drive along the coast at our leisure and stop at secluded beaches – these parts made the road-trip most exciting!
Confused about currency?
The local currency used in Croatia is the Croatian Kuna (HRK). Although most places do accept Euro’s, it’s likely that you’ll get a better deal using the local currency. If you find yourself strapped for cash when you’re out there, there are plenty of ATM’s that take most debit cards for you to withdraw local currency for a very small fee.
The easy way to rent a car.
This definitely proved easiest for us to travel around Croatia in a short space of time. We’d never rented a car abroad before, so we started by browsing online. Through researching and using common sense, we realised which sites and prices seemed most reliable. In the end, we chose to rent from a company called Sixt. The online booking process was easy, we found a car that was economical and within our budget, added any extras (such as a sat nav) and paid a deposit. When we arrived at Split airport, we then went to the Sixt desk who had all our documents waiting and gave us all the information we needed (such as how to cross the border, which I’ll explain later). Then, we were taken to our vehicle and off we went!
Eating on a budget, without going hungry.
Whilst a road-trip sounds quite cheap in theory, costs start adding up big time if you’re not careful. Although we were tight on costs for our accommodation, staying in Airbnb’s where possible, factors such as petrol, activity fees and other methods of transport (such as Ferry) still began to add £££. With food and drink, we were quite surprised on how we could fill ourselves up without having to spend a lot. As former uni students, we were of course pro’s at this already!
Whenever we reached a new town, we made sure to visit the local supermarket and stock up on certain items. We always ate breakfast in our room so we bought cereal, fruit and juice – which cost us next to nothing and saved us money for fun activities. Throughout the day we’d also snack on crisps and fruit which again, didn’t cost a lot. Most evenings, we would go set a budget and either cook at our hostel (pasta) or go out to eat. We’d tend to go for Italian, as you can get a lot for your money with pizza/pasta. Some evenings we splurged a little more, but overall we did really well – and any leftover cash was spent on delicious house wine!!
Accommodation: Hostel or hotel?
When roadtripping, I cannot recommend using Airbnb or hostels enough. As I mentioned before, this is where you can save a huge chunk of money whilst still having a great place to stay. All of the places we stayed in had en-suite bathrooms, a fridge and fast wifi. We even had kitchen facilities in most of our Airbnb’s, which were perfect in the evenings where we wanted to eat in. We only used one perfect Hostel from Hostelworld, the rest were Airbnb’s – all which had amazing hosts that were helpful and even arranged trips for us! See where we stayed using Airbnb here.
Packing: How to pack light and what to avoid!
When you’re going away for over a week it can be easy to try and pack your whole house into a suitcase. This, I would definitely avoid when travelling – especially when backpacking or going on a roadtrip. Inevitably you’re going to have to A) Drag that stuff around and B) Pay for the weight of it on the plane. For us, we found that we preferred to pack more basic things (such as lightweight tops that would get sweaty) and repeat bottoms and shoes. As for toiletries, we bought all our soaps, shampoo, toothpaste and more out there – it was very cheap and we didn’t have to lug it with us! I’m going to do a full post on this soon, but for now I’d say write a packing list and delete things you know aren’t necessary before actually packing them!
For more tips about travelling look out for further posts. If you have any amazing travel tips let me know in the comments!