I literally spent a total of 37 hours planning our Croatia travel experience. Once S and I figured out where we wanted to go, it was constantly searching and researching on good flight deals and hotels. We spent hours on different travel sites looking at different deals and seeing if it was better to book a flight with a hotel bundle or book a flight and opt for an AirBnB instead. Personally we love both the Airbnb and the hotel lifestyle, it just depends on what’s available and what we are looking for in that particular vacation. Within that 37 hours, we had to decide if we wanted to do a yacht tour in Croatia, and if so, what the price difference that would be or if we just wanted to do a mini-cruise in Croatia and use an Airbnb just for a couple days. It was stressful but I was hyper-focused (I get like that when we plan trips)…And those 37 hours didn’t even feel that long.

 

 

So 37 hours later…

We found a good deal on a flight and had several Airbnb options [here’s our invite link if you haven’t joined AirBnB yet]. Note: this is an affiliate link. In those 37 hours, we had several options:

  1. Book a flight with a hotel bundled…OR
  2. Book a flight and opt for an AirBnB instead…OR
  3. Book a pre-planned tour-type trip where transportation, some food, and hotel are provided for in the total vacation package price…OR
  4. scratch all of that and just do a yacht tour – super expensive!

We ended up finding a good/great deal on a flight with several AirBnB options, so we opted for the old fashioned DIY for our Croatia travel journey. Here’s what we did when we started planning our DIY trip to Croatia.

 

 

Croatia Travel Tip #1: First, decide on where to go.

This took about 3 weeks to be honest. What do you do when you have the world at your disposal to travel to? We were inundated with choices (which is not a bad thing, and to be honest, first world problems right?) But we ultimately decided on Croatia because it was summer there, and we had Never been there before, and it seemed fun (plus, we are HUGE Game of Thrones fans) and we figured that Croatia is relatively not as touristy as other places and now would be the best time to go before it gets even more touristy (like Europe in the summer). Some other factors we used to decide on where to go:
  • What’s the weather like during the time you want to travel? Is it rainy season there? Thailand during rainy season might not be so fun, but you do get discounted rates due to the fact that it is low season.
  • How much will it cost? We threw out options like the Maldives, African safari, and Dubai (to name a few) because of the cost. We didn’t want to spend $10,000 on a trip, let alone $5,000, so those were not an option.
  • What’s the cheapest airfare? To be honest, the best way to plan for people who have flexible schedules is to book the cheapest flight you can find (look for deals on Airfare Watchdog, Slickdeals, or Travelzoo), and then find a hotel or AirBnB afterwards. Since we knew we wanted to go in July due to our respective jobs (we still work full time), we didn’t have that option of FIRST booking airfare during a flash sale

We found that Croatia is best traveled during the summer months of June, July and August, and if you really want to see the famous Blue Caves, you would have to see them around that time because the entrance to the caves is so tiny, any amount of waves can obstruct entrance. Even during the tourist months of July and August, Croatia isn’t as crowded as Western Europe, and the water is warm enough to swim in – which is ultimately the reason why it’s best to go to Croatia in June, July or August.

 

 

 

Croatia Travel Tip #2: Get creative and price out options.

We looked at Airbnbs, vacation packages, yacht tours, rental cars for road trips – and took an Excel sheet and priced everything out. This gave us a visual snapshot of how much everything would cost and gave us an estimate of how much we would need to save and budget for. Here’s a screenshot of what it all looked like (Excel formulas help a lot – mainly the Sum feature)

As you can see, we had several different itineraries. There were so many options, we ended up pricing out each and every potential option to see what gave us the most bang for our buck. It takes some time to figure it out, but once you have a general idea of flight options and pricing, the rest is easy to follow.

 

 

 

 

Croatia Travel Tip #3: Pin, bookmark, or save any fun things you’d like to see while you price out options.

Once we went with the plan that was the least headache AND still within our budget, that’s when the fun begins! Another travel hack for planning is save anything that pops up that might be interesting to do while you’re researching your trip. Pricing out our trips also gives us information on our destination and potential tourist spots and off-the-beaten path things that we could do. Doing this will save you time when you’re actually planning what you’d like to do there after you’ve decided on a flight and shelter.

 

 

 

Croatia Travel Tip #4: Even if you’re not a planner, plan for SOME things

Admittedly, I am more of the planner than S – but I don’t plan so much that I lose site of what a vacation really means. I like to know something about the country I’m visiting because then I feel like when we get there, we know at least some places we’d like to see. A general plan gives us a couple of days to get to know our surroundings without having to ask ourselves every morning,”What do you want to do today?” Planning also keeps you from feeling regret later when you come back to your home country and you see amazing pictures of the most awesome site ever  that you missed because you didn’t take some extra time to plan.

As you can see, we planned under the “Things to do” column potential options during our trip. It’s best to write down a list of all the potential things you’d like to accomplish and then narrow it down from there based on your research and desires for what you want to do in Croatia (or any other country).

 

Croatia Travel Tip #5: Follow the “pick three” rule.

It’s not really a rule, but more of a guideline that I made for myself when I first started traveling and realizing that I had a MILLION things I wanted to see and very little time to do it. The end result of trying to see everything in the small amount of time visiting a country is feeling more exhausted than when you started your vacation, with the whole trip seeming like a blur. So if you’re like me and get overwhelmed with wanting to see all the things, just pick three things that you’d like to see that would make you feel like “yes, I saw what I could, and I feel great about it.” That way, when you hit all three, you’ll have accomplished something and you won’t feel rushed to see everything and not enjoy the moment. You don’t want your Croatia travel experience (or any other experience) to turn into a checklist and less of an experience.
The point of traveling is to create moments and enjoy them at your own pace, not to see as many things as possible without truly embracing its meaning and cultural significance.
So breathe, pick your top three places, and move on. Chances are, when you get to your travel destination, you’ll end up finding even more things to see without even knowing it!

Split, Croatia – the harbor

Traveling is about letting go of your comfort zone, exploring different cultures and sites, learning about the people around you, tasting amazing foods from all over the world, and absorbing yourself in an experience that many people only dream of doing. Be like Elsa and let it go, and you’ll find you’ll have so much more to gain.

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