As thoughts of summer travel begin to creep in, European vacations become top of mind. Been there, done that? Not so fast. If you haven't seen Europe from the sea, you're missing something. Set on the crystal-clear shores of the Adriatic Sea, Croatia has been an under-the-radar gem with plenty to offer for years. Here, our Flightie, Shaelah, reminisces about her Topdeck Travel sailing adventure along the Dalmatian Coast and lists her 'Top 5 Reasons for Sailing Croatia' instead of opting for the more typical hotel and car experience.
Have you ever unpacked your bags on a boat? A cruise ship, sure, but have you ever been on a smaller ship, like a sail boat?
I just did and I'm extremely excited to tell you all about my sailing trip through Croatia and my reasons for why you should take a sailing trip instead of driving it.
My Top 5 Reasons for Sailing Croatia
1) You'll see more of the country.
On my Topdeck Sailing Trip through Croatia, I sailed the entire coast in a week. We travelled from Split to Split on an amazing boat called The Vapor.
Recently, one of my friends visited Croatia and it took him four days just to make it to two different cities. Yes, he may have had more time in those places, but he also missed out on some incredible locations that he just didn't have time to reach.
I felt that I really got to immerse myself in the country because every city was so unique. For example, there were some amazing views in Dubrovnik that I never could have seen in Milna because the towns are very different from each other and quite far apart. In Milna, the highest point we got to was around one quarter of the height we reached in Dubrovnik, amazing huh?!
2) It's a great way to have a relaxing holiday.
When you're jumping from city to city and from hotel to hotel, you are packing and unpacking every few nights, not to mention, finding transportation to a new spot or making sure you're on the right road if driving. Not too relaxing, right? Not with a sailing trip!
When you sail, you unpack only once and your little 'hotel' is floating near the dock of every city you go to. It is there if you need to change your clothes, grab a drink or a snack or prep for your night out. There is no worrying about taking a bus or the right map to drive to the next spot. And, in every location, the docks are usually within walking distance to the town. Bonus!
3) You build long-lasting relationships.
During my trip, I found it easier to make more intimate connections with others because of the close quarters we stayed in. It was almost like a little dormitory with rooms right next to each other. We would all spend every waking moment together, and that made the trip that much more enjoyable. One of the coolest parts about my trip was that there were travellers from around the world on board and not just folks from Canada. You laugh and learn together. Meeting people from other countries is one of the best parts of travelling, especially when they offer you a room if you ever end up in their town in the future. New friendships were truly one of the most enriching parts of my journey.
Okay, we all know that sleeping in a one-room hostel when backpacking across Europe doesn’t leave you much privacy. On sailing trips, you will either have a double shared room with two twin beds, or on some of the smaller ships, a quad shared room with two bunk beds. On the bigger ships you will also have your own bathroom. With two to three people on average sharing a room, you have more personal space than you would at a hostel or in a larger shared space. I really liked being able to get up in the morning and chat with my roommate about what we’ve done and what we were doing next. It was so cool to have our own space and to spread out and get comfortable in it.
5) Flexibility in schedule.
THIS IS THE MOST FLEXIBLE WAY TO TRAVEL! Imagine waking up in a new city every day. I would wake up and open my cabin door and there it was, a new city and a new adventure. Sure, we had things planned each day and usually there were a few places we would go to as a group, but a lot of the time we could just take off and then meet up for dinner later. Exploring port cities was great because the boat was always a short walk away and you could go back and change or go and grab something you forgot quite easily. Oh yeah, and did I mention that dinners were often included? There’s a dining area on board and you all eat as a big family – sharing tales of the day's conquests. Now that’s a fun experience.
Getting the Most Out of It
1) Pack lightly. It will save your back and you from worrying about forgetting something behind. The less you have, the less you have to worry about. Besides, you're in Europe! You can buy anything you need as you go along.
2) Research your next port before you arrive. You may get a quick briefing before you set out to explore a new spot but no one knows your interests better than you do. If you don't do your homework, you might just miss something you would have loved to see.
3) Always pack a day bag. Getting back to the boat is easy but you want to maximize your time. Stumbling upon the best beach you've ever seen without your swimsuit is also the worst. Pack a small bag with your beach gear, a towel, camera and a bottle of water and you're golden.
4) Extra clothing for warmth! You’re on the coast and the wind can pick up. Nights too can sometimes get chilly, even in the summer. A windbreaker or thin jacket is ideal.
5) Debit cards. If you run out of cash, they can be used at just about any ATM anywhere. Even with the small service fee, ATMs still offer a better exchange rate than most currency exchange outlets.
Summing It Up
If you’re someone like me and are anxious about travelling, a sailing trip is perfect for you. It taught me that people truly do care about you, and when you’re in close quarters you won’t ever feel alone. It taught me about compassion for the environment and it’s creatures, from the dolphins chasing our boat, to the beautiful Mediterranean birds, you will have a newfound appreciation for the flora and fauna around you. The one thing that makes me want to do this trip again is the memories I gained. Every single little thing is ingrained into my mind, and all I want in the world is to go back to that moment when I felt most free. If you’re looking for a truly liberating experience, sail. You won’t regret it.
Convinced? Thought so. Explore Croatia with our fantastic airfare specials, hotel, tour and cruise options. For our lowest fares, connect with us online, call 1877 967 5302 or visit your nearest Flight Centre store.