Planning a summer holiday is one of my favourite things to do. This year we are heading to The Balkans for two weeks to explore Montenegro, Croatia and Albania. However, arriving at that decision took a very long time, but now flights and accommodation are booked we cannot wait to get on the plane. Every summer between the months of June and September we usually set at least two weeks aside to explore somewhere new, this is the first time in a long time that we are staying so close to home (Europe). We usually opt for far-flung breaks but The Balkans have been high on our list for so long, this year seemed like the right time.
Planning where to go
Mr ESLT gets set holidays every year and this year his main one falls in June, therefore we quickly decided that somewhere in Europe would be ideal, plus after a few years of constant long-haul flights, a shorter flight really appealed to me. So we did what we usually do and waded through our travel books and guides and hit the internet to check out a million and one blogs and reviews and not forgetting weather forecasts. Our original idea was Greek island hopping, however, the more research we did, the more The Balkans area seemed like the perfect choice.
Self-guided v package deal
The next decision we needed to make was whether to organise everything ourselves which is our usual m.o. or to book a package holiday. We haven’t booked a package holiday for years and as travel bloggers our initial thought was, it was a cop-out. Therefore, we did what we usually do when we can’t make an instant decision we wrote a list of pros and cons for each. Armed with my new Dream Odyssey stationary set from A Gift From The Gods (I’m old school, I love nothing more than paper and pen), we made our list and decided, eventually on a package holiday.
Our package deal does include flights, accommodation, luggage and transfers, which to many sounds perfect. However, it is just to one place, that place being Budva, Montenegro. We are of course excited to visit Budva and explore what the beautiful Montenegrin town on the Adriatic Sea has to offer, but for us, we need to see more of the surrounding area. We will simply be using the hotel as a base for exploring further afield and pool days, which we are desperate to take advantage of. Therefore, we also will be visiting Dubvronik in Croatia and Tirana in Albania.
Public Transport/car hire
So we know where we want to go, but the next decision we needed to make was how do we get there? Do we hire a car, like we have done so many times in many places across the world, or do we rely on public transport, not really knowing how reliable it is? Again, a tough decision but we’ve decided on public transport as much as possible. Budva has good links to Dubrovnik, where we’ll be spending a couple of days as we’re going to meet up with Mr ESLT’s brother and of course to other towns and villages in Montenegro, including Kotor which I am so excited to visit.
For the places that we cannot get to using public transport or places where we think it would be better having a tour guide then we will book organised trips. We have not booked anything yet, that’s the next step. We have however picked the activities and trips that we want to take including Skadar Lake and Ostrog monastery and have spaced them out over the two weeks to ensure we can have those pool days I mentioned earlier. We have over the years used a number of companies, however, we have always found Viator to be the best for us and we have used it 100s of times.
What luggage to take
The best part of a package holiday when luggage is included in the price for me is being able to take a big suitcase and not having to leave the majority of my toiletries and makeup at home because they are too big to take. The thought of being able to take lots of clothes and shoes fills me with so much joy too, I think it’s the only time I actually enjoy packing. I also have a lovely new bag from Mia Tui – the Jennie which I recently used as my carry on when I visited Italy. Full review coming but needless to say, I love it, especially the gorgeous rose gold colour.
What to pack
Well, of course, it depends where you are heading. For us, the likelihood is that it is going to be hot and sunny (YES!). Therefore our cases will be packed full of shorts, vests, sundresses for me swimwear and of course suntan lotion. Even though we plan to relax whilst we are there we also intend to do a lot of sightseeing and walking, therefore I will be packing my KEEN Terradora Ethos hiking trainers. I forgot to pack them for our recent trip to Italy, suffered the consequences for the entire visit and still have the blisters to prove it. I will not make the same mistake again.
Preparing for the flight
If you’re a regular reader of the blog you’ll know that I, Vicky, am terrified of flying. Therefore, it is important for me to prepare for lift off. Breathing techniques are great however I also need to ensure I have enough stuff with me to keep me entertained including magazines, earphones and when flying on a budget airline, my iPad too. The need to feel comfortable is paramount, therefore I always travel in loose cotton clothes, regardless of the length of the flight. I also need a travel pillow to ensure that I feel as relaxed as possible and try to prevent a midair meltdown.