It's one thing to plan a trip.
It's quite another to live it.
This post is a sequel to Planning a Road Trip Around the Adriatic: Slovenia, Croatia & Italy. Most of the information you need to plan this trip is there. It's also a great case study on planning that can help you with just about any European trip.
What I'm offering here are:
- smaller insights that can only be gained by living a trip
- how the plans changed on the fly.
I'll refer to “we” in this post as I was on my honeymoon. But fear not, Simon, my guy, knows that I will continue to travel solo as he has watched me do so for the last six years we've been together.
The Car Rental
As planned, we picked up a rental car at Venice Airport. Though it was a long wait, all went smoothly. Simply take a number at the counter and wait your turn. I rented a Hertz car through Auto Europe. My brother was in Italy at the same time and rented a car through Expedia to be picked up at the Venice Airport as well, but he ran into trouble. He was told that he needed an international driver's licence. I don't have one and was not asked for one. This issue cost him an unexpected few hundred dollars. It's a small sample but I'd recommend Auto Europe and I'd recommend checking on this issue before leaving.
Itinerary for Slovenia, Croatia, and Italy
The first change happened before we even left.
- The plan: Spend a few hours in Venice and then drive directly to Ljubljana.
- What we actually did: Thinking about landing at Marco Polo Airport in Venice, taking in the city for a few hours, and then making it to Ljubljana jet-lagged seemed a little excessive. Before leaving we booked a B&B outside of Venice. This gave us the afternoon and evening in the city and enabled a quick and easy departure the next morning.
When I did the research it showed Ljubljana to be 2.5 hours away. This is by toll roads.
- The plan: Take the toll roads and get there quickly.
- What we actually did: Now that we had a full day to get to Ljubljana, we took the scenic route. We stopped in at Trieste for lunch and wound our way over a mountain pass before coming back down into Ljubljana. The winding road made me a bit dizzy sometimes but it was a cool drive. Read Two Sides of Ljubljana: Historic and Alternative. Also worth noting is that you need a special sticker for a rental car coming in from another country. It's not expensive, maybe $10 as I remember, and can be purchased at most gas stations.
Fortunately, for the Slovenia to Croatia portion of the trip we had not booked accommodation. It gave us options.
- The plan: Go and stay in Plitvice Lakes National Park with a stop in Pula along the way.
- What we actually did: We headed straight for Dubrovnik. Everyone was saying that we couldn't go to Croatia and not see it, so off we went. It was a 7-hour drive from the top to the bottom of Croatia but it was easy. The highways are in perfect condition and offer spectacular views. It was one of my favorite driving days ever. We arrived in the evening and I must say that the castle took my breath away when I first saw it. I'll be writing about Dubrovnik soon.
Destination: Split, Croatia
- The plan: Drive to Split
- What we actually did: We drove to Split, but from Dubrovnik, not from the Plitvice Lakes. In Split I took a solo day and grabbed a tour to the Plitvice Lakes. I really didn't want to miss them. See how beautiful they are: Plitvice Lakes, Croatia: Sprinklers and Waterfalls
From this point on everything went according to plan. Don’t forget to look back at the original plan. It is a good one and includes flight, ferry, and car booking information, accommodation, and driving times. Planning a Road Trip Around the Adriatic: Slovenia, Croatia & Italy.
Actual Cost Relative to the Budget
This trip was supposed to cost somewhere around Can$6,500 for the two of us for 14 days. Some of the prices were confirmed in advance, others were estimates. Solo travelers could save on the food budget, the museum and entertainment budget, some accommodation as the Florence location was expensive because it was based on my brother's wedding, and, of course, the extra flight.
- The budget (all amounts in Canadian dollars):
- Flights – $795 each
- Car rental for 13 days – $398.50
- Gas – $420
- Parking – $150
- Ferry – $300 including a cabin for two
- Accommodation – 3 nights not confirmed in advance – $375
- Accommodation – 4 nights in Ljubljana – $300. We stayed in a very cool hostel.
- Accommodation – 2 nights in Split – $38. (I had a credit with Airbnb, otherwise it would have been $135)
- Accommodation – 3 nights outside Florence – $525
- Food – $1,300
- Museum/Entertainment – $450
- Maps and guidebooks (digital) – $25
- Miscellaneous – $300
- What we actually spent (at this point I can’t give you a complete breakdown between food, entertainment, gas, etc. , but I can give you totals):
- Set prices from above including our two flights, car rental with an additional fee for a second driver, ferry, etc. – $2,488.50
- What was put on my credit card – $3,317.64
- Cash taken out: $1,109.93
That’s a total of Can$6,915.77, which put us $415 over budget for two people over two weeks. I’d rather be under budget, but that’s not too bad.
How do your travel plans compare with your actual trips? I'd be interested in knowing.