Trip Report: Four Weeks in Split, Croatia

After landing in Rome, Italy from our transatlantic cruise from New York to Rome on Norwegian Cruise Lines, we flew from Rome to Split, Croatia, where we spent four weeks living on the outskirts of a fourth century Roman emperor’s palace.

Getting to Split was not quite as easy as we thought it would be, or should have been.

Upon disembarking from our ship in the port of Civitavecchia, we took a train to the Termini station in Rome. Since our flight wasn’t for another eight hours, we decided that we would store our bags at the train station (rather than lugging around 75 pounds each of bags all over Rome) and then go wander around for a few hours, having a coffee in front of the Colosseum.

We headed back to the train station about four hours before our flight, as we knew that the train to the airport was about 45 minutes. After 15 minutes circling the Termini train station trying to find the baggage office (pro tip that I did not use: send yourself a Google Maps pin of where you drop your luggage), we finally found it and were on our way.

We were scheduled to fly on Croatian Airways having booked on ITA Airways. However, when we arrived to check in at the Croatian counter, the agent informed us that we had no tickets.

What had happened is that, a few months before, I had thought I had purchased the tickets through ITA Airways, which was, apparently, acting as an agent for Croatian. I got a 6 digit PNR code and the amount for the flight was marked as pending on my credit card. I saved a printout of the page and then forgot about it.

What I did not realize until we were suddenly sweating in the airport was that there was an error message on the page saying that I needed to call an Italian phone number. I thought the PNR was my golden ticket. I had wondered why we never got further e-mails, but chalked it up to that airline doing things differently rather than never having been issued a ticket.

So, the agent at Terminal 3 told us to go to Terminal 1 to talk to ITA Airways and see what the issue was. After a sweaty sprint with our luggage, we arrived at the ITA counter. The agent there told us that she couldn’t find any record of our purchase and asked if we had a credit card statement showing the purchase. It was at that point that I realized that the transaction had never actually posted, and we didn’t actually have tickets. I tried again through the ITA site, received another PNR, had another pending transaction (which subsequently never cleared), and saw the same error message. The ITA agent couldn’t purchase tickets for us, either, so back over to Terminal 3 we huffed.

Long-Term Traveling Rookie Mistake #1 (for this article) – Always Make Sure Your Airline Tickets Have Ticket Numbers. A PNR is Not Enough.

After a couple of false starts, we finally made it to the correct ticket window on a different floor than where we started, and we asked the agent if we could purchase the ticket that we thought that we had purchased. Fortunately, there was space available, and we bought tickets, although at about twice the price that I thought we’d originally purchased the tickets for.

We did debate staying in Rome overnight to see if we could get cheaper tickets, but by the time we factored in more transportation and the fact that we’d already paid for a night in Split, the small price difference in buying a ticket 24 hours later was not worth it to us. By this time, there were only about 90 minutes before the flight, and we were spooked that we would not be able to get through passport control in time to make our flight.

Fortunately, the travel gods finally smiled on us (maybe it was the sacrifice of a few hundred extra dollars?), and we breezed through security and through passport control. We actually had enough time to go to two different Priority Lounges (provided courtesy of our Capital One Venture Rewards card (#aff)) and grab drinks. I’d led us to the wrong one the first time, but since we were there, we decided to go in and grab a beverage and dinner, and, upon arriving at the gate, we realized we had 15 minutes to spare before boarding, so we went to the other, correct one, to get another drink.

Upon arriving in Split, it is possible to take a shuttle bus from the airport to the harbor bus station for 50 Croatian kuna per person; however, since the station was on the southeast side of Diocletian’s Palace, we were staying a 16 minute walk away on the northeast side of the Palace, we decided to take an Uber to get as close as possible to our Airbnb. Our Airbnb was located about 150 meters up the hill from the Old House Street Food stand, via a narrow alleyway that our Uber could not go up.

Note: we did use the shuttle to go to the airport when we took a lot less luggage to our four day trip in Vienna, Austria during our stay in Split, and it was fine. We were able to put our luggage under the bus, and it stopped right near the entrance. If you buy tickets to the airport, you should buy them at the station. However, to go back from the airport, you need to buy the tickets from the driver in cash.

Note 1 About Split: Many of the streets in Split are very narrow pathways, so it’s likely that if you’re staying in or around Diocletian’s Palace, you are going to have to walk with luggage to get to your lodging. Diocletian’s Palace itself is completely a pedestrian zone, and there are many other pedestrian zones in the center of the city.

After waiting around a few minutes for the host’s brother and mother to show up, he and I lugged our luggage up 3 flights of steps into one of the best value Airbnbs in Split we could have hoped for. While it is compact, it’s exactly what we were looking for, and it appeared in real life just like it did in the pictures. Sure, there were little complaints that we had, like the bathroom’s location right off of the toilet, and the small frying pan that we had to use to do all of our cooking, but, all in all, it was great value for what we paid for the location. If we come back to Split, we would definitely stay here if it was available.

Highlights of Things to do in Split, Croatia

The good thing about staying in a place for a month or so is that you get plenty of time to settle in, and you don’t feel forced to try to see everything in a short timeframe. There were several lazy days, and then there were days, like when we hiked the Marjan, when we clocked a lot of mileage.

So, here are some things that we really enjoyed about Split, in no particular order:

  • Wandering through Diocletian’s Palace. Split emerged as a city from the remains of the Roman emperor Diocletian’s retirement home. As such, it is full of little narrow, windy pathways that are chock full of little cafes, shops, and restaurants. One day, we spent a couple of hours playing the “hey, where does this go?” game trying to walk through every little windy alleyway in the Palace. We failed. A few days later, we walked down a path and saw something that we hadn’t seen before and wondered how in the heck we missed it.
  • Hiking the Marjan. The Marjan hill is about 580 feet high, give or take, and it is about a mile and a half from end to end. The first time we did the Marjan, we circumnavigated it. We walked to a fabulous bar/cafe at the end of the Marjan peninsula called Va Bene, had a drink, and then decided to continue going around the islet. While the first part of the walk was through the gorgeous park, the second half was on a road, so it was a little dicey when traffic was coming through. Nonetheless, we persevered on and finished the loop. The second time, we decided that we wanted to go to the peak. We went first to the zoo (if you can even call it that) on Marjan, and then to another overlook about two-thirds of the way through the park, where there were several little stone churches from yesteryear. Then, we finally got to tip top of Marjan Hill. We took the stairs down. If you’re industrious, you can take the 300+ stairs up to the top of Marjan. The view is worth it.
  • Going to the markets for fresh food. While, when we’re traveling, we prefer not to cook in much (like we did when we were in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico), Split doesn’t have too much of a budget restaurant scene. We still went out to eat about 3/5 of the time, but we had breakfast and a light snack every day with food that we bought in the market. The market that we went to was directly to the southeast of the Palace, basically between the palace and the strip that leads to the bus station. We bought our eggs and olive oil from the stand at the southeast end of the market just south of where all of the butchers’ shops are, and bought fruits and vegetables from Antonio, who was just to the left and across the pathway from the olive oil and egg stand. Antonio’s family has a farm in Markarska, and everything that we bought was shipped in fresh from their farm. We really gained an appreciation for the quality difference that you get when you buy your food fresh from the market nearly every day. We joked that Costco’s rotisserie chicken won’t taste the same after this experience (yes, we know that there’s some horror surrounding Costco chickens).
  • Evening strolls along the Riva. The Riva is the oceanfront boardwalk that is in front of Diocletian’s Palace. There’s also a continuation of the boardwalk that is to the west of Diocletian’s Palace, where you can see plaques dedicated to every medal winning Croatian Olympic athlete that we enjoyed strolling on, but I don’t know if that’s technically part of the Riva or not. Regardless, we love café culture. It was one of the appealing pieces of Old Town Nice, France, and Split has it in spades. There were plenty of places to sit and grab a drink or grab dinner if you wanted, although we never really availed ourselves of that opportunity (mostly because it drives me nuts to pay obvious tourist markups). Still, it was great to wander up and down the oceanfront, enjoying the breeze and the beautiful weather. During the day in May in Split, it gets a little warm, but it’s perfect in the evenings in Split. We’re not beach people in that we don’t like laying on the beach or swimming in the ocean, but we do enjoy being near the water, especially when the weather is great.
  • Going to a soccer match. OK. This one was me, and it was one time because we arrived near the end of the Hajduk Split domestic season and left for Vienna on the day of the cup final. Still, it was really neat to go to a match. However, do not get tickets in the Ultras section (called Torcida) unless you don’t want to see the game. Also, be prepared to encounter cigarette smoke no matter where you sit. More on the smoke later.

  • Going to the Archaeological Museum. We had no expectations going in here, and discovering the museum was a piece of serendipity. We were walking to the Caritas to donate shoes that I had bought which were giving me horrific leg pains (is this passing the problem to someone else?), and right before we got there, we passed by a very interesting looking entrance and building. We peeked in, as the doors were open, and saw all sorts of statues and relics. We then saw the sign for the museum and decided that we needed to check it out at a later time. Boy, were we ever fortunate to find it. The museum has been around for over 200 years and documents a lot of the finds from a nearby island called Vis. Walking through the grounds is like living a Greco-Roman antiquity version of Hoarders. You should plan on at least two hours going through the museum and wandering the grounds. Get the Split card and save 50%. See below for more on the Split card.
  • Going to the Meštrović Gallery. My wife and I are not huge fans of art or sculpture. However, our experience with Meštrović was very different. He was an exceptionally talented sculptor, and it was amazing to see the level of detail that he put into his work. Below are a couple of samples of his work; I could fill this post with 50 pictures and not be complete! Plan for at least two hours between the Gallery and the Castle. The #12 bus runs out there from the west end of the Riva.
  • Hanging out with the Geekstreamers. We’ve been following the full-time traveling couple Jimmy and Mack from the Geekstreamers for quite a while now, and Fates had it that our itineraries in Split nearly perfectly overlapped, allowing us several opportunities to while away afternoons and evenings with them. If you enjoy reading about the adventures of full-time travelers, you should definitely add them to your list of blogs/Instagrams that you follow. We had a natural connection discovering pivo and vino places and testing the concept that you can spent nearly an infinite amount of time in a café nursing one drink without being harassed by the wait staff. Thanks guys!

Notes 2 – X: Other Observations about Split, Croatia

These are some random observations that my wife and I have made about Split during our time there.

  • Gin and tonic are separate on the menu and charged separately so they bring you the glass with the gin and ice and a small bottle of tonic water. So, if you see 40 kuna on a menu for gin, don’t be shocked when your bill is 80 kuna.
  • There are a lot of outdoor cats, but they are well taken care of. We didn’t see any cats that looked to be in dire straits. We also saw lots of food and water bowls out for them. Twice, we sat down at restaurants and had to share the table with a cat who was sleeping in one of the chairs pushed in under the table.
  • Lots of people have dogs and walk them but it’s not common to interact with them. I bring dog treats with me nearly everywhere I go, but I didn’t even get through a bag of them this time. More on dog treats later.
  • Women don’t wear hats even though it’s already pretty warm during mid day. This was obviously an observation my wife made! 🙂 As someone who shaves his head on a regular basis, I always wear a hat outdoors because I don’t want my brain pan to fry.
  • There are a lot of sunburned people. We couldn’t tell if this was the cruise crowd or the Brits and Germans spending a week in Split crowd. While Split is still pretty far north compared to places in the United States, it’s easy to burn if you’re not careful. We try to walk on shady sides of the street whenever possible, though that’s difficult to do in midday. Farmer tans FTW!
  • English is widely spoken, and Croatian is a lot like Bosnian and Serbian, but there’s still some tension. I learned “Serbo-Croatian” before deploying to Bosnia in the mid-90s. I was surprised at how much of it I still knew. However, there were some phrases that raised eyebrows. One example is Zdravo, which means “hello.” In Croatia, the common greeting in Bok. I greeted a Croatian with Zdravo, and he told me that the word, and he paused to think of the polite way to say it in English, made me sound “a little Socialist, if you know what I mean.” This was code word for Serbian, and the implicit message was that there was still some tension there. I’m not here to make political judgments on Serbia. This was just an observation. When we did our GuruWalk (#aff) tour, our guide also made some references to the still extant tensions. People that I met in Split were thankful to me when it came up that I was in IFOR and SFOR – the peacekeeper forces in Bosnia – but I still made sure to tread gently on the subject. I suspect that I’d need to be more circumspect about my past were we to visit Belgrade or Beograd, though I’m also sure that the people there would be just as friendly to us as visitors as they were in Split.
  • Benadryl is only sold for motion sickness, not for allergies. The Benadryl that they do sell is of a much higher dosage than what you can buy in the United States, so if you buy it, make sure you use a pill cutter. We have tried to buy Benadryl now in Spain, France, Italy, and Croatia with no luck. We’re going to have to ask family who’s visiting us later in our trip to be Benadryl mules for us.
  • Be prepared for a little coffee, beer, or food with your cigarette smoke. According to a 2016 study, 31.1% of the population of Croatia smokes. It seems like a lot higher percentage in Split. Cigarette smoke is everywhere, and even though almost all of the drinking and dining is outdoors, the smoke is still prevalent. It is reminiscent, to me, of sitting in non-smoking sections in restaurants back in the 80s when there was no real barrier between smokers and non-smokers. You still get at least a whiff, if not a sheen, of smoke no matter where you sit. Sometimes, you get unlucky, and you’re the only non-smoker in a section. This is the biggest down side to Split.
  • Drinking water fountains are everywhere, so bring reusable water bottles. We fill up and drink like the locals, so we don’t have to buy our water. Also, the tap water is safe to drink in Croatia, so we’ve been using it to make our coffee, brush our teeth, cook with, etc.
  • Split is hilly, but not steep. The biggest grade is going up the Marjan. Otherwise, most hills are pretty gradual, unlike, say, 5. de Diciembre in Puerto Vallarta or the hills of Lisbon or Porto in Portugal. Think more like Nice, France.
  • It still feels like an undiscovered gem. Yes, there are the occasional cruise ship docking crowds and there are definitely a lot of tourists about, but it doesn’t feel like an overrun tourist destination.
  • There are a noteworthy amount of older and disabled travelers. This speaks to the gentle slopes. However, make sure you have good tread on your shoes for Diocletian’s Palace. My wife nearly did the banana peel several times.
  • There are a lot of nuns and monks. There is a monastery near our Airbnb, and there is a nunnery on the other side of Diocletian’s Palace.
  • If you want to buy postcards, get them from the post office near the bus station. We (more specifically, my wife) like to buy and send postcards to friends and family. Our friend Courtney started this trend with us by sending postcards, and we try (and don’t always succeed) to recirpocate the gesture. However, most places will sell you overpriced postcards, and if you want to send them, you have to go to the post office anyway. We found that the selection on offer in the post office was just as good, if not better, than whatever we could find in Diocletian’s Palace, and the cards were cheaper. Bring your address book and a pen, buy the postcards, and send them off all in one easy process.
  • There’s a Croatian equivalent of the Dollar Store at the Split Mall, where you can purchase whatever you discover that you needed and did not bring. We caught the free tourist bus to the Split Mall near the Split sign at the southeast end of the Riva and rode it out to the Split Mall one day. It was a hot day, and we wanted to get in some walking in air conditioning. Little did we realize how many different stores there would be in the mall. The mall was not nearly as impressive as the mall that we saw in Medellin, Colombia; however, it was still plenty impressive. From rooftop bars overlooking the mountains to butchers and greengrocers on the bottom floor, this mall had a bunch of things that the long-term traveler can restock on. My wife bought readers (sorry to confess to your visual shortcomings!) and we bought bungee cords to strap the foam roller to a carry-on bag. The Croatian Dollar Store equivalent is called TEDi, and almost everything there is 8 kuna, including the bungee cords that we bought. However, if you’re in the mood for popcorn, skip the popcorn at the movie theater in the mall. It was rather stale. Orville Reddenbacher won’t be quaking in his boots anytime soon for fear of being overtaken by the Croatian popcorn industry.
  • Song remakes are everywhere. We don’t know if this is because the local restaurants and bars don’t have the rights to the original music, but a lot of music that we heard was close, but not quite the real thing.
  • Urinals in common areas in bathrooms are not very well hidden. If you’re walking by a men’s restroom, avert your eyes unless you want to get out the eye bleach.
  • Nobody harassed, and didn’t bother us if we said no. Split makes a fair share of its revenues off of tourists, so it’s understandable that they’re going to ask you if you want to purchase their services or enter their establishments. The markets are full of people trying to get you to buy their strawberries. However, a simple “Na, hvala” was sufficient. We were also surprised at the small number of homeless/beggars. We don’t know if that’s because Split’s government hides them or because everyone is gainfully employed and taken care of.
  • You can’t add tip on a credit card at a restaurant or a cafe. The government taxes tips, so be prepared to tip your service staff in cash. We usually tipped between 10-15%.
  • There are a lot of middle-aged men walking with limps. I can’t say for certain, but I suspect this was a result of the independence wars in the mid-1990s. We happened to be in Split during their Statehood Day, and there were lots of fireworks and flags.
  • A lot of websites are blocked from Croatian IP addresses. I’ve had to use LTE to connect to several websites, including some of our banking sites, which is rather inconvenient.
  • Get the Split card. You can go to either the tourist office in the middle of Diocletian’s Palace or the one on the Riva. Most museums are 50% off, and there are also some discounts at restaurants. The card is free, so it’s worth the 10 minute detour from your wandering to go get it.
  • Don’t be surprised if your Airbnb host or your hotel asks for your passport info. They are required by the Croatian police to register all of their international guests, and they need your passport to do so. They’re not trying to run some scam.
  • The airport in Split does not open early. The check in desk didn’t open until 5 AM; going through security was quick, and so was boarding. It seemed chaotic, but we were ready to go for our 6:10 AM flight by 6:05 AM.
  • Croatia is a great destination for Americans who are traveling long-term for 2022 and potentially 2023, but maybe not so great afterwards. The reason we chose Croatia as our first stop is that it was the closest country to our landing spot, Rome, Italy, that was not in the Schengen Zone. However, while as of 2021, Croatia expected to join the Schengen Zone in 2022, in May, 2022, Slovenia threatened to block Croatia’s accession into the Schengen Zone. Why does this matter to a long-term traveler? There are currently 26 countries in Europe which are part of the Schengen Zone, and as a non-Schengen Zone country passport holder, we Americans (and you Canadians, Mexicans, etc.) can only stay in Schengen Zone countries for 90 out of any rolling 180 day period. I even built a spreadsheet to track our time in and out of the Schengen Zone, as failure to adhere to the 90 day period can lead to being banned from reentering the Schengen Zone (see question #14 in the FAQs linked to). While we’ve loved our time in Split, we’re not sure that we would use time in our 90 day Schengen Zone period to go there in the future if Croatia was a part of the Schengen Zone. I’m pretty sure that the benefits of friction free travel into Croatia from other EU countries far outweighs the potential loss of a few non-Schengen travelers who use Croatia as a stopping point while their Schengen clocks reset.

Here are some random observations from our long-term travels so far.

  • Do a GuruWalk (#aff) free tour on your first full day after arriving. This is a great way to give you a lay of the land of where you’re staying. We were not able to book the tour on our first day of our four day trip in Vienna, Austria, and we wound up duplicating ourselves quite a bit. We’ve already booked our free walking tours for the next stop in our travels.
  • Chasing weather is important. We previously realized that the weather in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico is way better in February than it is in the middle of the summer. The great climate is one of the reasons we were so intrigued by Medellin, Colombia. The weather in Split was, for the most part, great. Towards the end of our stay, it started to get a little warm. We know that our next destination, Istanbul, Turkey, is going to be warmer, and we’re going to have to sweat through it; however, we made plans for August based on the varying climates in Europe as well as Schengen Zone considerations. Longer term, though while 2023 travel will be tied up to some life events (milestone birthdays for me and my mother-in-law and the appurtenant travel) and world events (the 2023 Women’s World Cup), going forward, we want to try to chase spring as much as possible.
  • Bring clothespins. They turn out to be incredibly handy for closing coffee bags and hanging or pinning things up.
  • Bring Benadryl. See above.
  • Bring a wine stopper. We looked for three weeks until we found a wine stopper. That meant for three weeks, we had to finish a bottle of wine whenever we started it. #firstworldproblems
  • Download Google Translate onto your phone and then download an offline copy of the local language. Most places have wifi, but not all of them. Some places in Diocletian’s Palace have pretty weak cell reception because you’re in the middle of tons of brick. We had limited cell reception in Klis, although the free wifi extended throughout most of the fortress. So, having a downloaded Google Translate copy of Croatian was very useful, either when we were in a museum trying to decipher an exhibit or at the butcher trying to figure out what the piece of meat we were looking at was. Most Croatians speak some English, but, especially in the markets, not all of them do, and being able to communicate in their language is helpful.
  • Bring reusable bags. Some of the vendors in the markets have small bags, but we have found that it is easier to have our own to consolidate everything. Plus, if you go to the grocery stores – Spar, Tommy, Studenac, Konsum – they will charge you for each bag of theirs that you use, just like they do in some places in the United States. We have a couple that roll up into little balls for easy storage, and we have definitely gotten our money’s worth out of them.
  • Buy dog treats if you want to meet locals. I’ve been buying a bag of dog treats and bringing them with me whenever we go wandering. It’s a good way to start a conversation with a local. It’s easier to bribe a dog than a local!
  • Multi-plug adapters are a godsend. I have been using the Bestek Universal Adapter (#aff), and it’s awesome. I can plug in a bunch of USB cables, my CPAP, and my computer at the same time, and still have plugs to spare.
  • We can’t wing it as much as we thought that we could. We assumed that there would be abundant supply of long-term lodging, and we could kind of wing it and figure out where we were going as we went along. I loved the serendipity of picking a random place and going there for a weekend when I was stationed in Germany. That’s simply not possible with long-term travel. In looking ahead, we’re finding that there are really few places that we’d want to stay in our upcoming stops because most of them just aren’t available. As a result, we’ve already booked most of our lodging for most of our cities for the upcoming months. I suspect that for our next long-term trip in 2023, we’ll plan well in advance; the only thing that we’re waiting on is the draw for the Women’s World Cup in New Zealand. Once that’s made, we’ll lay out the itinerary. Does it reduce spontaneity? Yes. Does it prevent us from doing the backpacker trail and finding new places as we go? Yes. Does it mean we’re not stuck in a 2.1* rated Airbnb for a month? Yes.
  • Make sure you are registered to be able to vote abroad. I used Vote From Abroad to register, because they have forms that you can e-mail rather than needing to print and mail. I’m personally interested in voting for candidates who do not believe that the coup attempt on January 6, 2021 was “legitimate political discourse.”

A Little Longer Discussion on the Hub and Spoke Strategy

We tend to agree with many long-term travelers (e.g. Geekstreamers, Earth Vagabonds, and Our Freedom Years) that a month or so in each place that we want to stay is about the right amount of time to stay in a location.

We’ve discovered that on the first couple of days upon arriving in a place, we want to get a lay of the land by doing a free walking tour and do our laundry and unpack. We also need to buy groceries and see if there are any things that we need to go procure for our Airbnb. For example, in the Airbnb in Split, we needed to buy a spatula and get the water kettle replaced. We’re going to have down days during our time in a given location, no matter how large or small the location is. The last couple of days are for hitting up the last-minute places we want to see, such as, in the case of this stop, the Archaeology Museum and the Mestrovic Museum, as well as packing up to get ready for the next place.

But, there are lots and lots and lots of places in the world to see. When we’re in Europe, we want to hit up some of the other places, even if we’re not going to stay there for a long time.

During our Split trip, we happened to serendipitously have a friend who was nearby (relatively speaking) in Munich, and he wanted to meet us somewhere in the middle. So, we decided to meet him in Vienna for four days.

Four days was not enough.

Vienna was a large enough city that there was enough there to keep us occupied for a month, easily. However, we could have probably hit all of the highlights and not run ourselves ragged by staying there for seven days. Plus, had we stayed seven days, we could have gotten a discount on an Airbnb.

There’s a difference between a day trip, such as to Klis Fortress, outside of Split, and a pack a bag and get on some form of long-distance transport trip, like to Vienna. We spent five days in Guadalajara, Mexico while staying in Puerto Vallarta, and that felt a little rushed as well.

So, we think that the concept is good – hit up another place we want to see that is within hailing distance of where we’ve camped out – however, the execution needs to be a little better thought out, namely, staying for seven days rather than four or five days.

It’s still quite easy and possible to pack a carry-on for a seven day trip somewhere. We leave our main bag in our Airbnb and travel light.

Yes, it’s more expensive to pay for two sets of lodging. We could just store luggage somewhere or carry it with us. We will be doing that later on in the year with another one of our trips, but we have a plan for our next location to do a longer-term spoke destination, and we’ll definitely make it at least seven days. The benefit of staying in a longer-term location is that we don’t feel like we’re sacrificing our primary destination and losing out when we’re seeing a secondary destination in the interim. We can hit up the secondary destination and treat it like a vacation – no laundry to do, probably no grocery runs, etc. Furthermore, if we do stay in Airbnbs, we can get a weekly discount if we stay for seven days, which does reduce the financial burden of paying for two sets of lodging concurrently. In the future, we may decide that tacking on a new city for a week between longer-term stops is the better way to go; we’ll have a better idea of which we prefer later in the year.

Costs for 28 Days in Split

While I am including the costs of the 4 day trip to Vienna in our evaluation, since we are looking at the long-term feasibility of the hub and spoke approach to long-term travel, I shall also break out the pure Split costs and provide a monthly cost as if we had not made that trip so that people who want to look at Split as a long-term option know what it would cost them.

Here’s what it cost us for the time that we were in Split, including our trip to Vienna:

Category Amount
Airbnb $1,617.61
Amortized travel to Europe costs (our transatlantic cruise, travel insurance, and flight back home) $900.76
Travel to Split From Rome $804.70
Cash withdrawn $852.21
Spent on credit cards in Split $1,382.72
Spent in four day trip in Vienna, Austria $1,929.34
Total spent $7,487.34
Monthly cost $8,133.57

However, if you want to stick to Split in your travels and not do the hub-and-spoke strategy, this is how much it would cost to stay solely in Split:

Category Amount
Airbnb $1,617.61
Amortized travel to Europe costs (our transatlantic cruise, travel insurance, and flight back home) $900.76
Travel to Split From Rome (what I thought I booked the first time) $332.70
Cash withdrawn $695.30
Spent on credit cards in Split $2,150.90
Total spent $5,697.27
Monthly cost $6,188.99

Conclusions

We thoroughly enjoyed Split. We felt like 28 days was the right amount of time to spend there. Had we stayed longer, we probably would have started getting itchy feet and starting to get antsy. We loved the history of the city, the climate, and the oceanfront community. As long as it is not in the Schengen Zone, it would be a place we’d consider coming back to for another stay on another European trip. When it joins the Schengen Zone, that will be a different story, and it may not make the cut line for a 90 day period inside the Schengen. Time will tell.

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Jason Hull was the co-founder of Broadtree Partners, a firm that acquires $1-5MM EBITDA companies. He also was the co-founder of open source search consultancy OpenSource Connections, a premier Solr and ElasticSearch firm. He and his wife FIREd (financial independence retire early) at 46 and 45, respectively. He has a BS from the United States Military Academy at West Point and a MBA from the University of Virginia Darden Graduate School of Business. He held a CFP certification from 2015 - 2021. You can read more about him in the About Page. If you live in Johnson County, Texas or the surrounding areas, he and his wife are cash buyers of Johnson County, Texas houses.

5 thoughts on “Trip Report: Four Weeks in Split, Croatia

  1. Hey, it was so great getting to hang out with you all! We really enjoyed Split as well. Our spending there was similar to yours (excluding the cruise). We agree that Croatia is a great reset spot outside of the Schengen – maybe some of their neighbors will benefit when they eventually join. Looking forward to hearing about Istanbul. živjeli!

    1. I’m so glad that the geek (travel?) Fates conspired to bring us together! We should do that again someday! 😉

      I know we owe you a note back in our other conversation. We’re here in Istanbul. The 2:00 AM wake up call is brutal…it’s like we’re having to go to work or something! We’re looking forward to your write up on Split as well.

  2. Wow! Great, thorough post. We liked Split, too, though we stayed in Omis, a tad south.

    One of these months we’re gonna cross paths 😉

    Happy travels – Life is Now!

    1. Hello! Good to have you over here! I feel like the host who forgot to make coffee for his guests! 😁

      We never got down to Omiš, but know of some other people who really enjoyed it. One of the things we’re discovering is that there are other places we’d like to see from a given place (eg Krka or Plitvice), and we have to balance it out with seeing other places that are within striking distance (like our trip to Vienna). Fortunately, we have tons of time to figure that out!

      I’d be extremely thrilled if our paths crossed at some point. We’re doing SE Asia at some point next year in conjunction with the Women’s World Cup in soccer, so there’s a chance we’ll overlap there. We also will certainly be doing Latin America periodically, as we don’t want all of those Spanish language lessons to go to waste!

      Hope Ellen’s arm is healing quickly and with minimal discomfort! We’re glad you two have been able to get back on the road!

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