Travel Notes: Croatia

Hello fellow travelers!

Today, I wanted to share my take on one of the many places that I’ve been fortunate to visit within the last couple of years: Croatia. It is a place that many people in the United States might not know much about – as it doesn’t get a lot of attention in movies, TV shows or other forms of media. Yet, it is a place that I consider to be one of the best destinations for those who like to explore.

When most Americans think of traveling to Europe, they think of the usual tourist destinations like London, Paris, Rome, and Berlin. And while these typical locations are certainly worthy of praise, frequent travelers might want to consider trying something new and venturing further east to Croatia.

Undiscovered Gem

With a population of only four million, Croatia is located in Southeastern Europe, far from the typical European tourist destinations, in an area known as the Balkan States. This “out of the way” placement has allowed Croatia to quietly develop into a unique destination of its own, without being overrun with tourists.

The country is set along the Adriatic Sea (a part of the Mediterranean) and has many charming towns and natural landscapes. Whether you’re looking to hike lush forests and trails that provide you with unmatched views, or if you would rather be sitting seaside basking in the sun – there’s something for everyone.

Coastal Towns

As opposed to a sprawling metropolis like Paris, Croatia’s biggest draws are its relatively small coastal towns. Perhaps the most popular of these is Split – a beautiful seaside city with a large port where cruises will often stop for a day. Split, like many places in Eastern Europe, has a sort of “old world” feel to it. The town is surrounded by white stone walls, and the orange tiled roofing of almost all of its buildings give the area a distinct Mediterranean quality.

Other worthwhile places to check out if you’re in the area include: Rovinj, Zadar, and Rab. You’ll notice that these types of towns have a consistent feel to them; however, they are uniquely Croatian.

I would recommend enjoying these towns during the sunny and breezy summer months. Croatia stays fairly sunny year-round – but it can get a little chilly during the winter. However, Kansas City gets far colder!

Living the Best Life

As I mentioned before, there is a sort of old-world appeal to Croatia and when you visit, you will learn to appreciate its slower paced lifestyle. Almost all of the areas I visited are very walkable or accessible by mass transportation, so traffic is not really an issue. There weren’t any booming car stereos, fast food chains or a Super Walmart.

Many Croatians enjoy a calmer, more peaceful approach to life. Many work in artisanal shops, walk from place to place and have a more modest view of things than many of us here at home.

As for food, Croatian cuisine is delicious. Their seafood is incredibly good, and their desserts are even better. I enjoyed several different types of desert pastries, cakes and other sweets. Amazingly, Croatians remain very healthy despite all of the tempting food – it must be the frequent walking.

*****

Ultimately, I rank Croatia as one of my favorite places to visit. It is such a unique experience for anyone coming from the United States, and its distinct culture allow Croatia to remain a place that is truly its own. It is certainly worth a visit from any traveler.

~ Michael Gortenburg Kansas City, Founding Principal of Eighteen Capital Group (18CG)

Advice for Landing a Nice Room with Airbnb

You can get a stylish room for a decent price on Airbnb if you know how to properly use the platform.

It never ceases to amaze me just how dramatically technology can change the way we live our lives. When the personal computer was introduced, it took a couple of years for use to become mainstream – but now you would be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t use a computer throughout the day.

Now with the smart phone and constant access to the internet, we have more options available to us than ever before and entire industries are being revolutionized – including the travel industry.

You may know by now that traveling is one of my favorite hobbies, and one of the biggest technological changes to affect traveling is Airbnb.

For those who might not know, Airbnb is a platform that allows users to host/rent rooms with a simple tap of the finger. Hosts prepare a room in their home or property and place an ad on the platform which then allows guests to browse and secure dates for the room as needed. Airbnb rooms essentially function as a less expensive hotel room – or even an apartment for long-term use.

The great thing about Airbnb is that it gives shared control of the stay to the host and guest, without corporate policies getting in the way of a mutually beneficial deal. And Airbnb rooms can be found all over the world – opening up new traveling options that would otherwise be impossible.

Today, I’d like to share some quick tips for using Airbnb to maximize your traveling plans.

Review the Listing Carefully

Reading the full review and paying attention to small details can mean the difference between an amazing stay and a bad experience.

It goes without saying that you should take a careful look at any listing before booking. Some hosts will have “creative” ads to entice guests, and while they may have the best intentions, you want to ensure that the place fits your expectations on your trip.

For example, sometimes a room may be described as “cozy” but should really say “small.” Or if a listing says “private” but doesn’t indicate a separate room – there may just be a curtain blocking your bed from view of three other people in a shared room.

Make sure to look at the photos that are posted. Does the room look clean? Does it show all of the things listed in the ad? A picture is worth a thousand words.

Most Airbnb hosts are honest enough with their listings (they want good reviews after all), but it’s always best to really look over the ad to avoid any disappointment. Speaking of reviews, read them. Reviews will also give insight into the listing as well as the host. If a host has dozens of positive reviews claiming that the spot is a good deal, is clean, is convenient, etc. – then it’s a safe bet that you will enjoy your stay there.

Like all things, learning how to spot a good deal on Airbnb can take some time and experience. The higher the price for your stay, the nicer the place will be – but you can find some really good deals on a room that fits both your expectations and budget with a little investigating.

Booking for Deals

Book your room at the rice place at the right time for extra savings on your trip.

When you are booking Airbnb rooms, it’s important to understand and anticipate any fluctuations that may affect pricing. For example, if the place you’re traveling to has a tourist season, the prices might be higher during a time when more people are booking Airbnb stays.

Naturally, hosts don’t want to lose out on any opportunities so keep this in mind when booking your stay. One way to grab the best deals and the best rooms is by booking weeks in advance. One of the benefits to Airbnb is being able to seamlessly secure a stay, but you will get better deals and better rooms by taking the time to book early.

Depending on how long you will be in the area, you may want to book for extended stays (a couple of weeks or even months.) Airbnb and even hosts will factor in discounts for extended stays – saving you hundreds of dollars that you would have otherwise paid for the spot.

When you do book a room MAKE SURE YOU BOOK THROUGH TO THE NEXT DAY!

Airbnb calculates the last day as move-out day, so book through to the day you want to leave.

Contacting Hosts & Support

Airbnb has a phenomenal customer support team who are available at all hours in case there is an issue with your stay. If you are unhappy with your room or if you cannot contact the host – the Airbnb support team will work tirelessly to address your concerns.

They are also known to offer you discounts or comped services if things don’t work out with your experience. For example, if a host accepts your booking but does not coordinate with you for your arrival, you may want to contact Airbnb support as they can offer you hundreds of dollars in credit toward another room. That means you will get a much nicer stay for the same price.

Also, it is always a good idea to contact hosts prior to your stay. Some hosts leave their listings in auto-accept, but may never check their app – meaning they might not know that you’re arriving! To avoid any issues with your trip, just contact the host through the Airbnb platform before your stay and sure up everything.

Final Thoughts

Travel the globe and get great places to stay through the power of your mobile phone.

Airbnb’s are a great experience and a great deal for anyone looking to travel on a budget or for people who want to avoid stuffy hotels. A lot of Airbnb rooms are really nice places with even nicer hosts who will entertain you and give you a glimpse into the life of a local.

When you use Airbnb, make sure that you are respectful and treat the room as if it were your own. There is a review system after all, which could determine your opportunities later on. And make sure to leave an honest review of your stay – it keeps the platform accurate and hosts always appreciate good feedback and credibility.

Hopefully you can use these tips on your next trip if you’re interested in using Airbnb.

Safe travels,

~ Michael Gortenburg Kansas City, Missouri