When we set out to plan, for our trip to Hungary and Croatia for our first year wedding anniversary, I don't think we anticipated the difficulties that we would come across. We had planned a 17 day backpacking trip last year for our honeymoon that took us through 7 countries. We completed the bookings for that in one drunken night. It was pretty easy. We thought it would be even easier this time around, only going to two countries. What we found through is that Croatia and Hungary aren't as easy to get around as Western Europe.
We knew we wanted to visit Budapest in Hungary. We also knew that we wanted to go to Croatia. We knew for a fact that, in Croatia, we wanted to go to Dubrovnik and Plitvice Lakes National Park. We also noted that we would like to visit Zagreb, Split, and Zadar if we had the time. When we started the planning process, only having 11 days (2 of them being for travel) we decided we should minimize the trip down to a couple cities. We decided on Budapest, Drubrovnik, and Zagreb. We wanted to take a day trip to the National Parks from Zagreb.
We always start our planning by booking plane tickets. When we finally went to buy tickets, we had wished we had bought them earlier. The price had gone up a little bit, and there was not many options to choose from. One of the problems we ran into was finding a layover that was more than an hour. While traveling overseas, I like to have at least a 2 hr layover. We found only one flight on Friday night with a layover over 2 hours. Air France, stopping in Paris. We decided to book with them. The flights cost us a little over $2300 for the both of us. This price included a package deal with a 4 night stay in the Corinthia Hotel in Budapest though, making it a very good deal! We booked the package through Expedia, using a $500 gift card we received by participating in a Expedia Twitter chat. Thanks Expedia!
The second thing we had to do was figure out how were were going to get city to city. This process helped us to narrow down just where in Croatia we would be going. We had discovered in the plane ticket process that flying in and out of Budapest was much cheaper than flying in and out of Croatia. Originally, we were going to stay in Budapest last, but we decided that we would stay there first, for 4 days. Next, we would go to Dubrovnik in southern Croatia and make our way North to eventually get back to Budapest again.
The problem was getting to Drubrovnik. There are no trains going in or out of Drubrovnik. Taking a bus from Budapest would take an entire day or more of travel, time that we did not want to waste. We would have to fly. We used SkyScanner to find a flight. We booked a flight with Czech Airlines using Expedia. The flight cost us about $400 for the two of us.
Next, we would need to get to the National Park somehow. We thought about staying in Split and taking one of the tours to the National Parks. However, upon further research, we discovered that Zagreb was an undersold city, and seemed more of a fit for us than Split. We also discovered that we could take a cheap bus ride to the National Parks and do a self guided tour from Zagreb. Paying for a tour didn't seem to be worth it. This way, we would be close to the airport and bus station to get back to Budapest eventually in order to fly out. To get there, would would also have to fly. We booked a flight through Croatian Airlines using Expedia. The tickets cost us just over $160 for the both of us.
Finally, we knew we eventually would have to get back to Budapest somehow. The cheapest option was to take a bus. We found a bus using Flixbus to get us there for $40 for the two of us.
The hard part was over, and now we could book hotels.
We always book in this order:
1. Flights from US to overseas
2. Transportation between cities
The reasoning for this is because the cost and the logistics of getting to and from each city might change as we find out how much it costs or what the best days to travel are.
We ended up booking the following hotels:
Corinthia Hotel Budapest in Budapest, Hungary Included in Package Deal with Airfare
Apartments More Dubrovnik in Dubrovnik, Croatia $444/3 nights
Hotel Esplanade Zagreb in Zagreb, Croatia $171/ 2 nights
Airport- Hotel Budapest in Budapest, Hungary $95/night
We used booking.com to book the Airport hotel. We booked the hotels in Budapest and Dubrovnik using Expedia.com (using the $500 gift card in the Budapest package). We also used a $50 gift card to book the Zagreb hotel on Orbitz.com that we won on the Orbitz Twitter Chat. Thanks Orbitz! As you can see, Twitter chats have been good to us! We highly recommend joining them.
Fly out of Boston on Air France
Fly into Budapest
Check into Corinthia Hotel Budapest
Day in Budapest
Day in Budapest
Day in Budapest
Check out of Corinthia Hotel Budapest
Fly to Drubbrovnik with Czech Airlines
Check into Apartments More Dubrovnik
Day in Dubrovnik
Day in Dubrovnik
Lunch in Montenegro? (by 20 min bus ride for 8 Euro pp)
Check out of Apartments More Dubrovnik
Fly to Zagreb
Check into Hotel Esplanade Zagreb
Day in Zagreb
Trip to Plitvice Lakes National Park
Check out of Hotel Esplanade Zagreb
Bus to Budapest with Flixbus
Check in to Airport Hotel Budapest
Check out of Airport Hotel Budapest
Metro or Taxi to Airport
Fly out of Budapest with Air France
Arrive in Boston
Note that while in Dubrovnik, we are hoping that we will see enough of the city that we can venture to Montenegro for lunch one afternoon. The bus trip is only 20 minutes and 8 Euros per person. If we go, it will make this trip a 3 country trip!
All in all, the entire trip will cost us about $5,000- $6,000 total, depending on what we spend day to day. Derek and I have found that depending on the city, we spend $200-$300 a day on food,drink, entertainment, and transportation. Though this might seem like a lot , we don't spend money on a lot of other things such as shopping, museum fees, souvenirs, or really anything else, so that we don't have to skimp on the experiences of food, drink and culture. We are assuming that we will spend less in Budapest per day than we will in Croatia (especially Dubrovnik).
Like always, we will only be taking a single backpack each, and a small purse. This way, we can easily take our bags as carry on and not have to check anything. We stay true to our name, The Backpacking Britts. After our journeys, we have learned a lot about what is important to bring on our trips. We did have to buy a couple things in preparation for this trip such as new breathable underwear, socks, books to read, new travel shoes from Clark's and some new summer traveling clothes (Columbia had an amazing sale).
The travel shoes will be really important. Brittany hurt her knee we were on a bike ride last weekend celebrating our anniversary. She ended up with IT Band Syndrome. We were really worried about canceling our trip. However, we did insure our trip with Insuremytrip.com so we could cancel if Britt's knee got worse. Brittany is slowly improving, and we are going to take the chance and go, knowing that we would miss the chance of a lifetime if we don't.
We are excited for this trip, and we worked hard to be able to go (we saved saved saved, and Britt worked summer school to be able to afford to go).
Please keep updated with us on social media where we will try to update you all during our trip. We will only be able to post when we have WiFi, so please be patient with us!
Facebook: Backpacking Britts - Derek