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Balkan roadtrip: lifetime adventure!

Balkans travel map

Balkan roadtrip

 There's certain magic about discovering the world. Magic in sipping the coffee on the sea coast and enjoying every minute of the travel, knowing that there's absolutely no need to hurry anywhere. And that's exactly what I like. To cut off from the world full of tasks, deadlines; to spare a minute to just sit in the silence, look at the surrounding mountains and say: what a wonderful world. 
That was the main reason why we even thought about such a long summer roadtrip.
After 11 countries we have crossed, 5500km we have spent in the car and 3 weeks of the travel, I couldn't feel happier about what we've achieved. 
 However, the destination wasn't settled for some time. While discussing the travel plans, R. said something about the Dracula's castle, and my mind couldn't help but wonder - how amazing would it be, to make a great roadtrip in the Balkan region with the destination right in the Transilvania's heart. Both of us, with the enthusiasm shared the ideas about how our dream trip would look like, but deep inside we already knew that it's gonna be one of the best journeys of our lives.

Countries in Balkan region are: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegowina, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Macedonia, Croatia, Romania, sometimes also Slovenia is counted in, and not visited by us this time: Kosovo, Serbia and Greece. 
During the roadtrip, which took place from Austrian Graz, we have crossed the border of Italy, Slovakia and Hungary. Below you can see the general map of the travel.

Travelling in the Balkan region

Balkans are a little bit forgotten land and to be honest, I have never been truly interested in visiting those countries before either. Croatia seemed to be interesting because of the beaches located by the Adriatic sea, same as the Albanian coast, but I didn't know much about the rest of the countries. This summer, luckily I found out how much I was missing out. 
First of all, there are many types of travelers. I know people who are fine with just a coffee drank on the balcony (like my mum - but I showed her a little bit of Sweden last year), there are crazy adventure seekers, calm people resting on the beaches, hitchhikers, campers, and many more. The most important is to find the way that suits you. The crazy society creates a picture of great travels that are only located on the awesome Hawaiian beaches - but the true beauty can be find everywhere, and the travel of your lives can happen even a few kilometers from your home. There's no ultimate rule about it. 
Balkans are perfect when it comes to the multiple ways you can discover them. But if you read my blog for quite some time, you may already know that I'm an active person. I love to take my rest, but I love to discover as well - and luckily my boyfriend is the same. Our choice was simple and included travelling in Balkans by car, sleeping in it (with the foam mattress), wild camping and sleeping in the tent, hostels and affordable hotels. 
Even though I wanted to plan our stops before the travel took place, after I realized how much work is it, and how much it would tie us to a certain plan, both of us dropped the idea. Spontaneously was the key! So we simply marked which countries we want to see to be able to calculate the needed fuel and daily budget, and then we just drove...

What's useful to take for a car road-trip in Balkans? 

When it comes to a car travel (Ford Fusion) we could use a lot of space. We were the only travellers so we were switching as drivers. The foam mattress was rolled by us for the time of the travel and placed in the back seats. The baggages (including the tent and second mattress) were easily fitting in the trunk, and that allowed us to have a good visibility of the road while driving. Except of this it's good to take:
- Mini cooker with the gas refills (one it's 2h of cooking, we used 2 in 3 weeks). With no problem you can transport it through the border and it would allow you to cook the meals in any spot.
- A pot, pan, cutlery, good knife and mugs. It's a nice idea to bring with you a few plastic bowls with the lid. After we prepared the meals, we were taking them in thoxe lunch-boxes so we could stop and eat after the long ride. They are also useful for storing other ingredients. I bought mine in Ikea (those with blue lids). 
- Water. Always had with us 6-pack of bottled water for drinking, cooking, sometimes also for bathing to flush out the salt from our skin.
- DSLR is something I don't travel without. It's good to take the car chargers for your cameras and other gear. You can charge your things in the hostels, but also you may use a special charger that allows charging with the standard plug. 
- Roaming package. 200mb (Internet + calls) for 9 euro. We both used it. Unfortunately it only worked in the European Union. It helped us find the spots that we didn't see on the map. Of course it was also useful for letting my mum know that I'm alive. :-) 
- Food: dry (pasta, rice, cuscous), cans with veggies (corn, peas, beans etc.), spices, coffee, tea. I can't imagine spending my vacation on an unhealthy fast-foods. Not only it doesn't bring anything good for the body but also fills the stomach only for a short time. Cooking by yourself is a great way to know that you consume the meals that contain vitamins and minerals. Of course we didn't resign from eating the good, local cuisine.
- Mattress and sleeping bags if you plan to sleep in the tent.
- Better to take the local currency with you. But if it's not possible for some reason, take Euro with you. Exchange it mostly in the banks, because the rate is better there (especially in Croatia)
- Shoes for swimming is a must need for the rocky beaches and sea-urchins
- Eco-cosmetics for bathing in the sea, lakes and rivers
- Micro-fiber towels. They take almost no space, they're handy and dry amazingly fast
- Basic tools for the car (wheel, jack, first aid kit)

 Budget for Balkan roadtrip

It all depends on your needs, how you want to travel, how long and what you want to see. It's always easier to share the coast with the people you travel. There are plenty of ways to discover Balkans and all of them are equally good. Our travelling friend Michal from Czech Republic was able to make almost the same way by himself - used hitchhiking and slept in the tent. He proved everything is possible even for the students who are short with money. 
Our budget included:
- fuel (diesel, around 200 euro for 5500km)

- food (cooking by ourselves with local ingredients, fresh fruits, visits in good local restaurants) 
- accommodations (camping spots, hostels, hotels) - the second half of the places was for free
- additional expenses: green cards (we forgot to check and our was expired, that was an unexpected cost), minor souvenirs, entrance tickets (castle, national park)
The total amount was: 825 euro for two people (my part: 412 euro).

Why do I say it's a budget trip?

The travel included 3 weeks (21 days) and thousands of kilometers. This time allowed us to see the beauty of amazing places. We had the possibility of choosing where do we sleep, what do we eat and when do we travel. We weren't limited by anything. Everything depends on the point of view, however considering all of it, it's more than a fair price.
People sometimes have a feeling that "budget" means eating instant soups in the tent, having tuna in the cans and refusing to spend any additional money. In my opinion budget means a great organization which allows to have a lifetime journey and visit places which would be normally too expensive to just stay always in the hotels.
I know it's possible to make even longer trips and pay less (hitchhiking, couch-surfing). And I also know that it's possible to just spend a week locked in the hotel (or hotel's pools), eat the same provided food over and over and end up with the same expenses.
When it comes to me, I wouldn't change a thing about my journey.

Why do I share the Balkan roadtrip idea? 

Well, you can say: "You had a nice vacations, good for you". But what's the point of sharing it all? My main goal is to inspire young people to make something adventurous, to get up from the couch and start exploring. It doesn't have to be far, it doesn't have to be expensive. But it must make you happy, make you feel alive.
Not everybody's a traveller, I know that. But if somehow I'd be able to inspire at least one person, it's already worth.
So feel free to follow the newest category of my posts about the Balkan trip, share your own ideas, travel histories and don't hesitate to ask questions.

Our morning view on the Adriatic sea.
Our handmade travel mugs.

1 komentarz:

  1. I am planing to do such thing and I'm am so happy you made a post about it :) thanks so much!


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