Tips for First-Time Travelers to the Balkans

So... it's your first time to the Balkans?  Don't worry, we got you covered, with some tips and interesting links below:

1. Know the History
The Balkans have a long and complicated history, involving many wars, the most recent of which ended in the 1990s.  Our guide, Silvije, has lived through a lot of this history and will be able to provide a unique first-hand perspective on this, but we suggest reading up a little on the countries before you come.  We like this brief history by BBC World News, or this super old-school breakdown by CNN.

2. Safety
Given this history, a lot of people (especially my parents...!) have a misconception that the Balkans are unsafe.  This is completely not true anymore - The war is over and the Balkans are a very safe, tourist-friendly region to travel in nowadays.  Of course you must always keep in mind the basics of safe traveling and keep a close eye on your valuables, but no travelers should be held back from visiting this amazing part of the world due to safety concerns.
We also take safety extremely seriously at TVP.  While we will be volunteering with the Mine Dog Detection Center, we will not actually be anywhere close to any mines or be put in any danger.  The NGO reserves de-mining activities for trained professionals only.  The projects we will be working on will involve repairing facilities for the dogs, and workshops around de-mining education.

3. Currency
While we will spend a little time in Montenegro, where they use the Euro, most countries we will visit will have their own currency.  Croatia uses the Croatian kuna, and Bosnia uses the Bosnia and Herzegovina convertible mark.  Hence, we suggest keeping this in mind when planning for your miscellaneous spending money and either taking cash out in these currencies before arriving, or doing so once we're in country.

4. Visas
If you are visiting from the US, the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, or Canada, you can enter all of the countries on this itinerary without needing a visa beforehand.

5. Food
You'll get to know the words Börek and Ćevapi on this trip :) Börek is a family of baked filled pastries made of a thin flaky dough known as phyllo that are typical in the Balkans.  The pastries can be filled with any number of things, like meat, cheese, spinach, potatoes.  Cevapi, or ćevapčići, is a grilled dish of minced meat, a type of skinless sausage.  In general, the Balkans cuisine typically involves a lot of meat -- However, we can always accommodate your individual dietary restrictions, so please be sure to flag any specific dietary requirements for us in your pre-travel checklist!

6. Get ready to go off-the-beaten path
Sure, we're taking you to Croatia, but with our partners at the Sailing Collective, we're making an effort to show you the Croatia beyond Yacht Week and your Instagram feed. We'll focus on undiscovered coves and islands, while at the same time showing you the typical ports like Dubrovnik.  However - beyond Croatia, you'll have the chance to experience a relatively undiscovered part of the world - Bosnia and Montenegro.  While these destinations are certainly creating more buzz and interest lately, they remain relatively undiscovered by the main tourist track.  So get pumped to forge the way to cause FOMO a destination envy among all of your friends :)

Any other questions, email us at info@thevacationproject.co

Thanks and see you on board!