top of page
  • Writer's pictureKristin

Croatia Trip | Traveling with a 21-month old

Updated: Feb 15, 2021

Earlier this year, I came home from work one day and Alex proposed, "Do you want to go to Croatia for vacation this year?" To be honest, I hadn't ever really thought much about going to Croatia and didn't really know much about it. But in my traveling spirit, I said, "Sure!" However, as time passed, we started to think more about the actual logistics of the trip, especially with our daughter Clara who would be 20-21 months old at the time. I had always told myself that I wasn't going to be one of those parents that stopped traveling abroad just because they had small children. However, when we started to think of the 10+ hour plane ride, lack of routine and the 9 hour time change, it was a little daunting. However, it was amazing how quickly she adapted and I'm so glad we started our overseas travel with her!

Initially, due to some upcoming expenses (i.e. new roof in 2016) that we knew we needed to take care of in the next year or so, we were going to stay close to North America. However, a hailstorm and some insurance coverage helped cover those upcoming expenses, we were able to head to Europe in late September 2015.

Syrian Refugee Crisis

Then about a week before we were to depart, the news story hit about the Syrian refugees coming through Croatia and being held because Slovenia wasn't wanting to accept any refugees. We were mostly concerned because we didn't want them to close any border crossings while we were there and possibly become stuck. In addition, we didn't want to come up against any violence that seemed to be happening in some other countries in Europe. However, we closely monitored the situation until the day of our departure and things looked stable, so we went for it! (We were mostly going to be spending time on the coast, which most of the refugees would be coming through the mainland of Croatia, so we didn't think we'd be affected.) We're glad we did decide to go for it because even during our time in the capital city of Zagreb, we couldn't see any trace of refugees. Granted we may have been in the wrong place, but we definitely weren't affected.

Traveling with a 21 Month Old

By the time we flew to Croatia, our Clara had done an 8 hour car ride, so I was feeling a little better about keeping her entertained. It was the time change that I was most nervous about. She did absolutely perfect on the plane ride - including a connection in Toronto and in Amsterdam. The only thing that could have been improved was maybe just slightly more sleep. We kept busy with playing games on the iPad, playing with stickers and reading books. By the time we settled into our hotel that evening, she was so tired that she fell right asleep, and miraculously slept until the next morning when we woke her up. The subsequent nights she also slept through the night, and pretty much adjusted to the time change quickly; although it might have helped that her naps were typically shorter than normal. (However, coming home was the opposite, it probably took her about 7-9 days to normalize again.)

Clara did great throughout the trip as well. She did nap some during long car rides, but one of the best spots to get her to fall asleep was in her hiking backpack. About every 2-3 days if she hadn't gotten a decent nap in the carrier or in her car seat, we would take a low key afternoon and let her sleep at our place of accommodation. She kept us busy, as her favorite thing to do was run; but it was it was fun to see her explore and see new things, and she was very flexible. She may have not known the significance of some of the things we saw, but I know she knew that it was a special trip and she was happy to be along! She also discovered gelato and became a true fan of that! We may have used gelato as bribery a few times throughout the trip...


Our first night in the hotel, was only one of two nights that we spent in a hotel room. This trip we tried something completely different than what we had done before and stayed at all places off of Basically most of the places on Airbnb were holiday apartments that locals rented out to guests. Because we were there in the off-season the prices were slightly discounted as well. My personal favorite part of them is that you got a touch of the culture by meeting and talking with the local owner, and a sense of what it feels like be a local there. It was also very advantageous to have an apartment type set-up with our daughter because we could put her to bed at night in a separate room without having to hide in the bathroom or patio while she slept. Plus we were able to have breakfast there before heading out for the day and sometimes made dinner as a cost saver. All the places we stayed at were great and we really enjoyed this new aspect of our traveling! We will definitely be staying at more places on Airbnb in the future.

A Little Background on Croatia

One of the highlights of going to Croatia was that it has a Venetian history, so a very Italian feel, but without the expensive cost that sometimes comes with traveling to Italy. (This Venetian flair is mostly on the coast - the inland doesn't have as much). The Croatian currency was the Kuna, and 5 Kuna = $1 CND (or 7 Kuna = $1 USD) at the time of our trip.

When you read the guidebooks and talked to some locals, they all talked about how the local Croatians really struggle to keep up with their daily expenses and most people are living in debt. However, because we were mostly just eating food, we didn't really notice this price discrepancy as much as we had heard about...we're assuming it has more to do with housing and low salaries. A coffee with milk was 6-12 Kuna (although their coffee isn't the drip coffee like in North America - it's like a shot of espresso with milk in it). And we took many trips to the grocery store and found the food to be similarly priced to food here in Canada, with the exception of the milk! It was much less expensive there.

Because of Croatia's Venetian influence, the food is very similar to Italy's cuisine as well on the coast. There was lots of pasta to choose from, pastries (I love European bakeries!) pizza, and of course, my favorite from my own travels to Italy - gelato! The gelato was also reasonably priced - the cheapest we saw was 5 Kuna and the most expensive 10 Kuna. This is as costly as a McDonalds ice cream cone back home, but so much better tasting! We may have went a bit overboard, with sometimes up to 3 gelatos a I hang my head in embarrassment. But some of the gelatos were beautiful as well! Each flavor had an extravagant display of what flavor it was. For instance, the candy flavored ones had the actual candy bar on top, but it wasn't just sprinkled; the displays were over the top!

Initially Clara started off with sharing a gelato with either my husband or I - and most of the gelato places always gave her her very own cone to snack on - but by the second or third day, she was pretty much eating all of mine, so she got her own! (Plus, it was so cheap!...and I wanted to eat my own ice cream.) The little gelato shops were everywhere in the Old Towns that we visited, and she quickly started to recognize them and when she saw them, she would say, "Ice cream, ice cream". The gelato was definitely her favorite meal of the day.

My husband and I had to always refer to it as 'gelato' otherwise if we said 'ice cream' we were hooped. We even went to a local gelato shop when we came back home and she recognized it was ice cream from outside the door. You can say we conditioned her well.

Beauty of Croatia

The sites in Croatia were pretty amazing as well. We had a really balanced trip of visiting places in the cities, especially the Old Towns, and places out in nature. We ended up bringing a small stroller and a hiking backpack for our daughter. Even though it was a pain to lug around in the airports, we're glad that we brought both. We had some tremendous hikes, and our small stroller was perfect for the Old Town streets. At one point we had considered bringing our BOB stroller - if we had done that, I can't imagine the number of sidewalk jams we would have had, as well as how much we would have stuck out like a sore thumb! The Old Towns were amazing and it was hard to believe how long ago these towns were built, and it was cool to see the Old Towns with their city walls intact as well.

My personal favorite parts of the trip were the natural places we visited. When we first started to research about Croatia we had heard about Plitvice National Park. The only difficult part was that it was kind of off the beaten path of most of the coastal towns that we wanted to visit. Therefore, part of our reason for flying into Zagreb was so that we could hit up Plitvice on our drive out to the coast. [We rented a car for the entire duration of the trip - a definite 'nice to have' with a toddler. It was also where she got most of her naps during the trip, as we tried to plan the longer drives around her nap time.

I'm so glad that we decided to go to Plitvice though - it is basically a mecca of waterfalls! I've been blessed to see many beautiful places around the world, but this is probably in the top 3 of the most beautiful I've been to! The weather was a bit miserable, it was rainy and only about 8-10 C for a high that day, but luckily the scenery was a good distraction. When we initially started the morning we thought we would probably only be able to do the main hiking loop (C Trail) as it would be too cold and wet to do all of them like we had originally wanted to. However, the views were too impressive to pass up the other trail and we went for the F loop as well (which had much less tourists on the paths and provided a little more serenity). Luckily 8-10 C didn't feel as cold as it sometimes does back home too!

The waterfalls were pretty much everywhere you looked as you hiked along the wooden pathway system that stretched through the Park, over the water and right next to the waterfalls. There were big waterfalls, small waterfalls - it was absolutely magnificent! Clara loved the hike as well. She loved to look at the waterfalls and the water was so clear that she could see the fish, as well as the ducks. She also took a good nap in the backpack, which gave us some good exploring time. By the time it was all said and done, we had spent 5 hours hiking/exploring Plitvice. However, it's pretty much all even elevation, so it wasn't too strenuous.

Based on our experience at Plitvice we decided to hit up the other large National Park further south on our route - Krka National Park. This was also beautiful with one really large fall and then some smaller ones (just not as numerous as at Plitvice). However, I've never seen so many waterfalls like this, so I've dubbed Croatia as 'land of the waterfalls.'

On the nature side of things, we also enjoyed hiking Vidova Gora (778 meter summit) on the Island of Brac, a bike ride through Marjan Forest Park in Split and during our stay in Kotor, Montenegro a hike to the Kotor Fortress with spectacular views of the Bay of Kotor.

We had an amazing trip and Croatia was a great place to visit! The following post will be a day-by-day itinerary of our trip!

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page