Jane Graham, a mother of four, gives us her take on indie travel in Croatia where great beaches, simple restaurants, and a laid-back mentality make for a destination that while not always child-equipped, is certainly child-friendlyLet’s be honest, taking a family vacation can sometimes be a far cry from the relaxing beach getaway you’d hoped for, especially if you opt to travel independently. There’s no babysitting service, and everything you do at home (including laundry) still needs to get done.
Even so, you shouldn’t be put off by well-meaning relatives and friends, who may suggest that once you’ve got kids, you’ll need a charter firm to take care of it all. Routine may be fine for 11 months of the year, but kids thrive on novelty and react badly to rigid itineraries and guidelines on vacation. Finding a country everyone likes, where there’s room to accommodate everyone’s wishes, can make all the difference. For our family, that country’s Croatia.
“With its warm Mediterranean climate, great resorts and beaches, clear blue sea, beautiful islands, and rough and dramatic landscapes, Croatia certainly rivals its Mediterranean neighbors as a top destination.”
While English-speaking travelers have been slower to seek out the charms of this Baltic country, German, Slovenian, Austrian, and Italian visitors have been coming in increasing numbers every summer since the war ended. With its warm Mediterranean climate, great resorts and beaches, clear blue sea, beautiful islands, and rough and dramatic landscapes, Croatia certainly rivals its Mediterranean neighbors as a top destination.
As a child-friendly destination, it excels, though it should be noted that Croatia is child-friendly rather than child-equipped. While you might be given a high chair in a restaurant, baby travel beds are few and far between (and often retro communist in style) and changing facilities are almost non-existent, but you’ll get by just fine without these things, spurred on by the warm welcome your children receive.
“Let your kids find their own ‘funny man’ waiter, and they’ll want to eat in the same konoba every night.”
Traveling with four kids, we found Croatia’s Catholic heritage worked in our favor, particularly with the older generation, who were pleased to see our very visible promotion of large families. At a gourmet restaurant in Stari Grad, the husband-and-wife kitchen team had our children crawling across the 500-year-old stone flagged floor with their own kids, while a gently teasing waiter’s jokes never seemed to get old, not even on the third occasion we dined there. Let your kids find their own “funny man” waiter, and they’ll want to eat in the same konoba every night.