This is part of a series where I break down the costs for airfare and lodging for a specific trip, as well as how much PTO time was spent. I am not including costs for food and activities as those prices fluctuate based on traveler preferences. In general, you can assume that airfare and lodging will be the bulk of your costs. All prices are in US dollars.
In November 2017, Icelandair published a fare for round trip flights between Minneapolis and London for $400. My husband gave me the thumbs-up and we booked it immediately for the following April. We had 5 months to plan the trip for myself, my husband and our 9 year-old.
We had 11 days to spend on this trip, which was more than enough time to go somewhere else in Europe. I spent a few weeks researching other destinations and decided on Croatia, a destination that’s been on my wish list for years. And to take it one step further, I decided to do a road trip through the country. Croatia is long and narrow – so in order to maximize the amount of time we could spend on our road trip, I decided to fly into the northern part of the country, drive all the way down, and fly out of the southern part. London to Zadar, Croatia on Ryanair: $69. Dubrovnik, Croatia back to London on Jet2: $103.
Croatia car rental
We booked our car through Sixt, a popular European car rental agency. We picked the car up in Zadar, and dropped it off in Dubrovnik six days later. Car Rental: $236 for six days, including full coverage insurance/$0 deductible
London hotel – Part 1
From the top: we first flew into London for two nights. The hotels here are notoriously expensive and I really struggled to find mid-range hotels that looked clean, were in a convenient location, and had good reviews. As an IHG Rewards Club member, I decided to go with the Holiday Inn Express in Southwark for our first stop in London. The hotel is only a ten minute walk from Southwark Tube Station and a twenty minute walk from Blackfriars Tube Station. Both are an easy connection to/from Gatwick and Stansted Airports. 1 Double Bed with Sofa: $172 per night, 2 nights
We spent two nights in London and then took a flight to Zadar, Croatia where we prepared for our road trip. I rarely book hotels in advance when we take a road trip in the US, we just drive along until it gets dark and then pull into the nearest hotel. Easy peasy. However, booking hotels on a road trip through Europe isn’t quite as simple. You’ll want to book your hotels in advance for the following reasons:
- Parking. European cities aren’t exactly car-friendly, so if you want to stay anywhere near the center of town it can be close to impossible to find a hotel with parking. Do your research.
- Location. If you’re only going to spend one night in a city, you don’t want your hotel to be so far away that you spend all your time traveling back and forth from the city center. The goal is to arrive in each city around midday, park the car, drop our luggage off in your room, and set out exploring on foot.
- Family-size rooms. We needed a room that could sleep three persons, which is not exactly standard in Europe. In the United States, you can count on most hotel rooms having either one king bed or two queen beds. But in Europe, the majority of hotel rooms have either one queen (double) bed, or two single beds, and sometimes even three single beds. This isn’t the best setup for a couple with a child. Do your research.
Zadar Hotel: I booked Guverna New City Accommodation because it was within walking distance to Sixt, the car rental company from which we’d booked a car. Guverna New City is also a great location if you come into Zadar by bus: the international bus station is right around the corner and adjacent to Sixt. Parking at Guverna New City is free: enter through the McDonald’s parking lot. Reception is at Door #4. We used Booking.com to reserve our room. Split-level Studio: $73 per night for two nights.
Split: We only had one night in Split, so we needed to be as close as possible to Diocletian’s Palace – the main Split attraction. We also needed parking. Prima Life Spalato fit the bill perfectly. Located on the top floor of a 5-story shopping center, the hotel is trendy, new and luxurious. They charge 20 Euros for a parking spot located about ten minutes walking distance from the hotel. (Bring Croatian Kunas anyway – everywhere that says they accept Euros would prefer Kunas). The hotel is directly across the street from the entrance to Diocletian’s Palace walls. I booked through Hotels.com, and then emailed the hotel directly for parking information. Deluxe Suite, City View: $138 for one night, plus $24 for parking
Mostar, Bosnia: We had one night to spend in Mostar, so we had to get a good location and the place had to have parking. We booked Motel Deny, right in the heart of the tourist center. It wasn’t the most luxurious hotel, but it was clean and had a great view from the balcony. Parking is free and directly in front of the hotel, but be sure to alert them well in advance that you’re bringing a car. One double bed and one single bed room: $89 for one night
Dubrovnik: I wanted to book some sort of resort for our last three nights in Croatia. I thought it’d be a great opportunity to spend a few days relaxing and unwinding from our road trip. There are multiple resorts in the small towns surrounding Dubrovnik; we went with Hotel Croatia in Cavtat. Cavtat is about a 30-minute drive from Dubrovnik, and 40 minutes by ferry. Valet parking at the resort is free, they have indoor and outdoor pools, and the resort is within walking distance to off-site restaurants (because we now know that resort restaurants are ridiculously expensive). We using Booking.com to reserve our room. Junior Suite: $252 per night for 3 nights
London hotel – Part 2
We flew back to London for our final night. I booked us at the Montana Hotel in the high-end Kensington area. The hotel is just a block away from Gloucester tube station, a great stop for easily getting to and from both Stansted and Heathrow airports. Unfortunately, this hotel was one of the worst places I’ve ever stayed in. Go look for one-star reviews on TripAdvisor for this place, you’ll find my rant there. Triple Room (one double bed, one twin bed): $193 for one night
My husband, son and I took this trip together. I’m splitting costs by two for the purposes of this breakdowns. All prices are in US dollars.
Airfare London-Minneapolis roundtrip on Icelandair: $400 per person
Airfare London-Zadar one-way on Ryanair and Dubrovnik-London one way on Jet2: $172
Hotels (all) in London for 3 nights: $538
Hotels (all) in Croatia for 7 nights: $1,040
Hotel in Bosnia for 1 night: $89
Total airfare per person: $572
Total lodging for 11 nights: $1,667 (split between 2 persons: $834)
Car rental for 6 days: $236 (split between 2 persons: $118)
GRAND TOTAL FOR ONE PERSON: $2,475
GRAND TOTAL WHEN SPLITTING LODGING AND CAR RENTAL: $1,524
Paid over the course of: 5 months
PTO time: 8 days