The World Nomads Podcast: Croatia

Are we loving Croatia to death? How a bathtub saved travelers from Hurricane Irma, the ultimate gap year travel guide.


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Episode 1 - Croatia

Croatia is currently booming. Tourism numbers are growing year on year, so clearly many travelers love it there. But, for the nomad in us there's so much more to explore. With the help of travel experts, Podcast Producer Kim Napier and World Nomads' Phil Sylvester set out to discover some of those lesser known places, and amid the influx of people ask if it’s possible to love a place to death?

Plus, in light of a warning that over-crowding is threatening Dubrovnik's world heritage listing status, and a swathe of 'anti-tourist' laws being introduced in other destinations on Earth, we ask if it's possible to love a place to death?

In Travel News we speak to a family who had to shelter from Hurricane Irma by huddling in a bathtub! You have to hear the sound the wind makes.

And are you considering taking a gap year - then listen as we speak to Martin Hong from World Nomads who has put together a Gap Year Guide with everything you need to know about planning and making the most of the experience.

What's in the Episode

00:08 - Welcome

02:01 - Travel Quiz: Is your laptop insured while you're on a Guatemala chicken bus?

02:50 - Travel News; We speak to a family of World Nomads who lived through Hurricane Irma.

06:08 - Why everyone's mad for Croatia

“…for me personally I've seen lots of pictures. So many pictures on Instagram and everywhere. I was like "Oh, that looks like a cool place to go," but everything was on a yacht. No one really said anything about the actual towns or places like that.” - Anni Wooldridge

12:18 - We check in to find out what our World Nomads are up to, like working in a carrot factory!

13:17 - Why Croatia is right for the independent adventure traveler.

14:37 - "And now genitals!" With what's happening to the island paradise of Hvar we ask if it's possble to love a place to death?

15:09 - “Because it's such a diverse island, it's attracted a diverse group of people over the years. This is where Beyonce showed her baby bump to the world, this is where Prince Harry fell into the swimming pool.”- Paul Bradbury

20:35 - “What is this obsession we have with we must do Machu Picchu, and if you don't do Machu Picchu the way everybody else has done it then you haven't experienced it. Just stop."  - Christina Tunnah, Regional Manager, The Americas

24:08 - "We're past the point, I think, from a tourism management point of view, of being able to say everybody should be able to go and see everything." - Stuart McDonald, founder of Travelfish the independent travel guide for Southeast Asia.

26:17 - Sail Croatia talk about their values and how they provide ethical experiences to travelers to Croatia.

30:06 - We talk about gap year travel and the 20/20 packing rule with World Nomads Editorial manager Martin Hong.

34:40 - Your travel insurance questions are answered; "What's my country of residence?"

36:28 - World Nomads News

38:04 - Quiz answer

39:17 - What's next in Episode 2?

Who's on the Show?

Annie Wooldridge, a World Nomads contributor who's traveled to Croatia and wrote all about the places you might not have heard of.

Paul Bradbury from Total Croatia. We chat to Paul about the island paradise Hvar, and why it's fast gaining a reputation as party central. You can read Paul's story here.

Christina Tunnah, Regional Manager of World Nomads. We chat to Christina about increasing numbers of travelers visiting so-called tourist hotspots, and what this is causing more harm than good.

Stuart McDonald, founder of Travelfish the independent travel guide for Southeast Asia says it's time tourism authorities started imposing limits on the numbers who can visit iconic sites.

The Schomp family, Michelle, Jake and their two children survived by taking shelter in their hotel bathroom when Hurricane Irma slammed into Florida on September 6th 2017.

Martin Hong, World Nomads Editorial Manager. We chat to Martie about the brand spanking new Gap Year Guide, and grilled him on how he got the most out of his gap year.

Grant Seuren from Sail Croatia. We asked Grant about the core set of values they operate under, and the types of cruises they offer.

Resources & Links

Gap Year Guide: Download our latest guide to read +400 tips, hacks, and tricks to get the most out of your long-term travels.

Global Youth Travel Awards and the Footprints network program winner.

Photography Scholarship: 2017 Film Scholarship winner, Canadian Jigar Gamatra, is on assignment in India with Brian Rapsey.

Scholarships Newsletter: Sign up for scholarships news and see what opportunities are live here.

Follow World Nomads on Instagram for the latest stories, and #WorldNomads for your chance to be featured.

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About World Nomads & The Podcast

Explore your boundaries and discover your next adventure with The World Nomads Podcast. Hosted by Podcast Producer Kim Napier and World Nomads Phil Sylvester, each episode will take you around the world with insights into destinations from travellers and experts. They’ll share the latest in travel news, answer your travel questions and fill you in on what World Nomads is up to, including the latest scholarships and guides.

World Nomads is a fast-growing online travel company that provides inspiration, advice, safety tips and specialized travel insurance for independent, volunteer and student travelers traveling and studying most anywhere in the world. Our online global travel insurance covers travelers from more than 135 countries and allows you to buy and claim online, 24/7, even while already traveling.

The World Nomads Podcast is not your usual travel Podcast. It’s everything for the adventurous, independent traveller. Don’t miss out. Subscribe today.

Narrator: The WorldNomads podcast. It's not your usual travel podcast. It's everything for the adventurous, independent traveler.

Kim: Yes, this is the first episode. Are you pumped Phil?

Phil: I am so pumped. Can you see how I am? I'm really looking forward to talking to you about adventure independent travel.

Kim: And particularly since you are fresh from holiday. You are fresh for this podcast.

Phil: I know. Get me while my energy levels are high.

Kim: Alright then. Let's get into it. My name is Kim, and in this episode we're shining the spotlight on Croatia. We'll catch up [00:00:30] with British Expat, Paul Bradbury, and find out about the island paradise Hvar. Have I said that correctly? Hvar?

Phil: Hvar.

Kim: Hvar. Okay. We'll see why it's fast gaining a reputation as party central. Now, you love to travel. I love to travel.

Phil: We all do.

Kim: Anyone listening to these podcasts love to travel, and Annie loves traveling. She's visited Croatia. In fact, she's written an article for WorldNomads, featuring places that you might not have heard outside of those more popular places like Dubrovnik. We'll chat with her, and Grant Seuren. He's the director of Sail Croatia, and it seems everyone loves the idea of sailing in Croatia. I do.

Phil: I do too. I've got my hands on a boat whilst I was away on my holiday just recently. It's definitely something I'd love to do in Croatia.

Kim: Board shorts or budgy smuggles?

Phil: My wife has insisted that it's board shorts now.

Kim: Can I insist it's board shorts too? We'll chat with him, Grant, about the core values they operate under to make sure everyone has a great experience in board shorts. In fact, everyone loves Croatia so much. It's one of the fastest growing tourist destinations, and there are plans literally in place to limit visitor numbers to some places, because of the sheer number of people that are flocking there. With that in mind, we're going to seek to find the answer in this podcast to the question, Phil, can you love a place to death?

Phil: Yep, absolutely. The place has been overrun by tourists. We're really gonna have to look very closely at that. It's becoming a big problem.

Kim: Well, that question will be answered in the podcast, but speaking of questions. I think this is gonna be a highlight. Phil's travel quiz question. At some point we have to get to reach a point where we have an intro for that.

Phil: Okay, no. We'll work on that one.

Kim: Phil's travel quiz question.

Phil: I can hear the reverb already.

Kim: Getting to it.

Phil: But for today it's quiz conundrum. We're traveling to Central America. You've decided to take a chicken bus from Guatemala City to San Jose, just for the adventure of traveling in those brightly colored old American school buses that are favored by locals. You throw your pack on the roof and you settle in for the seven hour ride, by the way. But when you reach your destination you discover your laptop is missing from your luggage. Is it covered? The answer later in the show.

Kim: How's that for a hook. You can find out at the end of the episode what the answer to that is. But first, what's happening in travel news for October? Phil, I know you've been a very busy boy.

Phil: Dominating travel news in September, Kim, was the fact the earth was very angry. Hurricanes, typhoons, earthquakes, and devastating floods from monsoons struck with vengeance, didn't they? The Mexico earthquake, a big one at magnitude 7.1, and it came on the 32nd anniversary of the great Mexico City quake of 1985. They'd just finished earthquake preparations and practice, by the way. As many as 360 lives have been lost as a result of the quake across Mexico. The death toll is lower, but the devastation is much greater from what is now the busiest month ever for Atlantic hurricanes. Irma, Jose, Katia, Lee, and Maria. That's five hurricanes in one month. Irma and Maria reached category five, the biggest you can get. While hurricane Irma was cutting its way across the Northern Caribbean, we were hoping the best for a family of WorldNomads who were hold up in a villa on the island of St. Thomas. Jake and Michelle Shomp and their two kids call themselves 'The Retired Toddlers'. Sounds like a nice gig. We'll have a like to their site and social media accounts in the show notes. They rode out Irma, sheltering in a bathtub.

Michelle Shomp: Our front door is what you hear in that Youtube video clip, and we had just kind of peeked out, and into that hallway, into the main living area there where our front door was. We just both looked at each other, like that door, it's going to be a miracle of that door does not blow open, or that window doesn't shatter.

Jake Shomp: Yeah, not peeked outside, just peeked into our inside hallway, because we were really tucked away in that bathroom. We just felt like at any second the glass was gonna blow in, even with whatever we had done to protect it. It just felt imminent that the whole condo was gonna be open to the elements any minute.

Phil: Wow. A frightening experience.

Kim: Incredible.

Phil: Top tip from me. If you're told a hurricane is coming, get the heck out of the way. Lastly in this litany of disaster, volcanoes with a month of sys mic activity that has also left a few eruptions. A 100,000 people have been evacuated from a 12 kilometer radius, that's about eight miles, around Mount Agung in Bali, Indonesia. Oh, I do have one piece of good news for you Kim. This is relevant to the topic we'll address a little later in the show. Bulgaria, bordered by Greece, Romania, Serbia, and Turkey. Very nice part of the world. Is so pleased with people choosing to visit this past summer, the minister for tourism is sending all 400,000 of them a hand signed thank you note.

Kim: Ah, that is so nice. That's incredible.

Phil: Isn't that enough reason to visit Bulgaria?

Kim: Absolutely. Speak of incredible, listening to that family and their experience during a hurricane.

Phil: I know.

Kim: I can imagine it. Do you know, I don't want to put you on the spot. How did they come up with names for hurricanes and cyclones?

Phil: It's alphabetic, and it used to be they were only named with female names, but now they give them both genders.

Kim: Are you Phil that knows everything?

Phil: Pretty much. Stop it, send me a message.

Kim: You'll be back later in the episode to answer insurance questions. I don't think there's anything Phil couldn't answer. Next I'm gonna catch up with one of our WorldNomads contributors. Her name is Annie, and she's got some great tips for getting a true Croatian experience. Annie Waldridge, she's a Brit, and WorldNomads contributor. She's been to 29 countries and counting. I caught up with her via Skype in Colombia while, Phil, her flatmate was washing up in the background.

Phil: Fantastic.

Kim: We kicked off the chat asking, what drew her to visit Croatia in the first place.

Annie Waldridge: For me personally I've seen lots of pictures. So many pictures on Instagram, and everywhere. Everyone's Croatia mad. I remember a couple of years ago, I remember seeing pictures of Croatia and I was like, "Oh, that looks like a cool place to go." But everything was on a yacht. Like sailing, it was all about the sailing. No one really said anything about the actual towns or places like that. The reason I took a trip was because my sister's working in Croatia. She's a water ski instructor in a British resort.

Kim: Well, you're a contributor to WorldNomads, so you're in a position to tell us about some of the hidden gems that travelers tend to miss perhaps.

Annie Waldridge: Yeah. I think people very much stick to either a sailing trip or Split and Dubrovnik, but I went on very different route. I flew into Zadar, which is equally as beautiful city, I think it's the third largest. It's smaller than the other two, but it's equally as beautiful and there's way less people. Way less people. There was more local people and you're wandering around, you weren't crowded. I didn't actually visit Dubrovnik, and I visited Split for like one hour, but they're very beautiful place, but super crowded. Zadar and the smaller towns are equally as beautiful, and way less people.

Kim: Just touch on a couple more that you've written about for WorldNomads in your article.

Annie Waldridge: There's so many national parks. It's one thing that surprised me about the national park, like the nature of the country. It took me by surprise, I didn't think Croatia was the place to do all these outdoor activities. As I said, my sister's teaching water skiing. Where she works there's sailing and all kinds of different sports, like adventure sports, which I really didn't expect there to be.

Kim: How then does a traveler, Annie, get a true Croatia experience?

Annie Waldridge: For me, what I think is the best way to go around is, hire a car. I hired a car for maybe 30 Euros, and I drove from Zadar. I drove  all the way up the coast. The roads are fantastic. They're pristine. It is as if someone made them yesterday, and there's no one on them. I drove along the coast and I stopped at where my sister's working is Stari Grad, and I just drove and it's just ... Park the car and go out, had lunch in a super small town surrounded by local people. I sat and watched how the culture is, and just watched the local people doing their everyday things. I thought it was a good way to fully immerse myself in the culture.

Kim: Tell us what you can expect by going off the beaten track, I guess, and visiting a local town.

Annie Waldridge: They're full of life. They have a lot of culture. People are very happy. They're walking around laughing. If you sit in a restaurant and you're surrounded by local people, [00:10:00] they're very happy people. There's some smaller fishing towns, and you can just watch them bring in the fish in the morning to the market, and it's very normal and non-touristy. Every town has a little piece of history that I thought was fascinating. Roman runes, Venetian runes. The foundations of houses. Churches, cathedrals. Everything. There's a Roman forum. Every town has a unique piece of history, which I thought was pretty incredible. Very fascinating.

Kim: You mentioned you looked at photos of Croatia on Insta, and thought it was just all about sailing. How would visiting Croatia, rather than looking at photos of it, change a traveler's mindset and understanding of the area?

Annie Waldridge: I thought it was very ... I pictured Greece, is what I first thought. I was like, "Okay, there's lots of islands and things like that." The history really surprised me. The historic buildings, the towns, architecture is beautiful. Unlike anywhere else I've been. There's small streets with stores on each side, but everything's very clean. Mountains, beautiful nature. The national parks, like I said before, this surprised me a lot. I didn't think it would be such a historic but natural place.

Kim: What would you say to anyone considering traveling to Croatia?

Annie Waldridge: I would say, hire a car, super cheap. Drive, go on some road trips. Visit the national parks. Visit the small towns. Immerse yourself in the history. Learn about the history of the country through seeing different things. It's a super cool place. I enjoyed it a lot.

Kim: That was Annie Waldridge. A WorldNomads contributor, and we will have links to Annie's story about Croatia in our show notes. But next, Paul Bradbury on Croatia's increasing party reputation, and the island he describes as paradise on earth. Right now, let's check in and see what our WorldNomads have been up to.

Speaker 7: We went to Tasmania, and we did a carrot farming, and working in a carrot factory, and onion factory, and it's just like a story that when you're 25 years old you wouldn't think of saying you've ever done, and then just look back and be like, "Oh, I worked in a carrot factory."

Speaker 8: I really like Southeast Asia. It was probably my favorite for as far as traveling goes. I think it's been great to see everything and stuff. I don't think I've any regrets of not sticking around home. A lot of my friends at home were all settled down, and buying houses, and getting married and shit. I feel like I've made a better decision, just going out and seeing shit, more life experiences.

Speaker 9: Yeah, traveling's great. You get to see different parts of the world, and how everything's different. Friends end up being sort of like your family, and like a home away from home. Once you've traveled a little bit, you just want to keep going. It's addictive, definitely keep going. Not just gonna stick in one place, for sure.

Kim: So Phil, this podcast is about shining the light on Croatia. Why did we pick it?

Phil: Well Kim, each month WorldNomads picks a couple of destinations to feature all throughout our site. We pick a mixture of destinations we know you will love, and destinations we know you'd love to go to one day, and Croatia's a bit of both actually. Who hasn't seen that stunning landscapes of the Dalmatian coast, or heard about the epic sailing, or wanted to visit the places where the Game of Thrones was filmed. Croatia is absolutely booming at the moment. Tourism numbers are growing year on year, and so clearly many of you already love the place. But for the nomad in us there's more to explore as well. The capital Zagreb, it's the cultural heart of Croatia, and also happens to be littered with 18th century Austro-Hungarian architecture. It's really beautiful. In winter there's a mountain overlooking Zagreb. It's only 35 kilometers from the airport to the ski field. Another great reason to be there. The Plitvica Lakes National Park is almost as popular as Dubrovnik, and it's a great spot for hiking and camping.

Kim: And we heard about hiking with Annie earlier.

Phil: That's right. That's fantastic. Of course there are more walled cities than you can poke a stick at, and in Pula, a first century Roman Amphitheater that's even more impressive than Rome's Colosseum.

Kim: Cool.

Phil: That's why we're talking about Croatia.

Kim: Well, Paul Bradbury runs the website 'Total Croatian News', and we can connected with him after we saw his story online. In fact, after you did you were particularly taken with this. Now Croatia's elite tourism summit continues. It certainly grabbed-

Phil: It got my attention, that's for sure.

Kim: I started our Skype interview interested in the jump from the Balkans war to tourist hotspot in just a couple of decades, as you mentioned Phil, and how has or is Croatia coping, and what are some of the highs and lows that he can take us through.

Paul Bradbury: I think initially it's important to understand that the whole tourism thing is not very new for Croatia. Indeed, next year on the [inaudible 00:15:16], we'll be celebrating 150 years of organized tourism in Europe, the first place in Europe that organized tourism, dating back to 1868 with the health society. Before the war in Yugoslavia in 1991 to 1995, Croatia, as it was then part of the Republic of Yugoslavia, was a very popular tourist destination. So much so that before the war 440,000 British tourists, for example, came every year to the Adriatic coast, Montenegro, Croatia. That was actually the second biggest market, after Spain, for British tourism going abroad. The war obviously devastated  a lot of the area. There were huge problems. A lot of tourists obviously stayed away, and it has been a huge branding issue, and the RS decided to get people to come back. But what's happened is, the National Tourist Board had an excellent slogan called, 'The Mediterranean as it once was'. Croatia has been rebranded as a cool, sort of young, sort of hip, sort of destination somewhere in Eastern Europe, and very exciting.

The tourist have come back, now new generations of tourists have come, and it's been a phenomenal success. So much so that tourism now last year was 18% of PDP for Croatia. I think one of the issues that Croatia's had is that it's still trying to find exactly what it is as a destination. It's very well known for its sun, and for its beaches, and for its famous city like Dubrovnik, which pretty much everyone's heard of. But it's also trying to attract festival tourism, different types of tourism, and what's happening is that, I guess because of the economic situation it's hard to say no to different types of tourism. It comes across, to me at least, as a little bit ad hoc and unplanned, and a little bit out of control at times.

Kim: Okay, well let's get back to Hvar. You described it as a paradise on earth, but in one of your articles you've recently titled, and it was called 'And now, Croatia's elite tourism summit continues'. It's certainly grabbed our attention, but can you explain what prompted that story, and give us some inside into the changes that have happened on the island.

Paul Bradbury: Okay. In order to put things in context we have to actually put Hvar in context. It's regarded quite rightly as Croatia's premier island. It has a heritage based upon thousands and thousands of years. The ancient Greeks came here in 385BC. We have four different types of intangible UNESCO heritage. So we're actually, as far as the island with the most UNESCO heritage in the world. Because it's such a diverse island, it's attracted a diverse group of people over the years. This is where Beyonce showed her baby bump to the world. This is where Prince Harry fell into the swimming pool. At the same time you have lots of backpackers that come, and they mix very nicely. Hvar mix very nicely, and it's been one of things about celebrities who come here, is they actually appreciate Hvar, because they're pretty much left alone. Party tourism has been something that has existed alongside everywhere else, every other type of tourism for many many years, and has worked well quite nicely. In the last five or six years, I think, there's been a huge increase in the effects of the party tourism.

Then it comes back to strategic decisions, and if you look at the official statistics, Croatia earns less money for tourist and tourist spend than neighboring Serbia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Slovenia. So there should be a strategic look at how to improve the spend of the tourist and perhaps reduce some of the lower paying, lower quality tourism.

Kim: Is it possible that you can love a place to death?

Paul Bradbury: Ha. Yeah. That's true. I would agree with it, yeah.

Kim: What's your advice to anyone planning to travel to Croatia, and what are your desires from a traveler, so that we don't end up loving a place to death?

Paul Bradbury: I would say the first thing to do is to look at your behavior norms,  and understand that you're coming to visit a beautiful place, and have an amazing experience, and that you're also visiting communities, towns where people live, and to behave accordingly. I think to enjoy Croatia, personally, I think it's sensational, it's most sensational in June and September. I would take some time to look a little bit beyond the highlights. You must see Split, you must see Dubrovnik, you must come to Hvar, you must do this, this, this. There are fabulous cities like Zadar on the coast, which are just as much beauty, heritage, islands, everything else, things to do, and they're much less discovered than places like Dubrovnik. If you're coming just to tick off the list that, "Yes, I've been to Dubrovnik", then that's not for you, but if you're looking to get a true Croatian experience, there are many many places, which are absolutely sensational.

Kim: That's Paul Bradbury from Total Croatian News, and there will be a link to his site in our show notes. Next Phil, you're gonna speak with WorldNomads' Christina Tanner, to touch on that idea that we did mention with Paul about loving a place to death.

Phil: Yeah, interestingly I was talking to somebody the other day about, can you love a place to death, and that was Christina Tanner who's the manager of the Americas for WorldNomads. I thought we'd get her on the show and talk to her. Good day Christina.

Christina T: Hello Phil.

Phil: Tell me, we're talking about loving a place to death, and you used to work at Lonely Planet as well.

Christina T: Yeah.

Phil: The guidebooks send thousands of people to the same place, and they were acutely aware of that. No?

Christina T: Yeah. We were really aware of places like the Banana Pancake trail in Southeast Asia, which is of course Lonely Planet cut its publishing teeth, and probably had the most years of content that was helping people navigate that area, but it applied to anywhere. There's some moniker for anywhere in the world that Lonely Planet was somewhat responsible for. It wasn't just Lonely Planet that suffered from this reputation, or from this sort of sense of responsibility for sending so many people to these allegedly undiscovered, untapped regional places. You go to any of these places, and sure enough you see all these travelers sitting in the same cafes with Lonely Planet guidebooks on the table, and influencing even what guesthouses offered or what restaurants offered on the menus, because it was so ... The Banana Pancake trail, there's nothing native, as far as I know, about  eating banana pancakes for breakfast.

Phil: No. You've obviously had these experiences yourself. Where have you been where you go, "Oh man, I wish I wasn't here. It's not what I expected."

Christina T: Most recently I'd say, would be Puerto Vallarta. We were there seven or eight months ago, and it was like being in America, but in just a really hot place on the water. Hog chains, Hard Rock Café chains, Senor Frog. All the chains. All these people just pasty and sitting around drinking at 11 in the morning. Yeah. These kind of places at peak season are just really not worth going to. One of the things that Lonely Planet tried to do in some of its publishing guidelines was to maybe direct people to a town or village somewhere that was potentially in an area that had some beautiful offshoots that you could explore, but to not say, "Go to this village, and here's how you get there." It was more around experimenting with, "Here's a town called Cordoba, Che Guevara was born in this town, and there's lots of other ones that you could explore, check them out."

Phil: What advice would you give to somebody if they're trying to avoid those places that are loved to death?

Christina T: This is almost like a zen thing, and maybe it's a hippy namaste perspective that I have from being at Berkeley, but I would say just curb your desire to hit the bucket list. Stop  it. What is this obsession we have with, we must do Machu Picchu, and if you don't do Machu Picchu the way everybody else has done it, then you haven't experienced it. I just think we have to change a little bit of our philosophy around what is travel and why we do it. I think if we did the sanity check on what motivates our desire to have a thrill or an exhilaration of a place. Whether it be because you like adventure sports or you like the culture, the food of a place. Just stop. I think if you think about it in those terms you'll be happy with any village in France.

Kim: Yeah, well said Christina. It's certainly something to think about there. Now, Phil also checked in briefly with Stuart McDonald from Travelfish. It's the premier online guide to Southeast Asia. He wanted to see if he agrees with Christina's sentiment.

Stuart McDonald: There's nothing really that you need to go and see because it's on some list. People need to think about what they want to do and use that to determine how they travel around in different destinations.

Phil: So you're suggesting maybe it's time to take some sort of proactive actions. Put some sort of restrictions on things? Would that help?

Stuart McDonald: Oh absolutely. If destinations want to remain relevant for tourism, they need to do something about it. We're past the point, I think, from a tourism management point of view, of being able to say, "Well yeah, everybody should be able to just go and see everything." Because there's just not room for everybody anymore.

Kim: Thanks for that Stuart. The link to his site will be in our show notes, and in fact, Phil, re your suggestion there with that chat on putting restrictions in place. Effectively immediately, in Amsterdam, the city government has banned new shops geared at tourists. These include ticket vendors, bike rental companies, and cheese shops.

Phil: Not the cheese shops.

Kim: Not the cheese shop. That's all designed to curb tourism in the cities. It's happening.

Phil: It's happening, it's a sign of things to come,  isn't it?

Kim: Yeah, certainly is. Alright, let's get back to Croatia. Grant Seuren next, from Sail Croatia. The Sail Croatia is one of our affiliates. Phil, explain why we're featuring our affiliates in each episode.

Phil: Yeah sure. Well look, our mission says we're a group of like minded adventure travelers. We're part of a community of people, of travelers. We're also a community that involves other adventure travelers, other adventure travel companies like us. In fact, we've got four more partnerships with about 5,000 [00:26:00] travel companies and bloggers. By the way, if you want to join us in this partnership you could earn some cash from our affiliate sale system. Check out There are so many great companies and like minded partners that we thought we'd like to hear from one of them each week. So Kim, who do you have this week?

Kim: Well, this is Sail Croatia. It was started in 2003 by Grant Seuren and his wife. They based it on a model from Australia's Whitsunday Islands, believe it or not. It was during our Skype chat, and amid Croatia's growing party reputation that I was keen to know about the business's core values, and also a few other types of trips that they offer.

Grant Seuren: Yeah, we've got five core values, and really these have been developed, I think, as we've matured as a business. We decided that because we're a family business, it's myself and my wife that started the business, and we're working with local operators. These are the people who own the ships and provide the service on the ground. We wanted to, I guess, put ourselves,  or give people an idea about what we stand for as not only our personal values, but also from a business perspective, and work with people that shared that same sort of values. We've got five of them. One is to always do the right thing. The second one is to inspire through initiative and leadership. With that we mean like taking responsibility for problems, and making decisions, and learning from our mistakes. Our third one is to create rewarding life experiences.  That's for our team and our customers. Our fourth one is to respect and care for each other. And one of our most important ones is to spread happiness.

Kim: Tell me about the boats that you hire.

Grant Seuren: We have around 30 ships. We started, obviously, with one, back in the old days. All the ships are owned by families. Some families have one or two. But when we first started the business the little wooden ships, about 16, 20 meters long, took about 20 people. Real sort of backpacker style. Two to a cabin. You share showers  and toilets on board. They were being used originally as cargo boats for carrying sand and goods and things like that, and someone had the idea to turn it into tourist ships. The families invested into their businesses and today the ships have grown. We've seen that the sons and daughters that've worked on board the ships in their summer holidays and school holidays, now are captains on board their ships. Their dads have moved on to the bigger ships, and these sorts of things.  The business has really grown over the years, but it's nice to see the families and how they've developed the ships. Even for ourselves as well, growing up we know their kids, and our kids know their kids and these sorts of things. It's good to be part of.

Kim: I agree. Let's get to the cruises that you offer.

Grant Seuren: We have a number of different cruises for different types of people. We started with our navigated cruises, which were for under 35s. When we first started we used to have one or two boats, and different people used to travel on the boats. Then we sort of realized, people want different types of holidays. Some people want to meet other young people and have fun, other people just want to relax. We started with a navigator that we had to split very quickly into, I guess, a young professional and young at hearts. We call it the explorer cruises. After this, as the boats improved as well, we've developed our elegance cruises, which is for our older guests who wanted that more comfort, just want to relax. Maybe young couples, honeymooners, these sorts of things. We also have active cruises, which for those who want to see more of the country. Cyclists, and hikes. You'll spend a day on the island cycling or hiking around the islands. In the evenings you'll travel. You come back on board the boat, and the next morning you'll travel by boat to the next island to see more.

Kim: So you don't have to be size 10, blonde with a yellow bikini, and look fabulous on the fore deck.

Grant Seuren: No not at all. We're a family business here. Everyone is welcome.

Kim: Great to hear Grant. You'll find a link to Sail Croatia's site in our show notes. Next though, who wants to go on a gap year?

Phil: How about being a deckie on a yacht in Croatia as a gap year? Wouldn't that be fantastic? I'd like to do that one. Speaking of gap years, we've got a gap year guide coming out on WorldNomads, and the man who's behind it all is Martin Hong. Martie, and he's in the studio now. Good day.

Martin Hong: Hey hey. How's it going?

Kim: You're our first studio guest.

Martin Hong: I'm really excited, on the first podcast. I'm thrilled.

Kim: But the third time we've had a crack at change.

Martin Hong:  Okay, the magic of podcasting, people aren't suppose to know that.

Phil: If we don't laugh at the jokes this time you know why, okay?

Kim: Exactly. Tell me, again, what are some of the reasons people take a gap year?

Martin Hong: Look, there are a lot of reasons why people take a gap year, and that's certainly what came out of this guide. We had about 400 different tips, and different ways to do it, and different places to do it. A lot of people, traditionally, will take a gap year after high school, when they're not ready to run straight into university, not really sure what they want to do. Or some people like me, I did it actually as part of university. I kind of took, for my last year, a little bit of time off and went to London for supposedly six months, turned into two years. We won't go into that. Or there are people who kind of take sabbaticals. The next batch of people are like the 20 something, 30 something. Been in a job for about 10 years, need a little bit of breather. If my boss is listening, we'll talk. And take about six months off to go something.

Kim: So Phil, that's where the deckie in Croatia comes in to mind for you.

Phil: That's it. I'll let the boss know straight away. That's where I'll be working remotely. But that's what a gap year is about. That's where you got your taste for travel from right?

Martin Hong: Yeah completely. That's where I got mine from. I traveled a lot as a kid with my parents. I was very lucky. But not until my gap year did I actually get to decide how I like to travel. It really takes that kind of experience to go out there, be on your own, be terrified, and have no idea how to plan or what's happening next. Actually just lean into that and realize you're gonna be okay.

Kim: Here's a question I haven't asked you before. There are people that take a gap year, and the type of gap year that you're talking about. Then there are people that don't know what to do after year 12 perhaps, and they work at the local supermarket and call it a gap year.

Martin Hong: Yeah.

Kim: Is that still a gap year?

Martin Hong: It's probably called a crisis.

Kim: A year off.

Martin Hong: Finding yourself, I think is the phrase here. Again, there's no one way to do a gap year. I kind of fell into mine. It was meant to be six months, but I was lucky enough for work to go, "Hey, do you want to stay on longer? We'll give you a bit of time off and you can go travel." I think the biggest thing is, just keep your eyes and ears open for the opportunity, and don't be afraid to be a little bit impulsive.

Kim: How do you afford it though?

Martin Hong: Take up odd jobs actually. Speaking of keeping your eyes and ears open. Obviously you can get a bartending license. That's also a really fun way to meet people. You can bartend, you can work in a café. You can be an Au pair. [00:33:00] There are people who teach english as well. Very popular if you're in a non english speaking country. But I also was reading today that there are people who put themselves up and you can house sit for free, or even dog walk, or dog sit really. There are these websites that you can sign up that if people are away for a week or going on leave, they get people who are vetted, not just anybody to rock up and kind of look after the house for a week, and you as a traveler can get free accommodation.

Phil: I imagine that would be very exiting, because you're never quite sure where you're gonna end up.

Kim: Yeah also, Phil's really taken with this lady that contacted us on Facebook, with a travel packing tip.

Phil: That's right.

Kim: You seemed really keen on that one.

Phil: Well, we're different types of packers right? I'm an over packer, you're an under packer right?

Kim: I'm definitely an under packer.

Phil: A chronic under packer. This is an awesome tip, and I love it. What is it?

Martin Hong: This is so good. It's the 20/20 rule. Shout out to Diana Costa for this one, one of our Facebook fans. Her rule is, don't pack anything [00:34:00] that you can buy for less than $20 in 20 minutes.

Phil: Ah.

Martin Hong: Yeah. No to toothpaste. No to deodorant, and no to underwear.

Phil: Okay. Well, where can we get the guide?

Martin Hong: Where you can get all the rest of our destination guides, which is

Kim: One more time.

Martin Hong:

Kim: Thanks for being our first studio guest.

Martin Hong: Hey, I'm so excited. Honored.

Kim: If you come back again, block four hours out for it. Thanks Marty. I'll chat to you about taking a gap year, it might be the perfect time to swing into some questions about insurance, and that's next with guru Phil. And Phil, you've got some travel insurance questions?

Phil: Yeah, I thought we'd do one of these every week to see how we go. One of the most common questions we're asked at WorldNomads insurance is, what's my country of residence? Sounds simple, but as any longterm traveler knows, as soon as you've left home, it's complicated. Best summed up by this question, which was posted on the Lonely [00:35:00] Planet forum. By the way Lonely Planet are partners of ours, and recommend us as their preferred insurer. Anyway, this person wrote, "My husband and I will be going on a year long trip soon. I'll be purchasing the insurance as a resident of New York, but by the time the policy is active I'll have no state of residency. Although our mail will be forwarded to my husband's mom's house in Vermont. When I read the policy at the bottom it says, 'This applies to Vermont residents only.' I won't really be a Vermont resident." No, you'll be a citizen of the world, won't you? Look, try and think of it this way. If you were really sick and needed medical evacuation back home, where's home? Where is it you'd like us to send you?

I reckon it'd be your husband's mom's place in Vermont, so put that down as your place of residence. A couple of other things to know about WorldNomads travel insurance and your gap year. If you're the forgetful type you can actually purchase a policy after you've departed. Not many insurers allow this, and we were the first to do it by the way. You do not have to be in your home country to purchase a WorldNomads policy. This means you can also extend your policy while you're still traveling. So if that gap year turns into a gap couple of years.

Kim: Nice.

Phil: You can extend while you're away. If you want to check out the policy and all the other benefits, go to Pop in a few details. Get yourself a quote.

Kim: What about if someone has a specific question for you? Is the best email

Phil: Ask Phil.

Kim: Okay, we're about to wrap up this episode with the all important answer to Phil's quiz question. But first we have some WorldNomads news. I'm pleased to say that WorldNomads was recognized at the Global Youth Travel Awards in Montreal at the beginning of October. Winning in the category for best social responsibility initiative. We nominated WorldNomads amazing footprints network program. Our charitable arms has raised close to $4,000,000 from micro donations. Now these are people just adding between two and $10 to their policy. It's money that goes directly to community based development projects. No middleman, no admin costs. Your money goes to the projects that you nominate. The WorldNomads photography scholarship closed a few days ago, and right now the scholarship mentor, Richard I'Anson, is looking over the entries. The winner will be announced on October 26th. Then we'll have that lucky person on our next podcast, right after the announcement, and hopefully while they're still on a big high.

Speaking of scholarships, the 2017 film scholarship to Kerala in India, in the next few days the winner, Jigar Gimatra, will be winging his way from Canada to join mentor Brian Rapsey on what will be an amazing adventure. If you didn't know, WorldNomads offer scholarships in film, writing and photography. These are really money can't buy opportunities for aspiring creatives. We want to help young travelers turn their passion into a profession. To find out more and to sign up for the scholarship newsletter, so you can be among the first to know about these new opportunities, go to Well, that was episode one of the WorldNomads podcast, but we cannot go anywhere, because people have been hanging on.

Phil: On the edges of their seats.

Kim: They have. They wanna know the answer to your quiz question, but first remind everyone what it was.

Phil: Okay.

Kim: Am I allowed to guess the answer?

Phil: No, you work here. You know.

Kim: Oh okay.

Phil: Remember, your laptop has gone missing from your luggage on a Guatemala chicken bus, is it covered? Sadly most probably not. You are responsible for keeping your valuables in a safe place. Leaving them unattended on top of a bus, out of sight, is not taking proper care. Here's our top tip. Put all of your valuables in a small day pack. One that you can take onto the bus with you, and then keep a really tight hold on that one Kim.

Kim: Yeah, or don't even travel with your laptop. That forces you to do work. Sometimes you have to, don't you?

Phil: Yeah, to store your photos, things like that.

Kim: Yeah okay.

Phil: It's always pretty handy.

Kim: Take it back. You will have a quiz question for us in the second podcast?

Phil: I'm working on them as we speak.

Kim: I bet you are. Now, everything that we've chatted about will be available as links on our show notes. Is that not correct?

Phil: It is indeed.

Kim: And you can of course subscribe to the WorldNomads podcast. Tell a friend about it. Feel free to rate and review on iTunes. In our next episode we're gonna travel to Canada, and chat with a travel writer who experienced an adventure in Canada's far north, and hear about his frightening toilet stop.

Phil: Da tam ta.

Kim: That's next.

Narrator: The WorldNomads podcast. Explore your boundaries.

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1 Comment

  • Diane Hope said

    Great idea to have a World Nomads travel podcast.
    Would you like help with a bit of sound design?

    And I've also got some great content from a recent trip cycling across South Korea from Seoul to Busan - with my sound kit, during the middle of the most recent N Korean missile crisis.

    Diane Hope, Audio Producer/Sound Recordist/Writer

    Instagram: @audioninjachick

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