I’ve spent over a month travelling in Croatia, and I made plenty of packing mistakes back when I visited for the first time.
From packing a bulky camera I never used to bringing an ugly hat I never wore, I’ve spent days and days lugging useless items around this country. Fortunately, I have had plenty of time to figure out what’s really worth taking to Croatia and what you should be leaving behind.
This blog post is going to share it all.
Note: this packing list is aimed at women and covers what to wear on a summer trip to Croatia. It also contains affiliate links.
Which Luggage Should You Take With You?
When it comes to travel in Croatia, you won’t need to bring a huge amount of your belongings with you. Croatians are cool with casual dress, you’ll spend a lot a time chilling on the beaches. With so few essentials needed on a trip like this combined with the cobbled streets across the country, you could easily travel with a carry-on backpack. Roller suitcases are going to irritating as hell in a country like Croatia.
I recommend the Osprey Farpoint 40l backpack. I’m already a huge fan and plan on making this my main backpack for all of my future trips! It’s super-comfortable, easy to pack, and has plenty of compartments to help you keep your belongings organised. You can read about why I always travel with Osprey backpacks here.
An alternative could be the Osprey Sojourn, which is a backpack and suitcase in one. You’ll be able to carry your belongings over the uneven streets, then take the weight off whenever you come across a paved stretch of ground.
What about a day pack?
All of the daypacks I’ve used in the past have been so big and bulky that I’ve always shoved far too much into them and ended up with back pain. Since transitioning to traveling with only carry-on luggage, my search became even trickier. Now, I would need my daypack to fit inside my main backpack, as airlines don’t let you carry two bags on to the plane.
Enter this teeny-tiny backpack that packs up to the size of an apple.
Despite its tiny size when squished up into a ball, it’s still surprisingly strong, holding a two-litre bottle of water, two SLR cameras, two phones, and a guidebook when I was exploring all over Japan last year. And it doesn’t look cheap and crinkly, either, as so many packable bags often do. I take this bad boy on every single one of my trips.
When it comes to spending time in Croatia, you’ll probably be aiming to split an equal amount of your vacation on the beaches and in the cities. While it can be tempting to spend your entire trip in bikinis, strap tops, and shorts, you won’t want to forget warm options for mornings and evenings when the temperature drops, and if you get sunburnt, you’ll definitely want something to cover up with.
Note: I always, always overpack when it comes to tops. I’m 5’1” and tiny, so most of my strap tops ball up to the size of a sock. I always take advantage of this and bring a few options!
- Two strap tops
- Three tank tops
- Three t-shirts
- Four dressy tops
- One pair of denim shorts and a pair of bike shorts: I don’t need any more than this.
- Three dresses: I like to spend most of my time in hot countries in dresses to stay cool. Three is the right amount for me.
- One kaftan: I like the selection they have on Free People.
- Enough underwear for the length of the trip: For me, this is two bras, five pairs of socks, and seven pairs of underwear. If I’m travelling for longer than a week, I’ll either pay to get laundry done or use my travel laundry bar and stain remover to wash my clothes in the sink.
- Three bikinis: You can’t get me out of the water
- One outfit to keep me warm: Take a look at the projected weather forecast for the evenings for your time in Croatia, then make the decision as to whether this is necessary. For me, anything below 20 degrees Celsius has me shivering, so some of those breezy Croatian evenings had me in jeans and a fleece.
Croatia’s old towns are blanketed in cobblestones, so shoes with fantastic grip are a must. I’m a big fan of multi-tasking when it comes to shoes, so I’d recommend limiting the amount you bring to three.
- Flip-flops: I travel with these tropical-themed Havianas and love how comfortable they are. I use flip-flops on beach days and short wanders through the local towns in the evenings.
- Comfortable sandals: If you plan on spending a lot of time in the sea or the mountains, you might want to invest in some hardy sandals from Teva. I’ve travelled with, and really like, these ones. You can use them to protect from sea urchins in the water, comfortably hike in lightweight shoes, and even wear them while sightseeing. I dress a little more casual than most when travelling, so these Teva sandals are pretty much all I wear on my feet in Croatia.
- Something for evening meals: I really like taking tennis shoes, like these low-top Converse sneakers in pastel shades to wear for dressing up, especially as they’ll give me a little more grip on the slippery streets than strappy sandals. If you plan on hitting up high-end restaurants and dressing up while you’re in Croatia, take something you know you’ll be happy wearing. You know your style better than I do!
Sunglasses: This is fairly self-explanatory! If you’re planning a summer trip to Croatia, you can expect to need sunglasses while you’re out exploring.
Quick-dry travel towel: I absolutely adore mine! My Sea to Summit towel in extra large has been the perfect travel companion for the past eight years. It’s the size of a satsuma, weighs next to nothing, dries within minutes, and lasts for years.
Medications to Pack for Croatia
In general, I don’t recommend travelling with a hefty first aid kit unless you’re planning on venturing well and truly off the beaten track. You’ll be able to get all of the same medication as you can back home while you’re in Croatia, so don’t worry about bringing absolutely everything with you for every eventuality.
Still, there are certain medicines that it’s useful to have on hand at all times. Here’s what I keep in my limited first aid kit:
- Dramamine: I suffer from seasickness, so always make sure to have some motion-sickness tablets on hand for any island-hopping in Croatia.
- Painkillers: There’s nothing worse than having to venture out in the hot sun in search of a pharmacy when you’re dealing with an agonising headache. That’s why I always travel with a dozen painkillers when I travel, usually half a dozen acetaminophen tablets and half a dozen ibuprofen.
- Imodium: Unfortunately, travel isn’t always incredible for our stomachs, and travellers’ diarrhoea can sometimes threaten to ruin our vacations. I always keep Imodium on hand for any times when the local food doesn’t agree with me. It’s been a life-saver on days when I’ve needed to get on a bus and wouldn’t have otherwise been able to leave the bathroom. I also recommend packing some DripDrop rehydration sachets in case you get felled by food poisoning or sun stroke.
- Anti-histamines: I’m a very reactive person, so anti-histamines are a must for me! I always bring half a dozen tablets with me in case I break out in hives or start sneezing all over the country.
- Band-aids: You don’t want to get an infection while travelling in Croatia, so you’ll want to bring a couple of bandaids and a small tube of antiseptic cream for any cuts or grazes you may get.
Essential Travel Technology for Croatia
Let’s be honest: no technology is truly essential when it comes to travel, but whether we like it or not, it sure does help make our trips easier.
- A smartphone: I travel with an iPhone XS, but there’s no real need to upgrade your phone for your trip to Croatia — just take whatever you normally use at home. If you’re in the EU, you’ll be able to roam for free while you’re in Croatia; if you’re from elsewhere, ensure your phone is unlocked and pick up a local Croatian SIM card once you arrive.
- A camera: My main camera these days is the Sony A7ii with a 28-70mm lens, along with a couple of 32 GB SanDisk SD cards. At $2,000 for the full set-up, this is pricey AF, and I bought it as an investment in this site. I’m incredibly happy with the quality of the camera and lens, though, and would highly recommend it if you have the cash and are looking to invest in a mirrorless system. If you’re not into photography, just bring whatever camera you usually use on holiday, or use your smartphone to take photos.
- A GoPro: GoPros are fantastic for island-hopping, because they’re small, lightweight, and come with an underwater casing. I used mine with the GoPro 3-Way Grip, because it’s great for taking selfies, but in the future, I’d consider getting a floating selfie stick to use. I was way too nervous about accidentally letting go and watching my GoPro sink to the bottom of the sea.
- A Kindle Paperwhite: Now this is something I won’t consider travelling without. I’m a voracious reader when I travel, and a Kindle allows me to power through a travel memoir a day without adding weight to my luggage. For travel throughout Croatia, I recommend the following reads: Zagreb Noir, The Hired Man, Chasing a Croatian Girl, Cafe Europa, Girl at War, and The Culture of Lies. I’d also recommend grabbing a Kindle copy of Rick Steves Croatia and Slovenia guidebook — it’s the best-reviewed Croatia guidebook, was published in 2018, and is one of only a few you can read digitally.
- A laptop/tablet: Most of you won’t need to bring your laptop with you. I work online as I travel, so this is an essential for me, but if you don’t think you’ll have a use for it, save on weight and space and leave it at home. If you have a tablet, this could be a good compromise, so that you can watch TV shows on it in the evenings.
- Various chargers/adapters: Make sure you bring a European travel adapter with you!
Toiletries for a Trip to Croatia
If you’re going to be travelling with carry-on luggage, you’ll need to be cautious here, as you’ll have to make sure any liquids you travel with are under 100ml. Regardless, I’m always trying to reduce my environmental impact, so plenty of these suggestions will help you, too.
- Bamboo toothbrush and toothpaste: I invested in a bamboo toothbrush recently to cut down on my plastic consumption, and I’m obsessed with the offerings from B-Earthly. Their toothbrushes are biodegradable, comfortable to use, great for sensitive teeth, come with a travel case, and have a built-in tongue-cleaner. I combine mine with Crush&Brush toothpaste tablets, which come in zero-waste packaging, and biodegradable dental floss.
- A razor: I get my hair lasered, so I don’t have to shave very often, but I usually pack one reusable razor for each trip.
- Deodorant: This is a travel essential if you plan on travelling in Croatia through the hot and sweaty summer months! I love the Organic Island solid deodorant bar. It’s plastic-free, biodegradable, and works just as well as traditional deodorants. The fact that it’s not a liquid will please all of my fellow carry-on travellers out there!
- Sunscreen: You’ll get through a hell of a lot of sunscreen if you’re planning on visiting Croatia in summer — fun fact: I managed to land myself with heatstroke after my first day in Dubrovnik in July, so sun protection and hydration is going to be so important. To be honest, you’ll get through so much sunscreen in Croatia that I’d recommend picking some up after you arrive so that you can travel with a bigger bottle.
- Solid shampoo and conditioner: I love LUSH’s solid shampoo bars — they leave my hair feeling soft and shiny, are super-lightweight and small, and last me over six months when using them continuously! Because they’re so small, I’d definitely recommend picking up some solid conditioner, too — that salt water can really mess up your hair. The square tins that are sold by LUSH are perfect for storing your bars as you travel.
- A small bar of soap: I usually grab a bar of soap from LUSH before a trip, too. I love their products and the fact that they’re packaging-free. A bar of soap will last me for an entire trip and also means I don’t add to my liquid limit with shower gels.
- Tangle Teezer: I’ve been traveling with a Tangle Teezer since I first started traveling, and it was a lifesaver in Croatia! It’s the only hairbrush I’ve found that can get rid of all of all of the knots in my crazy, curly hair.
Miscellaneous Items for a Trip to Croatia
A dry bag: An essential for spending time out on the water. It meant I could put my camera in my dry bag, get some air in it so it floats, and swim off to a little beach with my camera and take some great photos. The extra air helped it to float, which was useful. I’ll only use Sea to Summit products when it comes to dry bags — I’ve been using mine for seven years and it’s still going strong.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance!
If you’ve read any other posts on Never Ending Footsteps, you’ll know that I’m a great believer in travelling with travel insurance. I’ve seen far too many Go Fund Me campaigns from destitute backpackers that are unexpectedly stranded in a foreign country after a scooter accident/being attacked/breaking a leg with no way of getting home or paying for their healthcare. These costs can quickly land you with a six-figure bill to pay at the end of it.
In short, if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.
Travel insurance will cover you if your flight is cancelled and you need to book a new one, if your luggage gets lost and you need to replace your belongings, if you suddenly get struck down by appendicitis and have to be hospitalised, or discover a family member has died and you need to get home immediately. If you fall seriously ill, your insurance will cover the costs to fly you home to receive medical treatment.
I use SafetyWing as my travel insurance provider, and recommend them for trips to Croatia. Firstly, they’re one of the few companies out there who will actually cover you if you contract COVID-19. On top of that, they provide worldwide coverage, don’t require you to have a return ticket, and even allow you to buy coverage after you’ve left home. If you’re on a long-term trip, you can pay monthly instead of up-front, and can cancel at any time. Finally, they’re way cheaper than the competition, and have a clear, easy-to-understand pricing structure, which is always appreciated.
With SafetyWing, you’ll pay $1.50 a day for travel insurance.
What Not to Pack for a Trip to Croatia
A money belt: There’s no travel item I despise more than a money belt, and I very much recommend leaving yours at home. Why? Because they don’t work! Thieves know what money belts are and they know to look for them. When a friend was mugged while travelling, the first thing the attacker did was lift up her shirt and check for a money belt.
So not are they uncomfortable and weird and make it look like you store your valuables in your underwear, but they don’t even protect you from being robbed.
Instead of travelling with a money belt, I recommend splitting up your money and credit cards before you travel. Keep an emergency €20 in your shoe, put some of your money in your wallet, keep a card in your daypack, and some extra cash in a pocket. You’ll be a lot safer by doing this.
High heels: Croatia is a country that’s all about the cobblestones. Leave the heels behind and opt for some sandals with a good grip — those cobbles can get extremely slippery at times.
Too much make-up: I’m all about that beauty life, but I’ll hold my hands up here and confess that I always pack far too much make-up on my trips. For some reason, I always assume I’m going to want to put on a full face of primer, foundation, concealer, eyeliner, lashes… when the reality is that it’s often so hot in Croatia that the last thing I want is products on my face. Instead, keep your products to a minimum: I like to pack some bronzer, mascara, a quad of neutral eyeshadows (I like the Flirt palette from Tarte), some highlighter, and lip gloss. I’ll throw a couple of vibrant nail polishes in there, too, and that’s about it for my beauty bag.