Prepper’s Travel Diary: Traveling to Croatia

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Author of Be Ready for Anything and Bloom Where You’re Planted online course

When you travel by air, you’re at the mercy of a lot of things.

  • The TSA, some of whom appear to take glee in disrupting your carefully packed bag.
  • The schedule of the planes, where one delay leads to another.
  • The high prices at the airport, which you can’t circumvent if you wish to drink a beverage.

For a person who likes to be in control, there are a lot of variables that you cannot control. You can choose, then, to be stressed out or to go with the flow.

The TSA

Most of the TSA people in the small airport where I started out were pleasant. But there was one woman who I could see from the back of the line was really feeling self-satisfied. She was pacing around barking at everyone in general.

“Shoes off. Belts off. Pockets emptied. Remove all food, liquids, and small electronics from your bags. Jackets off. Shoes off…”

Over and over and over. And of course, I got her instead of one of the more circumspect TSA people. I asked for a hand with my carryon, since I recently had surgery and am not supposed to lift much. She slid a tray at me a couple of inches and turned her head. A nice fellow victim gentleman lifted it up onto the belt for me.

Then she got busy. She opened all my bottles of cosmetics and sniffed them. She picked up each of my bags of peanut M&Ms and fondled them, feeling around for anything that might not be an M&M. I fought the urge to be sarcastic and, luckily, I won. Then I got naked-body-scanned and was allowed to put my shoes and sweater back on and collect the belongings that had been rifled through. The TSA agent on the other end kindly lifted my bag down for me and off I rolled to my gate.

Where I waited.

And waited.

And waited some more.

My first flight was delayed three times.

By the time a flight arrived, they gate-checked my carry-on due to lack of space. This was both good and bad – all my survival gear was on it, but on the bright side, I wouldn’t require any assistance getting it in the overhead compartment.

Originally scheduled to leave at 1:30, I finally got out of there are 3:55. So not only did I get 3/4 of the way through the book I brought but I also no longer had 2 hours to get to my next flight.

It turns out I actually can run.

We landed at Dulles and I felt optimistic. I had about 25 minutes to get to my connecting flight.  But as we continued to taxi around the airport waiting for a gate to open up, my optimism dwindled. By the time I got off the plane, I had 11 minutes to get to my next flight. I was at Terminal A and my connection was at Terminal C.

Because heaven only knew when another flight would arrive to get me to my destination, I started out walking fast. As the seconds ticked away, I picked things up to a trot. I went down 6 escalators and jogged on those little people movers. Then I had to take a train from my terminal to the other terminal. The clock on my phone told me that it was time for take-off for the next flight, but I persevered. I thought, maybe this flight was also delayed.

Back over people movers and escalators, I discovered my gate was at the furthest end of the terminal, so I broke into a sprint. (At this point I was really glad my rolling carry on had been checked and I only had my purse and my water bottle.)

I arrived gasping for air…and glory hallelujah, the last people were going through the doors. I handed my passport and boarding pass to the agent at the gate, who looked with concern at the sweaty, wheezing middle-aged woman and nodded me through.

Victory! I was the very last person on the plane and they shut the doors behind me. I made the flight to Munich by mere seconds.

The long flight

I got situated at the very back of the plane. It was far more spacious than planes I’ve normally been on. There was nobody behind me and I was able to comfortably lean back once things got going. I sat beside a very kind lady who was headed to India. Unfortunately her mother there was seriously ill. We struck up a friendly conversation early in the flight.

On the back of the seat in front of me, I could track the flight and see where we were, how far we’d traveled, and how far we had left yet to travel.

The food was far better than any airplane food I can remember. Maybe this was because I had only eaten the M&Ms I brought in case of a plane crash on a deserted since arriving at the first airport many hours ago, but regardless, I think it was pretty tasty. It was spinach and roasted red pepper manicotti with a side salad. Afterward, they served lemon sorbet.

It turns out I can’t sleep on planes. I took a Benadryl, which usually knocks me out, but I remained wide awake for the duration of the 8-hour overnight trip. The good news is, the flight crew served a small meal to the people who were awake  – it was Indian food. Butter chicken and basmati rice.  I curled up with my rice and chicken and dove into a good book.

About an hour before landing, they turned the lights back up and served even more food. This time it was a piping hot croissant and fruit or yogurt.

The next layover

By this time, I had been on the go for 14 hours. When we landed in Munich, I had a leisurely 4 hours to get to my next flight. I located the gate and then decided to take a walk through the terminal. At this point, I hadn’t slept for 20 hours and I knew if I sat down, I would fall asleep and might miss my next flight.

Someone had abandoned one of those little carts, so I popped my heavy, book-filled purse in it and walked up and down the concourse. The Munich airport is loaded with luxury stores – Chanel, Gucci, and others I hadn’t heard of. I wandered through a few of them, entertaining myself by trying to guess the price of different items before looking at the price tag. Holy smokes. Let’s just say I won’t be wearing Gucci anytime soon.

I decided to get a bite to eat before my next flight. I got a truly delicious sandwich with smoked meat, shavings of some type of flavorful cheese, and tasty and heavy bread.  Something I noticed on the menus there that is different from the US is that they don’t add a bunch of caloric side dishes. You get your main dish and if you want something else, you order it separately.

There were no empty tables so I asked a woman sitting alone if I could join her. She was a lovely lady, born in Turkey but now an American citizen who lived in Arizona. We discussed our travels and coincidentally, she was returning from a tour of the Balkans and had just visited many of the cities I was heading to visit myself.

We shared a pleasant hour and then it was time for us to go to our respective gates.

Arriving in Croatia

My final flight was from Munich, Germany to Zagreb, Croatia. It was a short flight and completely without incident.

When I landed in Zagreb, things began to be very different. When you are in a place in which you cannot speak the language, it feels sort of like being illiterate. There were a few signs in English, but most were in Croat. I figured out where to collect my luggage then wheeled it through customs.

Customs in Croatia is absolutely nothing like Customs in the US or Canada.

First, a gentleman asked me my nationality, in Croat, then in English, and then greeted me warmly and pointed me in the right direction.

After I waited in a short line, a nice young man took my passport and asked me why I was there and for how long. When I said “vacation and about a month” his eyes lit up like it was Christmas morning. He recommended some things I should see and suggested foods I must try. He didn’t ask me any questions about what I was bringing or look through my bags. He stamped my passport and genuinely wished me well.

Next, I had to wander out and look for my ride. There were lots of drivers holding signs but I made my way toward the door, and soon, I was in the car on en route to my first destination. The drive through rural Croatia was spectacular. It’s just so OLD here. I’ll leave you with this photo of my first sunset on the Dalmatian Coast.

Other articles in this series:

About Daisy

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, gun-toting blogger who writes about current events, preparedness, frugality, voluntaryism, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, The Organic Prepper. She is widely republished across alternative media and she curates all the most important news links on her aggregate site, PreppersDailyNews.com. Daisy is the best-selling author of 4 books and runs a small digital publishing company.  She lives in the mountains of Virginia with her family. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter.

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

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  • Congrats on getting through the gauntlet. Surprised you opted for the irradiative voyeur scanner rather than the groping. I opt for the groping, because it doesn’t save any record of my physique, and molestation doesn’t contribute to cancer formation. I make a big show of it as a protest. If I’m lucky, it dewrinkles my clothes a bit.

    • I made a habit of taking a long walk to the airport. By the time I get there, I’m covered with sweat, which wrecks havoc with the irradiative machines. The screeners have no choice but skip the irradiation but grope instead.

  • Thanks for posting this diary, it will be very interesting to follow along with your travels! Perhaps the Croatian customs man was happy to think that his country was attracting tourists; that would be a boost for their economy. I am really interested to hear about Croatia.

    • Wanted to add: I use a mushy city backpack for a carry-on, so I can always fit it under the seat. I absolutely cannot check it in; the only things in my carry-on are valuables that I don’t want TSA and airport employees to steal. My laptop, camera, etc.

  • My sister traveled to Croatia with a church group made up of young 20-somethings back in the 1980s, when the country was Communist Yugoslavia. After she switched planes in Europe and was on a Yugoslavian airline, they had an unnerving thing happen. The flight attendant went running down the main aisle screaming and speaking Croatian. They braced for the worst, but nothing happened.
    Her customs experience was different from yours. Because it was under Communist rule, churches were frowned upon or banned. My sister’s group was bringing over Bibles and religious tracts for the underground Christians they were going to stay with. They packed these items in the bottom of their bags and put other things on top of them, hoping to get them through customs.
    The custom officer opened the first bag to inspect it and Nerf footballs and soccer balls popped out of the tightly packed bag. He was not amused. He told them to put them back in the bag and then waived them on through without looking in the other bags. They figured God was on their side with that incident.

  • I had an interesting experience in the former Yugoslavia as well. It’s a long story, but one thing I’ll never forget was getting on the plane and sitting in my aisle seat and suddenly the guy across the aisle from me lit up a cigarette. I knew smoking would be allowed on the plane and had requested a seat in the “non-smoking” area. Turned out, the dividing line for smoking and non-smoking was down the CENTER AISLE! I met up with a group doing the same tour I was on and when we came back, we all rushed to be first in line to board so we could form our own “non-smoking” section of the plane. Dubrovnik was spectacular, as was the coast with its blue blue waters. I plan on going back some day. Maybe after I hear about your Survival experience with Selco. I’d also like to check out Medjugore while I’m there.

  • I just did this trip as well. One suggestion is if you are in an airport longer than 2 hours use the vip lounge. We were 3 hours and 40 minutes in Munich and spent the $39 for the two of us to have access to the VIP lounge. You get comfortable chairs, quiet atmosphere, less crowded, better washrooms, ability to charge your electronics, all food and drinks, and alcohol is included, newspapers in many languages, free wifi. It is really worth the money. Certain lounges will let you in free if you have a specific credit card, are current military, are a paramedic, as well as if you are flying business class.

  • I have read that if you carry an empty container through TSA, you can fill it from the water fountain on the other side.
    This is only what I have read, since I have not flown commercial since the early 90s, and doubt I ever will.
    Best of luck on your trip.

    • Semi-frequent traveler here. Yes, you can carry an empty water bottle through security. Most airports have water filling stations inside the terminal these days. Saves $2+ for having to buy it at a newsstand. (I drink a *lot* of water.). Looking forward to hearing more about Croatia.

  • It’s not uncommon for thugs to unglue a food package then reglue it with drugs like pills. You can hate but she was doing her job. Nothing like spending your day hoping you don’t accidentally touch fentanyl or cartfentyl that will cause you to OD.
    Ask him in your training about running between painted marker zones where snipers would shoot thru purposely placed holes in walls from the hills. Turns out they could run too.

  • I’m glad you got out of the States safely, Daisy. And though I’m gratified about how you were treated once you reached Croatia, I’m not surprised. There are many civilized airports, just very few in the US.

  • Ah, beautiful Hrvatska. We lived in Zagreb from 1994-96. Friendly people, very interesting town. If you have time, be sure to visit the outdoor market, Ban Jelacic Square (the statue there was dismantled during communist times and reassembled when the country became independent), the twin-spired cathedral, St. Mark’s Church (the tiles on the roof are amazing), the funicular, Gornji Grad (where some of Dr. Zhivago was filmed), and Maksimir Park. It is a real experience to ride the trams around.

  • Glad you got there safely Daisy. Yes, anyone who has flown much, especially in North America or Britain, has their share of horror stories about airports, flights, and TSA. Your long trip and connections were remarkably free of ‘interesting’ events, the chocolate fondler notwithstanding. I am sure the customs chappie in Croatia was glad that tourists are coming back – no doubt there are many who are still concerned about visiting the Balkans, even though the war was so long ago. Do enjoy a fascinating and safe trip, and please continue to tell us about it.!!

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