So you want to do a sailing trip? You’ve always dreamed of sailing on picturesque ocean waters, and now you’ve finally made that dream come true by signing up for an Intrepid Travel sailing trip…
But after the initial rush of excitement when you clicked submit on your deposit, you are feeling overwhelmed with uncertainty about what lies ahead. Sailing for 8 days? It is totally out of your comfort zone and you don’t have boat experience. You’ve read all the materials and studied the packing lists, but you still feel like you don’t know what to expect from the experience.
Don’t worry—I felt the same way!
Even though I grew up around sailboats with my family, I still felt like I didn’t know what to expect from a multi-day sailing adventure abroad. Doing this type of trip is something unique and distinctly different from other group travel experiences, so I think setting expectations is really the key to ensuring you have an excellent time on your sailing adventure.
Preparing for a week on a sailboat requires a different set of preparations than preparing for other types of travel. Sailing can be glamorous yet challenging, amazing yet tiring. And I’m here to tell you all about it, having recently returned from my 8-day Croatia Sailing Adventure trip.
Land and sea
An average day on an Intrepid sailing trip
Each of your days will start at a leisurely pace, usually waking up around 7-8am for a casual breakfast. Typically the boat will leave the port around 9am for your morning of sailing. Most of our sail days in Croatia were about 2-4 hours, with the longest day being 6 hours of sailing.
When you spend lots of the day on the ocean, diving into the crystal clear waters is all too tempting! We took refreshing swims every day of our trip, which was an absolute highlight for me. We would simply stop the boat at a pretty spot and dive in.
Once you arrive to your port, the pace of the land days on Intrepid Travel’s sailing trips are peaceful yet filled with adventure, making for a varied itinerary. We stopped at a variety of Croatian islands, all special and different in their own way. The stops were semi-fixed (depending on weather), so each night, our guide would tell us about the next destination and we could think about what we might want to do there.
You are able to explore as much or as little as you want, and you can really make the trip your own without having to research all the various details about traveling there. The marinas are all centrally-located too, so it is pretty easy to simply walk off the boat and explore the island’s highlights.
Sailboats are the BEST way to explore
Simply put, there is no better way to experience the Mediterranean than by boat. There are so many things to love about it. The coastline in Croatia is absolutely gorgeous and you really get a sense of the mountainous natural beauty from the water. There is a peacefulness to hearing the sounds of the water and wind against your sails. Looking out the bow at open ocean front of you is a feeling unlike anything else.
Life on board
You live on a floating hotel
One of the best parts of being on a sailboat is that you can move somewhere new every day and not have to pack and unpack your stuff. Your accommodations come with you! There is an ease to hopping on and off the boat each day in a new destination and being able to return to the boat when you’re done. It is very hassle-free.
Sleep under the stars
I’m not going to lie to you—the 8 days on-board were not my best nights of sleep ever. The cabins are comfortable and clean, but with limited air flow. The warm temperatures can make for a bit of a restless sleep so to be more comfortable, I sometimes slept on the deck. I brought up cushions from the cabin and a blanket, and also took an eye mask and ear plugs. I slept fine, and it was a great opportunity to sleep under the stars and wake up with the sunrise each day.
Sailboats don’t typically have air conditioning so you’ll spend your day soaking in the sun in your swimsuit. You will be returning from your Intrepid Travel sailing adventure with an enviable bronze tan. Bringing comfortable clothes that you don’t mind getting sweaty and covered in sunscreen is a good idea for your on-board portion of the trip, and I wound up wearing pretty much the same few items of clothing each day on board.
You can change into more photogenic clothes once you arrive in port and no one but your ship mates will know the difference!
Tips for making the most of it all
Although #yachtweek photos make everything about sailing in the Adriatic or Aegean Seas look luxurious, there are a few less glamorous parts about living on a boat that passengers should be aware of before embarking on this type of adventure.
Boats have issues sometimes
You know that age-old saying about boat owners—a boat owner’s favorite two days are the day they buy their boat and the day they sell their boat. Well, that is a saying for a reason because boats can run into problems. It is not uncommon to experience minor maintenance issues, so it is important to be patient and flexible if you experience boat troubles on your trip.
Intrepid Travel guides will always take care of any issues so you don’t have to worry or co-ordinate anything. With a good attitude, you’ll be able to weather any storm.
Weather can be a concern
You wouldn’t know from stunning Instagram photos of the Italian or Croatian coasts but poor weather does occasionally come through the Mediterranean during summer months, which can delay your sailing adventure. During my trip in Croatia, a storm was brewing a couple hundred miles away, which deterred our captain from leaving the port on schedule. We wound up spending an extra night in the Split harbor as we waited for the storm to pass.
Safety is, and always should be, a top priority for Intrepid Travel guides and a good captain will always be cautious about setting sail under poor conditions. If bad weather does cause you to miss a stop like it did on our trip, take it as an opportunity to dive further into your current destination and see some off-the-beaten-path spots.
Visiting the Croatian islands via sailboat is one of the best travel experiences you could ask for. Your days will be filled with new friends, crystal blue water and daily adventures! When preparing for a trip like this, it all comes down to setting yourself up for success with realistic expectations. Sailing in Croatia is a relaxing and beautiful once-in-a-lifetime experience that is absolutely worth it.
Ready to experience the world, by boat? Check out Intrepid’s amazing sailing trips.
(All images courtesy of Megan the author, and taken on Intrepid’s Croatia Sailing Adventure trip.)