Balkan group tour
Description of Balkan group tour
This Balkan small group holiday uses public transport as much as possible – the most fun way to explore this lesser-visited corner of Europe. It’s also one of the most responsible, using existing local transport options and supporting a region well on its way to recovery from the 1991-2001 Yugoslav Wars.
It’s a quick-fire two-week journey, so you’ll warm up with a night in the Hungarian capital Budapest, where you can spend days soaking in Art Nouveau baths and wander the murals of the Jewish quarter. Next up, party town Belgrade – the Serbian capital – mixes grand Austro-Hungarian boulevards with brutal ex-Yugoslav housing. Sarajevo is another flavour of Balkan capital, thanks to the Ottoman architecture and caravanserai tea houses.
The scenery transforms from riverside cities to casually spectacular coastline as you tootle towards the sun-warmed Adriatic. Mountain-wrapped Bay of Kotor is a highlight, along with the Croatian double grand finale: Dubrovnik and Split. Time for a well-deserved glass of plavac.
PlanetTravelling by public transport wherever possible means that we make the most of the services already available to us - avoiding running unnecessary additional cars and taxis. For this tour, you'll be using Croatia's well developed coach network, with your guide on hand to make sure we're on the right course.
For this trip, we will be visiting some parts of the Balkan region who's tourist industry is still recovering from a troubled past. We will use local guides and hostel providers - giving us the best cultural experience, while helping to invest in the economy of local people.
When staying in locations such as Kotor, which is a delicate and protected Unesco world heritage site, we will avoid activities which could negatively impact the local area.
In terms of minimising our carbon footprint and waste production, we will never send out printed communications like brochures or newsletters; we provide these digitally on the website, and are more than happy to email you a copy if you like. In the same way, all quotes and trip information (with the exception of your travel pack) are sent by email. With this in mind, please take care to consider the environment before printing any copies of our communications!
Our travel packs are printed on recycled paper and in turn, are 100% recyclable themselves. We also only use Xerox Solid Ink to print our materials, which generates up to 90% less printing waste than more commonly-used laser printers! To minimise waste production, we send one travel pack per group of 1-3 or 4 people, which is plenty to go around! We can also send you multiple copies of your travel pack digitally if you prefer, so do let us know if you'd like this option.
When you are travelling, we encourage you not to use bottled water – there really is no need! Every hostel and hotel we use has drinking tap water so why not pour yourself a bottle and leave it in the fridge overnight ready for the next day? In our office, water bottles are banned so we only use tap water too.
Our rail suppliers place the environment at the top of their priorities. In addition to being the most eco-friendly way to travel as it is, almost all rail companies within Europe have electrified their lines, reducing the need for diesel powered trains, which contribute towards significant air pollution issues. We use rail travel wherever possible, and where it's not available we use coach transport instead to minimise the need for private transportation.
PeopleFirst and foremost, we are highly aware of the potential impact of mass tourism on local communities, which is why we always aim to encourage sustainable travel, whilst promoting travel as a means of building cultural understanding. We do not oversell destinations which suffer from too much tourism. We have a certain number of hostel beds available and once these spaces are filled we stop offering the destination to ensure that we don't contribute to the issue of over tourism. This benefits both our customers and the suppliers we work with. Customers trust us to offer them an honest service and suppliers trust us to give them a reliable but responsible level of business.
For example, we have made the choice for this trip to pass through Dubrovnik without staying here. The city suffers from an extremely high level of tourism (particularly from cruise ships), which has a hugely damaging effect on the fragile and unusual local environment. Although we appreciate that it's a fascinating city, we can enjoy the surroundings for the day, before moving on. There is no need to contribute unnecessarily to the pressures that the city faces, but we can still provide business to local people and enjoy the beautiful city.
We always endeavour to provide ‘less touristy’, locally owned destinations and suggestions for sightseeing in each city that you'll visit. We have taken the time out to meet with and forge strong personal relationships with our partner hostels and hotels on this trip, in order to benefit both you as a customer, as well as local businesses. Through them we recommend locally based tours, excursions and activities which provide income to local businesses. We encourage travellers to sample the local cuisine, stay away from global chains and speak to locals for the best recommendations. These are listed in your personalised travel pack you receive. As a result, not only will you get a more authentic travel experience, but you'll also have the power to support locally-run businesses and truly get to know local people.
We particularly encourage solo explorers and small groups of independent travellers to try our trips, ensuring that their cultural experience isn't marred by the dynamics that larger organised group tours can lend themselves to. This also helps to discourage waves of mass tourism in increasingly popular travel destinations.
Lastly, we also encourage our customers to travel with an open, respectful attitude towards other travellers and local residents. We provide basic language essentials in each of our travel packs to help foster cultural immersion, and encourage getting off the beaten track to gain a truly authentic experience of each city that you visit.
Back at the office, staff are encouraged to pursue charity projects and volunteering which contribute to the local community. We are very happy to offer flexible hours to accommodate these projects. In the past year three of our staff have undertaken and continue to undertake regular volunteering, including teaching English to refugees living in Leeds, providing mental health coaching and support in to girls in a local primary school and helping with rehabilitation projects in a local prison. In addition, staff are encouraged to participate in charity fundraising. In 2017 a team of staff members took part in Race for Life to raise money for Breast Cancer UK.
We employ a range of people living in the Leeds and West Yorkshire region. All employees are paid above the living wage, and we are also happy to offer Work Experience opportunities to local students. Employees benefit from flexible working hours, with an hour for lunch every day and two additional hours a week to undertake exercise or sport. Training opportunities are provided regularly, and staff are regularly consulted on their progress and ambitions for personal and professional development through twice yearly appraisals.
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