Montenegro, Dubrovnik, Bosnia and Herzegovina
An intensive engagement with the myriad cultures, communities, religions, and stakeholders along the EU's frontier.
9 days - $7,525 USD all-inclusive when booked by December 1, 2023
Navigate Complexities that have Divided Nations with Context from our Elite Team
Sea-side fortresses, legendary terrain, recovery and reinvention from Europe's bloodiest modern conflict. Experience and understand more in 9 days than you ever thought possible!
The purpose of Educational Travel Collaborative's intensive program is to make real, immersive, perspective and career defining travel available to those with limited time to spend on the road - so it's natural for us to operate in the Balkans - a part of the world as rich in historical, geopolitical, economic, and cultural significance as it is in natural beauty, ancient culinary traditions, and regional pride.
As a team dedicated to promoting and supporting extensive, in depth travel, we needed some convincing before putting our weight behind these lower duration itineraries, but this one aligns with all of our values. The Balkans may be easily accessible by air, but an understanding of the complexities and context of the region's recent past is vital to truly engage with its particular complications. We will help you navigate contradictory narratives and perspectives as well as political and religious divisions that are sometimes invisible to gain an understanding and respect for this exceptional part of the world. Join the world's best educational travel team as we explore the unrivaled intensity of this corner of Europe!
July 23-24: Fly to Podgorica
Depart New York or other International Gateways on Group Flight, Transfer to Kotor
Our group will meet in New York City and fly to Aswan via Vienna or Istanbul, the two historical capitols that vied for control of the Balkans for centuries, and upon landing take a short drive to Kotor, one of the most historical and splendid cities of the Balkan coast. Those traveling from outside of North America may join us at our connecting airport for our group flight to Podgorica, landing on the afternoon of the 24th. Orientation conversations and an evening walk along the coast will help our travelers get their bearings.
July 25-26: Kotor
City Walls, Pristine Sea, Rich History - an Introduction to the Region
After our arrival the night of the 24th, we overnight in Kotor on the 25th, and transfer to Dubrovnik the evening of the 26th. We marvel at sunsets from fortresses in the mountains, climb thousands of steps to ascend the scenic city walls, explore the waterfront, and meet with locals who can engage us in tales of the transition of this area of land from a proud Yugoslav port, to a region of Serbia, to a major city in Europe's youngest nation. This most recent division is still playing out, with the issue of whether to separate from the Serbian Orthodox Church splitting many Montenegrin communities. This is a great deal of transition to cover in such a short time, and serves as an exceptional "diving in" point for the Balkans.
July 27: Dubrovnik
Croatian Identity in an Idyllic Setting
On the evening of the 26th, we enter the European Union and Overnight in Dubrovnik. We'll spend the day of the 27th exploring its castles, culture, and cuisine, and getting a sense of the Croatian identity. While this is our only destination in Croatia proper, ethnic Croats play a major role in the divisions of Bosnia and Herzegovina, our next destination - in fact, catholic Bosnians are automatically Croatian, and therefore EU, citizens, a major advantage. After a full day exploring the city and its surrounds, we prepare for the next day's travels.
July 28: Mostar
A Symbol of Division, and of Reconstruction
The destruction of Mostar's classic Ottoman architecture, most famously the bridge that connects the town, was a symbol of the chaos and hostility that overtook much of the Balkans in the 1990's. Its reconstruction is a sign of progress, but the city, despite becoming something of "peace tourism" destination, remains divided. We will spend time with ethnic Croat and Bosnian guides to take us through their neighborhoods and share experiences of the conflict. Our afternoon debrief will involve reflecting on what we've learned and preparing for the sites of Sarajevo the following day.
July 29-30: Sarajevo
The Heart of Multiculturalism's Failures and Successes in the Balkans
All of the complex thinking we've been doing up to this point leads us to Sarajevo, a city still scared by its recent siege with an identity that remains unbent and unbroken. We will visit the tunnels that connected the airport to the rest of the city, the Bosnia and Herzegovina historical museum, and a number of local galleries to get a sense of the horror of Sarajevo's past. We will also spend time in its new developments, award winning markets and eateries, and multicultural public spaces to get a glimpse of the city's (and hopefully the region's) future. Cosmopolitan Sarajevo's history weighs on it heavily, while it's renaissance carries it into new and uncharted territory. We'll debrief all of this, and its impacts for myriad fields and industries, over our final days, all while wondering how we fit so much into just over a week!
July 31: Return Home!
Saying Goodbye after a Whirlwind Tour
We head to the airport early in the morning on July 31st - our group flight will return to New York in the afternoon to meet connecting flights within the Americas, and flights to the Middle East or Asia will land on August 1st. Some may choose to stay on and travel in the Balkans region or Europe more broadly, and we are happy to support you in that endeavor!
Who is eligible to attend ETC's Balkans Intensive?
This excursion is open to travelers aged 15-23 at the time of travel who are in sound physical and mental health. Be able to spend a day on your feet climbing hills in the European summer sun. Our school aged and university aged travelers will undertake many activities together, but 18-23 year olds will have some opportunities for night time exploration that differ from those of our school aged travelers.
Travelers should ensure they are authorized to travel to the countries in question - Croatia is an EU member state while Montenegro, Bosnia, and Herzegovina are not.
Who will be going on the trip with me?
Our excursions are open to travelers from all over the world who are interested in building an understanding of the regions to which we travel. Our admissions interviews serve to help us to ensure a strong cohort dynamic - differences in experience and perspectives are what make our cohorts function, and what deepens our learning as a community.
Elite international educators who are also veteran travelers will serve as trip facilitators on this trip, at a ratio of 4 young travelers to 1 trip facilitator. In addition, we will work with various teams on the ground to provide deep local knowledge - war veterans, civilian victims, local scholars, community leaders, and professional logistics teams, as necessary.
What will a day on the road look like?
The long Northern hemisphere summer days can mean early mornings and late nights - but we work to keep the earliest of mornings to a minimum on this itinerary. This itinerary crosses some complicated political and religious divides, as well as navigating rugged mountain terrain, meaning that we may have some winding roads and long checkpoints to deal with, but the geographical proximity of our destinations means there are no full days in transit. Most days we will do our exploring as one large group, but our low traveler to facilitator ratio means that we can split up into smaller groups when beneficial to the diversity of interests within our cohort, or with regards to the situation on the ground.
When should I plan to register by?
Our application process is rolling, generally closing in late winter or early spring with full enrollment.
The nature of our business means that we can offer better rates the earlier travelers register by - it allows us to make staffing decisions for our excursion, secure air travel, and begin holding accommodation at rates that can only be secured far in advance. As such, rates increase by $600 USD for those submitting deposits on or after December 1 2022, and an additional $600 USD on or after February 1 2023 in order to offset these costs. All in all, it makes sense to register as early as possible. Payments beyond the initial deposit can be staggered at no additional cost.
Pricing and Registration
Our intimate cohort-based model of running this excursion means that there are limited spots available. Full terms and conditions are published here, but the first step of our admissions process is the submission of a deposit, which allows us to schedule our initial admissions conversation! Upon acceptance, you'll have a variety of options for the payment of program tuition, which can be paid upfront or in three installments due on the first of December 2021, February 2022, and April 2022.
Note that the total price of attending the intensive, including all food, lodging, activity costs, guide fees, and transportation from a major international airport of our choosing is US$7,225 for those registering prior to December 1st, US$7,885 from December 1st to January 31st, and US$8,485 from February 1st onward.
Your deposit will be applied towards the total cost of the trip upon completion of the admissions process. Should you change your mind prior to admission, the deposit is refundable less a 50 dollar administrative fee. After the admissions process is complete, the deposit is non-refundable. Should ETC determine that the traveler is not admissible to the program for any reason, the deposit will be refunded in full, without any administrative fee. Payment can be made in full, or in three installments, due on or before Dec 1 2022, Feb 1 2023, and April 1 2023. Our Terms and Conditions and Cancellation and Refunds policies apply to each of these payments or transactions.