expat, expat-almanac, expatriot, Girona, ireland, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, travel
We’ve been discussing Life After Girona lately. Ireland? Italy? Switzerland?
Or, maybe, no plans at all. Perhaps we’ll wait until the last minute – the 88th day in Girona? – before we decide where to go next.
Here’s the conundrum: if we decide to wait until the last minute, isn’t that a plan? Can the absence of a plan be a plan itself? My mind quivers like jostled Jell-O.
Eugenia Askren said:
As plan, no plan… I like it and only wish I were brave enough to implement it!
You will certainly have enough time in Spain to generate ideas, so why strop yourselves up now? hmm… this 88 days approach… maybe THAT’s the overarching plan!
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Hi Tom and Louise, In our experience, sometimes no plan is the best plan of all. It all fits into the “Chance favors the prepared mind” category when you open yourself up to the universe. That’s how we ended up in Cyprus and Sri Lanka (marvelous places we’d never planned) on our last RTW. All the Best, Terri
Hi Terri! As you know, we now have scheduled out the entire year (April 1, 2013 – March 31, 2014), but after that, no plans. We may even live to wish we haven’t done the scheduling we’ve done. You’ve traveled this expat road for over thirty years, I know, so I listen carefully when you speak.
John and Kathleen said:
I saw you on AMNW and immediately ordered your book from Amazon. My husband and I read it cover to cover this weekend as we are hoping to live in Europe for a year. We learned some excellent techniques for long-term travel, but the one question we are still left wondering is, how were you able to get around the Schengen zone visa requirements that limit a stay to 90 out of 180 days in the EU? From what we understand we would have to live in the UK for three months, the EU for three months, the UK for three months, and back to the EU for three months. It looks like you were able to do five months consecutively in the EU. How are you able to do this?
Thank you so much in advance for your reply. We really enjoyed the book and are now quite anxious to get our trip underway!
John and Kathleen
John and Kathleen —
I’m flattered that you bought the book and even more flattered that you enjoyed it. Thanks for commenting.
First and foremost: Be sure your passport expiration is at least six months beyond your return to the US, and that it has plenty of blank pages. In other words, if you intend to stay in the EU through, say, December of 2015, your passports’ expiration dates should be July of 2016 or beyond.
Second: Watch this video. (It will put you in the right frame of mind.)
Third: Register with the State Department’s S.T.E.P. program (see this site.) It’s not required, but it’s a BIG advantage should something untoward arise.
Fourth: A Schengen visa is a convenience in most EU countries, not a requirement. (A list of countries requiring Schengen visas — and those that don’t — appears here.) Assuming you’re traveling on a US passport, most EU countries allow visits of 90 days or less without a visa of any kind. That 90-day limit is per country. It does not apply to the EU as an aggregate. You could probably stay in the EU for years, as long as you didn’t stay in any one country longer than 90 days.
For example, our original plans were to live in Spain for six months. We cut it back to three because of the 90-day-no-visa-required allowance. Thirty days in Greece after that? No problem. Thirty days in Italy after that? No problem. Our passports were swiped at every entry point with a smile and a “have a nice visit.” (Well, smiles most of the — these were immigration authorities, after all.)
The real issue for us was health insurance. Our policy (a Blue Cross MediCare supplement) provides coverage for overseas travel not to exceed twelve months, and it required a US residence address. We used my daughter’s address and returned one year after we departed,.almost to the day.
Fifth: Have a good trip! Stay long enough to get to know some people. Relax and smile through whatever bureaucratic hurdles come your way. Most stress while traveling is self-made.
I hope this helps.