long term travel in Europe

My wife and I plan to lease our house and spend from 6 months to a year in Europe in 2015. I know we can find plenty of sources online to facilitate our stay but wondered if anyone knew a travel agent who specializes in such long term vacations. We would also appreciate any advice from long term vacationers.

Posted by Christi
Whitsett, TX, United States
398 posts

First things first check the Schengen rules. You will need visa for a longer stay

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17738 posts

Wayne, Long term stays are possible, but as the previous reply mentioned you'll have to work within the rules of the Schengen Visa, which allows stays of NO MORE than 90 days in any 180 day period. In order to stay longer, you can either stay 90 days in the Schengen area and the remainder of the time somewhere else OR work with a specific country to get a long stay Visa. Some posters have reported success with that in France. Italy is likely going to be more problematic because of the bureaucracy. I don't know of any travel agents that specialize in that type of travel, but you might get some good information by contacting: http://www.ronphillipstravel.com/ Good luck and happy travels!

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10854 posts

Do you plan to travel the entire time or look for short term rentals with the idea of living in a spot for a couple of months at a time? England is the best place to start since you can stay six months without a visa and it is easier to make the transition in an English speaking country unless you are fluent in another language. Visa issues can be critical. A little more clarity about your plans would be helpful in responding.

Posted by Beatrix
Calgary
1974 posts

Hopefully not add to the confusion but give you another option in case you do not have a European citizenship. You can also get a tourist visa to stay beyond the 90 days. You could apply for one with the country you start your trip in. Main criterium to grant a tourist visa is to show proof of a return ticket and sufficient funds to sustain yourself for the time in Europe. Not sure if I'd work with a travel agent in your case. My ideal long-term trip would be a "slow-travel" version with a limited number of bases. I'd rent vacation apartments for 1-2 weeks at a time. Some good sources for vacation rentals include: www.vrbo.com www.interchalet.co.uk
www.homeaway.com

Posted by Douglas
Oak Park, Illinois
2375 posts

Almost all European countries are Schengen signees. The notable exceptions are the UK and Russia. Something to keep in mind if getting a visa - it is good for a long-term stay in that country. My understanding is that it does not alter the 90 days within 180 limits in the rest of the Schengen zone. So shorter-term rentals in various places may not work.

Posted by Nancy
Corvallis OR
961 posts

@Douglas, I believe you're right. If they plan on traveling around multiple countries after the 90 days, I believe they would have to have a separate tourist visa for each country they would be visiting. I'm not sure how keen the schengen countries are about someone having extended stay visas in more than one country at a time. If they're staying in one country after the 90 days and getting a visa for that country - I think that would work. Luckily they're not planning on doing this until 2015 so maybe they have time to work it all out and apply for whatever visas they need. @Wayne - you might want to call or email the ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents) and ask them if there are any agents that specialize in helping with long-term travel, acquiring visas, etc. http://www.asta.org/ Good luck

Posted by Wayne
Spokane, WA, United States
6 posts

Thank all of you for your responses! To make our plans a little clearer we were thinking of staying as long as a month at a time in various countries to properly explore and get a real experience of the culture. We were thinking we could work around the Schengen countries by visiting non-Schengen countries after 90 days.
If we were to do that and only stayed 6 months would we even need a Schengen visa? Any suggestions for good affordable accommodations for month long stays would be appreciated. By the way, good hearing from you Canadians that responded as I was born in Canada and hold dual citizenship.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17738 posts

Wayne, Just to clarify, you won't need a "formal" Visa to visit for periods up to 90 days. The Schengen Visa consists of a stamp on your Passport at the first point on entry and then another at your departure point when you leave. As I understand it, a more formal Visa is only required if you want to stay as a tourist in any country for longer than the allowed 90 days. Your plan to stay in the Schengen Zone for 90 days and then non-Schengen countries for the remaining 90 days is certainly one possibility. Cheers!

Posted by Douglas
Oak Park, Illinois
2375 posts

Just to be clear, the limit in the Schengen ZONE is 90 days within a 180 day period. It isn't 90 days in each Schengen country. You can come and go within the zone as you please until your cumulative time reaches 90 days. So if you spent 30 days in three different Schengen countries, then you'd be fine as long as you spent the rest of your trip outside the Schengen zone. The UK, Ireland, Russia and Turkey are the main European options for you, though be aware that Russia has very specific and severe visa requirements. You could also spend some time in North Africa. If you won't be spending more than 90 days in any one country, it is unlikely that a country would issue you a long-term visa.

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
5444 posts

OK, so you will pick 3 countries in the Schengen zone and stay 30 days, 30 days, and 29 days (just to be sure you don't go over the limit, as it is strict). Then do the same in England and 2 other non-Schengen countries. You do not need a travel agent to arrange apartments. You can do a better job of suiting your own needs and preferences by using websites like VRBO and Air BnB. The latter is my new favorite; we have been using it to find an apartment for our daughter for 88 days in Berlin this summer. The website is very easy to use and protects you, the renter, quite well. There are also numerous agencies for vacation rentals in cities like Paris, Venice, Rome, etc. You can check for reviews on those companies on Tripsdvisor.

Posted by Douglas
Oak Park, Illinois
2375 posts

" Almost all European countries are Schengen signees. The notable exceptions are the UK and Russia." - utter piffle, please ignore that advice, which is moronic. Technically speaking sir, you are correct. Depending on how you count, there are about 50 European states, and only 25 are Schengen signees. However, my statement was not "moronic" since many of those non-Schengen states are places like Vatican City, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and Liechtenstein. Those are not normally places American tourists visit for more than a day. And it doesn't include Kazakhstan, Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus. Perhaps the OP was hoping to spend 6 months touring those nations. The Balkan states are also largely missing from Schengen, but again, other than Croatia, not a place on most American tourist agendas. I did mis-speak and left out Ireland in my list of notable exceptions, and if I offended any Irish, I do appologize...

Posted by Sarah
Stuttgart, Germany
2012 posts

Douglas shouldn't be so quick to write off the Balkan states as areas for long term stays. Between Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzogevnia and Montenegro someone could easily spend a month or two exploring the wonderful scenery and countryside and interesting cities of these very safe countries. Bonus: Aside from coastal Croatia, they're cheap, too!

Posted by Douglas
Oak Park, Illinois
2375 posts

I'm not personally writing off the Balkans, in fact they are high on my list of places I want to visit. My comment is that most Americans don't have the region high on their list. And even with the recent popularity of Croatia, it's still not a place that gets much attention here compared to Italy, Vienna and Greece. And it's certainly not a region, whether deserved or not, that Americans will plan to spend several months in. And even a month or two you say should be spent there would fall under the Schengen limits if they were signees. This thread is now completely derailed from what the OP asked...

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10854 posts

I agree with Douglas. Have no idea what point Keith was trying to make. It approached nonsense. When most North Americans speak of Europe the normal assumption is that they are referencing western Europe even though many other countries make up Europe in total. It is a save assumption until the OP returns and tells us otherwise.

Posted by Michael
Des Moines, IA
2155 posts

It was more like absurd gibberish...sort of like indicating that one must include Sheffield when talking about destinations for American tourists visiting England. Then again, they do have a great ASDA there, and I seem to recall a set of super cheap steak knives we had when I was a kid (China quality but from Sheffield). Maybe it should be on the list after all.

Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
3578 posts

Wow, guys - I had to make new popcorn; the first batch got old ;-) Utter piffle. Wayne, have you gotten the response you were looking for? Are there particular countries you were interested in? A 6-month period covers 2-3 seasons of clothing; depending on when you first arrive, you might consider starting in the north and working your way south, or vice-versa...depending upon your Schengen country restrictions, of course. If not, please come back and ask again!

Posted by Michael
Des Moines, IA
2155 posts

Disordered thought can be managed through a regimen of antipsychotic medication...check with your medical doctor for details. Update: As England Keith's erratic replies have been removed, this doesn't make as much sense now. :)

Posted by Grier
Carmel, IN
1054 posts

If they plan on traveling around multiple countries after the 90 days, I believe they would have to have a separate tourist visa for each country they would be visiting. I believe there was a post on another thread, maybe by Ed, which stated that a tourist visa obtained from one country, Spain, for example, allows travel in multiple countries. It's not necessary to get a visa for each country.

Posted by Keith
United Kingdom
678 posts

I removed my own posts, because I realised some on here are seriously weird and didn't wish to be involved in any debate with them.

Posted by Wayne
Spokane, WA, United States
6 posts

Okay folks, thanks for all the ideas. They will help me start to long range plan. Seems no one knew or used an agent to plan a long term stay so I will rely on VRBO and AirB&B. If any of you have spent more that a couple weeks in any one place and would recommend it I would be interested in knowing about it. We will definitely spend time in the Schengen countries but are also interested in England and the Balkans which would accommodate the 90 days out of 180 Schengen visa rules. Thanks again for all your input.

Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
3578 posts

Piffle. (I just like 'saying' that) Wayne, are there any areas in particular that you think you'll probably stay in? Any areas you probably won't want to go to? You're asking a very open-ended question, and I'm afraid you'll get a bunch of responses that you're really not interested in. Germany? Munich/Berlin/Cologne (larger)? Or Holzkirchen/Bacharach (smaller)? NO France? Outdoor activities? Large museums? Good travel/transportation connections? Car? Train only? No cold locales? Will you travel in colder months or warmer months? Hate the rain? This will help narrow things down a bit. I also realize that you're probably fishing some some ideas that you haven't even thought of, but you don't want a bunch of responses for France or Bulgaria or huge cities if you have NO intention of ever going there! And thanks, Karen, for getting me hooked on Home Free Adventures (again); I've now signed up for their blog...like I need another blog to follow... ;-)

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7967 posts

Doesn't the above post violate guidelines by pointing out ways to bust the rules? Besides it being full of crap and wild guesses disguised as fact?

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10854 posts

The title is a little miss-leading, cause, he admits, there really isn't anyway to do it legally other than a visitor's visa in a couple of countries. And it is not much different that what most of us has been posting when this question is raised. May bookmark it as a standard reference to this question.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10854 posts

Ed is the one who suggested it was illegal. My only comment was that I thought the title was misleading. But it was a hook to get someone to ready the article. Nothing wrong with that as a writer.