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Homeless for a Year

My husband and I are planning to take a year to travel around the world. We have a year to plan this trip, expecting to leave Canada in April, 2019. I expect we will want to spend about 8 months in Europe, and then swing south through Africa, India, Indochina and China. We have already traveled quite a bit in the South Pacific, Australia, New Zealand and the Americas, so are not planning to include this in our travels. Has anyone planned a similar trip, or have any suggestions about where to start, and a rough itinerary?

Posted by
281 posts

Do you have some sort of visa to stay in Europe that long? You can only be in the Schengen 90 days out of 180. You would want to plan your Europe stay to deal with that, unless you have some ability to be there longer.

Posted by
6372 posts

I sure wish I had personal experience to share, always wanted to do this but never did. I did do a little preliminary research back when that kind of trip was a possibility for me. BootsnAll is one of the go-to websites/online communities for 'round the world independent travel, and they may have some good information for you. Good luck with your planning and I hope you plan and have a wonderful trip.

Posted by
3176 posts

I volunteer at a homeless shelter geared specifically for battered women and their children. When I saw the title of this thread, I didn't think it was an open-ended question looking for suggestions about where to travel around the world.

I assumed this thread were a trip report about volunteering at homeless shelters while traveling on a year's sabbatical....

Posted by
19525 posts

Gladys, to help your understanding of the Schengen rules:

  • A map and the list of Schengen countries is on page 2 of this brochure.

  • The time limit is 90 days (not three months!) within any rolling 180-day period. Exiting the Schengen Zone does not re-set your day counter to "0". Past days in a Schengen country continue to count against you until you hit Day 181 after your initial day in the SZ. At that point, your first day in the SZ no longer counts. Another day drops off the next day. And so on.

  • For each visit to the SZ, both your arrival day and your departure day count. Be very careful not to forget that.

  • The penalty for overstaying your permitted time in the Schengen Zone can be a fine of thousands of euros and banning from the area for years.

  • Different countries have different processes for obtaining long-stay visas. I've never done it, but I believe that in general you must satisfy the selected country's consulate in your own country that you have arranged housing, have medical insurance and have sufficient financiall means not to be a burden on the state. I don't know how one gets around the requirement for pre-arranged housing when one doesn't plan to spend the entire trip in one place.

  • In the absence of a long-stay visa, you cannot spend more than two (very carefully calculated) 90-day periods in the Schengen Zone within 360 days. You'll need to plan carefully to take advantage of conveniently-located non-Schengen destinations like Ireland, the United Kingdom, Morocco, Cyprus, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania, Serbia and Croatia. Of course, you could also fly to one of the more distant destinations during one of your break periods away from the Schengen Zone.

Posted by
546 posts

I have taken a year off to travel the world a couple of times in my life and I can tell you this will be a decision you won't regret.

But I do think you might want to rethink the 8 months in Europe and devote more time to Africa and Asia and especially India. you are leaving only a spare 4 months for those enormous places with so much to see and experience. For example I once spent a MONTH in Sri Lanka on a rented motorcycle touring around and felt I wanted to stay longer.

In truth I would cut Europe to 2- 3 months and devote the rest to Tanzania, Ethiopia, Egypt, India, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Myanmar Laos. Personally having been all over China I would save it for a separate trip. It is not what people expect. It's an eye opener. It's the largest nominally communist country that is the worlds hotbed of capitalism and modernity. But concentrate on the others I have mentioned you wont regret it.

Have fun have a good trip.

Posted by
546 posts

Regarding Europe and the Shengen...first of all not all of Europe is in the Shengen and its easy to avoid those rules by traveling and staying in countries outside of that system. (of which there are many and varied and interesting)

I assume that anyone with the sense to plan a year long trip pretty much has the sense to make this work. They surely must get the whole Visa-time-in-country concept.

Posted by
21356 posts

Not sure if the Schengen zone limits apply to the Canadians in the same manner as US citizens.

Posted by
882 posts

Yes, Frank (and OP), the Schengen rules are the same for Canadians as for Americans.

Posted by
8889 posts

The Schengen Zone limit applies to all nationalities outside Europe. Either:
(a) You are an EU or Schengen Zone citizen. In which case there are no limits. You can live and work in the EU and travel into and out of the Schengen Area with no restrictions.
(b) You are a citizen or a non-visa country. In which case the "90 days in and 180" limit applies to your stays in the Schengen Area,
(c) You are from a country which requires a visa. In which case the limit is whatever it says on your visa, usually also 90 days in 180.

If you want to exceed the 90 day limit, you need a visa from whichever country you intend to stay in.

Posted by
8293 posts

It is possible, of course, that these Canadians have EU passports, having dual citizenship, making all the Shengen talk moot.

Posted by
546 posts

I think it's kind of sad to see a thread like this where the OP is asking a particular question and then it veers right off to the all too common "Shengen" issue that seem to dominate and frankly skew otherwise interesting threads.

This question was about where the most time should be spent and where to go.

I always try to approach these questions by giving the OP the benefit of the doubt that they are intelligent and well informed enough to figure out the Visa-stay rules on their own unless they are asking that particular question.

I realize it is all done with mostly good intentions but is it really what the OP wanted to achieve?

Posted by
3660 posts

I know this sounds incredibly picky, but would it be possible to retitle this thread? You are not homeless for a year. You are traveling for a year. There is a huge difference.

Posted by
2349 posts

Oh, I don't know. I would roughly estimate that in about half of the "I'm planning to spend x months in Europe.." questions we see here, the OP has no idea that there are time limits to deal with. I would assume that most of these questions are from reasonably intelligent people. They just don't know. So before we move on to the question at hand, we have to establish whether or not 8 months in Europe is feasible.

I have no useful information to pass on. Unless daydreaming helps.

Posted by
21356 posts

..... veers right off to the all too common "Shengen" issue .......

Karen is correct and it could higher than 50%. Why waste time answering a question that may be fatally flawed because of the Schengen zone requirement? Since understanding the Schengen zone restriction is critical to any long term stay discussion, it is best to clear that problem first. The OP can return and acknowledge the visa issue problem and then get on to answering the original question. This is a public discussion for all travelers and not a private message.

Posted by
8889 posts

To try and address the question "suggestions about where to start, and a rough itinerary"
8 month starting April runs up to December. That can be cold (stating the obvious), especially Northern and Eastern Europe.
April is Spring, and can be lovely, June+July+August may be too hot for serious sightseeing in southern Europe (good beach weather).
Given that (and the assumed Schengen limits), I would start in Southern Europe. Italy, Spain, Greece, southern France.
June and July you can move north, Germany and Scandinavia, but watch the 90-day count, move on to the UK, or non-Schengen Croatia when you start running out of days.
Then ~end September, 180 days since your arrival, you start getting some more days, same time as the weather starts getting cooler, so move south to southern Europe again.
See the plan? By doing 90 Schengen days at the beginning, come autumn you now have some new days: 80 in, 100 out, 60 in = 8 months.

Gladys, please come back and give us some feedback. We may sound rough but we rarely eat posters. It takes a two-way conversation to give good advice.

Posted by
6 posts

Hello, everyone who has commented! To start with, no, we did not know about Schengen. Obviously we would have figured this out eventually, but we really appreciate learning this at the beginning of our planning period. It would probably be helpful to know that we are in our early 60's, and we will be doing this on our retirement income. As we are not wealthy, we need to be quite penny conscious, but not penny obsessed. We will sell our home before we go, and re-locate when we return to Canada. Hence, homeless for a year. Sorry that title has offended some, it was meant tongue in cheek.
Because it is so early in the planning process, we are not committed to any particular amount of time in any one place. My husband and I disagree on how to handle accommodation. I am happy to move around often, whereas he feels it would be more affordable to book much longer in a few locations, using our spot as a home base to travel out and back to. For example, spend our first 90 Schengen days from a base in northern Italy. Any opinions about this? Ideas about types of accommodation? We like AirBnB or apartments, as we like to cook. We do not like large hotels.
Also, we know it will be cool at times during our trip. But keep in mind, we are from Canada! We will be fine, regardless of the weather.

Posted by
6372 posts

I agree with your husband, renting for several weeks or more will most likely be less expensive, but I'm not sure you need to spend all 90 days in one place. Finding an apartment in a centrally location with good transportation connections, works well for long trips. Settle in to a neighborhood, enjoy the local markets, do some or all of your meals in your own kitchen - saves a lot of money.

Wow, I envy you. What a wonderful way to celebrate retirement.

Posted by
19525 posts

Gladys, a lot of people come to the forum, thinking about one-month blocks of time as your husband is. Some probably stick to that, but I think most pretty quickly realize that it's not the most practical approach early in ones travel life, when the number of interesting destinations seems nearly infinite. It's a far better idea for folks with a lot of trips in their past, who may be ready to settle down in one very limited area. With luck your husband will come to agree with you, understanding how widely scattered the many fabulous spots are, and how far they would be from any single base. And that's without even considering the cost of transportation out and back. If you're thinking of using a car, remember that fuel in Europe is far more expensive than it is in Canada. Google tells me it's between $6.85 and $7.41 (Canadian) per gallon in western Europe at the moment.

I suggest taking it one country at a time. Get a comprehensive guidebook (not RS, since his are in-depth but omit many areas). It doesn't have to be a current book at this stage of planning; used from Amazon or something from your library will be fine. Skim through the sightseeing sections. If you already know you want to see Paris, Rome, etc., you can skip over those (lengthy) sections at this point. You're looking for other places you might like to go. Print out a map of the country from the internet and circle or highlight the places on your "maybe" list.

Now it's time to see whether you can possibly find a single place in the country that will allow you to hit enough of the places you're attracted to, to justify a one-month stay. If you plan to use public transportation, go to the Deutsche Bahn website to check train schedules. For fares you'll need either each country's rail website or perhaps trainline.eu.

If there are no trains, Rome2Rio will usually point you to the right bus company; just keep clicking through until you find it. Then go to the bus company's website to look for the schedule. Do not trust Rome2Rio's travel times or fares.

If you plan to drive (look into leasing rather than renting), ViaMichelin is probably the best starting point. Not only will it give you (slightly optimistic) driving times, based on no stopping or getting lost, it will estimate the cost of the drive, including fuel and highway tolls. The accuracy of VM's routing information has recently been called into question, but I don't think there's a better overall source for driving times.

I believe performing that exercise will reveal the impracticality of month-long rentals in most countries for the typical first-time visitor. A properly-selected central point might work in Belgium or the Netherlands, though I've never analyzed their transportation networks. It certain will not give you a good overall look at Germany, Italy, France or Spain. Portugal is a comparatively small country. Just traveling from Porto (not as far north as one can go) to Lisbon, which isn't all that far beyond the country's midpoint, takes over 3-1/2 hours by train. It's about 190 miles, so driving wouldn't really be faster.

I'm currently spending at least 3 months in Europe each year. There are major cities where I could certainly keep myself occupied for a month, but lodging in such places tends to be more expensive, and I like the variety I get by staying in multiple smaller places for--usually--4 or 5 nights. Exceptions so far include Berlin, Barcelona and London, all of which I need to return to because even 6/10/10 days was nowhere near enough.

I bet you'll find a short stay in a regional city is less expensive, per night, than a month-long stay n a place like Paris.

Posted by
6 posts

Thank you so much for that very informative post, and such great information. Of course, the fact that you agree with me makes this a great post! I can see there are going to be a few spreadsheets in my future. It is daunting to plan a full year of travel, and the fact that our experience of traveling in Europe is limited to a trip I took to Germany for business in 2005, makes for a lot of unanswered questions. I will keep reading and making notes.

Posted by
19525 posts

Gladys, I'm glad to know that you have made one previous trip. That means you know that some things can be tricky and realize that there are questions to be asked, but you will not get overwhelmed and paralyzed by all the possibilities.

I'm not an expert on any particular area in Europe, but we have people on the forum who are highly knowledgeable about targeted areas, and they will be a big help to you as you work on individual chunks of time in Europe.

I sympathize about the planning burden, because my summer-long trips are a huge challenge--so much so that I spend way too much time on this forum, commenting on other people's plans, rather than doing the necessary research for my own trip!

There's a company called "Scribd" that has a $9/month subscription plan for e-books. On a trip like yours, I think it would be very helpful to have access to the entire Lonely Planet catalog (which Scribd seems to have). It has some other travel-related books as well. I don't much care for electronic versions of guide books, but there's a limit to how much paper I want to drag around with me. This way, you could travel with a hardcopy guide from a different publisher and have the LP ebooks as a second source of information. Scribd has a 30-day free trial.

Posted by
428 posts

Gladys - what an adventure you're planning! I am very envious. We are also in our early 60's and have traveled to Europe and the UK several times. We have gone from staying only one night in a location to staying a week or more. Staying longer is the best way to enjoy your surroundings. It's more satisfying, and you really get a sense of the vibe of the city/town and area that you're staying in. We really like feeling we're staying in a neighbourhood - shopping for food, exploring the restaurants and cafes. We love it. I, too, would not spend the whole 90 days in one location. It takes longer to get around then you think - and can be expensive. I would choose a number of locations that make sense as a hub - as one of the previous posters has suggested - and then just enjoy what your location has to offer. You're never going to see everything, so find areas that interest you and go from there. You can always go back. 2-4 weeks in one location would be my recommendation. Have fun!!

Posted by
6 posts

In the past, we have always traveled with a rather loose itinerary. We spent three weeks in Thailand, with only our first night booked so that we had somewhere to go when we got off the plane. We have done that fairly often, and have learned that it works really well in cheaper countries, but when accommodation costs climb, it's better to plan at least a few weeks in advance. We will take the same approach with this trip, I'm sure. And 8 months does sound like a long time, but we want to relax and take our time. If we decide after six months to get the heck out of there, so be it. After all, there is no shortage of interesting places in the world to seek out.

Posted by
12400 posts

Hi,

Spending 8 months in Europe, say March to November, would be absolutely no problem at all interest-wise, assuming you have all the Schengen stuff in order. I would focus heavily on Poland, Germany, France, Czech Rep, Finland, Lithuania, Hungary, Belgium, Austria, Italy, England, Scotland., ie tons of places as regards to cities, towns, villages in these countries I could think of to explore, visit, and spend time....just think of it. Doing a trip like that I would use all the various ways of getting around, ferries, discount airlines (sparingly), night trains, buses, rental car,