We’ve sketched out a rough itinerary for our trip. It captures the general path we might take, but we’re going to be making up the specifics as we go. While most of the traveling will be via rail, I suspect there may be a few air hops once we get into the UK/Ireland/Scandinavia portion of the trip.
Here’s the map:
View Very Rough Itinerary in a larger map
Also, since we need to make sure we don’t exceed the 90-day Schengen limit, here’s a rough, tabular breakdown of what things might look like:
Donna and I knew we wanted to spend a significant amount of time traveling in Europe this Spring/Summer, so we decided on a somewhat arbitrary four months. Specifically, March 30th to July 30th (or 123 days). It turns out that this decision will affect our planning in two ways:
90 Day Limit for Visiting the Schengen Area
The Schengen Area consists of 25 countries that have agreed to internally reduce border controls (see map below). The key limitation for us will be that we can only spend 90 days in these countries during any 180 day period. So, we’ll have to spend at least 33 days of our trip outside these countries. The good news is that we should be able to do this pretty easily between Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, the UK and Ireland.
The only thing we’re worried about right now if if we’ll have any difficulties when we initially arrive in Madrid. Since we’re largely making decisions on the fly, we don’t have a formal itinerary with booked flights, rooms, etc. and so can’t “prove” how long we’ll be in a given place. Will the Spanish immigration
goons folks be OK with only our train passes, return flight from Amsterdam (> 90 days out) and our story of seeing most of Europe (plus some Turkey, UK, etc.)? As Sean mentioned on my FB post, we could be preemptively tricky and have some refundable tickets to use as “proof”. I’d prefer to not have to worry about that, but I’m still investigating.
The Eurail passes we want are valid for two months at a time and cover a slightly different set of countries than the Schengen Area (see map below). We did some math comparing individual regional tickets vs. Eurail Global passes and decided to go with the passes. Form a planning perspective, this means there’s a much lower chance we’ll visit Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
Here’s a map I threw together showing Schengen and Eurail Pass countries.
Key: Schengen Eurail Both