Extended Travelling Can Be Tricky

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.

Eurail Passes

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

Europe: Schengen and Eurail Countries

Let’s Travel!

So, Donna and I finally got around to buying our plane tickets to Europe this week. While the past two-plus months have been good for decompressing from our day jobs, it starting to feel like it’s time to get this show on the road!

As part of this effort, we put together this new blog. It’s kinda empty right now, but we intend to use it as the primary record for our upcoming travels. Speaking of which…

We’re flying out of Seattle on March 22nd to spend a week in Texas visiting my family. On the 29th, we’re off to Europe with a return flight booked four months later. (Turns out this has potential visa implications. I’ll talk about this in another post.)

We’ll be arriving in Madrid and eventually flying home from Amsterdam. In-between, we’re thinking of going as far east as Istanbul, as far north as Scandinavia and as far east as Ireland / Portugal. Overall, we’ll be kinda making it up as we go.

In the menu bar near the top of this blog, there’s a “Suggest Locations!” link. This will take you to a page where you can check out a map of suggested places we should visit. It would be awesome if you clicked through to the Google map and pinpoint places we should see on our travels. Just edit the map to add a pushpin, add your name and why we should go there and we’ll do the rest 😉

Also, if you happen to find yourself in Europe between the start April and the end of July, let us know and perhaps we can meet up!