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Extended European travel

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I haven't been active on this site in the past 10 years because we stopped traveling to Europe due to financial reasons. Now my husband is retired and I'm going to do the same next Fall. The plan is not fully-formed at this point, but these are the options we're starting to think about:

Taking off to Europe for 3-6 months. I've done a bit more travel, so we would re-visit some of my favorite places and go to some where neither of us has been. The musts include Stockholm, where he has relatives and we've both visited before, and Portugal, where neither of us has been but where we'd like to spend at least a month or more. I'd also like to wander through Eastern countries like the Czech Republic and Hungary. Also Greece and Turkey. So you see, these are far-flung places that require a lot of travel. We don't want to plan ahead too much but be able to be spontaneous and linger wherever we find a place that calls to us.

We are not wealthy and need to think about costs. My impression is that rail travel is very expensive these days and regional carriers like Ryan air are the best way to go for long distances. We would love to have a car, but obviously can't afford to rent one for the entire trip. I looked into leasing/buying through Volvo or Renault, but that is too expensive. We don't need or even like fancy hotels, so will opt for hostels that would be appropriate for 60-somethings, i.e. no shared bunk-type rooms. Bathroom down the hall is fine. Places with kitchenettes where we can make our own meals for longer stays, like airbnb, are the best bet for us.

The logistics of leaving one's home for up to 6 months is another issue we're pondering. I've thought about home-swapping for part of a long stay in Portugal. Having a friend house-sit or even renting out the house is another idea.

Long story short: I'd love to read about other people who have done a similar thing and get advice from seasoned travelers about the realities of being abroad for an extended period. The trouble is I can't find any trip reports on this topic. I haven't been able to use the "search" tool and come up with anything. Browsing through the topics is overwhelming. So any help with that or links to appropriate posts or blogs would be very much appreciated. Sorry this was so long to slog through.

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