eight months backpacking

Oct 21st, 2007, 12:19 AM
Original Poster
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eight months backpacking

Hi Everyone,
My friend and I are planning on traveling for eight months in Europe. We don't have much money and are thinking that we can survive by planning music on the streets, finding odd jobs, wolfing, staying/working in hostels, and camping. Our itinerary - we are thinking - is Ireland, Scotland, England, France, Spain, Morocco, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Romania, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, Netherlands, and then back to Spain for "El Camino de Santiago".
Based on this, what I'm wondering is if this seems reasonable. And if so (or not so...doesn't matter much 'cause its happing anyhow) are there any recommendation on place to go, events to experience, ways to get by frugally, etc., etc. Any help is greatly appreciated.
I've also started writing a blog on it. If you'd like, you can check that out at http://thinkandtravel.blogspot.com/
thinkandtravel is offline  
Oct 21st, 2007, 01:02 AM
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You probably already know that legally you can stay only up to 3 months within a 6 month period in the European countries which signed the Schengen agreement.

But: Always try to get some official information on legal questions.. won't help you a lot when you run into trouble that you say "uh officer, some dude on Fodor's told me it was okay"

While there are no immigration or passport controls between Schengen countries, the Schengen countries remain to have the right to exercise passport and customs controls, e.g. on cross border trains, on major highways, in train stations etc.

For obvious reasons, backpackers travelling from the Netherlands to e.g. Germany by train often get into spot controls re. customs.

You can also expect very thorough controls when your travels take you back to Fortress Europe from Morocco to Spain. Whatever you have in your backpack all the other time, make sure that it's clean then.

Budget accomodation is always available near the major train stations of the big cities. Most will advertise already quite visibly in the station. Make sure you find one near the station so you stay close to the action.

Things your mom would like you to have:

> travel / health insurance that covers all of those countries
> a cell phone that works in Europe
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Oct 21st, 2007, 01:16 AM
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Also without a work visa it is illegal for you to work in Europe, and busking is illegal in many European cities/countries.
You may be asked to prove you can support yourself for the duration of your stay in Europe and if you can't you may be refused entry.
hetismij is offline  
Oct 21st, 2007, 02:18 AM
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It's "woofing" not "wolfing"

Of the countries you mention Ireland, Scotland, England, Romania, Morocco & Turkey are outside Schengen oncde the zone is enlarged at the end of the year

However as you seem intent on breaking the law anyway you won't be worried about a little thing like that

If you want to earn money to support your trip then do it at home where you'll get a regular income rather than living hand to mouth as you seem to intend doing

alanRow is offline  
Oct 21st, 2007, 02:56 AM
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Sounds like a real adventure, but is it reasonable? Go for it, but have enough money to survive for a few weeks, and enough to buy your ticket home when things go wrong. Apart from the 'small' matter of finance, there are some legal issues you need to consider.

As mentioned in an earlier reply, you are limited to 90 days in any 180 in the Schengen zone, which in December of this year will be expanded to include many of the new EU countries. That includes Romania, Hungary, Poland, and Czech Republic, all in your proposed itinerary.

Finding odd jobs may be difficult, as western European countries have been flooded by citizens of the new EU countries, who are willing to work legally for low wages, and are sometimes exploited by unscrupulous employers. You would be competing for jobs against this group.

Playing music on the streets (busking), even if legal in some countries, is part of the black economy, since few, if any, buskers pay taxes on their income. At best you would be considered a nuisance, attracting the attention of police. That could get you in further trouble if the police find anything suspicious. Other buskers may be unhappy if you intrude upon their pitch, and you will be moved on if you set up on private property or are obstructing a right of way.

As I write this reply, the $ has hit record lows against the €, and is lower against the £ than for many years. I doubt you can survive for very long on income from odd jobs and busking.

I have read your blog, and a couple things in it worry me. Your friend, who seems to enjoy 'smoking', could get you into trouble. Some countries, even where drugs are easy to find, have severe penalties for those who are caught. I wouldn't want to spend time in a Turkish or Moroccan jail.

You have bought a one-way ticket to Ireland, and if you really paid $177, got a very good deal. My advice is to keep in reserve the money you need for a ticket back to the US, remembering that it will cost more for a flight in August.

Heimdall is online now  
Oct 21st, 2007, 04:17 AM
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where are you from T&T?
chimani is offline  
Oct 21st, 2007, 04:20 AM
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The blog says she bought a ticket from Chicago, so probably there?
freeman0819 is offline  
Oct 21st, 2007, 04:49 AM
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Your blog says you gave up on your Mexico idea. I wonder why. It will be much cheaper than Europe. I also always wonder why someone would plan 8 months which is questionable in terms of legality and also so much more expensive than 3 months. You could pack a whole lot of adventure into 3 months and probably not have to worry nearly as much about working while you're over there. Subsequently, you'd have more time to enjoy yourself.
Cimbrone is offline  
Oct 21st, 2007, 09:41 AM
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Well, people do it. Is it reasonable? Who knows?

Personally the part I think doesn't work in the biggest way, is expecting to make $$ along the way. I would count on having to live off of whatever amount you have saved to begin with. And I assume you've figure out the passport thing and the 3-month limits in various places?

Spending 8 months traveling around Mexico would be a MUCH more reasonable plan. Both for the lower costs but also for the paperwork.
suze is offline  
Oct 21st, 2007, 09:48 AM
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OK, I read your page. What I now REALLY don't understand is if you decided you couldn't do it in Mexico, WHY you think you can do this in Europe?

Please put money aside immediately to buy your plane ticket home.
And know you aren't going to find one for a couple hundred bucks. Have you priced a one-way plane back from wherever in Europe?

suze is offline  
Oct 21st, 2007, 10:00 AM
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You should be aware that at your first point of entry to europe - assuming you have backpacks/camping gear, immigration is very liely to ask for the following:

To see your return ticket to the US

The name and address of the hotel you will be staying in in the entry city

Proof of medial insurance coverage

Proof of sufficient funds to support yourself (You'll have to show money enough to support yourself until your on-going ticket) while there - in the form of credit cards and bank statements

Proof of intent to return to the US (acceptance at college or a job you're going back to)

They will probably question you very thoroughly on the reason for and length of your travels and how you will suppoort yourself.

(They're trying to confirm you do not intend to stay longer than 90 days, you do not intend to look for work and you will not be a charge on the local medical system or social services.)

If you can;t meet these requirements, and they think you're going to try to stay and work, they may well simply put you on a plane home.

So, while what you want to do is possible, it;'s not easy (and not legal)- and you have to have answers to all these queries ready before you leave.
nytraveler is offline  
Oct 21st, 2007, 10:22 AM
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Your question is almost a waste of your and our time.

It's very unlikely your airline will let you board the plane, since it's highly likely the Irish will deport you the moment you arrive at the immigration desk. Since this would involve the airline having to repatriate you, and paying a substantial fine to the Irish government, the desk clerk in the US will be trained to refuse you boarding.

If you've got a direct ticket to Ireland, you might hit Irish immigration on a lucky day and get away with it (if they let you on the plane). If it's going through the UK, fuggedaboutit: either UK or Irish immigration (both of which you have to go through) will stop you and deport you the moment they see a one-way ticket.
flanneruk is offline  
Oct 21st, 2007, 10:24 AM
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The last two posts get to the heart of the matter. Without sufficient funds and a return ticket home, you might not be going anywhere.
suze is offline  
Oct 21st, 2007, 10:40 AM
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Thanks for the advice everyone.
I do only have a one way ticket. I've checked it out though, and a ticket back in August costs $399. So, what it seems like is that I should buy that ticket now so that I don't get screwed over.
I wonder one thing. If I coordinated with my school to get credit while overseas, can I apply for a student Visa and then stay for longer periods of time? How long would that take to get?
I'll look into it.

thinkandtravel is offline  
Oct 21st, 2007, 11:00 AM
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Sounds like a long shot to me.

Here's a website which might help with the planniing, though.

Fra_Diavolo is offline  
Oct 21st, 2007, 12:57 PM
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There is another thread here somewhere on a somewhat related plan.. 2 years in Europe, if I remember correctly.

There might be better resources for your question than this forum, especially suited for the needs of budget travellers and backpackers.

Some posters here think it's an adventure to take the subway from the airport instead of a limo service ;-)

Some places have a better reputation for living on a budget, e.g. Amsterdam or Berlin.
In others I would not know how to survive with little money, e.g. London.

To work around the 90 day limit (in a 180day period) of the Schengen countries, you would have to spend 2 of your 8 months not in the Schengen countries - obviously.
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Oct 21st, 2007, 02:02 PM
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try the thorn tree forum over on Lonely Planet - they might be able to help. Also check here:
couchsurfing, for cheap and very cool places to stay in folks' houses, but make sure you bring along some cool gifts for your hosts. Make sure you have some kind of insurance, although health care over there is so much cheaper than ours that insurance is less of a concern there than here.

and recognize that you will be competing with a lot of immigrants for those busking and itinerant euros. And, what will you do upon your return - do you have a source of income and shelter?

That said, go for it - sounds like fun!

University credit is a very good idea - why not do it.
Momliz is offline  
Oct 21st, 2007, 04:33 PM
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I think you're a little confused. No one is trying to screw you over. They're simply trying to avoid admitting illegal immigrants (which is what you would be) just as we do here.

This may be a surprise to you but Americans don't own the whole world - other countries have the right to make whatever rules they want for admitting others - and you can either follow them - or try to get around them - and be willing to accept the possible consequences (deportation) of doing so if you're caught.

I think that you need to get a LOT more info on the rules/regs involved and realistic info on living costs and the options for making money illegally in other countries.
nytraveler is offline  
Oct 21st, 2007, 07:34 PM
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I think it is unlikely that your school (assuming this is a college) will let you receive credits for going on a vacation. No matter how colorful your trip report with be, it is still a "What I Did On My Summer Vacation" report and not academic study.

Study abroad programs expect you to attend class, complete assignments, and do term papers. U.S. Colleges work closely with foreign schools to ensure they will meet standards of intellectural rigor and the host school is bound contractually to offer coursework that can legitimately be transferred for college credit.

BTW, do you speak any foreign languages? Outside of the UK, it is unlikely that instruction will be given in English.

Most of the exchange programs run for 6 months to a year. Will this put a crimp in your travel plans? Will your budget cover tuition, housing, etc?

You do know you have to apply to these programs by a deadline and pay a deposit up front?

specs is offline  
Oct 21st, 2007, 07:36 PM
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From the been-there-done-that file (of many, many years past): 8 months sounds like a wonderful adventure for about the first 90-100 days unless you have the money to support yourself. Without the money, it just becomes a daily survival grind in a foreign place where you don't know the ins and outs, probably don't speak the language fluently and are seriously over the sleeping rough, eating junk routine.

I can't speak to the employment and immigration issues which are much more complicated (and with more serious implications in a post-9/11 world) than they were back in the day. You shouldn't go without a complete understanding that you have no "rights" in Europe.
Jean is offline  

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