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Travel Plans for Family of Six - Reaching out for Thoughts

Travel Plans for Family of Six - Reaching out for Thoughts

Old Sep 4th, 2013, 08:12 PM
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Travel Plans for Family of Six - Reaching out for Thoughts

We are planning an 2-year trip, of which Mar 2014 - April 2015 we plan to be traveling in Europe with a family of six. Kids are aged 14 down to 6, pretty sturdy, lived overseas most of their lives and have traveled enough to know that they can handle it.

I have ALOT of research, much of which only leads to more questions, and I wanted to see what thoughts others out there who know Europe well might suggest.

Given the visa issues for Americans (Schengan visa), our plan is to spend Mar - May 2014 in Italy and France (inside Schengan area), June-August in the U.K., Scotland and Wales (outside Schengan area), Sept-Nov in Germany, Belgium, Holland (back in Schengan area) then Dec - Feb in someplace warm (New Zealand, northern Africa, others???), and March and April 2015 in Spain and Portugal.

As far as routes goes, there are so many many different opinions. My favorite book has been Lonely Planet's Best Trips Series, which outline 30+ road trips for some of the key countries we'll be in. My current plan is to just combine a bunch of those routes.

The plan is to drive ourselves. We have explored a myriad of options, including renting or buying an RV, a very large van (Sprinter or similar) or a small 7-8 seater passenger SUV or Van. We are increasingly settling on the Peugot, Renault, Citroen car leasing programs, where you can rent a car for up to six months or so and just return it as is at the end. Given it is reasonably priced, includes all the insurance and they do have larger 7-9 seaters (the Trafic, the Expert Teepee and the Jumpy seem to be the various options), that just seems the best choice. We would love to find a place that would rent a Sprinter for a reasonable price with insurance, but they seem to be 3x the cost.

As to stays, our thought was we'd probably have to book things out about 2 weeks in advance as we travel for most of the trip, staying a mix of hotels, homeaway.com, vrbo.com and such places. Probably try to stay 3-10 nights per place, and limit the 1-2 night stays as it is just a hassle.

Does this overall sound reasonable and has any out there tried anything similar? Some questions:

- Any idea if the French car leasing programs are the best choice, and if so, which of the Trafic, the Expert Teepee or the Jumpy is the larger more roomy car?. I'm guessing these are tigher than big US SUVs or suburbans, just don't know by how much.
- Any thoughts on good websites to use for accomodations? We are budgeting about $300 per night for a family of six on average throughout Europe, is that reasonable? Any thoughts on saving on that by using the same chain of hotels, website, etc.? Our experience in most of the world is that we'd need two rooms at about $150 per room.
- Any experiences on the Schengan visa, and would the above plan work on entries and exits to the Schengan region?

I have so many more questions, but thought I'd start here.

Thanks!
arewecrazy is offline  
Old Sep 4th, 2013, 10:27 PM
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Your first problem is the 90 day rule every 180 days. It applies to the EU, not the Schengan visa countries. You'll have to move to a non-EU location for 180 days before returning, which eliminates your time in the UK, Germany, Belgium and Holland until you have met the visa requirements.
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Old Sep 4th, 2013, 10:43 PM
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Yep. The 90 day Schengen visa is going to bite you in the ass. Robert is a bit incorrect though -- after 90 days, you can go to one of the non-Schengen countries and travel around there for 90 days before going back into a Schengen country.

What that potentially means:

90 days in the Schengen Zone
180 days in the UK
90 days in Ireland
90 days in the Schengen Zone
90 Days touring around Ukraine, Belarus (visa), Moldova, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Macedonia, Kosovo, Albania, Montenegro, Turkey, and Russia (visa).
90 Days back in the Schengen Zone
Wrap things up in the UK

You should look into a six month visa for one of the Schengen states.

Also, whatever you think it's going to cost, double it.
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Old Sep 4th, 2013, 10:59 PM
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Our experience in most of the world is that we'd need two rooms at about $150 per room.

That's about 114 Euro. Whether that's doable depends on the city, the time of year, and how you feel about small rooms with tiny bathrooms and no air conditioning. Just to get a flavor for prices, go to booking.com and see what 114 Euro per room gets you.

I forgot to say in my other post that the 90 day Schengen rule is 90 days out of 180. As soon as your passport is stamped, the countdown begins and once you hit 90 days you must leave and not return until 181 days after your Day 1 in the Schengen zone. So yeah, seriously rethink your itinerary.
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Old Sep 4th, 2013, 11:03 PM
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I'd be interested to know what plans you have for your children's education during this nomadic existence.
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Old Sep 4th, 2013, 11:16 PM
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"home schooling". Because America.
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Old Sep 4th, 2013, 11:56 PM
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Well, if you plan a lot of driving do not forget to budget money for gas and road tolls. It could easily become a sizable amount. Just to let you think: I will be driving from Florence to Milan and vv. over this very weekend; the thing is going to cost me something like 40 euros in road tolls and 60 in gas; if you move often the costs would sum up quickly.
Also, if the trip is one year long, consider some form of health assistance.
The 7-9 seaters have places, well, for 7 to 9 persons, but you should check you actually have enough space for luggage for one year. While 5 seats are fairly standard, all the added seats eat trunk space. The Teepee or Trafic trunks are huge by usual standards, I still wonder if it is enough for six persons living on the road one year.
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Old Sep 5th, 2013, 12:24 AM
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<June-August in the U.K., Scotland and Wales.

Just so you're clear - Scotland and Wales are in the UK.
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Old Sep 5th, 2013, 12:26 AM
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If I were to do a trip like this I would stay at least a week in a place, probably longer, and I would look for apartments. If you are driving I would try to stay out of major cities, maybe just taking day trips.
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Old Sep 5th, 2013, 01:30 AM
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You need to look at appartments rather than hotels, booking ahead should offer some good deals and the longer duration will interest some suppliers.

I might even look at a couple of europe wide hotel chains to see if you can do a deal. Maybe drop a note to Accor to see if they can give a group discount card? Accor is very europe wide but premiertravelinn might do for the UK.

Winter warmth I'd look at Morocco, easily the most Arabic lite country you could visit and just over the water from Spain or Portugal

Fuel for the car in Europe is much higher than the states.
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Old Sep 5th, 2013, 01:46 AM
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Winter warmth I'd look at Morocco, easily the most Arabic lite country you could visit and just over the water from Spain or Portugal

Cueta would be a good idea if one is "unsure" about "Morocco".
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Old Sep 5th, 2013, 01:50 AM
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Also, it might be cheaper to outright buy a vehicle.


Also, I just realized that only one year of your two year trip will be in Europe, so my initial post should be:

What that potentially means:

90 days in the Schengen Zone
90-180 days in the UK

and any combination of the following:

90 days in Ireland
90 days in the Schengen Zone (watch the 180 day rule)
90 Days touring around Ukraine, Belarus (visa), Moldova, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Macedonia, Kosovo, Albania, Montenegro, Turkey, and Russia (visa).
90 Days back in the Schengen Zone



I'm going to see if the "editors" will edit my post accordingly. Yellow triangle, here I come.
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Old Sep 5th, 2013, 02:13 AM
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Spark, not much they should worry about in Morocco, locals understand that Americans are not America and of course stay out of Western Sahara (like just about everyone does). Fez, Marrakesh and Essouria (for the Magreb Music festival in March maybe), not earlier as it just is wet out on the Atlantic

Cueta not a bad idea but a bit small for any real time, but at least not "parsley island"
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Old Sep 5th, 2013, 02:25 AM
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Sorry my typing is getting worse and some of my info is flawed here.

Go to Fez, Marrakesh and Essouria (for the Magreb Music festival in June maybe). Do not go to Essouria in Jan or Feb as it gets very wet from the Atlantic.

The festival used to be in March looks like it has moved to June http://www.exterieur-nuit.com/voyage...ssaouira-.html

Moroccans speak a lot of languages, after the three or four local ones they speak first French, then English and then German. You will not be surprised to hear a shepherd speaking very good French.
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Old Sep 5th, 2013, 02:34 AM
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Cueta not a bad idea but a bit small for any real time, but at least not "parsley island"

True dat but I figured that they could use that as a starting/ending point of sorts in Morocco.


locals understand that Americans are not America

Except when they are.
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Old Sep 5th, 2013, 03:20 AM
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Isn't Cueta still Schengen?

Not a place I'd choose to stay. Morocco would be better, and safe enough, as things stand. Otherwise somewhere like Ghana or Gambia could be considered for the winter months.

You cannot buy a car since you won't be resident so can't register and insure it.

You will need good healthcare insurance to cover you all for the entire trip. Most travel insurance only covers 90 days so you need to do some research on that. You will not get free healthcare in Europe.

Consider a camper on a buy back scheme. There are a few threads about this on the forum.

Why not try for Schengen visas to make life a bit easier and flexible. Make sure they are multiple entry visas though. Other you have to stick to the 90 days in, 90 days out rule for Schengen. You can stay 6 months visa free in the UK.
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Old Sep 5th, 2013, 03:28 AM
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Isn't Cueta still Schengen?

Last I checked it was still part of Spain, so yes. I didn't mention Cueta in the context of getting around the Schengen 90 day limit.



You cannot buy a car since you won't be resident so can't register and insure it.

Not true. You can buy a car in the UK without residency, you just need to use a friend's address. Insurance won't be a problem, except payment of the premiums might be a bit of an issue if you don't have a European bank account.
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Old Sep 5th, 2013, 03:48 AM
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But a British car also presents problems with immigration as they will be suspicious of Americans driving a car they own and which is registered to them, when they don't have a residency permit. Trust me - they get very upset about such things at the ferry ports.
And for the bulk of their trip they will be in Europe so a LHD vehicle makes more sense.
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Old Sep 5th, 2013, 03:51 AM
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No argument from me. I was just pointing out that one could indeed buy a car in Europe without being a resident.
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Old Sep 5th, 2013, 04:14 AM
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I'm sure you've done enough research to realise that Robert2533 is completely wrong about the Schengen vs EU 90 day rule. EU and Schengen are different entities — there are EU countries not part of Schengen, and non EU countries that are. Countries outside Schengen each establish their own rules about how long a tourist can stay, and last I heard it is 6 months in the UK. Your stay in the UK doesn't count toward the 90 days in Schengen.
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