So I am sure some of you are asking, “What the heck is a Schengen Visa?” While others are well aware of it and the limitations. Just to be brief the Schengen Visa is an agreement between 25 countries (22 European Union states and 3 non-EU members).
A Schengen Visa allows the holder to travel freely within the Schengen countries for a maximum stay of up to 90 days in a 6 month period, thus avoiding the hassle and expense of obtaining individual visas for each country.
Please see this Schengen area day calculator, to ensure you don’t go over the 90 days in a 180 day rule.
So how did we manage to stay in Spain, a member of the Schengen Zone, the entire year without a Schengen Visa?
Why No Schengen Visa?
We have a Spanish Resident Visa, which gives us full access to the Schengen Countries! We can come and go as we please and we made our best effort to see what we could navigate around the kid’s school schedule. I don’t think our 2013 travel schedule was half bad. In fact, when I sat down to write this I was thinking “No wonder we are tired and just want to stay home for Christmas!”
We shared with you some time ago a typical day for Wagoners Abroad. That is a typical school day for us and is still pretty much the same. A typical travel day/week/summer is quite different and a little more exhausting. I won’t get into that here, but you can check out a summary of our 6 week European Road Trip to get a feel for the experiences and the cost of the 6 week road trip. Ok, I bet you want to know where we traveled in 2013 right? Well it was 9-ish countries, really 8 plus a territory.
No Schengen Visa – Where did Wagoners Abroad Go?
I have decided to list these in alphabetical order rather than chronological order. I will try to add a link to a post for each so you can get the time frame. There are a few places we visited often so it is difficult to do along the calendar. After all it is easier for me this way and that is what it is all about, right? Making it easy on me, as these posts can take hours to write. Check out our videos on you tube from our Summer Road Trip
- Andorra – This was just a quick drive through for lunch as we traveled from France back to Spain, near the end of our Epic 6 Week European Summer Road Trip.
- Austria – While it was a last minute decision to make our way to Switzerland from Italy via Austria, we are so glad we did. We were just here in the Southwest corner for 2 nights and just fell in love with See, Austria. We will be back to visit for sure!
- England – Alan and I lived in London, just a month after getting married. So it was like an extended honeymoon with work, from early 1997 – late 1999. We loved London and it touched our hearts forever. We were thrilled to finally return and show our children where we lived, worked and enjoyed our first few years of marriage. We not only experienced our first House Sit on this visit, but we were able to show the kids Stonehenge as well. The kids fell in love too and we all can’t wait to return again.
- France – Oh how we love France! Our son would love to live in France one day, Paris to be specific. I will have to admit that we were a bit tired for our visit to Southeast France this time. It was near the end of our Summer Road Trip and we only visited the Alps, where our trip took a hairpin turn, as well as Lyon and Toulouse.
- Gibraltar – While this isn’t a country, we are adding it to the list as it is its own “special thing”. A territory or an appendage of England? Anyway, we had a blast visiting Gibraltar and it was good for some serious laughs when Mom got mugged!
- Italy – Oh how we feel in love with Italy! We arrived via ferry, just outside of Rome and took about 3 weeks to venture north and covered so much. I think we could live there for sure! The kids learned so much about history and were very inquisitive. Some highlights were of course Rome, Marmore, Pisa, Florence, Cinque Terre, Bologna, Modena (Pagani Supercar, Traditional Balsamic Vinegar and Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese), Reggio Emilia, Verona, Lake Garda, Lake Como and Venice. I have to say we even enjoyed our pit stops and seeing dogs at the shopping mall.
Portugal – We visited Lisbon and the Algarve in 2012, but in 2013 we visited Porto. Oh how we loved Porto, Portugal. Though it rained the entire 3 days we were there, that didn’t stop us from having a blast. Are you catching on to the theme yet? We fall in love with every place and have a blast! Isn’t that what life is supposed to be like? We did of course experience a little bit of a startle on our drive home, but other than that it was great.
- Spain – We can’t forget our home base country of Spain. While I couldn’t possibly list everywhere we have been and explored, I can share a few highlights. We love Spain, Andalucia and especially our town of Almuñécar in Costa Tropical! We have experienced 3 Kings procession in Granada, Carnival in Cádiz and La Herradura, Seville, Water fight in Lanjarón , prehistoric caves in Ronda, awesome Thai food and caves in Nerja, multiple visits to Frigiliana, covered with mud in Mar Menor, shredding in Zaragoza, Madrid, Córdoba, Antequera, Estepona, Marbella, Fútbol in Málaga. There is so much more, but we can’t cover it all.
- Switzerland – Oh how we loved the nature in Switzerland. We climbed every mountain, well a few anyway, and enjoyed it so much. It was crazy expensive, so we didn’t stay the full 2 weeks we originally planned, but made the most of our time there. The Alps were gorgeous and we did a little relaxing atop the Niederhorn and enjoyed the train ride up Schynige Platte.
Are you thinking of taking a Career Break, Sabbatical, Extended Vacation, or Mini Retirement? If so, Spain is a wonderful and pretty affordable place to create a European home base. Just $100/day or about $3000/month is our regular budget for living in Spain as a family of 4, including travel. Our summer road trip was about double the standard budget, as we were on the move every few days, enjoying many tourist sights and eating out far more often than a typical day at home in Spain.