When we are not busy working 9 hours a day to earn money for our around-the-world trip, selling off our possessions, getting our house ready to sell, or taking our daughter to her swimming lessons, piano lessons, or horse riding lessons (what were we thinking?) we are trying to work out the details for our first 3 months in Europe. With the typical tourist visa (Schengen) we will be allowed to stay in most of Western Europe for up to 90 days before we need to leave. There is so much that we want to see and do, but to keep the expenses low we are using the slow travel method and will try to stay put in a single location for 30 days before moving onto the next location where we will stay another 30 days. This will allow us to stay in 3 different locations in Europe before our 90-day visa expires.
First Month: Paris, France
When figuring out where to start a 2-year around-the-world trip it only seemed fitting to start in Paris, France. Paris is nicknamed “The Capital of Europe” and is home to some of the world’s most amazing art, has excellent food, and offers plenty of tourist accommodations. Plus, if we forgot to pack something it won’t be hard to find a replacement. We have been watching every travel video on Paris that we can find at our local library and reading plenty of travel guides to help us pinpoint where to stay and what to do. We have decided that the Latin Quarter in the 5th and 6th arrondissements (fancy French word for district) looks like the perfect location for a 30-day stay. It offers plenty of relatively inexpensive (for Paris) furnished apartments, cafes, bookstores, library, and is within walking distance to most of the major attractions. We have been busy finding all of the companies that manage one month furnished apartment rentals and keeping track of the different apartments that will meet our needs. Unfortunately, we cannot choose a date and reserve an apartment until after our house sells. This could force us to find an apartment in a different area if the ones we want are already booked. We are hoping to be in Paris around November, but if we get delayed, we might be spending Christmas in Paris, which could be rather fun. We have also been trying to figure out which museums and monuments are free, which day of the month the museums charging admission allow visitors in for free, and how to eat out without breaking the bank. Paris seems like a great city for any budget and we can’t wait to visit. If anyone can recommend an apartment for rent or a must see place, please let us know. We are always open to suggestions.
Second Month: Somewhere else in France
Okay, “somewhere else in France” is a little vague, but it is hard to pinpoint an exact location, especially when we don’t have an exact date, yet. We are hoping to find someplace in an inexpensive little village in Southern France where we could rent an apartment or gîte and be within walking distance to grocery stores, shops, and places where we can mingle with the locals. When you are traveling with an 8-year old girl finding other kids for her to play with is a high priority. I mean, what kid wants to be stuck with their parents all the time? We had looked into some the bigger cities on the French Riviera but soon learned that many of those places are on the expensive side. Plus, after a month in Paris, a nice quiet village might be just what we need. Once again, if anyone can recommend a town or rental, please let us know.
Third Month: Barcelona and the Mad Dash Across Spain
Spain is a big country and offers a lot of great places to visit. Unfortunately, unless we leave France early for some unforeseen reason we will only have 30 days to experience Spain. And if we are staying in one spot for 30 days that will mean we can only visit one location. Since we will be visiting Spain during the winter, heading to the warm and sunny beaches of Southern Spain to join all of the other tourists on their cheap Spanish holidays in the sun sounds very tempting. I mean, VERY tempting. But with only 30 days allotted for Spain we should probably head to a center of culture. So, we have chosen to stay in Barcelona where we can visit the museums and cathedrals. We are really looking forward to trying the tapas and Spanish cuisine. We have started looking at apartment prices, but we are not sure which areas to stay in and which to avoid. Once again, if anyone can offer suggestions on where to go or stay in Barcelona we would be most happy.
After 8 weeks in France and 4 weeks in Barcelona we should be seasoned travelers. So, what better place for seasoned travelers to head to before there visa expires than Morocco where we can be accosted by street venders…err, I mean experience the local culture.
Love the itinerary — sounds awesome! I was in Barcelona in the “winter” and it was still gorgeous out. You won’t miss a thing 🙂
Good to hear the Barcelona weather is nice during the winter. Where we live in Portland, Oregon it is very dark, gray, and soggy and not very pleasant.
Did you know that most campgrounds in Europe have cabins/chalets/mobilehomes for rent (no yurts, sorry 😉 ) in addition to camping pitches? The cabins are spartan, but clean and cheerful and certainly cheaper than big-city hotels. I imagine they book up in the summer, so advance reservations would be a good idea.
The larger campgrounds in Spain and France also have kids clubs (open only during the summer months), which would be a great way for Sydney to get some time in with other kids. Campgrounds are also great because they are such safe environments—Sydney could safely run around and explore on her own.
You asked about Paris in particular. Here’s a link to the various cabins offered at Camping Bois de Bologne, the campground in the woods just outside of the city. It’s just a short shuttle or bike ride into town. http://www.paris-tourisme.com/campsite/mobilus.html. (This particular campground doesn’t have a kids club, though most of the rest do.)
If you like this kind of accommodation, you could probably do all of Europe this way.
Hope this helps. Happy planning!
To be honest I had never really considered that option, but it sounds like a great way to go. For our long stays (30+ days or so) we will definitely want an apartment or house where we can cook our own food and have easy access to the museums and tourist traps. But if we are passing through an area, staying in a campground sounds like a great option. Thanks!
Are you guys done with your trip? What’s next?
Just finished up and returned to Canada, though the blog is sadly un-updated, since internet access became such a big problem for us during the last couple of months of the trip. I’m going to catch it up now that we’re back in Vancouver though.
We’re going to spend the beautiful summer months in Vancouver and then…well, that’s still under discussion. Possibilities include an immersion year in Turkey or Mexico, or possibly staying in North America. Somewhere warmer though. We’re sick of dreary Pacific NW weather and ridiculous Vancouver housing prices. Capish?
Capish! We fully understand the dreary weather and desire for a place with better weather and we will be on the lookout for a different place to resettle.
I look forward to reading about the last few months once you get the blog updated.
You know you learn something new every day don’t you? I had never even heard of the Schengen zone and it’s implications for non EU visitors before I started reading round travel blogs. I guess we’re lucky being EU citizens (well if you ignore the eurozone crisis!!)
Paris sounds a great place to start. I’ve only ever passed through there on a train and would love to go properly. We just haven’t made it yet. Also the tip about looking for mobile homes to stay in might be a good one if you can get a good deal. A site that might be worth looking at is UKcampsite – http://www.ukcampsite.co.uk/sites/results.asp?county=Ile%20de%20France&openallyear=on&rentals=on that link should take you to the Paris area and shows places with statics that are open all year round. One thing I would say is that static caravans can get incredibly cold!!! They are also very popular in the UK and there are *loads* of them round the coast so one thing to think about for that portion of the trip.
Have you maybe thought about doing 6 weeks in both countries? You could do a month in Paris and then 2 weeks in a village, then a month in Barcelona and 2 weeks in south spain ready to hop over to Morrocco. Perhaps that’s a bit fast for you and maybe the best deals come with monthly rentals. Not something I’ve looked into much to be honest.
As for other areas – Avignon in the south of France is very nice, but I haven’t been to France much so I can’t comment!
How are you travelling round europe? And are you taking camping equiptment?
Sorry, that was a bit of a mammoth comment wasn’t it?? It’s all sounding very exciting though :O)
Generally, from what we have found researching places to stay in Europe, one month or longer stays are cheaper than staying weekly or for only a few days. Plus, we will also save money by simply not traveling to a new destination. The longer we are in one place, the cheaper our round-the-world trip is. We will not have any camping equipment with us nor will we be looking to rent a vehicle very often so we will want to be close-in to places where we can buy groceries and take mass transportation to local attractions. And when we move on to a new city or country to stay in we will either fly, take a ferry, take a train, or take a bus; whatever is cheapest.
Thanks for the tip on Avignon. We will definitely look into it.
Yes that makes sense about month long and I guess especially in the winter in Europe you might be able to negotiate some good deals. I love the idea of this extra slow travel, sounds great.
I’d be interested in any links or tips when you do start to book things, we’ve been discussing ourselves whether we fancy doing a couple of months in another country, possibly Spain or maybe in Paris after our 6 month jaunt. So any tips will be very gratefully received.
Try the villages near the Spanish border. Carcassone is just up the road and a little girl’s fantasy. Sainte Maries des le Mer is a place where the Romanie have a festival every year.
Rats now I want to go back. How did that REI bag work out?
We just looked up Carcassone and all we have to say is WOW!!! Now that’s the kind of place we would love to stay in. That place looks amazing. Thanks for the suggestion.
We are loving the REI Wheely Beast. It is light, relatively cheap, packs a lot of stuff, has compression straps, and our favorite feature… WHEELS! Wheels are a must for us 40-year old over packing travelers. 🙂
Glad to hear that about the REI, it is not inexpensive.
Years ago we drove down to Barcelona on the back roads along the sea. It remains the scariest trip I have ever had. The land is beautiful, you will love the area. Check out the Basque as well.
And do this trip. It will change your daughter’s life for the better. For one thing she will know what two days of sun in a row is like. Good luck!
Mary Brown says
This will be such an amazing adventure for you all! I can not think of anything better for children than traveling and exposing them to the world! Uncle Sam allowed us to expose our children to the world courtesy of my husband’s career in the Air Force and it was the best thing for them. Since retiring we have made many trips outside the U.S. and have enjoyed every minute. I understand about Portland – our son lives there and you do have “interesting weather” there.
I can’t wait to follow your blog.
We are really looking forward to our upcoming trip and can’t wait to show our daughter the world. It is much more rewarding traveling with children as they notice things that we may overlook and it’s great sharing new experiences. Keep in touch!