Big plans of travelling OS for more than a month or two introduces a whole new set of rules and regulations. For me, the most impactful discovery was learning all about Schengen.
What is Schengen?
Schengen is an area comprising 26 European states that, since 14 June 1985, have officially abolished passport and all other types of border control at their mutual borders.
The Schengen Area operates very much like a single state for international travel purposes with external border controls for travellers entering and exiting the area, and common visas, but with no internal border controls.
I can share what Schengen meant to me, an Australian abroad, but you must make your own enquiries. Even if you're an Aussie, things change so make sure you're up to date before you travel.
Why is Schengen Such a Big Deal?
As an Aussie, I required no visa to enter Italy, a member of Schengen.
My original intention was to stay for 6 months (or more) in a little seaside town called Tortora Marina.
What I didn't know then was the longest stay possible in a Schengen country is 90 days in any 180 day period. Then a third country national (ie me on an Aussie passport) must leave the country for 90 days before allowed re-entry.
But here's the kicker: the clock stops!
What that means is, if you leave a Schengen country on the 89th day and return after 90 days in a non-Schengen country, you will only have one day left before you must leave for 90 days.
The 90 day period includes the day you arrive in the country and includes the day you leave the country. Tricky huh?
What happens if you stay for longer than 90 days?
You will be fined or banned from entering any Schengen country for a determined period of time. One couple (as reported by Mother Google so it must be right) was banned from returning for 5 years.
What's The Good News?
Take heart, there is good news ... sort of.
Ireland and the UK are not part of Schengen, so you could visit there for 90 days.
Check out other countries that are not part of Schengen and plan your extended trip around them. Click on the link below to find them.
But What if You Want to Stay in Spain, France, Italy, Germany or any other Schengen Country?
You can if you know about the Bilateral Visa Agreement Australia.
Please go right ahead and check out the Australian Government Smartraveller website for all you need to know. It's complex but doable :)
Finally, sage words of advice from a long time traveller I've met along the way.
It's all very well and good to know all the rules and regulations and to have all the paperwork to prove your case but hear this:
On the day you're standing in front of the Polizia, border guard or any person with the authority to turn you away (or turn you in) you are at the mercy of what they know and how they feel right there and then.
So ... get your ducks in order, for sure.
Know and accept things work differently in a foreign country.
Even if you speak the language you may not be able to communicate effectively, especially if you're feeling a tad emotional.
But no problem! That's one of the joys of travel, isn't it?
Solo Traveller, Elder Entrepreneur & LiveStream Strategist
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