The year 2020 is going to be a great for us! Starting in March we will begin full-time travel starting in Morocco, Africa, and then clockwise around Europe trying to see as much as we can.

How do we plan our trip? This is a great question and it’s not as difficult as you think it is…

In short, when we see a place we want to visit, we create a new marker on a personalized Google Map. We’ve been doing this for years and as of right now, February 2020, we have over 450 places we want to visit around the world!!

This map shows just some of the waypoint we’ve created in Europe!

Figuring a route is just a simple matter of connecting the waypoint with a route that makes sense. Think of this as a “connect-the-dots” game you did as a kid.

Planning for Europe around Schengen

Travel in Europe is a bit more complicated because of the Schengen. The Schengen is a group of 22 of the 27 European Union (EU) countries that participate in a policy of free travel with a single visa. US citizens, are typically granted a 90-day tourist visa with their passport.

The blue countries, current as of February 2020, are all part of the Schengen Area. The yellow ones are part of the EU but not Schengen.

Here is the catch – Although a tourist can legally travel for 90 days to all the Schengen (blue) counties, they must not exceed 90 days within the past 180-day period.

Our current plan is to spend time inside and outside the Schengen so as to not overstay our visa:

  • Mar – 30 days OUTSIDE in Morocco
  • Apr/May – 30 days INSIDE touring Portugal, Spain, and France
  • May/Jun – 35 days OUTSIDE touring England, Wales, and Scotland (UK)
  • Jun/Jul – 40 days INSIDE touring Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and the Baltic countries
  • Aug/Sep – 55 days OUTSIDE touring Belarus, Ukraine, Romania, Balkan countires
  • Sep-Nov – 50 days INSIDE touring Alps, Italy, and Greece
  • Nov/Dec – 60 days OUTSIDE touring Balkan countries and Turkey

If this all seems a bit daunting, then it’s because… it is! Europe is a big place and trying to travel to nearly all of the Schengen area in 90 days on a motorcycle just isn’t really feasible. Especially when it includes extremes like the south of Spain to the north of Norway.

Europe compared to the USA. As you can see, Europe is a big place! Too big to cover in 90 days.

Daily Planning

Once we have a rough plan of places we want to see, we can then plan the route for the day. This is often done the day prior to traveling. Often, we search the website Atlas Obscura for interesting places along our route and then add them to the our daily travel plans.

What about hotels or campsites? We hardly know where we will stay each night because we really don’t know how far we will make it each day – Sometimes it’s as much as 800 km (497 miles), others it’s only 100 km (62 miles). In the late afternoon, we have a better idea of where we plan to be and then start looking for a campsites or a wild camping area for the night.

In the past, we would start again the next day. However, traveling full-time, without breaks, can be pretty exhausting. This time, we plan on traveling three to four days a week and then relaxing or working on social media the rest of the week.

So there you go! That’s how we plan our trips. Not too crazy, right?

Do you have any trip planning ideas that have worked for you?

2 Comments on “Planning for a Year of Europe Travel Despite Schengen Limits

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