I have been trying to decide when would be the right time to start my travel blog – when I travel seems the obvious choice, but my planning has become so ridiculously crazy that I decided tonight, exactly one month before I leave for my next Great Perhaps, I would start writing about it.
I figured this last month would be punctuated by frantic packing, as I try to give away and sell enough stuff that what’s left of my life here can fit into a 5x6x10 storage unit. I figured it would be saying goodbye, and paying for plane tickets and setting my affairs in order, so to speak.
I didn’t really imagine it would be me frantically trying to figure out how to get around the Schengen visa, and trying to get in a last minute working holiday visa for Germany.
What is a Schengen visa, you ask? Good question. I asked it too, 3 nights ago when I did a second thorough reading of my 21 day tour from Rome to Budapest (!) and read that Canadian tourists in the Schengen area of Europe can only stay for 90 days. Um, excuse me? Everyone knows that it’s 90 days per country. In all my reading, researching and talking, that is what I thought I knew. I’ll admit to not reading the visa sections carefully, for most European countries, but everyone backpacks around Europe for months, if not years. This is a time-honored ritual for the traveling soul. Who would think that visa restrictions around Europe would change? Don’t they know this is what people do?
In the words of Lisa, the very lovely Canadian Overseas Visa Information person (can’t remember her real title) “you can’t do that anymore”. Thank you Lisa.
My big plan is to travel around Europe for 6 months, and then settle down in Ireland with a 2 year working holiday visa, and see where that takes me. It’s changed quite a bit, originally I was going to work in France for 6 months, and then in Ireland. Then I was going to volunteer in Romania for 3 months, travel for 3 months, and Ireland. The Romania portion turned out to be a bit dodgy, and I decided that I was going to wwoof. 1-2 months per farm, 3 farms total, it would be amazing! I would learn about permaculture and biodynamic farming, immerse myself in local culture, cuisine, people. What could be better?
Except that apparently the wrong time to email farms is during harvest, and either my emails were ignored or I was told not to contact them until January or February. What can I say, I am a planner! So I decided to patiently wait until the New Year to contact the farms…and then I accidentally (on purpose?) found a tour to Morocco that would interrupt the start of the wwoofing. Then my Uncle found me this amazing place to stay in Paris, but it was only free in the middle of more of the wwoofing, and all of a sudden my trip started free-form planning itself and wwoofing was being left in the dust. This trip has taken on a life of it’s own; I like to call it Sam.
And now Sam has thrown me a real curve-ball: only 90 days in Europe, not my original 200? After all my glorious planning? I have a 5 day trip to Bordeaux planned! My Yoga Teacher Training in Greece! I was looking at an Italian language school on the Tuscan Riviera! 21 days from Rome to Budapest! Seriously, I can’t do it all? (#firstworldproblems, I am aware)
After a day and a night of frantic Google searching, frantic emails to my travel agent and travel agent-in-training (hi Auntie!), the solution became clear: it only takes 10-14 days to get a German Youth Mobility Visa (aka working holiday visa). It will give me more leeway for traveling around Europe, I was already spending at least a month in Germany visiting a friend anyways, why not get a visa that means the time in Germany doesn’t count towards my 3 months allotted time in Europe? I get to spend more time in Germany, I have to cut down on a few weeks that were going to be spent in Italy and France, but hey, if I’m living in Ireland for a couple of years, I can probably go back and visit again.
So after a bit of a sleepless night, a little finagling, a little scheming and re-packaging, Sam was reborn again! Amanda’s travel plan #502. The first 501 plans before it were all beautiful, but this one, this might be the real thing. We’ll see. I am aware that there are still 31 whole days for Sam to toss me another curve ball – he does like to keep them flying. This constantly changing and flowing trip is actually a great precursor to the actual travel, getting used to never knowing what is around the corner! I’m excited and a little scared to see what could possibly happen next…