The six month half-way point has arrived. So how do we feel about the progression of this journey? In most respects, this adventure has exceeded our initial expectations. To recap how we got to this point (for those newer followers who may not have been aware of our early planning process), last summer we made the decision to sell our house and give away all of our belongings to the poor. All we had to our names were two carry-on suitcases with one week's worth of clothing each. Rather than buy a new home right away, we decided to go on a year long voyage. While visiting Europe was our goal, the first obstacle we encountered was the Shengen Treaty. Twenty eight member countries of the European Union signed a treaty which, in part, limits non-EU citizens to spending no more than 90 consecutive days out of any 180 days within the Shengen Zone. This meant that our plans had to include traveling in and out of the Shengen every three months. Specifically, for the month of October we were in Florence, Italy and for November and December, we were in Rome. In order to be outside of the Shengen for the next three months, we traveled to Istanbul Turkey for January, to Bangkok , Thailand for February, and to Croatia (Zagreb for two weeks and Dubrovnik for two weeks) for March. We are now in Vienna, Austria and back in the Shengen.
The next obstacle we had to plan for was our medications. Having our prescriptions filled in the U.S. and then mailed to us was not going to work as it is illegal to mail prescription medications to individuals overseas. Some internet exploration suggested getting our medications filled at pharmacies over in Europe. In actuality, this proved to be the best solution. Pharmacies in Europe are quite helpful filling prescriptions without any hassles. Obstacle overcome.
The third main obstacle we needed to plan out was travel health and medical evacuation insurance. We both are covered by Medicare and that does not provide services in Europe. Most of the travel insurances we looked at only offered 90 days of coverage which then had to be renewed. A hassle when on the road. TravelEx came to the rescue with a full year policy for both of us for $3400 total cost for the year (this came in handy when Lorraine broke a tooth while inZagreb Croatia and had to get a crown made).
With all of these obstacles out of the way, the adventure was on. The one big question we continually face is, "how affordable is this kind of trip?" We are both retired and our pensions, which are not huge, are our only income. Lorraine was a teacher and I was a psychiatric social worker. While we are comfortable with this income, we certainly are not going to be rich. If you are interested in visiting Europe as we are doing, it is affordable as long as you watch what you spend and plan carefully. We rent fully furnished apartments each month and cook our own meals, at least two out of the three each day. We do go out to eat a couple of times per week.
Here is the month-by-month breakdown of our expenditures (in U.S. Dollars); including rent, food, travel expenses, and any entry fees to attractions we visit;
October....$6837.40 Florence(including our air fare from the U.S. to Italy
November...$4380.62 Rome first month
December...$3022.99 Rome 2nd month
We have yet to reach the top of our monthly pensions on this trip and have actually been able to bank some after all of our expenses. So this kind of trip is doable if you plan it out correctly and just watch your spending.
We hope this explanation has been helpful.