Chapter 3

Schengen Zone: In Europe 22 countries agreed to have open borders. These countries also agreed that visitors from outside of the EU/European Union countries which would include the United States and Canada would have a limited time to travel within the Schengen Zone.

This means that you, dear readers, really do need your calendar if you plan to travel in Europe for more than 90 days.

Rather than list the 22 countries, you can simply type in SCHENGEN COUNTRIES and get the list. The UK which includes England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland PLUS the Republic of Ireland are NOT Schengen countries.

As an American you can stay in the UK for 90 days and the Republic of Ireland for 6 months, which gives you 9 months in English speaking countries to volunteer.

But there is a small monkey wrench in this plan. These countries are not happy to have “foreigners” taking jobs from locals. And, actually you are not taking jobs because you are not getting paid … but, it is a thin line. This is why I said in a previous chapter to be sure you speak frankly with your host about what you say to customs agents. A volunteer from Brazil was refused entry to my host family in Galway because she gave the wrong answer to a question. The customs officer actually called and spoke to my host about the situation.

So, back to scheduling within Schengen. Some travelers [young people] would tell you to “never mind the rules” or ” avoid customs and go by boat” don’t believe it.

Look at your map. Highlight the Schengen countries and plan your adventure from west to east, because you want to be on the border of a non-Schengen country at the end of your 90 days. I spent one winter [90 days] in a furnished flat in Luxor Egypt with an English speaking landlord for $250 US dollars a month. I spent my time visiting Luxor and Karnak Temples [in biblical times known as Thebes] and across the Nile in the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens and the Artisans Village. I would not recommend Cairo or other touristy places but Luxor was pleasant.

You could also spend time in Moroco, Albania, Kosovo or other Baltic or North African countries where living is cheap, food is purchased at outdoor markets and where you could also earn a bit of money tutoring English students. Additionally, I spent a month at a private language school in Ukraine and was provided a sparcely furnished apartment and all of my food.

BONUS FOR US CITIZENS WHO WANT TO SPEND MORE THAN 3 MONTHS IN POLAND. Lets say that you want to do 8 English Immersion Programs in Poland over a 4 month period. You want to visit Posnan, Warsaw, Krakow and Turin. Well, Angloville or Just Speak (Gosha) would love you for starters.

This is how it works: You enter POLAND from a non-Schengen country and you stay in POLAND for your 90 days. You leave POLAND for 24 hours on day 90. You go to a non-Schengen country for 24 hours, get a receipt from a hotel, train, plane ticket proving you were out of POLAND. [I went to Lviv, Ukraine for a week] You re-enter POLAND from the non-Schengen country and you are good for another 90 days, at which time you must exit SCHENGEN totally for your 90 days out.

This loophole exists because the US had an agreement with POLAND prior to the signing of the Schengen agreement. You can find this information on the US State Department website. http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country/poland.html and http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/go/schengen-fact-sheet.html

This is why having an up-to-date calendar is a necessity.

End of Chapter 3.

As I sit here in Lisbon, Portugal I am at the end of this 3 year adventure. Leaving on a Jet Plane tomorrow for the US, for the summer.

I will be in the Gig Harbor, Washinton area and would make myself available to anyone who would like to know more about this. I could speak to your group, Meet-Up, class, senior center, church or just a group of friends for coffee. Contact me at sherrill.madden@gmail.com

“The Big But”… dedicated to those who say they want to travel, BUT … is scheduled to be available as an ebook on Amazon at the end of March.

My writing partner, Greta Hughes, a 5 million mile traveler will be in the Los Angeles area this summer and would also be available to talk with you or your group.

Please let us know if we can be of service to you.

This is not the end of the Blog .. the adventures continue!

Chapter two

First my apologies for the late reply but I have been sick with the flu thing going through Europe.

Ok!

Calendar check

Map check

Travel books check

Volunteer sites check

So, now it’s time to decide how long do I want to travel?

For the timid – 2 to 6 months and close to home- may I suggest you begin in the US, Mexico or Canada.  You could travel to a region you’ve never visited like Cajun Country,  Popcorn, Indiana,  Laredo, Texas, the Carolinas or Washington State.

Canada as well has many beautiful places to visit like Victoria, Toronto or the province of Saskatchewan. Or find a volunteer position during the Calgary Stampede. Want to practice your French try Quebec.  Interested in a UNESCO City go to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.

Just find a Workaway  –  Trusted Housesitters – HelpX or Workstay assignment that fits you and apply.  You may happily find new friends, interesting places to explore or a new skill like harvesting honey or trying to balance on a unicycle.

For those who are interested in places farther away or a longer stay get ready to travel.  Grab your passport, look at your map and your calendar.  Find a volunteer position that you would enjoy – apply –  actually apply for more than one. Be sure to check the reviews on your volunteer choice before you apply.  You might want to check with people who have written reviews for additional information before you apply.  Note: not everyone writes a review and not every review is perfect.

Check flight prices.  Be smart and travel in low /off-season or shoulder season.  Remember that you do not need a round trip ticket a one-way ticket is acceptable.

When you have found the perfect assignment and before you accept make sure you understand everything about the position – hours – tasks required and free time. You also want to know how to get to where you are going.  Some countries are not 100% acceptable to having Volunteers in their midst.  The Republic of Ireland and the UK are two of these countries.  You need to have an understanding with your host as to what to say at Customs when they ask you why you are traveling in their country.  More on this later when I talk about the Schengen Zone.

The majority of your volunteer assignments will be lovely, but people are people and once in awhile you will find a host who is less than 100% agreeable.  My first host complained about every volunteer eating him out of house and home. And he complained that the Spanish couple needed a siesta everyday after lunch. My friend Megan was volunteering in Scotland at a restaurant and bakery and she found that the restaurant people volunteered 4 hours each day but the bakery people volunteered 7 hours each day. And I also had a host who was more than willing to allow me to work as many hours and as many days as he could get away with- you must be assertive with your host when necessary. These examples are not the norm they are exceptions to the rule – expect the best!

Life is not perfect as a volunteer but sometimes it can be pretty close.  My three Italian hosts took me everywhere to see historic sites – to Verona and Juliet’s house – a tour of museums, palaces and art galleries and at Christmas to not one but two Christmas festivals. I was exhausted I needed a vacation – they were the most wonderful hosts to that point in my travel schedule.

Now. One of my favorite volunteer things to do is the English immersion program.  It can be fabulous for some not so not so much for others.  You can get a good sense of the program by looking at my previous blog on English immersion programs.

In my experience the best of the best is Vaughntown, right up there with it is Diverbo or Pueblo Ingles in Spain.

Next best is angloville with programs in Poland – Hungary – Romania -Czech Republic – Malta – Dublin and the UK.  With angloville you can get a TEFL certification which will allow you to tutor English for a fee.

Another program called Just Speak is also located in Poland.  It is casual and rustic.  She uses word games + one-on-one situations like the other programs.  If you decide to go to Just Speak give Gosha my warmest regards thanks.

Ok!  Get busy!

And I will leave you with this thought.  I’ve seen and experienced things I never would have had an opportunity to do – met kind interesting and curious people. I watched an old Mariner carve a ship from a block of wood.  I met the Google guy mapping Ireland and tried on the revolving camera.  I stood on the only remaining section of Hadrian’s Wall in England and gaped with open mouth in Trinity University and learned the odd and interesting history of King Zog of Albania.  All of these stories and more are on my blog.  Enjoy!

Chapter 3 coming soon.