Big European Odyssey - Schengen Area rule

Journalist, blogger and vlogger, Marcus Leach, takes his family on a motorhome adventure across Europe over the course of a year. Follow their journey using Caravan and Motorhome Club sites and credited locations across a wide range of countries that they plan to visit.

Planning a European motorhome trip can seem difficult at the best of times, let alone when your trip will last a year and venture through twenty five countries across three continents. Throw in that the world is slowly emerging from the various restrictions enforced by Covid, and the fact that us Brits are no longer a part of the EU, and it can all seem a little overwhelming. 

This sense of overwhelm can quickly become prohibitive, especially for those who have not travelled overseas in their leisure vehicle before. But, as we have discovered in planning our own trip, it needn’t be. Why? Because the reality is that, despite a little extra paperwork, travel is no more difficult now than it was before the events of the past few years, even if it might seem so at times, so we shouldn’t be in a hurry to abandon our dreams of summer sunshine and foreign lands.

Not only that, but for those new to the leisure vehicle lifestyle there’s total peace of mind to be found by booking all aspects of your maiden European trip as a package with the Caravan and Motorhome Club, including sites, Channel crossings and insurance. We have, as we’ve slowly begun to pack up our house ready for it to all go into storage, found our own peace of mind knowing that we can take care of a lot of our trip logistics through one website, leaving more time to focus on finalising our route and being ready to move out of our house.  

As we briefly mentioned in our first Big European Odyssey blog, the biggest challenge in settling on a route has come about due to the 90 in 180 day Schengen Area rule. Which begs the question, what is the rule and how does it impact upon European travel? Let’s first look at the rule, which states that ‘short-term visitors to the Schengen countries (see below for full list) that do not need a visa, and holders of multiple-entry visas valid for at least six months and with 90 days of duration of stay, are not permitted to spend more than 90 days within 180 days in the territory of the Schengen Area.’

As British citizens we are covered by a Schengen Visa waiver, which means we do not need to apply for a Schengen visa to visit these countries for up to 90 days in a 180-day period as tourists, but we do need to be vigilant to ensure we don’t overstay the limit. It is also worth mentioning that the 180 day window keeps rolling, meaning anytime you wish to enter the Schengen Area, you just have to count backwards the last 180 days, and see if you have been present in the Schengen Area for more than 90 days throughout that period.

If, like we were, you’re a little confused by that, don’t worry, there’s a very handy app that you can use to calculate exactly how many days you’ve been in the Schengen Area and, therefore, how many days you have left. However, the reality is that for most people they won’t need to worry about this rule, it’s only applicable if you’re planning a much longer road trip, when it can become a bit of a hindrance and forces some creative route planning.

Far from seeing it as an inconvenience though, we have embraced it for what it is, a chance to visit all manner of countries that we might not have otherwise considered, such as Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Turkey, to name but a few. Countries that, having researched them, we have discovered have just as much to offer as more traditional European destinations, countries that will allow us to broaden our horizons and offer us all manner of new experiences. 

Right now being on the road still seems a way off, given that we still have to move out of our house, collect our new motorhome and finalise our packing lists, areas the Club sadly don’t assist with. So for now it’s back to the packing, albeit with heads full of visions of what lies ahead when we do finally wave goodbye to home and set out on our Big European Odyssey.

For more information on booking your own overseas holiday head over to the European travel section of our website, where you will find all the information and resources you need to plan your perfect holiday.

You can follow the Big European Odyssey through our own social media channels, as well as @marcusleachglobal and @our.roaming.odyssey on Instagram, @MarcusGLeach on Twitter and Our Roaming Odyssey on YouTube. 

The 26 Schengen countries are Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.