How to Stop Making Excuses When it Comes to Travel (or Anything in Life)

Posted from https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/stop-making-excuses/

Matt hiking in Madagascar
Note: Six months ago, I read Ramit’s “Manifesto for 2018” and got inspired. I ended up cranking this out.

Remember New Year’s? When you were going to lose weight, drink less, read more, save more, cook more, and maybe ride a unicorn (hey, anything is possible!)?

But deep down you — and I — knew you probably wouldn’t.

Time would pass, your excitement would fade, and you’d come up with a plethora of excuses for why you couldn’t stick to your goal:

“It’s too cold to walk to the gym.”

“It’s John’s birthday so I have to drink.”

“I had to binge-watch Netflix so I didn’t have time to read.”

“I can’t save extra this month because I have to buy (insert some commercial object you just need).”

“It’s too hard to cook.”

“Unicorns don’t exist so I can’t ride them.”

Inaction is the easiest action. Doing nothing takes less work than doing something. Then, when we start to feel guilty, we tell ourselves a story that justifies our inaction.

I do it all the time. I mean I pay for a gym membership and I’ve only been once this year. (And a gym membership in New York City is not cheap!) There are so many other things I want to do too, but when I don’t do them, I can always find an excuse as to why.

No one likes to wake up and look themselves in the mirror and go, “Well, I failed again.”

So we create our own myths as to why we couldn’t live up to our own expectations — and why it wasn’t our fault. We all have elaborate tales we tell ourselves to make us feel better and not like a disappointment.

I know mine. “I didn’t do X because I had to go to an event and there was good wine.” Or “I didn’t do Y because I got carried away with work.”

I know all the other stories people tell themselves about travel:

“I don’t have enough money.”

I can’t save enough.

“I don’t earn enough.”

“Flights are too expensive.”

“My credit isn’t good enough to get a points card.”

“My currency is too weak.”

“I don’t have anyone to travel with.”

I’ve heard every excuse there is. It’s not to say these aren’t valid excuses. They are. We all have barriers to success. We all have problems. We all have things that get in the way. Not everyone is going to be able to travel.

But we’re now half-way through the year.

What if instead of letting those limits define you, you were the hero that defeats the dragon and saves Princess Travel? What if you became the person who travels and has amazing adventures?

It’s time to say to yourself, “OK, I want to travel, and maybe it is expensive, but if all these people I see online are doing it, maybe it’s not so hard. Let me look into it. Let me Google some information.”

Admit that you don’t know what you don’t know.

Admit to yourself maybe – just maybe – there is a way to travel but you just don’t know what it is and your preconceived notions are demons holding you back!

Turn your excuses upside down – and into action plans:

“I don’t have enough money…so I will look to cut my expenses as best I can and change my spending habits.”

“I can’t save enough…so I will create a savings plan and take proactive steps to make it happen.”

“I don’t earn enough…so I will look for a second job or something in the sharing economy. Maybe I’ll become an Uber driver.”

“Flights are too expensive…so I will go someplace cheaper or start collecting points for a free flight.”

“My credit isn’t good enough to get a points card…so I’ll start with an easier card to build my credit up.”

“My currency is too bad…so I’ll go somewhere cheaper.”

“I don’t have anyone to travel with…so I’ll go on a tour or alone.”

Yes, travel can be expensive. Yes, it costs money. And yes, not everyone can travel.

But when you start with a negative internal mindset, you’ve already lost the game. I’m not saying that magical thinking is the solution. No, magical thinking doesn’t work. The Secret is BS. Wishing for something won’t make it happen.

Actions make something happen.

Americans trade time for money, and although we all complain about it, it’s an arrangement we’ve kept in place for decades. Taking extended time off is not in our culture. Although we say we envy Europeans and their long vacations, in the US, we still, on the whole, follow the “work, retire, travel” model. It’s a system that isn’t going to change soon.

I was a victim of this arrangement until I met some backpackers in Chiang Mai, Thailand. As we discussed travel, time off, and doing what you loved, I kept thinking about how unhappy I was with the American bargain. I had never really thought about it before.

The more the backpackers I met told me about their lifestyle — meeting people around the world, living in bungalows on the beach, eating delicious and cheap food, taking local transportation, and just having fun — the more envious I became.

I went home and changed my mindset.

I created spreadsheets, bought guidebooks, researched online, and cut my expenses as much as I could. I was merciless.

I know people are going to read this post, roll their eyes, talk about my privilege middle-class upbringing, wonder if my parents paid for everything, tell me how they are in debt, and yada, yada, yada.

And there is no doubt I’ve been blessed. There’s no doubt I had a head start.

And there is no doubt not everyone is going to be able to travel.

But I still had to save, plan, and find ways to make that trip (or future trips) happen. My parents never gave me anything for my trip. They actively tried to discourage it.

If I asked you to turn the mirror inward and be completely honest, could you really say to me you’ve exhausted all your options? Could you really say you looked at your expenses to the penny? That you looked at working overseas as a way to fund your trip or pay off your debt? That you couldn’t have a piggy bank where you put at least penny a day? That you tried and tried but could never get travel hacking to work? That it’s truly 100% impossible for you to save for trip?

I’ve seen people in wheelchairs, seniors on pensions find ways to travel, and others take on work to pay off debts.

I think — nay, I know — from experience that most of us haven’t really done that kind of inner searching or planning. I know people don’t know where every penny goes, got into travel hacking, tried to work overseas, or change their habits to make that trip possible. T

The ones that have? Well, they’re traveling right now.

Most of us haven’t done anything more than come up with an excuse as to why our situation is special and unique.

But it’s not.

Our stories are not that unique.

Lots and lots of people have been in your shoes before.

And lots of people have found a way to travel.

Which is good because that means it is possible for you to travel too.

A few years ago, I helped a number of readers plan their trips and was a sounding board for their fears. One of them was Diane, a senior from Canada living on a strict pension. She had dreamed her entire life of visiting Australia but never believed it could happen.

We talked extensively about how she could cut her expenses. She created a list of wants and needs — then stopped buying the wants. Changed her phone plan. Monitored her bills. Got her husband to cut back on smoking and her grandkids to stop asking for things. She got them all on board by explaining why this trip was important. It took close to two years, but eventually, she saved enough to go with her sister.

The world gives you nothing. You have to work for what you want – even if it takes years to get to where you want to go.

Too often we think about the million steps we need to take to get to where we want to go, get overwhelmed by it all, and simply give up.

But, remember, you can only take one step at the time.

Think about the ONE step in front of you and nothing else.

It doesn’t matter if it takes ten years to save for your vacation. All that matters is the first step in front of you. That’s the only thing you need to focus on.

Tomorrow, wake up and ask yourself, “What is the one thing I can do today that will make traveling easier?”

Not sure you can come up with the money? Track all your expenses and figure out where you can cut and put that money automatically each month into a savings account.

Not sure you can take three weeks off work to fly to Australia? Think of destinations closer to you. Or take multiple shorter trips.

Not sure you can get the visa? Find a new place to go.

For every negative excuse, there’s a positive solution.

Don’t let your excuses win.

Start thinking about your first step, plan your trip, ride that unicorn, and become the traveler you were born to be.

And, when you get to your dream destination, send me a postcard!

The post How to Stop Making Excuses When it Comes to Travel (or Anything in Life) appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Posted from https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/stop-making-excuses/

Matt hiking in Madagascar
Note: Six months ago, I read Ramit’s “Manifesto for 2018” and got inspired. I ended up cranking this out.

Remember New Year’s? When you were going to lose weight, drink less, read more, save more, cook more, and maybe ride a unicorn (hey, anything is possible!)?

But deep down you — and I — knew you probably wouldn’t.

Time would pass, your excitement would fade, and you’d come up with a plethora of excuses for why you couldn’t stick to your goal:

“It’s too cold to walk to the gym.”

“It’s John’s birthday so I have to drink.”

“I had to binge-watch Netflix so I didn’t have time to read.”

“I can’t save extra this month because I have to buy (insert some commercial object you just need).”

“It’s too hard to cook.”

“Unicorns don’t exist so I can’t ride them.”

Inaction is the easiest action. Doing nothing takes less work than doing something. Then, when we start to feel guilty, we tell ourselves a story that justifies our inaction.

I do it all the time. I mean I pay for a gym membership and I’ve only been once this year. (And a gym membership in New York City is not cheap!) There are so many other things I want to do too, but when I don’t do them, I can always find an excuse as to why.

No one likes to wake up and look themselves in the mirror and go, “Well, I failed again.”

So we create our own myths as to why we couldn’t live up to our own expectations — and why it wasn’t our fault. We all have elaborate tales we tell ourselves to make us feel better and not like a disappointment.

I know mine. “I didn’t do X because I had to go to an event and there was good wine.” Or “I didn’t do Y because I got carried away with work.”

I know all the other stories people tell themselves about travel:

“I don’t have enough money.”

I can’t save enough.

“I don’t earn enough.”

“Flights are too expensive.”

“My credit isn’t good enough to get a points card.”

“My currency is too weak.”

“I don’t have anyone to travel with.”

I’ve heard every excuse there is. It’s not to say these aren’t valid excuses. They are. We all have barriers to success. We all have problems. We all have things that get in the way. Not everyone is going to be able to travel.

But we’re now half-way through the year.

What if instead of letting those limits define you, you were the hero that defeats the dragon and saves Princess Travel? What if you became the person who travels and has amazing adventures?

It’s time to say to yourself, “OK, I want to travel, and maybe it is expensive, but if all these people I see online are doing it, maybe it’s not so hard. Let me look into it. Let me Google some information.”

Admit that you don’t know what you don’t know.

Admit to yourself maybe – just maybe – there is a way to travel but you just don’t know what it is and your preconceived notions are demons holding you back!

Turn your excuses upside down – and into action plans:

“I don’t have enough money…so I will look to cut my expenses as best I can and change my spending habits.”

“I can’t save enough…so I will create a savings plan and take proactive steps to make it happen.”

“I don’t earn enough…so I will look for a second job or something in the sharing economy. Maybe I’ll become an Uber driver.”

“Flights are too expensive…so I will go someplace cheaper or start collecting points for a free flight.”

“My credit isn’t good enough to get a points card…so I’ll start with an easier card to build my credit up.”

“My currency is too bad…so I’ll go somewhere cheaper.”

“I don’t have anyone to travel with…so I’ll go on a tour or alone.”

Yes, travel can be expensive. Yes, it costs money. And yes, not everyone can travel.

But when you start with a negative internal mindset, you’ve already lost the game. I’m not saying that magical thinking is the solution. No, magical thinking doesn’t work. The Secret is BS. Wishing for something won’t make it happen.

Actions make something happen.

Americans trade time for money, and although we all complain about it, it’s an arrangement we’ve kept in place for decades. Taking extended time off is not in our culture. Although we say we envy Europeans and their long vacations, in the US, we still, on the whole, follow the “work, retire, travel” model. It’s a system that isn’t going to change soon.

I was a victim of this arrangement until I met some backpackers in Chiang Mai, Thailand. As we discussed travel, time off, and doing what you loved, I kept thinking about how unhappy I was with the American bargain. I had never really thought about it before.

The more the backpackers I met told me about their lifestyle — meeting people around the world, living in bungalows on the beach, eating delicious and cheap food, taking local transportation, and just having fun — the more envious I became.

I went home and changed my mindset.

I created spreadsheets, bought guidebooks, researched online, and cut my expenses as much as I could. I was merciless.

I know people are going to read this post, roll their eyes, talk about my privilege middle-class upbringing, wonder if my parents paid for everything, tell me how they are in debt, and yada, yada, yada.

And there is no doubt I’ve been blessed. There’s no doubt I had a head start.

And there is no doubt not everyone is going to be able to travel.

But I still had to save, plan, and find ways to make that trip (or future trips) happen. My parents never gave me anything for my trip. They actively tried to discourage it.

If I asked you to turn the mirror inward and be completely honest, could you really say to me you’ve exhausted all your options? Could you really say you looked at your expenses to the penny? That you looked at working overseas as a way to fund your trip or pay off your debt? That you couldn’t have a piggy bank where you put at least penny a day? That you tried and tried but could never get travel hacking to work? That it’s truly 100% impossible for you to save for trip?

I’ve seen people in wheelchairs, seniors on pensions find ways to travel, and others take on work to pay off debts.

I think — nay, I know — from experience that most of us haven’t really done that kind of inner searching or planning. I know people don’t know where every penny goes, got into travel hacking, tried to work overseas, or change their habits to make that trip possible. T

The ones that have? Well, they’re traveling right now.

Most of us haven’t done anything more than come up with an excuse as to why our situation is special and unique.

But it’s not.

Our stories are not that unique.

Lots and lots of people have been in your shoes before.

And lots of people have found a way to travel.

Which is good because that means it is possible for you to travel too.

A few years ago, I helped a number of readers plan their trips and was a sounding board for their fears. One of them was Diane, a senior from Canada living on a strict pension. She had dreamed her entire life of visiting Australia but never believed it could happen.

We talked extensively about how she could cut her expenses. She created a list of wants and needs — then stopped buying the wants. Changed her phone plan. Monitored her bills. Got her husband to cut back on smoking and her grandkids to stop asking for things. She got them all on board by explaining why this trip was important. It took close to two years, but eventually, she saved enough to go with her sister.

The world gives you nothing. You have to work for what you want – even if it takes years to get to where you want to go.

Too often we think about the million steps we need to take to get to where we want to go, get overwhelmed by it all, and simply give up.

But, remember, you can only take one step at the time.

Think about the ONE step in front of you and nothing else.

It doesn’t matter if it takes ten years to save for your vacation. All that matters is the first step in front of you. That’s the only thing you need to focus on.

Tomorrow, wake up and ask yourself, “What is the one thing I can do today that will make traveling easier?”

Not sure you can come up with the money? Track all your expenses and figure out where you can cut and put that money automatically each month into a savings account.

Not sure you can take three weeks off work to fly to Australia? Think of destinations closer to you. Or take multiple shorter trips.

Not sure you can get the visa? Find a new place to go.

For every negative excuse, there’s a positive solution.

Don’t let your excuses win.

Start thinking about your first step, plan your trip, ride that unicorn, and become the traveler you were born to be.

And, when you get to your dream destination, send me a postcard!

The post How to Stop Making Excuses When it Comes to Travel (or Anything in Life) appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

5 sizzling Summer festivals in Malaga, Spain

Posted from https://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2018/06/18/5-sizzling-summer-festivals-in-malaga-spain/

Already the summer season beckons. Especially here on the southernmost Mediterranean coast of Andalusia, the sun over Malaga province begins to intensify as the longest day approaches. And though the sun blazes a scorching path throughout summer, nothing in Malaga sizzles so much as the festivals between spring and autumn. Every village, town and city […]

The post 5 sizzling Summer festivals in Malaga, Spain appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

Posted from https://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2018/06/18/5-sizzling-summer-festivals-in-malaga-spain/

Already the summer season beckons. Especially here on the southernmost Mediterranean coast of Andalusia, the sun over Malaga province begins to intensify as the longest day approaches. And though the sun blazes a scorching path throughout summer, nothing in Malaga sizzles so much as the festivals between spring and autumn. Every village, town and city […]

The post 5 sizzling Summer festivals in Malaga, Spain appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

An Azorean adventure – 7 best things to do on Sao Miguel Island

Posted from https://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2018/06/17/an-azorean-adventure-7-best-things-to-do-on-sao-miguel-island/

If you haven’t heard of the Azores, join the club! I only found out about this little cluster of 9 colourful islands sitting out in the middle of the Atlantic recently and didn’t waste any time booking my ticket to Ponta Delgada, capital of the biggest island, Sao Miguel. This insanely green, volcanic island was […]

The post An Azorean adventure – 7 best things to do on Sao Miguel Island appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

Posted from https://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2018/06/17/an-azorean-adventure-7-best-things-to-do-on-sao-miguel-island/

If you haven’t heard of the Azores, join the club! I only found out about this little cluster of 9 colourful islands sitting out in the middle of the Atlantic recently and didn’t waste any time booking my ticket to Ponta Delgada, capital of the biggest island, Sao Miguel. This insanely green, volcanic island was […]

The post An Azorean adventure – 7 best things to do on Sao Miguel Island appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

How to Spend 24 Hours in an Airplane

Posted from https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/24-hours-in-an-airplane/

Inside Singapore Airlines' new 787-10 Dreamliner series
I’m an aviation geek, which means I love all things related to planes (even if I’m terrified of flying). Planes fascinate me. They have like 8,000 parts and weigh multiple tons but still manage to stay up in the sky without falling apart! I mean have you ever seen one of those bolts holding up a wing? It boggles my mind how such a tiny thing can hold so much weight. Thank you, aerodynamics, engineering, and the workers at Airbus and Boeing!

In March, I was invited to the Boeing plant in South Carolina for the delivery of Singapore Airlines’ new 787-10, the first 10-series Dreamliner plane. As part of the invited media crew (including some other AV geeks, like Brian Kelly, Ben Mutzabaugh , Zach Honing, and Kendis Gibson), we spent a few days at the plant (in my next post, I’ll take ya behind the scenes at the Boeing plant and in the flight simulator) and then flew the delivery flight from Charleston to Singapore.

It was truly one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had. For those other guys, it’s par for the course. They go on these all the time. But, for me, this was brand new! I mean, getting invited to the factory and then to fly on the first flight? Woah! So cool.

But South Carolina to Singapore is a long flight. The total flight time is 22 hours. The total time on the plane for us? 24.5 hours, as we weren’t allowed to leave the airplane during our refueling stop in Osaka.

That’s right. I spent a little more than an entire day inside an airplane.

And how does one spend a full day on a plane? Here’s how:

Hour 1
We board the plane (Boeing has their own gateway at their plant), where we are greeted by the crew and Singapore Airline executives. I sit down in my business-class seat, get my pre-flight champagne, and marvel at the new in-flight entertainment (IFE) system. It was the best I’ve seen. The screen is huge and super sharp, and the system saves all your information and preferences so you can get back to your movies quickly. It also minimizes the back-and-forth between menus by keeping options open at the bottom of the screen while you scroll and loads them without having to toggle. Compared to the crappy IFEs we have in the states, it was like magic.

Hour 2
After takeoff, I start to watch Justice League. It’s terrible, so I move to the galley to get drunk…I mean sample the wine selection. OK, we got drunk. There’s no other way to put it. Those flight attendants pour heavy glasses.

Hour 3
Continue to drink in the galley.

Hour 4
Inside Singapore Airlines' new 787-10 Dreamliner series
After getting sufficiently toasted, I bid everyone good night and go back to my seat. While the other AV geeks pick apart the seat for length, angles, cubby access, and everything in between, I am just happy to be able to sleep in such a wonderful seat. The seat is 26 inches wide, which is plenty long enough for a guy like me. The padded interior muffles noise and is set back enough so that you can create a little cocoon hidden from the rest of the cabin.

Hour 5
Keep sleeping.

Hour 6
More sleeping.

Hour 7
Counting sheep.

Hour 8
Dreaming of Batman. Wait? Am I Batman?

Hour 9
Still out like a light.

Hour 10
Eventually, I come to and pound some water to get rid of my hangover. I feel pretty good for someone who got just six hours of sleep. I wander the cabin quietly as most of the other passengers on the plane are still asleep. I have the dinner I missed and begrudgingly finish Justice League (seriously, it’s terrible).

Hour 11
I spend an hour writing blog posts and working on my upcoming memoir about my decade as a nomad. (More on that in the future!)

Hour 12
Now, I’m going stir crazy because I’ve been in this plane for 12 hours and still have another 12 more to go! I drink another glass of wine and keep on writing. It’s pretty unexciting. I’m at the point where the novelty has worn off and start to fidget around.

Hour 13
Work some more while watching Geostorm (another terrible movie). I’m not sure what is with me and terrible movies but I seem to gravitate towards them on planes. I think it’s because it’s good time to just get lost and not think. I just want to see cheesy plots and stuff blow up.

Hour 14
Time for another nap!

Hour 15
Inside Singapore Airlines' new 787-10 Dreamliner series
I wake up and notice everyone is also getting up so I go chat with people. It was really interesting being on a plane with journalists. Here I am under no deadline (I mean this article is for something happened two months ago), and these guys are furiously filing stories for when we land so they can all be the first to report on the plane. Here are some of the articles they wrote:

Singapore Airlines New 787-10 in Photos (Flight Global)
Boeing Delivers the World’s First 787-10 Dreamliner to Singapore Airlines (The Points Guy)
The New Singapore Airlines Boeing 787-10 (Sam Chui)
That New Airplane Smell (USA Today)

Hour 16
The cabin lights finally come on and we get ready to land. There’s a light snack, I write some more, and then get to reading a book.

Hour 17
After 16 hours, we’re in Osaka. By now, you’re probably wondering how the plane made it so far? I mean this plane is only supposed to be able to go fly around 8,055 miles and Osaka is 7,255 miles away. Simple: without a fully loaded cabin of people and luggage, the plane was extra light and can make it very far on a very full tank of gas!

Hour 18
While on the ground, they refuel the plane, switch out the crew, and bring in some new food (catered by Singapore Airlines this time and not Boeing). I watch all journalists make videos and do interviews then chat with the CEO of Singapore Airlines, who gives me some sushi recommendations in Singapore (I never got to eat at them but he recommended Kuiiya and Chobei). The most I did was take some photos.

Hour 19
Takeoff time again.

Hour 20
Matt Kepnes sitting in economy class on Singapore Airlines' new DreamlinerAfter another breakfast (delicious eggs with spinach and seaweed), I move to economy class to see what it’s like back there while trying not to wake up all the Singapore Airlines employees trying to sleep. There’s a lot of legroom and the seat has a steep recline (which is good when you recline but bad when the person in front of you reclines since it cuts off a lot of your space). The seats are also really comfy and with a soft padding. After Qatar’s A350 economy, they might be my favorite economy seats.

Hour 21
I take advantage of having my own row in economy to go for another nap.

Hour 22
Dreamland.

Hour 23
breakfast onboard the Dreamliner
I wake up and go back business class for breakfast. The sun is coming up and we’re getting ready to land. I’ve given up on movies and just started writing. Before we land, I take some photos, chat to some folks, and see who wants to get dinner. (We ended up a terrible place. It’s best not spoken of but let’s just say this person got their recommendation off TripAdvisor and it further cemented my view that TripAdvisor sucks!)

Hour 24
cargo ships in Singapore
Time to land in Singapore. I’m always awed by the fleet of cargo ships off the coast of Singapore. As far as the eye can see, the denizens of global trade go to and fro as we land and pull into the gate, we are welcomed with water cannons and a celebratory event.

***Spending 24 hours in a plane was an experience I’ll (probably) never have again, but surprisingly, it wasn’t as bad as I had thought it would be. The Dreamliner is pressured at only 6,000 feet compared to other planes which are pressured at altitudes around 8,000 feet. feet. So, walking off the plane, I felt pretty refreshed and less fatigued. I never really noticed it before but after spending 24 hours in a tube, that science Boeing was talking about does really hold up to snuff.

I didn’t feel as jetlagged or that normal gross feeling I have after a long international flight. (Who else loves to shower right away after a long flight? Anyone? Makes me feel refreshed!)

This new Singapore 787-10 will be a regional craft so, at most, you’ll be in this plane for only about six hours. They are only going to fly it around Asia and Australia to start. I would say this will be one of the nicest six hours you’ll have on a plane, no matter what class you are in.

I have a new favorite plane to fly around Asia, which, thanks to Singapore’s partnerships with Chase, American Express, SPG, and Citi, as well their partnership with United means I can use points to do it for free! I already was a huge fan of Singapore Airlines and this plane just makes me love them even more!

But, the next time I get on this plane, I’ll be happy it won’t be for another 24 hours. That’s a little too long for me.

Note: I was part of the press core for the launch of this plane. Singapore Airlines covered my hotel, flight, and any meals I had during official events. I was not compensated monetarily for this.

The post How to Spend 24 Hours in an Airplane appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Posted from https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/24-hours-in-an-airplane/

Inside Singapore Airlines' new 787-10 Dreamliner series
I’m an aviation geek, which means I love all things related to planes (even if I’m terrified of flying). Planes fascinate me. They have like 8,000 parts and weigh multiple tons but still manage to stay up in the sky without falling apart! I mean have you ever seen one of those bolts holding up a wing? It boggles my mind how such a tiny thing can hold so much weight. Thank you, aerodynamics, engineering, and the workers at Airbus and Boeing!

In March, I was invited to the Boeing plant in South Carolina for the delivery of Singapore Airlines’ new 787-10, the first 10-series Dreamliner plane. As part of the invited media crew (including some other AV geeks, like Brian Kelly, Ben Mutzabaugh , Zach Honing, and Kendis Gibson), we spent a few days at the plant (in my next post, I’ll take ya behind the scenes at the Boeing plant and in the flight simulator) and then flew the delivery flight from Charleston to Singapore.

It was truly one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had. For those other guys, it’s par for the course. They go on these all the time. But, for me, this was brand new! I mean, getting invited to the factory and then to fly on the first flight? Woah! So cool.

But South Carolina to Singapore is a long flight. The total flight time is 22 hours. The total time on the plane for us? 24.5 hours, as we weren’t allowed to leave the airplane during our refueling stop in Osaka.

That’s right. I spent a little more than an entire day inside an airplane.

And how does one spend a full day on a plane? Here’s how:

Hour 1
We board the plane (Boeing has their own gateway at their plant), where we are greeted by the crew and Singapore Airline executives. I sit down in my business-class seat, get my pre-flight champagne, and marvel at the new in-flight entertainment (IFE) system. It was the best I’ve seen. The screen is huge and super sharp, and the system saves all your information and preferences so you can get back to your movies quickly. It also minimizes the back-and-forth between menus by keeping options open at the bottom of the screen while you scroll and loads them without having to toggle. Compared to the crappy IFEs we have in the states, it was like magic.

Hour 2
After takeoff, I start to watch Justice League. It’s terrible, so I move to the galley to get drunk…I mean sample the wine selection. OK, we got drunk. There’s no other way to put it. Those flight attendants pour heavy glasses.

Hour 3
Continue to drink in the galley.

Hour 4
Inside Singapore Airlines' new 787-10 Dreamliner series
After getting sufficiently toasted, I bid everyone good night and go back to my seat. While the other AV geeks pick apart the seat for length, angles, cubby access, and everything in between, I am just happy to be able to sleep in such a wonderful seat. The seat is 26 inches wide, which is plenty long enough for a guy like me. The padded interior muffles noise and is set back enough so that you can create a little cocoon hidden from the rest of the cabin.

Hour 5
Keep sleeping.

Hour 6
More sleeping.

Hour 7
Counting sheep.

Hour 8
Dreaming of Batman. Wait? Am I Batman?

Hour 9
Still out like a light.

Hour 10
Eventually, I come to and pound some water to get rid of my hangover. I feel pretty good for someone who got just six hours of sleep. I wander the cabin quietly as most of the other passengers on the plane are still asleep. I have the dinner I missed and begrudgingly finish Justice League (seriously, it’s terrible).

Hour 11
I spend an hour writing blog posts and working on my upcoming memoir about my decade as a nomad. (More on that in the future!)

Hour 12
Now, I’m going stir crazy because I’ve been in this plane for 12 hours and still have another 12 more to go! I drink another glass of wine and keep on writing. It’s pretty unexciting. I’m at the point where the novelty has worn off and start to fidget around.

Hour 13
Work some more while watching Geostorm (another terrible movie). I’m not sure what is with me and terrible movies but I seem to gravitate towards them on planes. I think it’s because it’s good time to just get lost and not think. I just want to see cheesy plots and stuff blow up.

Hour 14
Time for another nap!

Hour 15
Inside Singapore Airlines' new 787-10 Dreamliner series
I wake up and notice everyone is also getting up so I go chat with people. It was really interesting being on a plane with journalists. Here I am under no deadline (I mean this article is for something happened two months ago), and these guys are furiously filing stories for when we land so they can all be the first to report on the plane. Here are some of the articles they wrote:

Singapore Airlines New 787-10 in Photos (Flight Global)
Boeing Delivers the World’s First 787-10 Dreamliner to Singapore Airlines (The Points Guy)
The New Singapore Airlines Boeing 787-10 (Sam Chui)
That New Airplane Smell (USA Today)

Hour 16
The cabin lights finally come on and we get ready to land. There’s a light snack, I write some more, and then get to reading a book.

Hour 17
After 16 hours, we’re in Osaka. By now, you’re probably wondering how the plane made it so far? I mean this plane is only supposed to be able to go fly around 8,055 miles and Osaka is 7,255 miles away. Simple: without a fully loaded cabin of people and luggage, the plane was extra light and can make it very far on a very full tank of gas!

Hour 18
While on the ground, they refuel the plane, switch out the crew, and bring in some new food (catered by Singapore Airlines this time and not Boeing). I watch all journalists make videos and do interviews then chat with the CEO of Singapore Airlines, who gives me some sushi recommendations in Singapore (I never got to eat at them but he recommended Kuiiya and Chobei). The most I did was take some photos.

Hour 19
Takeoff time again.

Hour 20
Matt Kepnes sitting in economy class on Singapore Airlines' new DreamlinerAfter another breakfast (delicious eggs with spinach and seaweed), I move to economy class to see what it’s like back there while trying not to wake up all the Singapore Airlines employees trying to sleep. There’s a lot of legroom and the seat has a steep recline (which is good when you recline but bad when the person in front of you reclines since it cuts off a lot of your space). The seats are also really comfy and with a soft padding. After Qatar’s A350 economy, they might be my favorite economy seats.

Hour 21
I take advantage of having my own row in economy to go for another nap.

Hour 22
Dreamland.

Hour 23
breakfast onboard the Dreamliner
I wake up and go back business class for breakfast. The sun is coming up and we’re getting ready to land. I’ve given up on movies and just started writing. Before we land, I take some photos, chat to some folks, and see who wants to get dinner. (We ended up a terrible place. It’s best not spoken of but let’s just say this person got their recommendation off TripAdvisor and it further cemented my view that TripAdvisor sucks!)

Hour 24
cargo ships in Singapore
Time to land in Singapore. I’m always awed by the fleet of cargo ships off the coast of Singapore. As far as the eye can see, the denizens of global trade go to and fro as we land and pull into the gate, we are welcomed with water cannons and a celebratory event.

***Spending 24 hours in a plane was an experience I’ll (probably) never have again, but surprisingly, it wasn’t as bad as I had thought it would be. The Dreamliner is pressured at only 6,000 feet compared to other planes which are pressured at altitudes around 8,000 feet. feet. So, walking off the plane, I felt pretty refreshed and less fatigued. I never really noticed it before but after spending 24 hours in a tube, that science Boeing was talking about does really hold up to snuff.

I didn’t feel as jetlagged or that normal gross feeling I have after a long international flight. (Who else loves to shower right away after a long flight? Anyone? Makes me feel refreshed!)

This new Singapore 787-10 will be a regional craft so, at most, you’ll be in this plane for only about six hours. They are only going to fly it around Asia and Australia to start. I would say this will be one of the nicest six hours you’ll have on a plane, no matter what class you are in.

I have a new favorite plane to fly around Asia, which, thanks to Singapore’s partnerships with Chase, American Express, SPG, and Citi, as well their partnership with United means I can use points to do it for free! I already was a huge fan of Singapore Airlines and this plane just makes me love them even more!

But, the next time I get on this plane, I’ll be happy it won’t be for another 24 hours. That’s a little too long for me.

Note: I was part of the press core for the launch of this plane. Singapore Airlines covered my hotel, flight, and any meals I had during official events. I was not compensated monetarily for this.

The post How to Spend 24 Hours in an Airplane appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Inside the luxury hotel where Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un will meet

Posted from https://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2018/06/06/inside-the-luxury-hotel-where-donald-trump-and-kim-jong-un-will-meet/

It has been announced that the historic meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-un scheduled for later this month will take place at the five-star Capella Hotel Singaporean island of Sentosa. It will be the first time that a North Korean leader has met with a sitting US president. Sentosa is one of 63 islands […]

The post Inside the luxury hotel where Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un will meet appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

Posted from https://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2018/06/06/inside-the-luxury-hotel-where-donald-trump-and-kim-jong-un-will-meet/

It has been announced that the historic meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-un scheduled for later this month will take place at the five-star Capella Hotel Singaporean island of Sentosa. It will be the first time that a North Korean leader has met with a sitting US president. Sentosa is one of 63 islands […]

The post Inside the luxury hotel where Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un will meet appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

The 5 most photographed sites in Galapagos

Posted from https://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2018/06/07/the-5-most-photographed-sites-in-galapagos/

While most people consider Galapagos as a wildlife photographer’s paradise (they are not wrong), the islands also offer a wide variety of striking land and seascapes.   Born of fire, the archipelago consists of over 100 islands and islets formed by regular volcanic eruptions over the past 5 million years.   The newest islands to the west […]

The post The 5 most photographed sites in Galapagos appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

Posted from https://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2018/06/07/the-5-most-photographed-sites-in-galapagos/

While most people consider Galapagos as a wildlife photographer’s paradise (they are not wrong), the islands also offer a wide variety of striking land and seascapes.   Born of fire, the archipelago consists of over 100 islands and islets formed by regular volcanic eruptions over the past 5 million years.   The newest islands to the west […]

The post The 5 most photographed sites in Galapagos appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

How to Spend 4 Days in Amsterdam

Posted from https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/three-days-in-amsterdam/

row of red homes in amsterdam on the canal
Amsterdam is one of my favorite cities in the world. I love its brick buildings, open skyline, rich history, and relaxed, easy going attitude towards life. Over the years, I’ve visited Amsterdam more times than I can count (I’m bad at math) and have spent countless hours walking the city, making friends with locals, and getting under its skin.

Amsterdam has so much to do that, even after so many visits, I still find new things to do and see. The city deserves more than just the few (and often smoke filled) days travelers give it, but if a few days is all you have and you want to make the most of it, this is the itinerary I would give to someone looking to get a good overview and feel for what makes Amsterdam so special:

Day 1

Free walking tour
bridge in amsterdam
A great way to orient yourself to the city is with a walking tour. You’ll learn some history, find out where the major sites are, and explore all those winding canals. Free walking tours are a wonderful first activity in any city. I recommend the free New Europe walking tour. It covers a lot of ground and gives you a general overview of the city and landmarks. The tour meets in the main square and lasts about 2-3 hours. (Be sure to tip your guide though!)

Canal tour
canals in amsterdam
Amsterdam is a city tied to the water – it grew around its canals and the taming of the Amstel River. The canals of Amsterdam are incredibly beautiful, and there’s nothing like seeing the city from a boat. Skip the big canal boat tours you see around the city — they’re overpriced. You can often hire a private boat tour for about 20 Euros an hour (look for guides around the Red Light District). Moreover, you can also take the open-air Canal Hopper Small Boat. This is the company I use when I run group tours to the city — the boats are small, the tours more intimate, and your driver will give you a good personalized tour. The tours last about an hour. It leaves from Pier 6.

Van Gogh Museum
van gogh museum
This may be one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city, but don’t let the crowds deter you. The museum features many of Van Gogh’s best works of art alongside an excellent biography of his life and is laid out in chronological order, starting with his earliest works. Though not a huge museum, I can spend hours just staring at the paintings as Van Gogh is one of my favorite painters. The museums also has paintings by other famous artists of the period, like Monet, Manet, and Matisse. Try to come late in the late afternoon when the crowds subside.

Rijksmuseum
The Rijksmuseum
The Rijksmuseum is located right next to the Van Gogh Museum, and after years of renovation, it’s now beautifully remodeled. The museum still features an extensive Rembrandt collection, and you’ll be able to see the famous painting “The Night Watch.” Besides Rembrandt, there’s also an incredible and robust collection of other classic Dutch painters, like Frans Hals and Johannes Vermeer. Over one million works of art, craftworks, and historical objects are kept in the collection, and around 8,000 objects are on display in the museum so be sure to budget a few hours!

Day 2

Anne Frank House
Anne Frank House
In all honesty, I don’t like this place. I found it to be anticlimactic. You basically do a slow walk through the house as the crowds pack the place. You don’t get to let everything soak in as you’re being pushed from behind by the endless crowds. It’s maddening! But, if you don’t mind waiting in line and you’re curious about Anne (I think the Jewish History Museum does a more thorough job of relating the events in Anne Frank’s life to the Holocaust), it might be worth the visit for you. You can book tickets online up to two months in advance, which lets you skip the line. If you don’t do this, get there very early in the morning to avoid the long queue that develops over the course of the day!

The Jordaan area
overlooked residential area in amsterdam - jordaan
This heavily residential area (an old working-class neighborhood turned hip) is probably the most missed part of Amsterdam. Although it’s right near the city center, hardly any tourists enter this maze of restaurants, cafes, and shops. It’s peaceful and a great place to wander while avoiding the mass of tourists crowding the main streets just a few blocks away. While in the area, be sure to eat at Moeders (traditional Dutch food) and Winkel 43 (apple pie).

The Tulip Museum
the tulip museum
Located in a room inside a tulip shop, this little basement museum does a wonderful job of telling the history of tulips in Holland and the infamous tulip craze. It’s one of the best off-the-beaten-path attractions in Amsterdam. You’ll never find a crowd, and it’s only 5 euros (3 euros for students)!

Amsterdam History Museum
amsterdam history museum
This museum features a very thorough history of Amsterdam. It’s big, and you’ll need 3–4 hours to really go through it in detail. There are a lot of relics, maps, paintings, and audiovisual displays throughout the museum. My favorite is the computer graphic at the entrance showing the growth and construction of the city over time. I can’t recommend this museum enough. It’s one of the best history museums I’ve ever visited.

Red Light District
the red light district in amsterdam
Though much tamer than in previous years, the Red Light District manages to balance sex and seediness with being a major tourist attraction. During the day, it’s a quiet place. If it wasn’t for the red lights and sex signs everywhere, it would look like any other part of the city. But, at night, the area becomes awash with drunk, gawking tourists moving slowly down the street as they stare at the girls in the window while going from bar to bar and coffeeshop to coffeeshop. It’s a place to see and experience for a very brief time.

Day 3

Do a bike tour
bike in amsterdam
Bikes are to Amsterdam like wine is to Bordeaux. The city loves bikes, and there are supposedly more bikes than people in Amsterdam. In fact, forget about keeping a lookout for cars — it’s the bikes that will run you over. Seeing Amsterdam and its surroundings from a bike is something I definitely encourage you to do. Mike’s Bike Tours is the best company to use, whether for a tour or to rent a bike on your own.

FOAM
foam photography museum in amsterdam
This photography museum houses wonderful pictures and sees few crowds despite being in the main part of the city. It’s a must for any photography lover. The exhibitions are constantly changing so you never know what you might see! They have a beautiful outdoor garden too. It’s a small museum and doesn’t take long to see.

Jewish Historical Museum
Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam
Often overlooked in favor of The Anne Frank House, the Jewish Historical Museum tells the history of the Jews’ prominent and influential position in Amsterdam. The exhibit on World War II does a great job of highlighting Dutch complacency, resistance, and guilt over the Holocaust.

Oosterpark
Oosterpark in the Netherlands
Everyone goes to Vondelpark to sit around, bike, or get high, but east of the main city center is a beautiful park with fewer people and green space that is just as relaxing. It’s about a 30-minute walk from the city center, but the walk takes you through residential areas of the city not often seen and way off the tourist map. I enjoy coming here because it’s far quieter and more peaceful than Vondelpark. If you wanted a quiet park experience, this is it!

Day 4

Museum Amstelkring
Museum Amstelkring
Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder (“Our Lord in the Attic”) is one of the most interesting churches in the city. Hidden inside a 17th-century canal house, the clandestine Catholic church was built during Protestant rule. It was never really a secret but it was out of sight and out of mind for the authorities. The drawing room here is quite beautiful and the furnishings make it one of the most best 17th-century rooms left.

The Rembrandt House Museum
The Rembrandt House Museum
Rembrandt lived and worked in this house between 1639 and 1658. Daily demonstrations show modern visitors how he worked and you can also explore the house and see a recreation of how it was decorated during Rembrandt’s time. I wasn’t too impressed, but Rembrandt enthusiasts shouldn’t overlook it.

Museum Van Loon
The Rembrandt House Museum
The Museum Van Loon is a double-sized canal house (built in 1672) located on the Keizersgracht canal in Amsterdam. The house was owned by the wealthy Van Loon merchant family who set up a beautiful art collection. Now it’s a museum with period furniture, art, and family portraits. There’s a beautiful garden here too. This is definitely a place not to miss.

Vondelpark
vondelpark - Amsterdam’s largest and most popular park
Amsterdam’s largest and most popular park is a great place to walk, bike, people-watch, or relax, especially after a visit to a local coffee shop. There’s a playground as well as places to play sports, and numerous areas for kicking back. During the summer, Vondelpark is filled with people, especially locals who hang out at the café ‘t Blauwe Theehuis for drinks in the center.

The Heineken Experience
The Heineken Experience in Amsterdam
This museum used to be a lot better when it was cheaper and they offered more beer. It’s not a working brewery, and in comparison to the Guinness Museum in Dublin, it’s lame. But the price of admission buys you three beers and you’ll learn a bit of the history of Heineken (which I enjoyed since I drink a lot of their beer). It’s not a must-see, but it’s not a must-avoid either.

Some other sites in Amsterdam worth visiting

Don’t like the above? No problem! Below are some of my other favorite activities to do in Amsterdam

  • Waterlooplein Flea Market – This open-air market is like a giant flea market — everything and everyone can be found here. People sell secondhand clothes, hats, antiques, gadgets, and much more. You can also find new and unused items. If there’s something you want, you’ll probably find it here. Open Monday to Saturday.
  • Day trip to Haarlem – Just a quick train (or bike) ride from Amsterdam, Harleem is a quiet Dutch town that has a beautiful central church, great outdoor market, and all the beauty of historic Amsterdam with fewer crowds.
  • Visit Noord – Leave the city center, take the ferry across the IJ, and visit the up and coming area of Noord Amsterdam. In the last few years, a lot of people have moved here (it’s cheap), cool markets and restaurants have opened, and a lot of old industrial land has been reclaimed for public use. It’s the new hip place to be! Be sure to visit the famous EYE, Amsterdam’s film institute.
  • The Amsterdam library – The city’s library is a beautiful modern building built in 2007. It’s gigantic, overlooks the IJ, and has a wonderful top floor cafe for impressive views of the city. It’s one of my favorite places to relax in the city. It’s quiet, peaceful, and there’s nothing like reading a good book with a great view!
  • Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam – Like modern art? Well, I don’t but if you do, this is the place in the city to see it!
  • Foodhallen – Located in Amsterdam west, this place is what the name implies – a food hall! This indoor food market has various vendors serving a variety of delicious food. It’s like food trucks in one location. Personal favorites include Viet View, Le Big Fish, and Friska.
  • Houseboat Museum – This museum will show what it’s like to live in a houseboat! It doesn’t take long to see and only costs a few Euros.
  • Take a drug tour – This two-hour walking tour highlights the history of the city’s relationship with drugs. It’s designed to dispel the myths and perceptions of drugs in Amsterdam and Dutch society. It’s a very “pro-drug” tour, so go with an opinion mind. Or just for a history lesson. Tours are every Friday at 6pm; reserve by emailing booking@drugstour.com. Must be 18+ years old.
  • Take an alternative art tour – This is a really unique tour that I took this year. I was blown away by it. You get to see the city’s street art in alleyways, squats, and independent galleries while you learn about Amsterdam’s alternative side and underground and immigrant culture. It’s really fabulous. All the people I took on it loved it. Tours are private and require at least four people. Visit Alltournative Amsterdam for more!
  • Erotic Museum — This museum is located in the middle of Amsterdam’s Red Light District (where else would it be?) and looks at eroticism in all its forms through the ages and includes sculptures, paintings, drawings, photographs, and other artwork. It’s similar to Sex Museum Amsterdam but focuses more on the “art” side of nudity and sex.
  • Hash, Marihuana & Hemp Museum — Only a 5-minute walk from Dam Square, this museum presents information about the historical and modern use of cannabis for medicinal, religious, and cultural purposes. The exhibits focus heavily on how hemp can be used for agricultural, consumer, and industrial purposes.

ONE LAST AMSTERDAM TIP: Be sure to visit the city tourism office near central station. They have lots of information on free things to do, current events and activities, and discount passes and tickets you can use to save money! They are an underused resource by travelers!

****

Four days in any city is never enough time to really see it, but given Amsterdam’s compact nature, it’s definitely enough time to hit all the “major” attractions here. This four day Amsterdam itinerary will help you make the most of your stay in Amsterdam while getting you on and off the beaten path.

Want the real, most honest, straight to the point guide on Amsterdam?

Nomadic Matt's Guide to Amsterdam Want to plan the perfect trip to Amsterdam? Check out my comprehensive guide to Amsterdam written for budget travelers like yourself! It cuts out the fluff found in other guides and gets straight to the practical information you need to travel and save money in one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in the world. You’ll find suggested itineraries tips budgets, ways to save money, on and off the beaten path things to see and do, and my favorite non-touristy restaurants, markets, and bars, and much more!! Click here to learn more and get started.

Photo Credits: 14, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 1012, 13, 1415, 1617, 1819

The post How to Spend 4 Days in Amsterdam appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Posted from https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/three-days-in-amsterdam/

row of red homes in amsterdam on the canal
Amsterdam is one of my favorite cities in the world. I love its brick buildings, open skyline, rich history, and relaxed, easy going attitude towards life. Over the years, I’ve visited Amsterdam more times than I can count (I’m bad at math) and have spent countless hours walking the city, making friends with locals, and getting under its skin.

Amsterdam has so much to do that, even after so many visits, I still find new things to do and see. The city deserves more than just the few (and often smoke filled) days travelers give it, but if a few days is all you have and you want to make the most of it, this is the itinerary I would give to someone looking to get a good overview and feel for what makes Amsterdam so special:

Day 1

Free walking tour
bridge in amsterdam
A great way to orient yourself to the city is with a walking tour. You’ll learn some history, find out where the major sites are, and explore all those winding canals. Free walking tours are a wonderful first activity in any city. I recommend the free New Europe walking tour. It covers a lot of ground and gives you a general overview of the city and landmarks. The tour meets in the main square and lasts about 2-3 hours. (Be sure to tip your guide though!)

Canal tour
canals in amsterdam
Amsterdam is a city tied to the water – it grew around its canals and the taming of the Amstel River. The canals of Amsterdam are incredibly beautiful, and there’s nothing like seeing the city from a boat. Skip the big canal boat tours you see around the city — they’re overpriced. You can often hire a private boat tour for about 20 Euros an hour (look for guides around the Red Light District). Moreover, you can also take the open-air Canal Hopper Small Boat. This is the company I use when I run group tours to the city — the boats are small, the tours more intimate, and your driver will give you a good personalized tour. The tours last about an hour. It leaves from Pier 6.

Van Gogh Museum
van gogh museum
This may be one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city, but don’t let the crowds deter you. The museum features many of Van Gogh’s best works of art alongside an excellent biography of his life and is laid out in chronological order, starting with his earliest works. Though not a huge museum, I can spend hours just staring at the paintings as Van Gogh is one of my favorite painters. The museums also has paintings by other famous artists of the period, like Monet, Manet, and Matisse. Try to come late in the late afternoon when the crowds subside.

Rijksmuseum
The Rijksmuseum
The Rijksmuseum is located right next to the Van Gogh Museum, and after years of renovation, it’s now beautifully remodeled. The museum still features an extensive Rembrandt collection, and you’ll be able to see the famous painting “The Night Watch.” Besides Rembrandt, there’s also an incredible and robust collection of other classic Dutch painters, like Frans Hals and Johannes Vermeer. Over one million works of art, craftworks, and historical objects are kept in the collection, and around 8,000 objects are on display in the museum so be sure to budget a few hours!

Day 2

Anne Frank House
Anne Frank House
In all honesty, I don’t like this place. I found it to be anticlimactic. You basically do a slow walk through the house as the crowds pack the place. You don’t get to let everything soak in as you’re being pushed from behind by the endless crowds. It’s maddening! But, if you don’t mind waiting in line and you’re curious about Anne (I think the Jewish History Museum does a more thorough job of relating the events in Anne Frank’s life to the Holocaust), it might be worth the visit for you. You can book tickets online up to two months in advance, which lets you skip the line. If you don’t do this, get there very early in the morning to avoid the long queue that develops over the course of the day!

The Jordaan area
overlooked residential area in amsterdam - jordaan
This heavily residential area (an old working-class neighborhood turned hip) is probably the most missed part of Amsterdam. Although it’s right near the city center, hardly any tourists enter this maze of restaurants, cafes, and shops. It’s peaceful and a great place to wander while avoiding the mass of tourists crowding the main streets just a few blocks away. While in the area, be sure to eat at Moeders (traditional Dutch food) and Winkel 43 (apple pie).

The Tulip Museum
the tulip museum
Located in a room inside a tulip shop, this little basement museum does a wonderful job of telling the history of tulips in Holland and the infamous tulip craze. It’s one of the best off-the-beaten-path attractions in Amsterdam. You’ll never find a crowd, and it’s only 5 euros (3 euros for students)!

Amsterdam History Museum
amsterdam history museum
This museum features a very thorough history of Amsterdam. It’s big, and you’ll need 3–4 hours to really go through it in detail. There are a lot of relics, maps, paintings, and audiovisual displays throughout the museum. My favorite is the computer graphic at the entrance showing the growth and construction of the city over time. I can’t recommend this museum enough. It’s one of the best history museums I’ve ever visited.

Red Light District
the red light district in amsterdam
Though much tamer than in previous years, the Red Light District manages to balance sex and seediness with being a major tourist attraction. During the day, it’s a quiet place. If it wasn’t for the red lights and sex signs everywhere, it would look like any other part of the city. But, at night, the area becomes awash with drunk, gawking tourists moving slowly down the street as they stare at the girls in the window while going from bar to bar and coffeeshop to coffeeshop. It’s a place to see and experience for a very brief time.

Day 3

Do a bike tour
bike in amsterdam
Bikes are to Amsterdam like wine is to Bordeaux. The city loves bikes, and there are supposedly more bikes than people in Amsterdam. In fact, forget about keeping a lookout for cars — it’s the bikes that will run you over. Seeing Amsterdam and its surroundings from a bike is something I definitely encourage you to do. Mike’s Bike Tours is the best company to use, whether for a tour or to rent a bike on your own.

FOAM
foam photography museum in amsterdam
This photography museum houses wonderful pictures and sees few crowds despite being in the main part of the city. It’s a must for any photography lover. The exhibitions are constantly changing so you never know what you might see! They have a beautiful outdoor garden too. It’s a small museum and doesn’t take long to see.

Jewish Historical Museum
Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam
Often overlooked in favor of The Anne Frank House, the Jewish Historical Museum tells the history of the Jews’ prominent and influential position in Amsterdam. The exhibit on World War II does a great job of highlighting Dutch complacency, resistance, and guilt over the Holocaust.

Oosterpark
Oosterpark in the Netherlands
Everyone goes to Vondelpark to sit around, bike, or get high, but east of the main city center is a beautiful park with fewer people and green space that is just as relaxing. It’s about a 30-minute walk from the city center, but the walk takes you through residential areas of the city not often seen and way off the tourist map. I enjoy coming here because it’s far quieter and more peaceful than Vondelpark. If you wanted a quiet park experience, this is it!

Day 4

Museum Amstelkring
Museum Amstelkring
Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder (“Our Lord in the Attic”) is one of the most interesting churches in the city. Hidden inside a 17th-century canal house, the clandestine Catholic church was built during Protestant rule. It was never really a secret but it was out of sight and out of mind for the authorities. The drawing room here is quite beautiful and the furnishings make it one of the most best 17th-century rooms left.

The Rembrandt House Museum
The Rembrandt House Museum
Rembrandt lived and worked in this house between 1639 and 1658. Daily demonstrations show modern visitors how he worked and you can also explore the house and see a recreation of how it was decorated during Rembrandt’s time. I wasn’t too impressed, but Rembrandt enthusiasts shouldn’t overlook it.

Museum Van Loon
The Rembrandt House Museum
The Museum Van Loon is a double-sized canal house (built in 1672) located on the Keizersgracht canal in Amsterdam. The house was owned by the wealthy Van Loon merchant family who set up a beautiful art collection. Now it’s a museum with period furniture, art, and family portraits. There’s a beautiful garden here too. This is definitely a place not to miss.

Vondelpark
vondelpark - Amsterdam’s largest and most popular park
Amsterdam’s largest and most popular park is a great place to walk, bike, people-watch, or relax, especially after a visit to a local coffee shop. There’s a playground as well as places to play sports, and numerous areas for kicking back. During the summer, Vondelpark is filled with people, especially locals who hang out at the café ‘t Blauwe Theehuis for drinks in the center.

The Heineken Experience
The Heineken Experience in Amsterdam
This museum used to be a lot better when it was cheaper and they offered more beer. It’s not a working brewery, and in comparison to the Guinness Museum in Dublin, it’s lame. But the price of admission buys you three beers and you’ll learn a bit of the history of Heineken (which I enjoyed since I drink a lot of their beer). It’s not a must-see, but it’s not a must-avoid either.

Some other sites in Amsterdam worth visiting

Don’t like the above? No problem! Below are some of my other favorite activities to do in Amsterdam

  • Waterlooplein Flea Market – This open-air market is like a giant flea market — everything and everyone can be found here. People sell secondhand clothes, hats, antiques, gadgets, and much more. You can also find new and unused items. If there’s something you want, you’ll probably find it here. Open Monday to Saturday.
  • Day trip to Haarlem – Just a quick train (or bike) ride from Amsterdam, Harleem is a quiet Dutch town that has a beautiful central church, great outdoor market, and all the beauty of historic Amsterdam with fewer crowds.
  • Visit Noord – Leave the city center, take the ferry across the IJ, and visit the up and coming area of Noord Amsterdam. In the last few years, a lot of people have moved here (it’s cheap), cool markets and restaurants have opened, and a lot of old industrial land has been reclaimed for public use. It’s the new hip place to be! Be sure to visit the famous EYE, Amsterdam’s film institute.
  • The Amsterdam library – The city’s library is a beautiful modern building built in 2007. It’s gigantic, overlooks the IJ, and has a wonderful top floor cafe for impressive views of the city. It’s one of my favorite places to relax in the city. It’s quiet, peaceful, and there’s nothing like reading a good book with a great view!
  • Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam – Like modern art? Well, I don’t but if you do, this is the place in the city to see it!
  • Foodhallen – Located in Amsterdam west, this place is what the name implies – a food hall! This indoor food market has various vendors serving a variety of delicious food. It’s like food trucks in one location. Personal favorites include Viet View, Le Big Fish, and Friska.
  • Houseboat Museum – This museum will show what it’s like to live in a houseboat! It doesn’t take long to see and only costs a few Euros.
  • Take a drug tour – This two-hour walking tour highlights the history of the city’s relationship with drugs. It’s designed to dispel the myths and perceptions of drugs in Amsterdam and Dutch society. It’s a very “pro-drug” tour, so go with an opinion mind. Or just for a history lesson. Tours are every Friday at 6pm; reserve by emailing booking@drugstour.com. Must be 18+ years old.
  • Take an alternative art tour – This is a really unique tour that I took this year. I was blown away by it. You get to see the city’s street art in alleyways, squats, and independent galleries while you learn about Amsterdam’s alternative side and underground and immigrant culture. It’s really fabulous. All the people I took on it loved it. Tours are private and require at least four people. Visit Alltournative Amsterdam for more!
  • Erotic Museum — This museum is located in the middle of Amsterdam’s Red Light District (where else would it be?) and looks at eroticism in all its forms through the ages and includes sculptures, paintings, drawings, photographs, and other artwork. It’s similar to Sex Museum Amsterdam but focuses more on the “art” side of nudity and sex.
  • Hash, Marihuana & Hemp Museum — Only a 5-minute walk from Dam Square, this museum presents information about the historical and modern use of cannabis for medicinal, religious, and cultural purposes. The exhibits focus heavily on how hemp can be used for agricultural, consumer, and industrial purposes.

ONE LAST AMSTERDAM TIP: Be sure to visit the city tourism office near central station. They have lots of information on free things to do, current events and activities, and discount passes and tickets you can use to save money! They are an underused resource by travelers!

****

Four days in any city is never enough time to really see it, but given Amsterdam’s compact nature, it’s definitely enough time to hit all the “major” attractions here. This four day Amsterdam itinerary will help you make the most of your stay in Amsterdam while getting you on and off the beaten path.

Want the real, most honest, straight to the point guide on Amsterdam?

Nomadic Matt's Guide to Amsterdam Want to plan the perfect trip to Amsterdam? Check out my comprehensive guide to Amsterdam written for budget travelers like yourself! It cuts out the fluff found in other guides and gets straight to the practical information you need to travel and save money in one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in the world. You’ll find suggested itineraries tips budgets, ways to save money, on and off the beaten path things to see and do, and my favorite non-touristy restaurants, markets, and bars, and much more!! Click here to learn more and get started.

Photo Credits: 14, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 1012, 13, 1415, 1617, 1819

The post How to Spend 4 Days in Amsterdam appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

How to (Legally) Stay in Europe for More Than 90 Days

Posted from https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/how-to-legally-stay-in-europe-for-more-than-90-days/

staying in europe for more than 90 days
When I planned my move to Sweden a few years ago, I tried to figure out how to get past the 90-day limit placed on tourist visas in the Schengen Area. This is a problem encountered by thousands of travelers every year and a question that regularly (especially this time of year) pops up in my inbox.

“How can I stay in Europe for more than 90 days?” I’m always asked.

It’s a great question with a very complicated answer. I always knew it was difficult, but until I started researching how to stay there longer, I never knew just how difficult. But in the process of this research, I came to learn there are a few ways to stay in Europe longer than 90 days; they just aren’t well known.

This post will teach you the options for staying in Europe over 90 days. But first a few things:

It’s important to note that Europe isn’t just one place — there are varying visa rules throughout the continent. When people talk about the “90-day limit,” they’re talking about restrictions on the Schengen Area, which is the visa policy that governs 26 countries in Europe. It includes all of the European Union — except Ireland and the United Kingdom — as well as a few non-EU countries. (Note: While I call it the “Schengen Visa”, it’s not an actual visa you apply for. It’s simply what I refer to the 90 day limit as.)

What is the Schengen visa?
The Schengen visa is a 90-day tourist visa for Schengen Area countries, which are:

Austria Belgium Czech Republic Denmark Estonia
Finland France Germany Greece Hungary
Iceland Italy Latvia Lithuania Liechtenstein
Luxembourg Malta Netherlands Norway Poland
Portugal Slovakia Slovenia Spain Sweden
Switzerland

These Schengen countries have a border-free visa agreement that lets residents move throughout the Area without needing to show their passport every time they cross a border. Essentially, it’s as if they’re one country, and you can move as freely as you want. (Residents of the UK and Ireland are allowed limitless entry.)

Citizens of most countries are allowed to enter the Schengen Area without having to get a visa beforehand. Your passport simply gets stamped upon your arrival and departure from Europe. You’re allowed to enter and leave from any country you want — they don’t have to be the same. I fly in and out of different countries all the time. Your first entry in the 180-day period is when your 90-day counter starts. These days don’t need to be consecutive — the total is cumulative. Once day 181 hits, the count resets itself.

For example, if I come to the Area in January and stay for 60 days and then come back in June for 10 days, that counts as 70 days in 180 days. Only days you are in the zone during the period count. If you go on January 1st and stay 90 straight days, you have to leave and technically can’t come back until July 1st.

However, not all travelers are allowed such freedom. Citizens from many countries need to apply for a Schengen visa ahead of time. You’ll be required to fill out paperwork beforehand and fly in and out of the country for which your visa is issued. (Even then, you still might not be granted a visa. Spoiler alert: citizens from African and Asian countries get screwed.)

You can find the specific rules regarding your country at the European Commission website or from the country that is your first point of entry.

So, with that being said, how DO you stay in Europe (i.e. the Schengen Zone) longer? How do you get around that rule? Let me break it down for you.

Part 1: Staying in Europe — The Easy Way

With so many visa rules, it’s easy to stay in Europe beyond 90 days as a tourist — you just need to mix up the countries you visit. The United Kingdom has its own rules that allow you to stay 180 days in a calendar year. Most non-Schengen countries such as Ukraine, Moldova, Croatia, Ireland, and some Balkan countries allow you to stay for up to 60 or 90 days. So all you need to do is spend 90 days in the Schengen Area, visit the UK, go to the Balkans, hang out in Ukraine, drink wine in Moldova, and have a pint in Ireland. If you align your schedule right, you can easily be out of the Schengen Area for 90 days and then head back into the Schengen Area.

I spent three months in Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, and England as I waited for my clock to reset and then headed back into Germany for Oktoberfest.

So if you want to travel the continent for a long time without having to go through the various visa processes described below, vary your travel by visiting non-Schengen countries. There’s plenty to see elsewhere while you wait to wait for your Schengen Visa clock to reset.

—-> Need more tips for Europe? Visit my destination guide and get in-depth information on what to see and do and how to save money.

Part 2: Staying in the Schengen Past 90 Days

staying in europe for more than 90 days
But what if you do want to stay longer in the Schengen Area? Then what? What if the six months you want to be in Europe is all in the Schengen Area? What if you want to live and work in Europe?

After all, it covers 26 countries, and visiting so many destinations in 90 days can be a little rushed (you would have an average of 3.4 days per country).

If you want to stay longer to travel, live, learn a language, or fall in love, then the “move around” option suggested above isn’t going to work for you. You need something else. Luckily, there are a few ways to do this — and I can’t stress enough the importance of the word “few.”

Staying more than 90 days in the Schengen Area isn’t easy.

First, let’s understand the rule…

The Schengen law states that you can’t stay in the Area more than 90 days. If you do, you’re subject to a fine and deportation. How that rule is enforced, though, varies greatly from one country to another. If you overstay by a few days or even a week, you’ll probably be OK. If you overstay longer, you might have problems.

Some countries do not mess around with visitors overstaying. For example, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland, and Scandinavian countries are all very strict about entry and exit. If you overstay your tourist visit by longer than a week, there’s a good chance they’ll pull you aside. Two Australians I know were detained leaving Switzerland due to overstaying their visa by two weeks. They were allowed to go with just a warning, but they missed their flights and had to book new flights.

I know of someone who overstayed by six months, tried to leave from Amsterdam, and now has an “illegal immigrant” stamp on her passport. In order to enter Europe again, she must apply for a visa at an embassy and be preapproved: “I made the mistake of attempting to leave from the Netherlands after overstaying a Schengen visa and was caught. I overstayed by about a month, and they hand-drew some sort of insignia in my passport to note my overstay. They told me I’d have to contact the IND and find out if I would be able to enter the Schengen states again.”

(And another blogger I met just told me this happened to them too…so don’t overstay!)

Yet if you leave from Greece, France, Italy, or Spain — the southern European countries — you won’t have any problems, provided you (a) haven’t stayed over too long and (b) didn’t catch the immigration officer on a bad day. When I left Greece, no one even looked at my passport. One of my friends met a guy in France, fell in love, and decided not to leave. A year later, when she finally did, the French officials didn’t even look twice. Another friend flew into France and didn’t even get an entry stamp. Spain is notorious for not caring, and Americans who decide to overstay for months mention that as the easiest country to exit from.

That being said, I don’t think it’s wise to overstay. No matter where you are, you can get away with a few days. Maybe a week, especially if you’re heading home. But a few weeks? A few months? The risk is too great. I love going to Europe enough where I wouldn’t want to be banned.

Can you extend your Schengen visa/stamp?
The Lonely Planet Thorn Tree forums, while a mess of random posts, are good for one thing: stuff like this. I came across one great quote: “This topic has been discussed ad nauseam here on the boards for years. If someone found a way to extend a Schengen, we would have heard of it by now.”

He’s right. Simply put, you cannot extend your tourist visa or entry stamp. There’s a 90-day limit, and that’s that.

staying in europe for more than 90 days

OK, so what’s a tourist to do?

1. Get a working holiday visa

Working holiday visas are easy to get and the best way to extend your stay — even if you don’t want to work. Citizens of Australia, Canada, and New Zealand (and often South Korea and Japan) are eligible for one- to two-year working holiday visas from most of the Schengen countries. Applicants must apply for this visa from a specific country and be younger than 30 (though, in some cases, like for Canadians working in Switzerland, you can be as old as 35).

Additionally, know you can get multiple working holiday visas. An Australian reader of mine got a two-year Dutch working holiday visa and then got one from Norway to stay two more years. While she and her boyfriend (who also got one) did odd jobs in Holland for a bit, they mostly used it as a way to travel around the continent. Note: This type of visa won’t allow you to work in any other country than the one that issued it.

To find out more, visit the embassy of the country you want the visa from in order to apply. Individual countries give these out.

For Americans, there is no working holiday visa in the Schengen Zone. However, American citizens who are in school or within a year of graduation can get a working holiday visa for Ireland. That will allow you to live and work in Ireland – and thus travel around Europe!

2. Get a long-term-stay visa

Unfortunately, the majority of the countries do not allow long-term-stay visas for visitors. In my pursuit of a long-term visa for Sweden, I found that there’s no universal long-term tourist visa for the Schengen Area. Schengen allows for a C- or D-class visa (the letter varies on the country), which is a semi-permanent residence visa for up to one year. But the specific visa and requirements vary from country to country. Some countries are harder, some are easier, and others are nearly impossible despite being in the same visa treaty zone. (I don’t understand the variance either. Same zone, different rules — it makes no sense. You’d think if they were to all have the same rules they would abide by the same visa.)

But there are a few countries that do offer long-term visas and they aren’t too hard to get:

France
Amazing view of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France in the summer
France offers a long-term visitor visa for a period of up to one year. The application process takes up to one month. According to the French Embassy, “The ‘visitor’ visa (or visa ‘D’) allows you to enter France and stay for more than three months. Long-stay visa holders will be allowed to reside in France for up to 12 months according to the validity of their visa and purpose of stay.”

To get this visa, you must set up an appointment at the French consulate near you. You can’t walk in — you must make an appointment.

At this appointment, bring the following documents:

  • One application form filled out completely and signed
  • One ID picture glued onto the application form
  • Your original passport, which must have been issued less than 10 years ago, be valid for three months after your return, and have at least two blank pages left
  • A letter certified by a notary public that promises you won’t engage in work
  • A letter of employment stating current occupation and earnings
  • Proof of income (you’ll need bank statements or copies of your investment portfolio)
  • Proof of medical insurance that includes evacuation insurance
  • Proof of accommodation in France. (The French consulate never returned my emails, so I was unsure how you could have this before you even get to France. One could use a friend’s address or, lacking that, “rent” a place (one where you can get a refund) for the purposes of the interview. It’s a little fuzzy.)

Note: You can’t apply for this visa more than three months before your arrival date.

You can visit the French Embassy website for links to local embassies and consulates for more information.

Sweden
A river view of the city of Stockholm, Sweden
Sweden also offers a long-term stay tourist visa for a maximum period of one year. The process is easy but long — up to eight months! It’s not something to do at the last minute (though if you already in the country, the process only takes a couple of weeks). You’ll need two copies of the following documents when applying for the visa:

  • Residence permit for visitor’s application form
  • Notarized copies of the pages of your passport that show your identity and the validity of your passport, as well as copies of all the other visas/stamps you have
  • A bank statement showing your means of supporting yourself for the duration of your stay
  • A return airplane ticket
  • A letter from your insurance company stating you’re covered overseas

Applications can be delivered in person during visiting hours (no appointment needed) or mailed to a Swedish consulate.

After your documents are received, you’ll be required to have an interview with one of the immigration officers. Most people who apply for this visa have family in Sweden. If you don’t, you’ll need to have clear reasons as to why you need to stay longer and show ample proof that you can support yourself (i.e., “I want to meet Swedish guys/girls” won’t cut it!). If you’re applying in Sweden, you’ll need to put a local’s address on your application form, and that person will have to accompany you to your interview!

Italy
The colorful buildings and skyline of Florence, Italy
Like the other countries, Italy will let you in if you can afford it and promise not to work. You’ll need the following documents to apply:

  • A long-term visa application filled in and signed at the consulate. You must appear in person.
  • One passport-style photo
  • Your passport, which has to be valid three months over the planned stay in Italy. The passport will be kept during the application process.
  • Documented and detailed guarantee of steady income, as well as proof of financial means, such as letters from the bank indicating the status of your account, including the amount of money in the account.
  • Proof of lodging in Italy
  • A letter specifying the reason for your stay in Italy, length of stay, and where you plan to reside
  • A notarized background check

This visa is issued solely to those who are planning to move to Italy and not work.

Greece, Spain, and Portugal also offer long-term-stay visas, but they’re geared to people who are retired or plan to work in the country and have a lot of assets. They aren’t meant for people passing through, but you can always try and apply anyway. They have a lot more requirements and are really meant for people who will live there.

Additional notes:

  • The rules are not universal. In some cases (depending on your country of citizenship), additional documents may be required. You’ll want to check with your local embassy for specifics, but you aren’t restricted from applying for these visas from your home country.
  • All of these visas will require you to show proof that you either have income, have a lot of savings or both. This is about proving you don’t need to work. They’re adamant about not letting these visas be someone’s back-door way of getting into the EU and finding a job. While most didn’t give an exact number, I would say that if you don’t have at least $25,000 USD in your bank account when you apply, you shouldn’t apply. It’s hard to say for sure how much you’re required to have, as the embassy websites aren’t specific. It’s most likely at the discretion of the immigration officer, but the more money you can show, the better. For citizens coming from developing countries, this number might be higher, and you may even need someone to vouch for you.

Because of Europe’s open-border policies, while you need to enter and exit from the country that issued you the visa, but you can be anywhere in Europe during the length of your visa. Once a country has issued you one of these short-term-stay residence visas, you’re a “resident,” allowing you access to anywhere in Europe. 

EVEN MORE ADDITIONAL NOTES:

For U.S. citizens, France has a bilateral agreement that allows the US citizens to stay an additional 90 days beyond the Schengen limit – without a visa!! Seriously. You can spend another 90 days in France. You can enter from any Schengen country, stay 90 days in France, and then fly home. But you have to go home. You can’t go elsewhere. You have to leave Europe so you can’t use your time in France as a sneaky way to reset your Schengen clock.

Additionally, Denmark and Poland also have bilateral agreements with the United States that let citizens stay an additional 90 days in each country separate from the regular Schengen Zone visa. The Denmark rule applies the same way as the French one. You must travel directly from another Schengen country to Denmark. After your stay in Denmark, you cannot transit through other Schengen countries to get back to the US, you will have to fly directly or transit through non-Schengen zones. The Denmark additional 90-day stay is applicable for citizens of Australia, Canada, Chile, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the US.

If you want to visit Poland, you must enter and leave Poland via a non-Schengen country where you will be stamped again (i.e. direct flight from NYC). So you could do 90 days in the Schengen, fly to the UK, and then fly to Poland.

Now, in theory, one could say thanks to borderless travel you could get your “extra 90 days in Denmark” and then just travel around, fly out of Denmark, and no one would be the wiser. One could say that. But I’ve noticed a lot more intra-Europe passport checks in the last year in the wake of the refugee crisis and rise of right-wing governments across the continent. I got yelled at in France for not having my passport with me while on a train to see a chateau. I wouldn’t recommend it but, in theory, I guess it could be done.

3. Get a “student” visa

All Schengen Area countries offer student visas that are easy to obtain so long as you’re enrolled in a recognized university program. This would require you to pay for the course, but it will virtually guarantee you a visa.

The best country to do this in is Spain (Portugal also offers a student visa that is easier to get than other countries), where a whole industry has sprung up to help “students” study Spanish. There are tons of schools that will allow you to enroll and write letters stating you’re a student there. (You’ll also need to apply in your home country!) This blog post details the process in great depth.

One thing to note is that this process is expensive since you have to pay for the class, visa fees, and required background checks, but if you really want to stay a full year, it might be worth the cost.

4. Get a freelancer visa

There are a few countries that offer freelancer visas for the modern day digital nomad (or wannabe digital nomad). This process is a little more complicated and not for the casual tourist. These visas are meant for people who actually want to live in Europe. For the casual tourist, you’d probably get denied. While your freelancer visa is being processed, it would extend your Schengen as countries give you extra time while they process the paperwork. So, in theory, you could apply knowing you’ll get denied to buy yourself some more time but that would be a lot of effort for nothing so probably don’t want to do that.

Germany offers the best freelancer visa and is the country most used by people who want to reside in Europe. If you’re a freelancer, artist, or have some form of income, this is the visa to get (and it’s quite easy to get). It’s perfect and will give you one to two years in the EU. This isn’t a business visa where you move your company to Germany, but a visa for contract workers, artists, web folks, and other freelance-type jobs.

You need to apply for this visa when in Germany. The process usually takes about a week. You simply need the following documents at your visa appointment:

  • A completed application form
  • Two passport photos
  • Bank statements — like the other visas, they want to know you have money just in case you don’t find work. As before, the more money, the better.
  • A copy of your résumé.
  • Proof of residency — You’ll either need to be on a rental contract or be on someone’s rental agreement. You need to bring an official copy of the rental agreement to the immigration office. Adam of Travels of Adam, says, “All I’ve ever had are short sublets. You still have to register at a local city office, but all I’ve done is show up with a printed-out lease from the Internet and submitted that. Once you do that, you get the official form from the local office and that’s all the visa people want to see.”
  • Health insurance — you need to have German insurance that’s valid for at least one year. It’s easy to get once you’re in Germany, and you don’t need to be a German citizen to get it.

Bring a German speaker with you just in case there’s a need for translation. The process is pretty straightforward. You might get lucky and get the visa that day. Or they might review it over the course of a couple of weeks. But if they do that and your 90-day Schengen visa is close to expiring, they’ll give you a temporary three-month visa extension while they process your request. In theory, one could apply for the visa knowing they won’t meet all the requirements simply to get the three-month temporary visa.

It’s very rare someone is denied this visa if they can show they have a job, income, or money in the bank. How they determine an “artist” is actually pretty loose too. I have tons of friends who have gotten this visa.

Additionally, the Czech Republic also has freelancer visa. It’s just as complex to get and you’ll need at least $6,000 USD in your bank account as proof you aren’t going to leech off their services. The lovely folks at Wandertooth, who did this process last year, walk you through the steps.

In recent years, Spain has also created freelancer visa called the “autonomo” that also follows a similar process. You can read more on this website, Spainguru.

These three countries are your best bet for this type of visa. While other countries offer them, they require lots of proof of income, taxes, and that you actually plan to live and operate your business in the country.

5. Get married

Fall in love with a European (or at least a friend) and apply for a marriage visa! You’ll get to stay there while the application process goes through.

********

The best, easiest, and most effective way to stay in Europe long-term is to increase the number of countries you visit so you’re in the Schengen Area for only 90 days. As I said, there are a lot of countries not in the Area, so this is easy to do.

If you’re like me and want to stay longer than 90 days, be prepared to work the system.

If you do want to stay in the Schengen Area beyond the 90-day limit, you need to apply for one of the visas listed above. When you go to the interview, make it crystal clear that you have enough money to support yourself, you’re not looking for a job, and give good reasons why you need to stay longer. “I want to spend more time drinking in Greece” will get you nowhere.

In the end, it’s not impossible to stay longer in the Schengen Area. By working the system a bit and using the few loopholes that do exist, one can legally stay past 90 days and enjoy all Europe has to offer without worrying about being barred for life.

Want more advice? These articles will help you plan an extended trip to Europe:
—> How to Live and Work in Spain
—> What to See and Do in Europe
—> Cheap Ways to Travel Across Europe
—> How a Eurail Pass Can Save You Money

Updated June 2018 with the latest information and resources.

The post How to (Legally) Stay in Europe for More Than 90 Days appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Posted from https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/how-to-legally-stay-in-europe-for-more-than-90-days/

staying in europe for more than 90 days
When I planned my move to Sweden a few years ago, I tried to figure out how to get past the 90-day limit placed on tourist visas in the Schengen Area. This is a problem encountered by thousands of travelers every year and a question that regularly (especially this time of year) pops up in my inbox.

“How can I stay in Europe for more than 90 days?” I’m always asked.

It’s a great question with a very complicated answer. I always knew it was difficult, but until I started researching how to stay there longer, I never knew just how difficult. But in the process of this research, I came to learn there are a few ways to stay in Europe longer than 90 days; they just aren’t well known.

This post will teach you the options for staying in Europe over 90 days. But first a few things:

It’s important to note that Europe isn’t just one place — there are varying visa rules throughout the continent. When people talk about the “90-day limit,” they’re talking about restrictions on the Schengen Area, which is the visa policy that governs 26 countries in Europe. It includes all of the European Union — except Ireland and the United Kingdom — as well as a few non-EU countries. (Note: While I call it the “Schengen Visa”, it’s not an actual visa you apply for. It’s simply what I refer to the 90 day limit as.)

What is the Schengen visa?
The Schengen visa is a 90-day tourist visa for Schengen Area countries, which are:

Austria Belgium Czech Republic Denmark Estonia
Finland France Germany Greece Hungary
Iceland Italy Latvia Lithuania Liechtenstein
Luxembourg Malta Netherlands Norway Poland
Portugal Slovakia Slovenia Spain Sweden
Switzerland

These Schengen countries have a border-free visa agreement that lets residents move throughout the Area without needing to show their passport every time they cross a border. Essentially, it’s as if they’re one country, and you can move as freely as you want. (Residents of the UK and Ireland are allowed limitless entry.)

Citizens of most countries are allowed to enter the Schengen Area without having to get a visa beforehand. Your passport simply gets stamped upon your arrival and departure from Europe. You’re allowed to enter and leave from any country you want — they don’t have to be the same. I fly in and out of different countries all the time. Your first entry in the 180-day period is when your 90-day counter starts. These days don’t need to be consecutive — the total is cumulative. Once day 181 hits, the count resets itself.

For example, if I come to the Area in January and stay for 60 days and then come back in June for 10 days, that counts as 70 days in 180 days. Only days you are in the zone during the period count. If you go on January 1st and stay 90 straight days, you have to leave and technically can’t come back until July 1st.

However, not all travelers are allowed such freedom. Citizens from many countries need to apply for a Schengen visa ahead of time. You’ll be required to fill out paperwork beforehand and fly in and out of the country for which your visa is issued. (Even then, you still might not be granted a visa. Spoiler alert: citizens from African and Asian countries get screwed.)

You can find the specific rules regarding your country at the European Commission website or from the country that is your first point of entry.

So, with that being said, how DO you stay in Europe (i.e. the Schengen Zone) longer? How do you get around that rule? Let me break it down for you.

Part 1: Staying in Europe — The Easy Way

With so many visa rules, it’s easy to stay in Europe beyond 90 days as a tourist — you just need to mix up the countries you visit. The United Kingdom has its own rules that allow you to stay 180 days in a calendar year. Most non-Schengen countries such as Ukraine, Moldova, Croatia, Ireland, and some Balkan countries allow you to stay for up to 60 or 90 days. So all you need to do is spend 90 days in the Schengen Area, visit the UK, go to the Balkans, hang out in Ukraine, drink wine in Moldova, and have a pint in Ireland. If you align your schedule right, you can easily be out of the Schengen Area for 90 days and then head back into the Schengen Area.

I spent three months in Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, and England as I waited for my clock to reset and then headed back into Germany for Oktoberfest.

So if you want to travel the continent for a long time without having to go through the various visa processes described below, vary your travel by visiting non-Schengen countries. There’s plenty to see elsewhere while you wait to wait for your Schengen Visa clock to reset.

—-> Need more tips for Europe? Visit my destination guide and get in-depth information on what to see and do and how to save money.

Part 2: Staying in the Schengen Past 90 Days

staying in europe for more than 90 days
But what if you do want to stay longer in the Schengen Area? Then what? What if the six months you want to be in Europe is all in the Schengen Area? What if you want to live and work in Europe?

After all, it covers 26 countries, and visiting so many destinations in 90 days can be a little rushed (you would have an average of 3.4 days per country).

If you want to stay longer to travel, live, learn a language, or fall in love, then the “move around” option suggested above isn’t going to work for you. You need something else. Luckily, there are a few ways to do this — and I can’t stress enough the importance of the word “few.”

Staying more than 90 days in the Schengen Area isn’t easy.

First, let’s understand the rule…

The Schengen law states that you can’t stay in the Area more than 90 days. If you do, you’re subject to a fine and deportation. How that rule is enforced, though, varies greatly from one country to another. If you overstay by a few days or even a week, you’ll probably be OK. If you overstay longer, you might have problems.

Some countries do not mess around with visitors overstaying. For example, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland, and Scandinavian countries are all very strict about entry and exit. If you overstay your tourist visit by longer than a week, there’s a good chance they’ll pull you aside. Two Australians I know were detained leaving Switzerland due to overstaying their visa by two weeks. They were allowed to go with just a warning, but they missed their flights and had to book new flights.

I know of someone who overstayed by six months, tried to leave from Amsterdam, and now has an “illegal immigrant” stamp on her passport. In order to enter Europe again, she must apply for a visa at an embassy and be preapproved: “I made the mistake of attempting to leave from the Netherlands after overstaying a Schengen visa and was caught. I overstayed by about a month, and they hand-drew some sort of insignia in my passport to note my overstay. They told me I’d have to contact the IND and find out if I would be able to enter the Schengen states again.”

(And another blogger I met just told me this happened to them too…so don’t overstay!)

Yet if you leave from Greece, France, Italy, or Spain — the southern European countries — you won’t have any problems, provided you (a) haven’t stayed over too long and (b) didn’t catch the immigration officer on a bad day. When I left Greece, no one even looked at my passport. One of my friends met a guy in France, fell in love, and decided not to leave. A year later, when she finally did, the French officials didn’t even look twice. Another friend flew into France and didn’t even get an entry stamp. Spain is notorious for not caring, and Americans who decide to overstay for months mention that as the easiest country to exit from.

That being said, I don’t think it’s wise to overstay. No matter where you are, you can get away with a few days. Maybe a week, especially if you’re heading home. But a few weeks? A few months? The risk is too great. I love going to Europe enough where I wouldn’t want to be banned.

Can you extend your Schengen visa/stamp?
The Lonely Planet Thorn Tree forums, while a mess of random posts, are good for one thing: stuff like this. I came across one great quote: “This topic has been discussed ad nauseam here on the boards for years. If someone found a way to extend a Schengen, we would have heard of it by now.”

He’s right. Simply put, you cannot extend your tourist visa or entry stamp. There’s a 90-day limit, and that’s that.

staying in europe for more than 90 days

OK, so what’s a tourist to do?

1. Get a working holiday visa

Working holiday visas are easy to get and the best way to extend your stay — even if you don’t want to work. Citizens of Australia, Canada, and New Zealand (and often South Korea and Japan) are eligible for one- to two-year working holiday visas from most of the Schengen countries. Applicants must apply for this visa from a specific country and be younger than 30 (though, in some cases, like for Canadians working in Switzerland, you can be as old as 35).

Additionally, know you can get multiple working holiday visas. An Australian reader of mine got a two-year Dutch working holiday visa and then got one from Norway to stay two more years. While she and her boyfriend (who also got one) did odd jobs in Holland for a bit, they mostly used it as a way to travel around the continent. Note: This type of visa won’t allow you to work in any other country than the one that issued it.

To find out more, visit the embassy of the country you want the visa from in order to apply. Individual countries give these out.

For Americans, there is no working holiday visa in the Schengen Zone. However, American citizens who are in school or within a year of graduation can get a working holiday visa for Ireland. That will allow you to live and work in Ireland – and thus travel around Europe!

2. Get a long-term-stay visa

Unfortunately, the majority of the countries do not allow long-term-stay visas for visitors. In my pursuit of a long-term visa for Sweden, I found that there’s no universal long-term tourist visa for the Schengen Area. Schengen allows for a C- or D-class visa (the letter varies on the country), which is a semi-permanent residence visa for up to one year. But the specific visa and requirements vary from country to country. Some countries are harder, some are easier, and others are nearly impossible despite being in the same visa treaty zone. (I don’t understand the variance either. Same zone, different rules — it makes no sense. You’d think if they were to all have the same rules they would abide by the same visa.)

But there are a few countries that do offer long-term visas and they aren’t too hard to get:

France
Amazing view of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France in the summer
France offers a long-term visitor visa for a period of up to one year. The application process takes up to one month. According to the French Embassy, “The ‘visitor’ visa (or visa ‘D’) allows you to enter France and stay for more than three months. Long-stay visa holders will be allowed to reside in France for up to 12 months according to the validity of their visa and purpose of stay.”

To get this visa, you must set up an appointment at the French consulate near you. You can’t walk in — you must make an appointment.

At this appointment, bring the following documents:

  • One application form filled out completely and signed
  • One ID picture glued onto the application form
  • Your original passport, which must have been issued less than 10 years ago, be valid for three months after your return, and have at least two blank pages left
  • A letter certified by a notary public that promises you won’t engage in work
  • A letter of employment stating current occupation and earnings
  • Proof of income (you’ll need bank statements or copies of your investment portfolio)
  • Proof of medical insurance that includes evacuation insurance
  • Proof of accommodation in France. (The French consulate never returned my emails, so I was unsure how you could have this before you even get to France. One could use a friend’s address or, lacking that, “rent” a place (one where you can get a refund) for the purposes of the interview. It’s a little fuzzy.)

Note: You can’t apply for this visa more than three months before your arrival date.

You can visit the French Embassy website for links to local embassies and consulates for more information.

Sweden
A river view of the city of Stockholm, Sweden
Sweden also offers a long-term stay tourist visa for a maximum period of one year. The process is easy but long — up to eight months! It’s not something to do at the last minute (though if you already in the country, the process only takes a couple of weeks). You’ll need two copies of the following documents when applying for the visa:

  • Residence permit for visitor’s application form
  • Notarized copies of the pages of your passport that show your identity and the validity of your passport, as well as copies of all the other visas/stamps you have
  • A bank statement showing your means of supporting yourself for the duration of your stay
  • A return airplane ticket
  • A letter from your insurance company stating you’re covered overseas

Applications can be delivered in person during visiting hours (no appointment needed) or mailed to a Swedish consulate.

After your documents are received, you’ll be required to have an interview with one of the immigration officers. Most people who apply for this visa have family in Sweden. If you don’t, you’ll need to have clear reasons as to why you need to stay longer and show ample proof that you can support yourself (i.e., “I want to meet Swedish guys/girls” won’t cut it!). If you’re applying in Sweden, you’ll need to put a local’s address on your application form, and that person will have to accompany you to your interview!

Italy
The colorful buildings and skyline of Florence, Italy
Like the other countries, Italy will let you in if you can afford it and promise not to work. You’ll need the following documents to apply:

  • A long-term visa application filled in and signed at the consulate. You must appear in person.
  • One passport-style photo
  • Your passport, which has to be valid three months over the planned stay in Italy. The passport will be kept during the application process.
  • Documented and detailed guarantee of steady income, as well as proof of financial means, such as letters from the bank indicating the status of your account, including the amount of money in the account.
  • Proof of lodging in Italy
  • A letter specifying the reason for your stay in Italy, length of stay, and where you plan to reside
  • A notarized background check

This visa is issued solely to those who are planning to move to Italy and not work.

Greece, Spain, and Portugal also offer long-term-stay visas, but they’re geared to people who are retired or plan to work in the country and have a lot of assets. They aren’t meant for people passing through, but you can always try and apply anyway. They have a lot more requirements and are really meant for people who will live there.

Additional notes:

  • The rules are not universal. In some cases (depending on your country of citizenship), additional documents may be required. You’ll want to check with your local embassy for specifics, but you aren’t restricted from applying for these visas from your home country.
  • All of these visas will require you to show proof that you either have income, have a lot of savings or both. This is about proving you don’t need to work. They’re adamant about not letting these visas be someone’s back-door way of getting into the EU and finding a job. While most didn’t give an exact number, I would say that if you don’t have at least $25,000 USD in your bank account when you apply, you shouldn’t apply. It’s hard to say for sure how much you’re required to have, as the embassy websites aren’t specific. It’s most likely at the discretion of the immigration officer, but the more money you can show, the better. For citizens coming from developing countries, this number might be higher, and you may even need someone to vouch for you.

Because of Europe’s open-border policies, while you need to enter and exit from the country that issued you the visa, but you can be anywhere in Europe during the length of your visa. Once a country has issued you one of these short-term-stay residence visas, you’re a “resident,” allowing you access to anywhere in Europe. 

EVEN MORE ADDITIONAL NOTES:

For U.S. citizens, France has a bilateral agreement that allows the US citizens to stay an additional 90 days beyond the Schengen limit – without a visa!! Seriously. You can spend another 90 days in France. You can enter from any Schengen country, stay 90 days in France, and then fly home. But you have to go home. You can’t go elsewhere. You have to leave Europe so you can’t use your time in France as a sneaky way to reset your Schengen clock.

Additionally, Denmark and Poland also have bilateral agreements with the United States that let citizens stay an additional 90 days in each country separate from the regular Schengen Zone visa. The Denmark rule applies the same way as the French one. You must travel directly from another Schengen country to Denmark. After your stay in Denmark, you cannot transit through other Schengen countries to get back to the US, you will have to fly directly or transit through non-Schengen zones. The Denmark additional 90-day stay is applicable for citizens of Australia, Canada, Chile, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the US.

If you want to visit Poland, you must enter and leave Poland via a non-Schengen country where you will be stamped again (i.e. direct flight from NYC). So you could do 90 days in the Schengen, fly to the UK, and then fly to Poland.

Now, in theory, one could say thanks to borderless travel you could get your “extra 90 days in Denmark” and then just travel around, fly out of Denmark, and no one would be the wiser. One could say that. But I’ve noticed a lot more intra-Europe passport checks in the last year in the wake of the refugee crisis and rise of right-wing governments across the continent. I got yelled at in France for not having my passport with me while on a train to see a chateau. I wouldn’t recommend it but, in theory, I guess it could be done.

3. Get a “student” visa

All Schengen Area countries offer student visas that are easy to obtain so long as you’re enrolled in a recognized university program. This would require you to pay for the course, but it will virtually guarantee you a visa.

The best country to do this in is Spain (Portugal also offers a student visa that is easier to get than other countries), where a whole industry has sprung up to help “students” study Spanish. There are tons of schools that will allow you to enroll and write letters stating you’re a student there. (You’ll also need to apply in your home country!) This blog post details the process in great depth.

One thing to note is that this process is expensive since you have to pay for the class, visa fees, and required background checks, but if you really want to stay a full year, it might be worth the cost.

4. Get a freelancer visa

There are a few countries that offer freelancer visas for the modern day digital nomad (or wannabe digital nomad). This process is a little more complicated and not for the casual tourist. These visas are meant for people who actually want to live in Europe. For the casual tourist, you’d probably get denied. While your freelancer visa is being processed, it would extend your Schengen as countries give you extra time while they process the paperwork. So, in theory, you could apply knowing you’ll get denied to buy yourself some more time but that would be a lot of effort for nothing so probably don’t want to do that.

Germany offers the best freelancer visa and is the country most used by people who want to reside in Europe. If you’re a freelancer, artist, or have some form of income, this is the visa to get (and it’s quite easy to get). It’s perfect and will give you one to two years in the EU. This isn’t a business visa where you move your company to Germany, but a visa for contract workers, artists, web folks, and other freelance-type jobs.

You need to apply for this visa when in Germany. The process usually takes about a week. You simply need the following documents at your visa appointment:

  • A completed application form
  • Two passport photos
  • Bank statements — like the other visas, they want to know you have money just in case you don’t find work. As before, the more money, the better.
  • A copy of your résumé.
  • Proof of residency — You’ll either need to be on a rental contract or be on someone’s rental agreement. You need to bring an official copy of the rental agreement to the immigration office. Adam of Travels of Adam, says, “All I’ve ever had are short sublets. You still have to register at a local city office, but all I’ve done is show up with a printed-out lease from the Internet and submitted that. Once you do that, you get the official form from the local office and that’s all the visa people want to see.”
  • Health insurance — you need to have German insurance that’s valid for at least one year. It’s easy to get once you’re in Germany, and you don’t need to be a German citizen to get it.

Bring a German speaker with you just in case there’s a need for translation. The process is pretty straightforward. You might get lucky and get the visa that day. Or they might review it over the course of a couple of weeks. But if they do that and your 90-day Schengen visa is close to expiring, they’ll give you a temporary three-month visa extension while they process your request. In theory, one could apply for the visa knowing they won’t meet all the requirements simply to get the three-month temporary visa.

It’s very rare someone is denied this visa if they can show they have a job, income, or money in the bank. How they determine an “artist” is actually pretty loose too. I have tons of friends who have gotten this visa.

Additionally, the Czech Republic also has freelancer visa. It’s just as complex to get and you’ll need at least $6,000 USD in your bank account as proof you aren’t going to leech off their services. The lovely folks at Wandertooth, who did this process last year, walk you through the steps.

In recent years, Spain has also created freelancer visa called the “autonomo” that also follows a similar process. You can read more on this website, Spainguru.

These three countries are your best bet for this type of visa. While other countries offer them, they require lots of proof of income, taxes, and that you actually plan to live and operate your business in the country.

5. Get married

Fall in love with a European (or at least a friend) and apply for a marriage visa! You’ll get to stay there while the application process goes through.

********

The best, easiest, and most effective way to stay in Europe long-term is to increase the number of countries you visit so you’re in the Schengen Area for only 90 days. As I said, there are a lot of countries not in the Area, so this is easy to do.

If you’re like me and want to stay longer than 90 days, be prepared to work the system.

If you do want to stay in the Schengen Area beyond the 90-day limit, you need to apply for one of the visas listed above. When you go to the interview, make it crystal clear that you have enough money to support yourself, you’re not looking for a job, and give good reasons why you need to stay longer. “I want to spend more time drinking in Greece” will get you nowhere.

In the end, it’s not impossible to stay longer in the Schengen Area. By working the system a bit and using the few loopholes that do exist, one can legally stay past 90 days and enjoy all Europe has to offer without worrying about being barred for life.

Want more advice? These articles will help you plan an extended trip to Europe:
—> How to Live and Work in Spain
—> What to See and Do in Europe
—> Cheap Ways to Travel Across Europe
—> How a Eurail Pass Can Save You Money

Updated June 2018 with the latest information and resources.

The post How to (Legally) Stay in Europe for More Than 90 Days appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Why you should consider a trip to Palm Springs

Posted from https://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2018/05/31/why-you-should-consider-a-trip-to-palm-springs/

Most of us have heard of Palm Springs. It is well known for its hot springs, stylish and unique hotels, golf courses and spas. It’s also noted for its many fine examples of midcentury-modern architecture. Its shopping district, along Palm Canyon Drive features vintage boutiques, interior design shops and some fabulous bars and restaurants. The surrounding […]

The post Why you should consider a trip to Palm Springs appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

Posted from https://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2018/05/31/why-you-should-consider-a-trip-to-palm-springs/

Most of us have heard of Palm Springs. It is well known for its hot springs, stylish and unique hotels, golf courses and spas. It’s also noted for its many fine examples of midcentury-modern architecture. Its shopping district, along Palm Canyon Drive features vintage boutiques, interior design shops and some fabulous bars and restaurants. The surrounding […]

The post Why you should consider a trip to Palm Springs appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.