You Asked For It
The Yolo Help Desk is open—your questions answered!
We’ve been listening and thinking about how best to respond to your travel questions without feeling totally overwhelmed. (And thank you for leaving them here and not @ us on Instagram!) So we decided that we would select a few and answer them once a month or so. Keep them coming, the more specific the better (it’s easier for us to recommend hotels in Cortina than to plan your whole ski trip). Add your Qs in the comment section and we’ll come back for them next time!
How do you manage to stay in Europe so long? Do you and Matt have visas, and how did you get them?
I never had the opportunity to overstay in Europe, since I always had a full-time job that I had to race back to after any max two-week trip—not to mention that I had a child in school. But in 2021, our daughter started university in Scotland (around the time that we all started traveling again post-ish-pandemic), and my husband and I began traveling with a vengeance—we had no real reason to go home. We even rented an apartment in Rome (more on that in another post!).
Call me naive, but I’d always thought that our long trips, usually during the summer, were fine—we never stayed more than 90 days and we always returned to the States for a while. Sure, we’d heard plenty of visa drama stories from American friends who’d moved to Paris and Milan—I figured they didn’t want to go back to the States, but to officially move to Europe. That isn’t our situation—we work in the U.S. and have no intention of officially moving—but I got a little bit paranoid when I started hearing about the so-called “90 in 90 out” rule. I reached out to a visa lawyer that one of them recommended to ask for advice, and she confirmed that we were getting very close to exceeding our 90-day max stay. I wasn’t completely wrong about thinking that leaving the EU could restart the 90 days—it was just that the rules had changed in 2016.
The new rules, I learned, allow you to stay up to 90 days within 180—so we were essentially pushing the law by returning to Europe sooner than we were supposed to. The lawyer wasn’t concerned about our most recent trip (we’ve been in Italy since October), because a passport control agent would have to look at all our stamps and do the math—and if you’ve gone through Italian, French, or Spanish passport control, you’ll know that is highly unlikely, with most of them just saying “blank page” and stamping you. The lawyer did recommend staying away from the Netherlands, Germany, and Switzerland, however, where they scrutinize more closely. We’re now applying for a long-stay visa, which can be renewed every year and will mean we no longer have to count days. We’re working with Mon Ami Andy, an immigration agency that put together all our paperwork, scheduled the appointment, and has been holding our hand through the process—for about $800 per visa. Stay tuned for Part 2, when we get the visa and go through more bureaucratic rigamarole in France.
I’d like to start planning a family trip over the holidays/New Year’s and would be grateful for your recommendations for moderately priced (e.g., four star) destinations (so, no skiing in the Swiss Alps).
I hope we aren’t too late for this one–but I’ve planned many a post-holiday family trip just a couple weeks prior. It all depends on where you’re based, but for those in the Northeast of the U.S., these are my suggestions. First of all, forget about going warm. All the flights are either booked or there are just middle seats left at first class prices. I’d love to be wrong about this, so if you do find a deal, you should also buy a lottery ticket or two!
I’m very into the road trip for this time of year. One year, we drove to Chateau Montebello—a historic log chateau with tons of winter activities, from a curling rink to cross-country skiing and an epic indoor pool—and paired it with a couple of days in Montreal, just an hour and a half away. Another year we drove from NYC to The