Spending a few years traveling Europe is only a dream for most of us. But you can make it work if you’re dedicated. If you’re worried about finances, click here for ways to earn money while you travel. The first thing you need to figure out is how long you’re legally allowed to stay. The Schengen Area encompasses most of Europe. You can travel within this area on a traditional passport for 90 days within a period of 180 days.
With a Schengen Visa, you can stay in the area for more than 90 days. Countries outside the Schengen Area all have different Visa requirements. You can learn about the requirements for US travelers from the US State Department.
If your parents or grandparents are European citizens, look into the process of obtaining an EU passport. Otherwise, here are some ways to prolong your stay without obtaining a Schengen Visa:
Each year, hundreds of thousands of people travel to Europe to visit medical spas and weight loss spas, where they take advantage of curative remedies while enjoying the majestic landscape and unique culture found only in Europe. While American spas treat you like a guest and focus on relaxation and beauty, European spas treat you like a patient and focus on medical wellness treatments that improve overall health. Many European medical spas use natural resources as part of treatment.
What is a Medical Spa?
The term “medical spa” is a little misleading. Is it a fancy hospital or a spa for sick people? Turns out, a little bit of both. A medical spa (or “medi-spa”) combines a traditional, relaxing spa experience with techniques and procedures you’d normally find in a doctor’s office. A licensed health care professional is on-site at all times. The staff is committed to improving the overall health of their patients by use of alternative and holistic medical therapies. The use of medical spas and alternative medicine has increased drastically over the past 20 years.
Some medical spas are built around natural springs or have their own source of natural minerals. These spas offer hydrotherapy treatments, which use water for pain relief and treatment. The physical properties of water, like pressure and temperature, are used to stimulate blood circulation and treat diseases.
A thermal spring bath is great for those with circulation disorders, spinal column issues, arthritis, paralysis, metabolism disorders, osteoporosis, gynecological problems, and recovering from surgery. Europe’s hot springs contain lots salt and sulfur (a “universal remedy”). Minerals dissolve in saltwater, which eventually comes to the surface from deep underground. Thermal springs are cooled down from their natural temperature of about 160 degrees. When used for medical treatment, minerals are absorbed through the skin and deposited in certain areas of the body. As you relax into a thermal spring bath, you will find muscle and join pain relieved. You can find a thermal spring at the Hotel Drei Quellen Therme in Germany.
If you suffer from a nervous disorder, joint disease, spinal pain, gynecological issue, arthritis, or simply want to rejuvenate your skin, consider a moor mud bath. Europeans have been using warm moor mud since the 14th century. Also called “therapeutic peat,” moor mud is a combination of organic remains from grass, herbs, and flowers. Deposited at the bottom of a swamp, these materials did not decompose completely due to lack of oxygen. Over time, these remnants slowly become peat. The peat is exposed and removed when moorlands are drained. The peat is then cut into small pieces and combined with purified water, forming a thick paste. When the mud is heated, a combination of acids, minerals, vitamins, hormones and trace elements are released, absorbed into the skin, and deposited into certain parts of the body. You can find this treatment at the Tree of Life Spa Resort in the Czech Republic.
Other popular treatments include water cure therapy, climate therapy, fango mud, Kneipp therapy, thymus/fresh cell therpy, stanger bath therapy, aslan therapy, and cryotherpay.
Some of Europe’s best medical spas:
- Schloss Elmau Luxury Spa & Cultural Hideaway (Germany)
- Viva Mayr and F.X. Mayr & More (Austria)
- LeFay Resort & Spa (Italy)
- Grand Resort Bad Ragaz (Switzerland)
Although ocean cruise lines like Royal Caribbean and Norwegian have been suffering some setbacks lately, the river cruise industry in Europe is booming. Instead of spending days traveling between islands with nothing to see but water, river cruises offer a never-ending, constantly changing scenery full of old-world wonders. Europe’s vast network of waterways is just waiting to be explored.
What’s so great about a riverboat?
- Fine dining
- Countless amenities
- Easy access to the heart of many cities
You might want to look into budget airlines because you’ll be shelling out more than $3,000 per person for any of Europe’s luxury river cruises. Relax from your cabin, the deck, a dining area, or the pool as you watch the fairytale countryside of Europe pass you by. You’ll see famous cities, vineyards, and majestic cathedrals all without buying tickets or standing in line. This is sightseeing at it’s best! DouroAzul, Avalon Waterways, and Viking River Cruises offer many different excursions including themed and holiday trips. We’ve picked our favorites.
#3 – DouroAzul: Douro River Valley
DouroAzul is Portugal’s largest river cruise operator. They just released two new ships, the AmaVida (holds 106) and the Queen Isabel (holds 118). Wine lovers will enjoy this cruise through the heart of Portugal’s wine country. Onboard the Queen Isabel you will find a spa, fitness center, heated pool, and gourmet restaurant. The cruise is seven days, departs from Porto, Portugal, and ends in Salamanca, Spain. The Douro River Valley excursion is available between the months of April and November. Excursions ashore expose guests to the region’s finest wines. The cruise takes guests to five UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage Sites including Porto’s Ribeira district and the Alto Douro wine region. The price includes three nights in Lisbon, Portugal prior to embarkation.
#2 – Avalon Waterways: The Legendary Danube
Avalon Waterways announced the launch of their sixth ship in May 2013: the Avalon Expression. This 166-passenger luxury ship has all the amenities you’d expect from a five-star hotel. Floor-to-ceiling windows give guests a great view from practically anywhere on the ship. Cabins include open-air balconies from which guests can watch the landscape flow by. The Legendary Danube varies slightly each year. The 2014 trip departs from Nuremberg, Germany and ends in Budapest, Hungary. The price includes three nights in Prague prior to departure during which you can explore places like the Jewish Quarter, Hradcany Castle, and Wenceslaus Square. The seven-night cruise passes through the medieval cities Regensburg, Passau, and Vienna. Guests have the opportunity to attend events in each city.
#1 – Viking River Cruises: Rhine River
Viking River Cruises is consistently at the top of the charts. A cruise on one of their new Longships is like staying in a five-star hotel (not to mention the Longships are equipped with hybrid engines and solar panels). With a disciplined Swiss staff and a team of chefs that prepare meals onboard (they even have a herb garden on the ship), all your needs will be taken care of. The Rhine River cruise is the perfect romantic getaway. The trip takes up to 190 guests through five countries. Guests glide by the magical castles of Black Forest, Germany and are treated to a fun stop in Amsterdam. Without worrying about taxis or trains, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the view.
Have you ever wanted to travel to Europe – but don’t have enough money? One of the best ways to truly experience a country is to work while you explore. A job will immerse you in the local culture and fund your journey. After all, you’ll find that your savings won’t amount to much when exchanged for euros. The UK, Germany, London, and Spain are a few of the most popular places for Americans looking for work in Europe.
Before you pack your bags, consider the following:
- How long do you want to work in Europe?
- In which country do you want to work?
- Will you need to take language classes?
- Are you able to/do you need to acquire a work permit?
- Are you interested in teaching English?
Seasonal & Short-Term Jobs
Great for backpackers, these jobs usually don’t require a work permit and pay in cash. Farms and vineyards are always looking for short-term employees. If you want to visit Europe during the summer months, consider being a camp counselor. This is a fun, rewarding job that allows you to work with kids. As a bonus, counselors are usually provided with food and a place to stay free of charge.
If you’re young, you should definitely consider being an Au Pair – a foreign individual hired to care for children and do housework. As an Au Pair, you will have food, a safe place to stay, and money. Living with a family will completely immerse you in the local culture. You might even have the opportunity to learn a new language. European parents are always eager to hire English-speaking Au Pairs.
If you don’t like kids or farm work, look into hostels, bars, and tour companies. You will probably have access to a free room if you work in a hostel. It’s an easy way to make cash – as long as you don’t mind cleaning toilets! Bars, on the other hand, are great places to meet the locals (and snag a few free drinks). If you like speaking in front of a group, consider being a tour guide. Sandeman’s New Europe Tours, one of Europe’s most famous tour companies, operates in cities such as Amsterdam, London, and Berlin. Tour companies often require you to have a work permit. If they are unable to sponsor you for a work permit (but still want to hire you) you might be in danger of exploitation.
Teaching English is the most popular long-term job available to Americans. You’ll want to earn your TEFL certificate before you leave. You can teach at a private language school, work on a freelance basis, or work with an agency. For more information on teaching in Europe, click here.
If you’re looking to further an existing career, consider an internship (Europeans call them “mini-jobs”). Unfortunately, many internships are unpaid. On the plus side, most interns are sponsored. Magazines and tour companies are the best places to look for an internship. Once again, be wary of exploitation. It’s a good idea to ask other employees about their hours and paychecks. Don’t let yourself be exploited just because you’re thankful for the opportunity to work with the company!
Online is the best place to start looking for work. Check out StaTravel and WorkAway.
Thinking about the delectable dishes and fine wines of Europe might make your mouth water, but did you know that some people actually travel to Europe to lose weight? Staying at a weight loss spa is pricey, but we guarantee you’ll return home relaxed, rejuvenated, and a few pounds lighter.
Along with traditional spa services, weight loss spas also offer detox programs, exercise classes, nutritional advice, and medical procedures. Personal trainers and nutritionists are on hand for advice, personal meetings, and lectures. Some of these institutions focus on relaxation and detox while others put guests through rigorous exercise.
All of Europe’s luxury health care facilities focus on:
- Long-term lifestyle changes
- Feeling young
What better place for a spa than Europe’s majestic landscape? Both you and your waistline will enjoy vacations to these outstanding weight loss spas:
Clinique La Prairie (CLP) in Montreux, Switzerland
Located right on Lake Geneva, CLP has gained worldwide fame due to its anti-aging technology. Using “CLP Extract” (sheep cells), the institute offers rejuvenation treatments that can be found nowhere else on the planet. These treatments are recommended for guests over 40. Results last for about two years. Just 17-minutes of “Corpotrim” produces results similar to one hour of aerobic exercise. “Corpotrim” was developed to help keep astronauts in shape without the help of gravity.
CLP isn’t a fat camp. The machine-based BeautyMed program lasts 12 days and is ideal for individuals aiming to lose just a few pounds. Each guest undergoes a daily electro session in which the muscles and skin are stimulated and lymphatic drainage increases. Guests have access to a wide variety of electro and laser therapies. A slew of professionals are available for advice and to help you form a personal exercise routine.
CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa in Anguilla, British West Indies
This intimate beachfront resort is located in the curve of Rendezvous Bay. The 10-day program is available to only 20 guests at a time. In the morning, participants enjoy a relaxing walk on the beach followed by classes such as aerobics and yoga. There are also many traditional and unique spa treatments available (like Aquatherapy) in the famous Venus Spa. Meals consist of nutritious foods made with ingredients from the resort’s hydroponic farm. In addition to fitness classes, guests will also undergo a health assessment and attend lectures about fitness and nutrition.
Visitors uninterested in spa treatments or weight loss can take advantage of the resort’s championship golf course, fine dining, and of course the beach.
Stobo Castle in Peebleshire, Scotland
Prepare to be pampered. Just 20 miles north of Edinburgh sits a gorgeous castle featuring a Japanese water garden, tennis courts, a unique Crystal Steam Room, and a hydrospa. The indoor, glass-roofed spa offers over 80 different treatments. At Stobo Castle, guests can float in mineral-rich water in the Dead Sea Flotarium. You’re sure to lose a little weight from the haggis-only diet. In case you don’t know, haggis is a pudding-type dish that contains sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs. These ingredients are minced with spices, suet, oatmeal, stock, and onion. Despite the description, haggis makes for a savory meal with a great nutty texture.