As of January 1st, 2024 the new ETIAS is being introduced for many planning any form of European Travel.

Travellers from over 60 countries will be impacted by the new entry guidelines, and although it’s not being classed as a Visa per see in relative terms, in reality it is a blanket visa for all countries within the Schengen region.

European travel within the Schengen region is unlimited for up to 90 days, however for any plans to stay beyond this timeframe then (and this is the confusing part) you would have to apply for a Schengen visa…

Confused yet?

Primarily introduced to better monitor and track the movements of the estimated 1.4 billion people who travel to and through this region annually.

I can hear you thinking “what is the Schengen region“.

Many may think that it’s just a fancy name for the European Union (EU), but actually it’s quite different.

The EU is a political and economic union with its own parliament – political structures and governance whereas the Schengen Agreement is a treaty that allows for the free movement of people between participating countries.

There are some strict guidelines that come with the new ETIAS system.  Everything is digitized within your passport, so the rules are difficult to circumnavigate for your European travel vacation.

If you stay more than 90 days within a 180-day period in the Schengen Area without a valid visa, you may be fined or banned from entering the Schengen Area.

Effectively limiting those who want to travel to Europe to only stay within the Schengen region for a maximum of three months every six months.

The days of young backpackers (me included) undertaking European Travel for a year or more has just become a lot more difficult.

You now have to be much more careful with your travel plans and track the number of days you stay in the Schengen region.

I suppose it’s been on the cards for some time, particularly with the rise in human trafficking from outside the region and ongoing global terrorism.

Clearly, the best part is that it will continue to make it easy to move between the vast majority of European countries, so other than the paperwork and proposed 7-Euro fee there will be little visible difference.

The upside for that the governing board of ETIAS is that it will have around 8.2 billion Euros in its coffers annually to support ongoing initiatives.

When I first travelled to Europe back in early 1985, I was obliged to get a visa for almost every country that I visited, with my original passport now fast becoming a museum piece with many of the countries physical stamp splashed across the pages.

In those days when you arrived at a country, they would check your passport and you would pay the fee to the country of entry.

I remember lining up in Paris outside the East German embassy so that I could get an entry visa for East Berlin, but the line-up stretched around the block and I was young and impatient so gave up after a few hours in line.

I thought to myself that I’d visit another time, but who knew that by the time I got back to Europe there would be no East Germany…

When I was deciding on where I was going to move to after leaving Toronto Italy was high up on my list.

However, as you can appreciate that moving to Italy during the height of the pandemic was not going to happen.  These new rules have made it infinitely more difficult to buy a house and spend the summers in Italy.

Arguably now near impossible…

That’s why it’s important to take the initiative and travel whenever you get the opportunity.

The positive side of this is the world is huge and now opens up all sorts of possibilities to explore beyond Europe.

I’m not sure about you but my travel list never seems to diminish but instead continues to grow.

This week begins our four-trip extravaganza stretching between now and next April.

We’re heading down to Sydney to meet Zach and his girlfriend Kathryn for a long weekend.  Next up will be our trip to the United States to visit Judy’s family In New York (ssshhh, it’s still a secret) in late October.

Last Christmas we spent two weeks on a 5000-kilometer road trip to visit my family in Victoria, and because we loved it so much have decided on another road trip.

This Christmas we’re flying to Tasmania and spending ten days exploring the central and eastern parts of this beautiful island.

Then finally, our honeymoon (two years later than planned) to Italy during April – May.   The perfect time to go to Europe other than late September or early October.

Given the huge influx of tourists it will be great to spend time without the enormous crowds and line-ups and to show Judy the real Italy beyond the glitzy tourist sites.

We’re both looking forward to each of our trips.

Although before we embark on next year’s adventures, we’ll begin planning our subsequent trips so stay tuned!

Until next week.