Some countries are more suitable than others for long-term travel abroad, in terms of diversity of cultures and landscapes, ease of getting around and smoothness of integration. Key to integration is the basic ability to communicate with locals, which will have a particularly profound effect on the various ways you’ll experience the country of your choice and get the most out of your stay there.
Spain is ideal for a long-term stay, whether you’re on a working gap year, volunteering or teaching. Great cities like Madrid, Barcelona and Seville are packed with cultural treasures, and their green open spaces, galleries, museums and festivals are amongst the best in the world.
Spanish people know how enjoy a relaxed pace of life, and as well as trying the classic afternoon siesta and all the other unique customs of the Iberian peninsula, you’ll be able to chill out and unwind, spending long evenings chatting to exuberant locals while enjoying delicious tapas on the many plazas. Spanish classes in London are ideal as a preparation for a long-term stay in this most exotic of European countries.
Germany is another brilliant destination to head for, with its great variety of landscapes. There’s an incredible amount to explore, from the mountains of Bavaria to the valleys of the Rhine, with their castles and cruises, the vast forests of Westphalia and some of the most historic cities on the continent, such as Cologne, Berlin and Aachen.
The autobahn network is excellent for getting around, and there are plenty of guesthouses and hostels for cheap accommodation that will help your budget stretch further as you explore the country. If you’re from an EU country, the good news is that you can stay as long as you like in both Germany and Spain without a visa.
Outside the EU, both New Zealand and Australia offer 6-month tourist visas as well as a wealth of stunning landscapes and more space to roam in than you’re ever likely to need. From the gorgeous Abel Tasman National Park and Franz Josef Glacier of New Zealand to Ayers Rock, Kakadu National Park and the fabulous Gold Coast of Australia, you’ll encounter magical natural wonders and some of the world’s most vibrant cities.
If you fancy a touch of the exotic Orient, then SE Asia beckons, with the likes of Japan, Singapore and Malaysia offering 90-day tourist visas and some of the most fabulous attractions – both on and off the beaten track – you’re ever likely to come across. These are ancient cultures, with the remains of antique civilisations sprawling on the outskirts of thriving, ultra-modern cities. The fabulous and frenetic metropolises of Tokyo and Kuala Lumpur, with their bustling night markets, and the pristine sandy beaches of the peninsula and scattered islands are must-sees for a backpacking trip or a long stay.
Long-term travel is the best way to really get to grips with any country, and preparation is the key to getting the most out of the experience. Get planning your travels, and start by learning the language and drawing up a comprehensive itinerary.
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