Many retired North Americans are opting for long stay European vacations not only to escape the vagaries of winter weather but more and more are choosing more exotic destinations other than the usual Arizona or Florida.  Countries of the European Union such as Spain, Portugal, France and Tuscany have become popular choices for a long stay European vacation.  The prices are right – meaning there are some good deals to be found.  The Euro exchange rates are favorable to the dollar making Europe a bargain destination.  Spain and Portugal are the favorite destinations right now for extended holidays for seniors.

Any vacation that is over three weeks long is classified as a long stay vacation.  Seniors, boomers, retired people love to travel this way and absorb more of the local flavor of a foreign destination by “living there.”  By staying for an extended vacation, they are able to do just that.  There has been an increase in the number of travel companies now offering long stay vacations.  Merit, Transat Holidays and Travel Best Bets are some of them, to name a few.

Depending on what type of long stay vacation you choose, the cost of living in any of these destinations can be pretty cheap, once you have paid for your flight.  Apartments can be rented for as little as $315 a week in the Algarve in Portugal, for example.  You can choose to rent a car while staying long term in Europe and enjoy the freedom of discovering the “back roads” of your new “home” away from home.  If you really want to live like the locals though, you can choose to use public transportation, enjoy excellent European train and bus service.

If you rent an apartment and stay long term, you will be able to savor the local experience more in depth than just a quick coach tour through multiple cities.  Shopping in the local markets for food and cooking your own meals is an opportunity to enjoy the local flavor of a place as well as keep in line with any budget restrictions. Apartment rentals can be found on websites such as Trip Advisor which offer literally thousands of rentals in most of the countries of Europe.  Click here to  Find Great Vacation Rental Deals at TripAdvisor. Bed and breakfast hotels are another option for long stay vacations.  If you plan to stay longer than a week or two, you may be able to work out a monthly rental rate with the owner.  Find out if there are hotel or apartment deals for seniors.

Merit Vacations has been selling long term vacations for seniors for a while now and offers packages of 21 – 28 nights to destinations such as Cannes on the French Riviera, Costa del Sol in Spain and the Algarve in Portugal.  The costs for their long stay vacation packages are over $2,700, but there’s a tour host around to advise you and there are cultural excursions included in most packages.  You’ll stay in an apartment or hotel (some meals are available) or you can buy and prepare your own food in a kitchenette.  Some of their tours also include a cruise or have an extra cruise available – such as their Cannes, Riviera package – where you can add a seven night cruise through France’s wine growing regions, stopping in Arles, Avignon, Viviers, Tournon and Lyon.  Another long stay vacation to the Costa del Sol offers a nine night cruise to  the Canary Islands (the Costa del Sol long stay vacation by Merit).

Decide whether you wish to plan a long stay vacation independently and make your own travel arrangements or choose a travel company which has a good reputation in providing long stay vacations in Europe.  Merit is a hosted tour provider but if you choose a more independently method of travel, you’ll have the cost of your flight and then you need to research the place you’ve decided on.  Research via the internet or pick up some good travel guide books.  The next step is to find your accommodation for your extended vacation.  We’ve suggested and recommended some of the places we’ve stay in when we went to Europe.  We have written frequently about our various long stay vacations in Spain, Portugal, Provence, Florence and Myrtle Beach.   We’re seniors who love travel and we’re here to help our readers who are seniors like ourselves travel the world.

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