Shopaholic’s Guide to Europe

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Photo Credit To Easternsoul.com (necklace)Photo Credit To Etsy.com (Notebook)Photo Credit To Tumblr.com (Eiffel Tower)Photo Credit To Freepeople.com (backpack)Photo Credit To Anthropologie.com (girl with long white shirt and tan hat) Photo Credit To Pinterest.com (girl with feather)Photo Credit To Pinterest.com (blue pants)

Let’s face it: Your first European excursion is a big deal. It takes a lot of planning to make the most of your time overseas. To take some of the edge off, we’ve scoured the continent to bring you the best Europe has to offer…without breaking the bank. As you know, we like our money where we can see it – hanging in our closet.

Packing  

First thing’s first: Pack light. After all, what is a trip without some good old fashioned retail therapy? Our strategy is to leave home with a half empty suitcase and come back with the thing bursting at seams with all the goodies we’ve picked up along the way – we’ll come back to that later…

Still, there are some staples you should definitely not leave home without. Whether you’re planning to hit the Louvre in Paris or climb the Spanish Steps in Rome, comfy shoes are must. Also, if you want to visit the Notre Dame in Paris or St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican you need to dress respectfully, meaning both your knees and your shoulders need to be covered – which is why we recommend bringing at least one pair of light, long pants with you, even during the scorching-hot summer months.

Getting Around

A trip to Europe gives you a once in a lifetime opportunity to eat pizza in Rome, say “Hello” to Big Ben in London and climb the Eiffel Tower in Paris all in one go, so once you’ve made your way to the continent, you need to spread out!

There are quite a few low cost carriers offering dirt cheap airfare within European. Ryanair, for example, flies between tons of European cities for around $25.

As for us, we just can’t resist a good old fashioned train ride. There is something irresistibly romantic about hopping on a train in Paris and waking up in Milan, which is why we love Eurail Pass. The pass gives you access to European rail and ferry transit and also offers you different options according to your budget. You can either unlock all of Europe with a Global Pass, pick and choose a few of your favorite countries with a Select Pass or simply focus on one European gem with a One Country Pass. Best of all, travelers under 26 get a discounted youth fare. Global Pass prices start at $344.

Accomodation

Big European cities are full of reasonably priced hostels which not only offer affordable accommodation but are also a great place for meeting other travelers.

These days though, AirBnB is giving hostels a run for their money – with a little luck and some dedicated browsing you might just be able to snag a chic Parisian loft overlooking the Seine or maybe a cosy little hut in the Swiss Alps!

Couchsurfing is another affordable option – in fact, it’s completely free! – and it also gives you a terrific opportunity to meet locals. Even if you don’t find the idea of crashing on a stranger’s couch all that tempting, most big cities have active Couchsurfing communities which organize fun activities and group events which are open for all. This is a great opportunity to hang out with locals and get the inner scoop of any city even if you prefer to sleep in a hotel.
Shopping

And now we get to the good stuff…  As far as fashion goes, Europe is Mecca and Heaven all rolled into one. Where else do you get to drool at the likes of Chanel and Gucci right at their doorstep?

But of course, after spending a small fortune on airfare, it’s understandable if these fashion heavyweights are just a tiny bit outside of your budget… Luckily, there are plenty of high street brands to choose from as well: Topshop, Primark, Zara, Mango, Bershka, H&M, River Island… The list goes on and on.

But even if you’re traveling on a budget it doesn’t mean you have to settle for the mass-produced stuff alone. Scandinavian capitals Stockholm and Copenhagen for example are veritable smorgasbords of moderately priced designs from hip local names such as Danish cult brand By Malene Birger and Swedish denim icon Acne. A lot of European high fashion brands also do diffusion lines for a lower cost.

Finally, wherever you find yourself in Europe, don’t miss out on scouring local thrift stores, vintage boutiques and bazaars. These are the best places for snagging some truly unique, one of a kind finds as well as getting a real sense of the local culture. We love the vintage stores in the district of Marais in Paris (rumor has it Sofia Coppola is also a regular!) and the sprawling Encants Market in Barcelona.

Already planning your upcoming trip? Got some insider tips you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you, please share in the comments below!

Cover Photo Credit To Resort-guides.com

By: Pia Vuolteenaho

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