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Renting a Flat in London

Posted by on Dec 13, 2013 in Travel Advice, Travel Finance | 0 comments

London flatIf you’re going to be spending three or more months in Europe, consider renting a flat. It’s a great way to live like a local and can actually save you money. If you’re staying with a group, a flat is definitely the way to go. Check online to find rental agencies and private landlords, compare prices, and read reviews. Craigslist, London Guest Suites, and Homes & Property are great websites to start your search.

Living in a flat will give you privacy (unlike a hostel), a kitchen, and the opportunity to explore local bars and restaurants. Some flats come with free Internet access, but don’t expect a washing machine. Many flats have a minimum stay of six or twelve months. If you’re staying in Europe long-term, this shouldn’t be an issue. Most flats in London come furnished.

London’s rental market is quite competitive nowadays. Here are some tips for renting a flat:

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Staying in Europe for more than 90 Days

Posted by on Dec 9, 2013 in Travel Advice, Travel Finance, Work & Education | 0 comments

Backpacking in EuropeSpending 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:

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Recommended European Cosmetic Brands

Posted by on Aug 12, 2013 in Health & Beauty, Travel Advice | 3 comments

BourjoisVisitors to Europe may be at a loss when it comes to purchasing cosmetics. This article will give you some advice on which brands to look for. London, Berlin, and Paris have the largest selection of beauty products. Keep in mind that each European country sells different brands. International names like Estee Lauder, Body Shop, Shiseido, and Chanel are found all across Europe, but it’s more fun to explore the brands unique to the country in which you’re staying.

If you’re on a budget, drugstores will be more than adequate for your beauty needs. Lots of European drugstores allow you to sample their products. This is a great feature lacking in US drugstores.

Bourjois is one of Europe’s most famous cosmetic brands. With a focus on the particular glamor of 19th century Paris, this brand can proudly claim to have created the first powder blush. If  you’re looking for a makeup remover, go for Bioderma Crealine H2O. For a great moisturizer, try Embryolisse.

If you’re visiting Europe during the summer, you’re going to need sunscreen. La Roche-Posay Anthelios AC is recommended for oily skin and those suffering from acne. Unlike sunscreens that claim to be “oil free,” this one really is!

In France, look for Monoprix and luxury brands Galeries Lafayette and Printemps. When visiting Sephora stores (you can find these in France, Italy, and Spain), look for eye shadow and blush by Fred Farruggia. Sephora stores also carry Makeup For Ever products and drugstore brands like Maybelline and L’Oreal. Sephora often has sales on their more expensive products during the summer. Another French brand to look for is Lollipops.

If you like perfume and you’re visiting Paris, you’re in for a treat. Visit a boutique called Serge Lutens at the Palais Royale. Inside you can sample a gigantic array of perfumes.

Kiko In Italy and France, look for Kiko stores. Kiko is known for its wide selection of products, great prices, and sales. The Italian store Limoni Perfumeria has a wide selection with great packaging. Look for inexpensive brands Pupa and Collistar.

In London, look for EU-exclusive Illamasqua shades.

In Germany, look for brands Astor and P2. Both brands can be found in common drugstores. Their products are inexpensive and of good quality. P2 makes great lip products. Catrice (a little more expensive) and Essence (a little less expensive) are two more great drugstore brands found in Germany. Catrice has a reputation for wonderful nail polish. You can also find hair treatment tools, serums and creams there, wonderful for post curling or straightening treatment.

Germany is known for its focus on organic makeup and skincare. In Denmark, visit stores Matas and Magasin to find a great selection of products. If you see the name Nilens Jord, check out the mascara and eye shadow. All Nilens Jord products are free of paraben and perfume. The Danish brand GOSH is not recommended.

In the Netherlands, drugstore Kruidvat en Etos is recommended for beauty supplies. They carry aforementioned brands Catrice and Essence. They also carry MNY. Essence can also be purchase in Switzerland’s drugstores.

In the United Kingdom, visit House of Fraser. Look for brands Illamasque, Butter London, Sleek, 17, Models Own, and Barry M. International travelers often say that in regards to makeup, the UK is similar to the US.

In Spain, look for Agatha Ruiz de la Prada perfume and try out some skincare products from Instituto Español de la Piel.

 

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Renting a Car in Europe

Posted by on Oct 5, 2013 in Travel Advice, Travel Finance | 0 comments

Mini CooperTransportation is a big concern when planning a trip to Europe. Renting a vehicle is more complicated and expensive than in the US. You’ll get the best deal if you rent by the week and select a package with unlimited mileage. Just like plane tickets, the earlier you book, the better. You can reserve a rental car online or with the help of a travel agent. Shop around and make sure to ask any and all questions you might have. Make sure to read the fine print before you agree to anything. Rental companies are notorious for tacking on extra fees.

You should definitely rent a car if you:

  • Have lots of luggage
  • Are traveling with a group of three or more
  • Will be camping
  • Plan to explore one area in depth rather than travel across Europe
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Flying Budget Airlines in Europe

Posted by on Sep 26, 2013 in Travel Advice, Travel Finance | 0 comments

airberlinOnce they arrive, most visitors to Europe don’t consider flying an option. Until recently, rental vehicles and public transportation have been the most cost-effective ways to travel Europe. Things are different now. There are four reasons the cost of airfare has decreased dramatically in recent years:

 

  • Deregulation of European airlines in the 1990’s
  • The Open-Skies Treaty of 1992
  • Competition between airlines
  • Proliferation of small, niche airlines

There are currently 62 budget airlines in Europe. SkyScanner and Kayak are two great places to start looking for flights. Purchasing tickets far in advance will enable you to find the cheapest flights. Look for airlines that use either your starting or ending point as a hub. If you have multiple flights, be prepared for delays and leave yourself with plenty of extra time. Be flexible. Try to fly on weekdays during the spring or autumn. Avoid flying during the holidays. Check for sales and look for flights that depart early in the morning or very late at night. If you can’t find the exact flight you want, check flights to nearby airports. Departure times can change suddenly by up to 10 hours. Double check your itinerary a few days before your trip and check in online to avoid fees.

Does a $100 (or less) plane ticket sound too good to be true? There are many downsides to low-cost airlines. You can’t use travel agents, tickets are available only online and are not refundable, and schedules are tight. Flights that aren’t filled up are sometimes cancelled on short notice. If you’re late, the plane will not wait for you. Almost all budget flights are point-to-point and do not offer connecting flights. There’s always the chance that a small airline will suddenly go out of business. Budget airlines are safe, but provide only basic transport (don’t expect snacks). Since the airlines don’t make much money on ticket sales, they will use every excuse to fine you. Make sure to read the fine print and look up all information about luggage.

RyanairWith 41 hubs, Ryanair is Europe’s largest budget airline. If you book early, you can find flights from London to a variety of European cities for only $20. Ryanair is notorious for “add-on fees.” The only way to avoid paying a credit card fee is to use a prepaid MasterCard credit card. The average one-way ticket from Ryanair is between $55 and $65 (this price includes tax and fees). Ryanair has very strict baggage regulations. It is recommended that you purchase insurance that protects against flight cancellation because Ryanair has a very limited compensation policy in regards to cancelled flights. Make sure you know where your end point is because Ryanair often flies to small, obscure airports far from the city you’re trying to reach.

A little more expensive is easyJet, Europe’s second largest budget airline. When flying with easyJet, you will not be charged a fee for printing your boarding pass in the airport. However, like Ryanair, there is a fee for every piece of checked luggage. But unlike Ryanair, easyJet tends to use principal airports. There are no seat assignments and a one-way ticket ranges from $27-$570.

The third largest budget airline in Europe is airberlin. It has a huge network and offers long flights in addition to within-Europe flights. One-way tickets start at $60. This price includes luggage, fees, and tax. Unlike most of Europe’s budget airlines, airberlin offers free drinks, newspapers, and snacks onboard. They also allow up to 44 pounds of free checked luggage per passenger.

 

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Top 3 Tourist Attractions in Paris, France

Posted by on Sep 10, 2013 in Travel Advice | 0 comments

There are certain European cities with a romantic, fairytale-like reputation. Paris, France is one of them. The current capital of France, Paris has been an important European city for over 2,000 years. Today it is a world leader in business, entertainment, and culture. Over time it has earned nicknames like “the city of love.”

It’s easy to become overwhelmed if you’re a first time visitor to Paris. Monuments, museums, and cathedrals are everywhere. Every corner and café in the city is worth exploring, but there are certain places you just can’t miss. Here are the top three tourist attractions in Paris, France:

#3 – Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame CathedralThe world-famous Notre Dame Cathedral is a wonder to behold with its gargoyles, chimeras, dramatic towers, and prominent spire reaching over 400 feet into the air. This Catholic cathedral is a marvelous example of French Gothic architecture. Bishop Maurice de Sully commissioned the cathedral in 1163. Legend goes that the church’s design is based on a sketch Sully drew on the ground as the result of a holy vision. After more than 100 years of labor, the cathedral was completed in 1345. It was one of the first buildings in the world to feature flying buttresses and its stained glass and sculptures were harshly at odds with the Romanesque architectural style prevailing at the time. Today the cathedral is the official chair of the archbishop of Paris. Take a tour of the place to behold wondrous sculptures, Gothic carvings, ancient relics, and breathtaking rose windows. Don’t forget to climb the North Tower, where you can view the city from Quasimodo’s lair.

#2 – The Louvre

They say you could spend a lifetime exploring the Louvre. Indeed, the museum is home to over one million artistic works dating from the medieval period to the present. Located inside the Louvre Palace, which was originally built as a fortress for King Phillip II, the art museum opened in 1793 with a proud exhibit of 537 paintings. The structure itself is a work of art with its signature glass pyramid entrance. Inside you will find world-famous works such as Michelangelo’s Dying Slave, Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, and the Greek sculpture Venus of Milo. The diverse collection includes exhibits featuring Egyptian artifacts, works by Rembrandt, the Code of Hammurabi, the luxurious apartments of Napoleon III, and much, much more. When in Paris, you won’t want to miss this most coveted of the city’s museums located on the banks on the Seine.

#1 – The Eiffel Tower

Eiffel TowerWhat image comes to mind when someone mentions Paris or France? The Eiffel Tower, of course! This worldwide cultural icon soars over 1,000 feet into the air. Located on the Champ de Mars, this gigantic structure is one of the most photographed attractions in the world. Named for engineer Gustave Eiffel, construction on this iron lattice tower started in January 1887. The tower was finally unveiled in May 1889 as the entrance to that year’s World’s Fair. Although Parisians disliked the structure when they first saw it, the Eiffel Tower is now the most-visited paid monument in the world. Did you know there are actually two restaurants within the tower? Visitors can take the elevator (or stairs!) to see breathtaking views of Paris during the daytime or evening.

 

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