Vitamin E Oil: Beauty’s Best Kept Secret

So as y’all know, I have been shamelessly promoting Vitamin E for YEARS now, but I ain’t mad bout’ it! I just wish I knew about this secret sauce, sooner! This local drug store product has not only transformed my beauty routine, but most importantly, my skin! Today, I finally have the skin I’ve always wanted: glowy, hydrated, and acne free! Prior to being introduced to Vitamin E, I was running through countless skin and make up products to better the conditions of my skin… and lets face it, that sh*t was discouraging! I had frequent break outs in my t zone, dry areas, numerous sun spots, discoloration, and scarring! I drank a lot of water, exercised, cleansed my face every day, always took off my make up, and ate semi-right (LOL) and nothing really seemed to improved. But since, I was put onto this product, I’m telling y’all, Vitamin E, has legit been THE sole reason that my skin has been treating a sis right all this time.

And before I go in, I just wanted to say how freaking happy I am that soooooo many of y’all have trusted in me enough to incorporate Vitamin E into your daily routine…like not exaggerating, over 100+ of y’all! I’m one happy Vitamin E mama!

SO, let’s go back three years ago. My skin was temperamental AF! I was venting to my fab work bestie bout’ it and he was like “girl, have you ever heard of Vitamin E? Well, that sh*t is $2.99 at CVS/Rite Aid, Target/TJs wherever you shop, and girl, it will change your life!” AND LEMME TELL Y’ALL, IT DID!

He mentioned that he suffered from chronic acne and scarring a few years prior and tried every procedure his dermatologist/esthetician offered. It was not until he began using Vitamin E RELIGIOUSLY that his skin found a new life!

That night, you already know, I rushed my ass to the closest drug store and purchased my first bottle of Vitamin E. LIFE CHANGING, HONESTLYYY!

So let’s get into the most frequently asked questions I’ve received from y’all.

WHAT DOES VITAMIN E DO?!

It HEALS damaged tissue.

  • Which means that Vitamin E’s role is to smooth and repair acne scars, sun spots, wrinkles, discoloration, and prevent any further damage from free radicals. It also moisturizes and softens the skin as well.

HOW DO I APPLY IT?!

This will be your last step of your skin regimen. Personally, I cleanse first, apply moisturizer, then Vitamin E! I know that my routine is pretty simple in comparison to others but whatever yours may be, my only suggestion is to apply Vitamin E as your final step. Personally, I apply Vitamin E twice a day. Once in the AM (right before applying my make-up) and then again right before bed.

I squeeze a generous amount of oil onto CLEAN hands and lather the oil onto my face. I do work it a bit into my skin and massage outwards. I then, bring it down onto my neck and rub any excess I have on my elbows and hands.

If its the AM, I would apply my foundation right on top of the Vitamin E, which will leave me with a dewy finish (which I live for).

If it’s before bed, I will make sure I am up for at least 10 minutes before laying down. This ensures that the product seeps into my skin vs it rubbing off on my pillows (especially if you sleep on your side).

** As a bonus step: invest in a jade roller. The simple hand application of Vitamin E will do the trick, but just recently, I incorporated a jade roller and man, is it heaven like! So, right after I apply Vitamin E, I grab the roller from the freezer, and roll upwards and outwards to really help the product seep into my skin.

WHEN WILL I SEE RESULTS?!

For the past 3 years, I have religiously used Vitamin E every morning and every night.

I’ve given my skin so much TLC, that at this point, it has completely been restored. Like my skin three years ago vs the skin I live in today, dang…almost feels like a different person.

It is all about consistency and trusting in the product.

But initially, I saw a different in my skin after the second weekend of use.

WHAT IF I ALREADY HAVE OILY SKIN?!

So there is a common misconception that oil-prone skin requires regimes that consist of oil free products. EHHHH, WRONG.

In fact, oily skin can be caused by using products that dry out the skin and hence, when the natural oils of our face are stripped off, our skin will tend to overproduce to compensate.

So if this is your skin type, you are actually the most ideal candidate for Vitamin E.

I also suffered from an oily T zone. In school, I would have my compact on hand, ready to dab away at any excess shine. But girl, let me tell you, those days are over!

WHICH BRAND SHOULD I TRY FIRST?!

Which ever drug store is most local to you!

I’ve used: Rite Aid, CVS, Trader Joe’s, & Target brand.

However, I do preferTrader Joe’s bottle as it’s slightly bigger by a few OZ and I believe the cheapest. But, all have worked equally as well.

CAN I USE VITAMIN E ON ANY OTHER PART OF MY BODY?!

Yes! I usually like to apply any excess from my hands onto the ends of my hair, cuticles, and elbows. Vitamin E oil will also work in the same ways to hydrate and moisturize dry hair and/or skin.

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SOOO, this post is obviously not sponsored but rather a little way I can help out a fellow sis (or bro) in need. Like I mentioned before, Vitamin E has been my biggest beauty “secret” (not really since I talk bout it’ so much, but you know what I mean) to date! If you have any more questions, I will be happy to help 🙂 Now glow TF up, queens!

How to Travel On a Budget

“To travel is to live” Legit one of my fav quotes ever! I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: the first time I’ve ever truly felt alive was when I first traveled abroad. But let’s face it, traveling is a luxury! And most people just don’t have it like that!

So in order to make traveling more feasible, I’ve decided to share/backdown what has helped me in planning/budgeting for my travels.

Since this topic was highly suggested, let’s jump right in!

The biggest question I receive is: “How much should I have saved up for a trip like this?

So it really depends on where you are going, some countries are legit so expensive (I could cry) but others can be very reasonable!

To be safe, I always say to give yourself a $2,000 limit when booking a trip abroad.

But considering I have lived and traveled throughout Europe, I will recommend ways in which you can stay under that amount (wellllll, assuming you agree to really ball on a budget).

And I say this because I know many people who only travel in luxury but in all honestly, you can still have the time of your life while watching your pennies, okurrr.

But be forewarned: these amounts are based off of MY experiences in EUROPE, no where else.

ROUNDTRIP AIRFARE ~ $600

This should be the largest lump sum of your trip. And the first matter of business in your planning. You don’t always have to fly in and out of the same country but keep in mind you will have to plan the in-between flights.

I suggest purchasing a non-stop flight as many sites will try to trick you into a good deal but one that has a gnarly layover in a random country, so be thorough with your search.

You will find a reasonably priced non-stop if you are patient. I have made the mistake of booking welllll in advance and honestly, I found much cheaper tickers for the same flight closer to the date. Airlines take advantage, y’all! So be smart with how you book! I say, a good time to book a flight is 2-3 months in advance. Oh, and ALWAYS PURCHASE INSURANCE! The extra $12 is so worth it!

Useful Sites: (Hover for links)

Google Flights

Skyscanner

CheapOair

Orbitz

Expedia

(These sites will compare prices for you, however, sometimes it is cheaper just to go through the specific airline itself)

& In my opinion: Norwegian Air  has had some of the cheapest roundtrip flights into Europe that I’ve seen.

STAY: ~ $350-$600 (Based on a 7 night stay)

Once you have solidified your roundtrip flight, the next order of business, I would suggest booking, is your stay(s).

Now, this is where your budget can significantly be affected.

I say: stray away from hotels. Your best options are either highly rated hostels or Airbnb’s. If you are looking into hotels, be well prepared to spend over $150 a night!

You can find hostels that offer private rooms for as little as $20 Euro per person if you are in a group of 2 or more and entire Airbnb’s for less than $75 a night.

Or if you are a solo traveler: you can choose to stay at a hostel as well, but in a common room and you’d also only be looking at $20-35 euro a night. This is a great way to save and meet other travelers! I’ve gone this route plenty of times with random groups of other women but also men!

But remember: this amount can vary dramatically by the city and/or accommodation method you choose. But the good thing here, is that this total amount most likely will be split amongst you and your traveling buddies.

Side note: London & Paris tend to be the more pricier of countries( for hostels at least) but we found the dreamiest Airbnb in Paris for only $70 a night! So it really depends.

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FOOD: ~$300-$450

Again, this is another area which can highly affect your budget!

If you plan on eating at the hottest restaurants in town and drink your days away, this price budget may not be for you!

But it is possible if are choosy with how and where you dine.

You are traveling, so of course, #treatyoself! BUT, be strategic about it.

Breakfast: Pastries will be your best friend. I know in America, we are used to the grand All-American breakfast: eggs, bacon, toast, avocado, the works! But in Europe (and I’m sure many other regions) breakfast is not as heavy. However, I have seen Europe begin to implement our style of breakfast.

So, in order to save, buy yourself a few pastries to fill up until lunch. We are talking a couple bucks per pastry.

Lunch: Some easy pizza, panino, sandwich, etc ~$10.  I know it may be tempting to have a midday bougie lunch or sangria (which is fine) but I say wait for dinner to do this.

Dinner: This is where you can splurge! I def like to map out a few days of the trip to do this but keep in mind, splurging every night can easilyyy take you well off of your budget. A glass of wine, sure, but this doesn’t mean it HAS to be at the trendiest place in town! Don’t underestimate hole in the wall locations! I’ve found some of the YUMMIEST restaurants that were still 5 course meals but under $15 a person. Yelp will be your best friend!

Dessert: This is also where ya girl splurges! Gelato, Nutella anything, hot chocolate, crepes, etc.

Alcohol: So inserting my opinion heavily on this one but alcohol is one of the easiest ways to break your budget.

I say, limit yourself to some wine at dinner and maybe a couple nights out at the local bar, but save what you would have spent on drinks, to pay for an extra day of (exploring connecting flight, activity, etc). And I say this because you can drink all you want back in your home country, but if you’re on a budget, you can reallocate your money towards the real adventures. BUT, this does not mean, don’t drink. Something I’ve done in most of the countries I’ve visited is simply head to the local supermarket and pick up a few bottles of wine (usually $2-$4 a piece) or mini liquor bottles and enjoy them for a night in or just bring them with me for night time picnics, late night strolls, etc.

Side note: There are so many different cuisines throughout Europe so don’t feel bad if you aren’t eating that particular country’s cuisine every single night. Asian and Mediterranean cuisine are quite popular and inexpensive options as well!

CONNECTING FLIGHTS/TRAINS:  ~$300 (OPTIONAL)

One of the things I love so much about Europe, is that travel amongst cities/countries is relatively cheap. Usually you can find roundtrips for under $100.

Cheapest options:

Airline Sites:

Ryanair

Vueling

WOW Air

EasyJet

Norwegian  

Train Sites:

GoEuro

HappyRail

(Here you can search and compare for the cheapest train options for your destination country)

CITY TRANSPORTATION: ~$100

In Europe, (at least) be prepared to walk, and A LOT! BUT… there will be days when you will need a metro, tram, taxi, and/or bus ticket. Each of these will likely cost ($1.50-$3.00 a piece, excluding taxis) So if you’re looking to explore the entire city, these small amounts can and will add up! Unlike the US, one pass is only good for one stop. Many people aren’t aware of this and get fined a hefty amount. PRO TIP: VALIDATE YOUR TICKETS FOR EACH STOP! So many of us (myself included at one point) have tried to beat the system and just sneak on but I highly discourage this (we did eventually get a 100 EUR fine!) From what I was told, many cities have been stricter on their public transportation so just be safe and cover your bases. As an alternative, some cities do offer City passes that you can purchase in bulk (which would avoid you having to purchase a ticket each and every time you ride).

SHOPPING/SOUVENIRS: ~$20

I personally do not shop abroad, unless its an item, I absolutely need. I use the same logic here that I do with alcohol. I can shop back home and instead allocate that money towards my adventures. However, if you are really dying to shop, most cities usually have cheap flea markets that you can potentially pick up some finds.  If you are looking to bring home some souvenirs, I suggest something small but thoughtful: postcards,  certain packaged foods from that region, etc.

IF YOU ARE A BLOGGER: ~$50 (OPTIONAL)

You may need to allocate some funds for outfits and props. I would suggest thrifting and/or working with brands/hotels to help alleviate the costs.

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IN SUM: ~ $1,500-$2,000.

SOO obviously this budget is not a one size fits all model, BUTTTT I swear, it’s what has worked for me.

I hope this break-down encourages any of y’all who view travel as impossible at the moment, as something that can actually be attainable…when done right!

Happy travels, y’all! Xo

When in Rome…Literally

Roma, La Città Eterna! Ugh, where do I even begin? Rome: A mesmerizing mix of modern and ancient, a rare and colossal capital. I consider myself extremely blessed to have called this place home for four months. I felt the most alive in those 4 months than I ever have. This trip absolutely changed my life. And I’m certain it can change yours too!

Prior to living here, I had so many questions but yet expectations of what this city had to offer. You see the stereotypical depictions in the media of Rome being this magnetic place where the All-American girl meets the love of her life. So I asked myself, would Rome be all that is it lived up to be? This magical land, far far away….

Well, I went looking for adventure but instead I gained so much more; I ended up falling in love with the idea of love and passion and discovery of myself and my environment. If the opportunity arises, experience for yourself the history, mystery and cuisine that Rome has to offer.

Here is my go-to guide for venturing out the front door and onto an experience of a lifetime!

You know… When in Rome!

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Trastevere:

The language, scenery, cuisine, and just the way of life… was as if I was living in a postcard. I lived in one of Rome’s favorite neighborhoods, Trastevere. Just a scroll across the Tiber river, this picturesque, formerly working class district, is truly a slice of modern Roman life. With delicious restaurants nestled in what seemed like every corner and even the tiniest of cafes in between, it would be impossible to find yourself hungry here! If I had to use two words to describe this neighborhood, it would be: romantic and authentic. Should you and your loved ones find yourselves wandering the winding cobble stone streets, y’all are in for a treat! You’d stumble upon nightlife, locals gathered  around smoking and chatting about, all while dodging Vespas zooming past… this is THE place to explore. Trastevere will take you away from the crowds to the hidden corners of Rome.

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Public Transportation:

One of my favorite things about Trastevere is how many sites of interest are at an easy walking distance away. We explored the city, in its entirety, by foot. But if you are on a quick vacation, and do not have the time to do so, there are other easy options: You can hop on the Tram, Bus, Subway, Taxi, etc. In my experience, public transportation throughout the city was extremely reliable and safe! The Metro stops are near most of the major tourist sites or just a quick walk away from a bus stop!

 

 Language Barrier:

I arrived in Rome at the end of August. This is the time of year where many Italians take their month long vacation, leaving many restaurants, shops and cafes in local neighborhoods closed. Streets were fairly empty and the foot traffic was light. It were as if, we had the entire city to ourselves! The cobblestone streets, vine wrapped archways, and the exaggerated hand gestures that the locals exchanged, made my first couple of days all too surreal yet perfect. It was not until we had to grocery shop or order food for the first time that reality hit! Talk about lost in translation…

Unlike, other countries I had visited, Italy was the most stern in speaking in their native tongue. When I first arrived, I mistakenly greeted everyone at all times of the day with, “ciao,” and struggled with the most basic phrases, and after very long, awkward exchanges, I would get: “Just speak to me in English!!” Or  “Non, capisco” (“I don’t understand”) . Very quickly did I pick up on the fact that I was approaching the language barrier and assimilation to the culture, poorly. This was not a forgivable place, where my American ignorance could get me by. I had to learn the language or at least try my very hardest to.

One of the most challenging yet rewarding aspects of our school was our Italian classes. I believe we had a midterm (entirely in Italian) on week three! The first thing we were taught was that “ciao” is an informal greeting. It is only used correctly when it’s said among people who know one another. So it all began to make sense, having gotten sideways glances from locals I did not know to whom I was throwing “ciao” to. Once, I began to use the correct formalities and genuinely gave Italian a-go, I felt like I gained their respect. As my time there proceeded, I noticed how much more welcoming the locals were with me. On my walks to school, I developed rapport with the market/cafe/restaurant owners. Closer to the end of my experience, I was greeted by name, a few times a day, by these individuals. This is by no means to say, Italians aren’t friendly, in fact, I met so many locals who were more than willing to help make my visit unforgettable, but rather, When in Rome, you should expect to become familiar with the unfamiliar and appreciate such an authentic culture. And isn’t this the goal when traveling?… To fully immerse yourself in a new culture and engage in authentic local interactions and experiences. So even if you are not planning on learning the language before your trip to Italy, this is your friendly reminder to pack the basic travel phrases along with your belongings 🙂

 

Safety:

From my personal experience, I always felt extremely safe and comfortable within the city! As with every major tourist destination, there are pickpockets and scummy con artists waiting to take advantage of the distracted tourist so take precautions. My biggest piece of advice is to NOT carry your phone or wallet (ahem, men!) in your pockets especially in the back pant pockets. This is pertinent, particularly in public transit! Carry your valuables in a backpack and wear it in front of you, holding onto the bottom portion. I had seen some pretty intricate theft schemes, so I even went as far as locking my backpack and purse to itself while I was out and about. This is something I feel many people don’t talk about when marketing such a beautiful city, but I will definitely suggest to be mindful. Pay attention to your surroundings and keep an eye out for one another. That said, Rome is an overall safe city, with the massive armed presence both the locals and the tourists are well looked after.

 

Favorite Piazzas:

Now, the good stuff! Roman daily life revolves around their piazzas. Piazzas are the hubs for eating, drinking, catching up with friends, or simply sitting by the fountains and watching the world go by.

  • Piazza di Santa Maria : This medieval piazza, is filled with shops, cafes, and religious beauty. Sit alongside locals and tourists at the steps of the fountain. Here is a great place to watch live music, eat up your gelato, or simply people watch.

 

  • Piazza Navona: My favorite of them all! Arguably the most beautiful of all the piazzas in Rome, Piazza Navona is particularly stunning at night. The Baroque architecture, showy fountains, and colorful buildings feel as if you were transported back in time.

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  • Piazza Campo De’ Fiori: This piazza, provides one of the most lively atmospheres I’ve ever experienced! A jewel, really. In the daytime it’s a bustling outdoor market offering fresh produce, flowers, meats, and spices, that transforms into a popular nightlife center in the evening. Mid-day the tents are put away, restaurants set up their outdoor seating options, and the buzz begins. From the Swedish bar to the English pub and Italian wine bar, there is something here for everyone.

     

  • Piazza Dell’Orologio:  My second favorite of them all, this charming piazza is nestled away (just walking distance) from hustle and bustle of the Vatican and Castel Sant’Angelo. A place you’d likely walk among the locals, this piazza is where I spent most of my time! Not only is this the piazza where my school was located but in all honestly, this was probably the most aesthetically pleasing piazza to me. The square’s name, “Orologio,” which translates to “clock” derives from the 17th century clock highlighted on top of the church bell tower. Wander along the narrow cobble stone side streets and find beautiful mosaics, churches, eateries, and some of the prettiest multicolored buildings, you will find! This piazza is for sure an Instagrammer’s dream!

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  • Largo di Torre Argentina: This square is the site of where Julius Caesar was assassinated! For that reason alone this place is worth a visit. It is also maintained  as a cat sanctuary today. It is a good stop off and resting point if you are walking through the city.

 

  • Piazza Venezia: This white marble modern spectacle is considered the hub of today’s city traffic. This square was the headquarters, if you will, of the Fascist Regime in the 19th century. In fact, this was the very balcony that Mussolini greeted his crowds. It is a stark contrast in architectural style to the neighboring Roman Forum and Colosseum. You can tour the palace and go up to it’s vantage point of the entire city. It is absolutely beautiful!

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  • Piazza di Trevi: Arguably the most magical place in all of Rome! As legend has it, be sure to throw a coin from your right hand over your left shoulder, this will ensure that you will return to Rome. Unfortunately, the fountain was under construction the entire time I was abroad, but I will be revisiting later this year…so I guess the legend is true 🙂 You can also find a lot of eateries, shops, and bars nearby.

 

  • Piazza Della Rotanda: Home to the Pantheon. It is yet again, a majestic marvel. There is the famous Renaissance fountain in the center of the square, and surrounding restaurants and bars.

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  • Piazza Di Spagna: The imposing 138-step staircase, is the perfect gathering place for tourists and locals alike. It was one of my favorite areas to relax in the evenings with some snacks in hand. In the upper Piazza, Trinita dei Monti, you’ll see the stunning twin tower church dominating the steps. From atop, you get one of the best vantage points of the city…domes, church steeples, hotels, in all their glory. Flanking the piazza on all sides is the main shopping street, where some of the world’s largest brands are represented.

 

  • Piazza San Pietro: This holy site, will literally leave you in awe. No words suffice to describe this architectural splendor.  It really is THE place which unites people from all over the world. Marvel over Bernini’s work all while overhearing a Sunday service by Papa Francesco. Religious or not, visiting St. Peter’s Square is an almost out of this world experienece that you will never forget. There are also tons of really yummy restaurants to the right of the basilica.

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  • Piazza del Colosseo: I mean!!! I legit cried walking up to this beauty! Mind you, it is a very congested area with tons of foot traffic but still a great area to rest or marvel in awe. It will cost you € 12.00 to get inside, but once you’re in, you can choose from a guided tour, underground tour, or simply walk around the fascinating grounds at your own speed. Head into the ancient past by visiting the Arch of Constantine before walking through the Roman Forum and up Palatine Hill. Explore the impressive ruins or have lunch at any of the several nearby restaurants.

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Recommended Restaurants:

  • Dar Poeta: This hidden gem is in the heart of Trastevere, nearby the Tiber River. They are famous for their Nutella & Ricotta Calzone.

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  • Mama Angela’s Trattoria: HANDS DOWN MY FAVORITE EATERY IN ROME! It is just a short walk away from the Termini Train Station. Their Cacio e Pepe and Creamy Truffle Pasta were by far my favorite meals. I tried this place on a whim one night and loved it so much, I began going at least once a week!

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  • Ci-Lin: One of my favorite things about Rome was the plethora of Chinese Restaurants. Ci-Lin was the Chinese Restaurant I frequented the most! Yummy food at amazinggg prices. I’m talking about $5 for three course meals!

 

  • Bar Amore: In the heart of Piazza Orologio, this family run eatery, is where I spent all my free time at…breakfasts, lunches, and mid afternoon pick-me-ups! There is a vast variety of fresh, yummy food on their menu. My favorite was the Nutella Panino! Not to mention, the staff here is amazing (ask for Fabio)! They take the time to get to know you, help you out if need be, and they provide such speedy service! Recommended stop for all hours of the day.

 

  • Forno Campo de’ Fiori: As the name suggests, this eatery is in the heart of Campo de’ Fiori. If you are looking for authentic pizza slices, this is your place! Yummy quality pizza at an affordable price.

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  • Gelato at Giolitti: A visit to Rome isn’t complete without gelato! Giolitti, is a famous café and pastry shop as well as the oldest gelateria in Rome. Opt for one of the unusual flavors like champagne or pumpkin pie.

 

Recommended Nightlife:

  • Almalu: In the heart of Trastevere, Almalu serves all kind of funky cocktails, including their famous, “Harry Potter Shot”. This was the first bar I experienced in Rome and definitely a good starting point to your night.

 

  • Art Cafè : This popular dance club is definitely worth a visit. Tucked away near the Borghese Gardens this place is a fun way to dance with the locals. Popular Hip Hop and EDM hits are usually played. However, I would suggest to dress up here.
  • Bum Bum di Mel: This place serves some of the strongest drinks I had in Rome! The size of the glasses are larger and they use tons of fresh fruit in their drinks! It is a more intimate bar but thrives as a relaxed environment.

 

  • Ice Club: This place!! Def a COOL experience! A bar cased in ice, kept at a very cold temp, serves drinks in ice cones while everyone is handed an insulated poncho to wear. This is definitely not a place to bump into locals at, but should be tried during your time there!

 

  • G BAR: One of Trastevere’s most popular bars! This is usually the pregame bar, somewhere with cheap drinks, a great international crowd, and pop hits. You’ll find a mix of locals and visitors alike.

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Recommended Stay:

  • The Yellow : This is a hostel BUT let me emphasize how amazing this place is! I discovered the Yellow on TripAdvisor as it has won #1 hostel several years in a row. I stayed here whenever I had visitors in town and it was by far the cleanest, prettiest, and cheapest place I stayed in in all of Europe! The Yellow is just down the street from Termini station, has a popular bar and yummy brunch spot located downstairs and thrives in a youthful and friendly atmosphere. I know what you could be thinking, a hostel…no thanks! But private rooms were less than $20 a night! Don’t go through the hassle of finding an Airbnb or spending hundreds a night at a fancy hotel, The Yellow is def the place you want to stay.

 

Whew! This was a long one but I hope it has provided you enough information and inspiration to plan a trip! So in conclusion, is Rome this magical place where you’ll fall in love blah blah blah….? Well….it really is! You may not find your Fabio but you will fall in love with the way this city makes you feel. You will feel enchanted, you will feel in awe, and you will marvel at every single corner, dish, and attraction you encounter. Rome is really more than just a city, it is an experience. Xo