Getting a haircut while travelling can be the greatest souvenir ever or the biggest mistake that you just have to live with until you get home to your normal stylist.
In my 20 months in Europe, I had some fantastic haircuts and some not so fantastic haircuts.
London Cut: Free
My first haircut on my trip was in London and it was free!
I was just walking to brunch with my CouchSurfing host in the centre and a hair stylist student told me she needed a model with hair my length to cut a shorter style for an exam.
It took forever (about 1.5-2 hours!) but it was free and after her teacher approved, she gave me fringe.
Romania Cut: 35 Lei (€9, £8 or US$12)
The next haircut was in Romania, it was a good change.
I went with my CouchSurfing host when she got her hair cut.
The hairstylist was very excited to have me there! Actually, I think she was probably excited for everyone who she saw
Through an alley and up some wooden flights of stairs, it was typical salon where women went to just hang out and get their hair done because it was an excuse to hang out with their friends.
The hairstylist was very chatty, excited to practise her English and went on about how she was moving to London to cut hair and if I was there, I had to come visit her.
She was very sweet and gave me a very memorable experience.
Istanbul Cut: 33 Turkish Lira (€15, £13 or US$22)
Three months later I was due for a haircut and I was in Turkey and my American (male) friend there strongly advised me to not get my hair cut in Turkey because Turkish hair is so different from mine (fine, blonde hair) that Turkish hairstylists don’t know what to do with it.
He told me of some non-Turkish friends of his that had disastrous haircut that ended in tears!
He was a pretty manly man, not one to give a girl any girly advice, so I was ready to take his word for it.
But then my American FEMALE friend studying in Istanbul told me she got her hair cut at the American University in Istanbul.
The hairstylist was Turkish but since he was at the American University, he was used to fine, blonde hair like mine.
He didn’t speak any English, but with a translator and a lot of hand gestures, he did a really good job!
Italy Cut: €25 (£22 or US$37)
The next haircut was in Italy. Needless to say, this was THE BEST haircut ever!
I had about an hour before my train in Lucca, so I went to a salon I had noticed earlier and let them do with me whatever they wanted!
Beautiful! I was afraid at first because the woman cutting my hair didn’t speak much English, but what she did was perfect for me.
It was perfectly layered, my hair was off my neck (one of my guidelines, especially going into summer in Italy) and, best of all, I didn’t miss my train.
If I go back to Italy and pass through Lucca, I’m getting my hair cut there.
Albania Cut: Free
Albania was my next haircut. Slightly different than Italy.
I didn’t know where to go or how much it would cost, so I asked a gal working at the hostel how much I should expect (so I didn’t get ripped off) and where to go.
She didn’t answer my questions, but instead asked me what I wanted and if it was anything complicated.
I told her I didn’t really mind, I just wanted it shorter.
She had 30 minutes before she had to leave so we grabbed a chair, a mirror and kitchen scissors (sorry hairstylists out there!).
It was decent, free and in Albania, nothing has to be perfect.
When she looked closer at my hair, she hesitated with the scissors and asked me how long since my last cut. I told her 3 month.
She was surprised and asked where I got it cut. I told her Italy. ‘Oh… it is a REALLY good haircut’ she said.
She was so hesitant to cut my hair because she didn’t want to ruin the still-beautiful 3 month old haircut. Yeah, Italy is definitely a place to go for a good haircut.
Lithuania Cut: 30 Litai (€9, £8 or US$13)
Three months later I was in Lithuania and just popped into a place while I had some time to kill before meeting a friend.
Not the best place- it was an ok haircut and they tried to overcharge me because of a language miscommunication, but it was still cheap.
Not good, not bad… maybe Italy ruined all other haircuts for me.
Munich Cut: Free
In Munich, I had a friend cut my hair, but by now it was winter and she wouldn’t cut it as short as I wanted because it was winter and cold.
It was very sweet that she cares about me being cold, but I really wanted it shorter. Of course, it’s better to cut it too long than too short since if it’s too short, you have to wait until it grows again, so her decision was good just in case I changed my mind about the length.
Copenhagen Cut: Free
A few weeks later, I was in Copenhagen and my friend mentioned she often cuts her friend’s hair.
Into the bathroom we went and she cut my fringe in what I decided was the ‘Copenhagen style’ – short (but not super short) fringe, straight across, and no layering around the back.
Seriously, I think every girl in Copenhagen had this haircut while I was there.
Since they have similar hair to me, it fit well.
Travelling in Europe through hair salons makes for many interesting souvenirs.
Mine were all good and while some weren’t quite what I wanted, I don’t regret getting any of them.
Since I let the hairstylist pick what style I wanted (with my guidelines, of course), each cut reflected the style of the city I was in. They were all similar in a way, but unique to their country.
But best of all, I’m the only person who will ever have each unique haircut souvenir.