I started 2017 on skint-street.
I also started 2017 with a European travel bucket list and I made a promise to myself that I would travel to a new country each month.
The lack of funds and the promise of international travel doesn’t really go hand in hand. But still, I wasn’t going to let myself down, and one way or another I was determined to start traveling.
I strategically chose Budapest as my first city because I knew that it was cheap, and a Great British Pound (my home currency) will go a long way in Hungary.
For 4 nights, including my lodging, local transport, and food, I paid just over £40 (approx $50). (I didn’t include the flight costs as these will vary greatly depending on where you are flying from and when you book).
You have to admit that’s a pretty good deal!
Here’s how I did it.
Firstly, rather than staying in an expensive or over-priced hotel, I stayed in a cozy small hostel.
I was in Budapest to explore the city not to spend time in my hotel room. I didn’t need expensive facilities, just a comfy bed, and a shower.
The Budapest Bubble gave me everything that I needed. Plus I felt as though I was part of a traveling family for the four nights that I was there.
The hostel was centrally located within the city and all the main attractions were within walking distance. The only additional transport I needed was to and from the airport.
To help keep my costs down, I never visited any restaurants or cafes.
On my first day I visited the local Aldi supermarket and purchased a box of cereal and some milk – this was my breakfast sorted for the next few days. (I have cereal most mornings at home anyway, so this was no different.)
I also purchased a decent sized bottle of water. Once I had drunk it, I just kept filling it back up again every morning and evening back at the hostel, and I carried it around with me all day in my small backpack.
For food throughout the day and evening, I used a handy free app called MAPS.ME. It works whilst offline and helped me to locate supermarkets and convenience stores that we close by. Rather than going into a café with all the other tourists, I could usually walk a hundred meters around the corner and buy a fresh and tasty sandwich for a third of the price. I would then go and eat it in a local park or garden.
I was never hungry throughout my stay and I still ate a minimum of three times a day and had the odd sweet treat.
My costs even include a freshly made kebab (pictured below) and my contribution to our hostel dinner party, where we feasted on pork, beef, and a variety of mixed vegetables. All washed down with a bit of red wine and tiramisu flavored ice-cream.
Here’s the cost breakdown
*HUF = Hungarian Forints
- Hostelworld booking fee: £3.26 / 1,181 HUF
- Budapest Bubble Hostel: 8,000 HUF (For 4 nights. Please note that rates may fluctuate depending on when you book. This was from February 2017)
- Transport (1 train and 1 bus): 700 HUF
- Food for 3 and a half days: 4,940 HUF
Total: 14,821 HUF (£40.86 / $51.26) Exchange rates correct as of 31st March 2017
Other points to note
I think it’s important to mention that I’m not really a party girl or a big drinker.
The nightlife scene doesn’t really interest me. Therefore, none of the above costs include nights out. In a way, that makes me quite lucky as it’s just another area where I can save some pennies.
There are some additional activities that I would have enjoyed doing if my extremely tight budget allowed me.
I really wanted to visit the Turkish Baths, try Goulash, and take a river cruise on the Danube. I would have enjoyed going out for an evening meal and sampling various Hungarian dishes, but this was just not possible for me.
But I did it!
I said that I would start traveling and I did.
Yes, my budget was tight, but I still had a fantastic time.
At the end of the day, whether you spend $50, $500, or $5000, it’s is irrelevant. Great experiences and life-long memories are where the true value is.
Related Reads: My Budapest Story
If you have any other money-saving tips, please share them in the comments below.