Sometimes, you just blow your travel budget out of the water so badly that you might as well say F%*$ IT! and keep the ball rolling. Money is just money, after all, and travel memories are forever…
Budget travel in Budapest, Hungary, is totally, 100%, undeniably achievable. But when you want to splash out and be completely and utterly financially irresponsible for a change, just follow these simples steps.
Budget? What Budget?
First, decide to visit Budapest during the peak of the summer travel season. Better yet, time your arrival to coincide with a major music festival to ensure that even hostel prices are through the roof.
Realize you’d rather spend just a little extra to have an entire Airbnb apartment rental all to yourself than suffer through four nights in a 10-bed dorm full of smelly backpackers for $50 a night. Reason that $54 per night is actually a great deal, all things considered.
Buy a 72-hour metro pass for 3,850 Hungarian forint ($13.15) because, let’s be honest, this is probably the most financially sound decision you’re going to make all week.
Miss the free walking tour by a matter of minutes. Shrug it off as a financial win, because now you don’t have a tour guide to tip.
Look at your disgusting hands and feet and decide to treat yourself to the first mani-pedi you’ve had in months, because why not? Find a salon recommendation on Foursquare and set off in its general direction by foot.
But before that, you’ll need lunch. Stop into a restaurant (or rather, an art pub) that looks new and hip, and grab your standard table for one. Struggle internally a little bit when they tell you they’re only serving breakfast because you secretly really wanted something from the lunch menu, but the breakfast items are all significantly cheaper. Financial win, hungerlust loss.
After lunch, spend no less than one hour walking from nail salon to nail salon only to be told time and again that they are fully booked. For weeks.
Resort to your last possible option, the WestEnd City Center shopping mall. Find the nail salon with ease. Wind up getting a gel manicure because, naturally, they don’t have normal polish. Go all in and get the gel pedicure as well. Give yourself a mental pat on the back for getting a great mani-pedi that would cost three times as much in the US.
Then, because you’re in a shopping mall and you have zero self-control, buy several things you don’t need. Like the most expensive lipstick you’ve literally ever purchased in your life (but also the best quality). And a new pair of sunglasses, too, because it’s not like you’ve already got three other pairs or anything!
Realize you still have yet to do any true sightseeing and head in the direction of the Danube, camera at the ready.
After another 45 minutes or so of slogging through the afternoon heat, your feet are starting to feel swollen and you could really use some shade. Head for a cafe to use a bathroom and decide it’s probably about time for an afternoon coffee. Order the more expensive aperol spritz instead, because day drinking.
Eat out for lunch and dinner every day after that, despite having a kitchen available in your Airbnb for cooking. Reason that you won’t be there long enough to use all the ingredients you would’ve had to buy to cook a proper meal. Reassure yourself of this “fact” daily.
Decide to join a bar crawl at a hostel because you’ve been in town two nights and are starting to feel the need to meet people and experience the local nightlife.
Arrive at the meeting point late because the website gave you the wrong information. Wander aimlessly looking for the bar they might be at. Find a different bar full of young people and chat up some strangers. When you finally get served at the bar you can barely see over, order several drinks at once, including a shot to curb your frustration.
Stay out until 4 am. Go to several bars including one of Budapest’s famous “ruin pubs” and spend you-don’t-even-know-how-much on drinks. Because NIGHTLIFE!
Realize the only way to get back to your Airbnb on the complete opposite side of the city is by taxi. Cheer with joy when the final read on the meter is less than 20 euros.
The next day, in your ragged, hungover state, crawl out of your misery in search of food around noon. On the way to a local hummus bar (named Hummus Bar), pass by a second-hand store. Enter, because you have no self-control. An hour or so later, leave the second-hand store with no fewer than eight items. Feel proud that the grand total was less than $50 and that everything you got is super stylish.
Brag about your accomplishment on Snapchat.
Devour your entire hummus plate, which is definitely enough food for two meals, in one go. Later that night, eat an entire pizza to go along with the bottle of wine your generous Airbnb hosts gifted you. Do a self-congratulatory fist pump for free wine.
On your final day in Budapest, realize you MUST visit one of the city’s bathhouses. Settle on the Szechenyi Thermal Bath, because it’s the one that’s located farthest from your Airbnb, and that makes sense.
Pay the nearly 20 euro entrance fee which doesn’t even include a towel and head inside. Get slightly confused by the strange unisex changing room situation. Fumble your way through, forgoing a locker so you can keep your cameras close by. Wade through the thick crowds of people, taking it all in. Enjoy the respite from the unrelenting summer heat.
Realize that you’ve still got to pack and check out of your Airbnb; take a few last photos, and leave the baths after only an hour or so inside.
Check your purse for any remaining local currency. Gasp audibly when you find money left after such an inexcusably extravagant four days, even if they are only coins. Since you’re heading to a new country that night, donate what you have left to a street musician playing outside the bath house.
Check out of your Airbnb and head to the train station, and say your final goodbye to Budapest (and your money).
Do you ever splash out and spend well beyond your intended budget while traveling?