Travel Tips for Hungary
I am often asked about important tips to consider when traveling to Hungary. Here are a few of the ones I’ve found most useful:
- If you will have a smart phone along and you will have an international plan during your travel, be sure to understand how it works. Be informed because it is easy to run up a crazy high bill when traveling. Most of the hotels have Wi-Fi so even if you don’t have an international plan you can still communicate with friends and family back home –just always leave your phone in airplane mode! Also, don’t be so preoccupied with photos and videos that you forget to be where you are. It’s ok to just enjoy the moment and hold onto memories and not have digital documentation of everything! I always like to keep a paper journal – it is a nice keepsake too.
- If you will have a layover in a European country that uses Euros, don’t stress about having euros as long as you have a credit card without foreign transaction fees. My time is typically so short at the airports I just use my credit card for food and souvenir purchases and I don’t mess with Euros at all.
- Contact AAA before you leave if you want to have some Hungarian forints (HUF) in your pocket as you land in Hungary, or you can exchange a small amount of money at the airport. Just keep in mind you won’t get the best exchange rate at the airport so don’t exchange all the money you brought from home, just enough to tide you over until you get to town!
- Bring a combination of cash and credit cards. DO NOT bring travelers checks or money orders because you cannot cash them in Hungary. Make sure your credit card has a chip, doesn’t have foreign transaction fees, and please set up and remember your pin code! Also, that important number on the back of your card to call in case you lose it or it is stolen? Make sure you have that number with you separate from your card! American Express and Discover cards are not widely accepted. If you are planning to spend some time out in the countryside it is best to plan on using Hungarian forints for transactions. Most small family businesses do not accept credit cards.
- Always keep 150-200 HUF with you when you travel in Hungary. While coffee shops and restaurants are required to have restrooms (WC) for their patrons there are many places where there is a fee to use the WC.
- Bring along a travel pack of tissues and have it on your person at all times. There are times when there is no toilet paper in the restroom stalls! You will thank me for this tip! My daughter also likes to carry a small container of hand sanitizer or liquid hand soap with her.
- Be sure to call your credit card companies and tell them to note on your account when and where you will be traveling internationally, including the countries you are connecting through on your way to Budapest if you do not have a direct flight. If your credit card company thinks your card or card number has been compromised, they will shut it down. Bring along more cash than you think you need.
- Start getting in better shape now! There is a lot of walking to be done in Hungary. There are cobblestone streets, and the castles are not handicap accessible. When visiting historic buildings they likely will not have an elevator. You may want a special pair of shoes for a special night out, but comfortable shoes for walking are a must. Do what you can to add more and more walking (and even stairs) to your routine as soon as you know you are going on a trip. It’s good for you even if you aren’t traveling. Be sure to check with your doctor if you have some special considerations.
- If you use anything electrical, you will need an adapter or converter for Europe. Definitely limit the electrical items you bring along because otherwise you become a slave to the charger. If you have a used up plastic gift card, bring it along. Many hotels in Hungary have an energy saving feature. You insert your room key into a slot to turn the power on. When you leave you take the key with you which shuts down the power. A “spent” gift card is often a good substitute for a room key and will keep the power on so you can keep your device charging even while you’re out of the room.
- Save a little money by washing your own socks and undergarments and hanging them out to dry in your room. The hotels we stay at typically offer laundry service but I have been to some places where there isn’t any. You can send off your pants and shirts to be done if you need to but it adds up quickly. It may be worth it to you; it all depends on how you prefer to travel! Irons are not common, so I always try to bring low-maintenance clothes.
- Bring your own washcloth or body scrubber! Many Hungarian hotels only have a bath towel and a hand towel and no washcloth. If you buy a pack of inexpensive, colored washcloths you can choose to bring them back home with you or leave them behind in the hotel room. Just don’t bring white ones as room towels are generally white and they will be scooped up when your room is cleaned.
- Soap and shampoo are often combined as one product and hair conditioner is not a common offering. Keep that in mind and if you have particular products you like to use be sure to bring them along. Hair dryers are commonly found in hotel rooms.
- Pack one complete change of clothes in your carry-on. If your luggage gets lost you will have at least one back up outfit! Also, if you are traveling with someone else you might want a back up set of clothes in the other person’s suitcase so if your luggage gets lost you have another outfit until it (hopefully) gets returned to you.
- Limit your use of strong scents. When traveling in close quarters on the planes and buses it is nice to only have neutral aromas floating around. While you likely love your favorite scent it isn’t guaranteed that everyone will!
- If you think you will bring back fragile things, bring along some bubble wrap and some plastic bags to wrap those items well. You can always wrap things up in dirty clothes but I would still put them in cloth or plastic bags in case TSA starts rooting through your bags. It also helps you remember that there is something fragile when you get home after a long traveling day.
Reprinted with permission from Hungarian Living.