I had this whole post ready to go before I went up about getting my currency in order before I left but I didn’t post it. I forgot, kind of, and now it’s out of date.
BUT I am back from my trip abroad. I might still be a bit jet lagged, but I think it might also be a symptom of me not liking to sleep in. Who knows. Anyways, I ended up in Budapest, Vienna, and took a day trip from Vienna to Salzburg, instead of going to Bratislava on my way from Budapest to Vienna.
Why did I decide to do this? I wasn’t swayed by the protests in Slovakia that occurred before I got to Budapest (because if protests frightened people, no one would EVER come to New York City) but I decided that it would be fun to go do the Sound of Music tour (#tourist) in Salzburg instead of going to look at another church and castle in Bratislava. I’m sure Bratislava is amazingly beautiful and maybe one day I’ll get there. I also got to chatting with a few fellow backpackers in my hostel in Vienna and a girl named Molly (who happened to have gone to school in the town where I grew up! #smallworld) said she’d just come from Salzburg and she’s not a huge fan of Sound of Music but it was still fun, so that decided it for me, basically.
Anyways, I digress. here’s what I learned while traveling solo this time around:
- Take Out More Currency: Eastern and Central European countries have lots of small cafes and restaurants that don’t take credit cards, so take out more currency before you go – especially if you are going to be hit with fees if you use your bank card abroad. I think my 2000 Hungarian Forint lasted me about a day. Vienna, however, did have a lot more restaurants and shops that take credit cards.
- Sleep: If you’re staying in a hostel, remember that people don’t stay in hostels to get a lot of sleep. So, bring ear plugs and sleep aids (I’d occasionally take melatonin).
- Be Careful at the ATM: Budapest adds lots of zeroes at the end of their currency amounts and I was really confused when I went to take out more Forint and accidentally took out 100,000 Forint. Luckily, this is the equivalent of only $375 USD, but always take out a little less if you’re dumbfounded with the amounts on the ATM screen. Luckily, that transaction didn’t drain my bank account, but not everyone is as privileged to be able to say that. Be careful!
- Buy a Multi-Day Metro Pass: I only used the metro a few times in Budapest because the hostel I was staying at was super centrally located, but when I got to Vienna, it was super cold and a little snowy, so I bought a 3-day pass (17 Euro, which is an amazing deal). One ride is 2.40 Euro, but I wasn’t aware of that, so on my last day I made the mistake buying separate rides instead of a one day pass. Never again. Always buy the multi-day pass. You’ll save money in the end.
- Pack Clothes You Love: Obviously not the dry-clean only fancy stuff and make sure they’re appropriate for the region you’re going through, but I only packed sweaters that I actually love for my trip and getting dressed every day was easy. If you think you’ll ruin them, maybe you should learn how to take care of your clothing?
- Check Your Flight Route: Because I was shopping for a really cheap flight, I ended up flying over Budapest and then having to change planes in Istanbul and fly back to Budapest. It made the flights feel FOREVER long. So, unless you are getting some amazing deal, try not to fly over your destination.
- Don’t Overpack: Pack less than you think you’ll need. I had some extra space in my backpack and I filled it with some random items – leg warmers, a blue velvet shrug. Totally useful things that only saw the light of day once, or never. Let there be extra space in my suitcase or backpack so you have room to packing things you might pick up along the way.
I think that’s probably enough for now. If I think of anything else, I’ll come back and add them.