We are always delighted to hear about your housesitting experiences. And we are even more delighted when our petsitters and housesitters are happy to share their experiences with a blog and personal photos. Read on to read Ellen’s budget travel guide Budapest, where she tells us of her travels this Summer while housesitting in Hungary.
Budapest Budget travel guide – By a twenty-something housesitter
With the cost of living crisis well and truly upon us we were mindful of our spending. Living life as postgraduate students we were used to frugal living but we still want to explore the world. So, travelling on a budget is a huge priority. However, after having several bad experiences with hostels across Europe, my boyfriend and I decided to give housesitting a go. We tried HouseSit Match, to see what all the fuss was about.
First time housesit abroad
We jumped right in at the deep end with a housesit abroad, petsitting one lovely dog in a stunning 5-bedroom home with a garden and private swimming pool, 15 minutes outside of central Budapest in Hungary.
We began our 10-day petsitting adventure by flying directly from London to Budapest using a budget airline. It’s always best to book flight tickets in advance before the prices are hiked up (unless you’re scouting the Ryanair last-minute deals page!).. So we booked our flights 6 weeks before departure. For us flying from Stansted airport as this was the cheapest option.
Thankfully, our homeowners were kind enough to pick us up from the airport and drop us back off at the end of our holiday. However, had this not been the case we would have used public transport, buying a single-use ticket at one of the airport kiosks.
Dogsitting in Budapest
Managing our expenditure while housesitting in Europe
When travelling in a new city, one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the culture is to use the public transport. Not only will you have to grapple with a new language, but you’ll come to terms with your new surroundings.
As we were coming from the UK, public transport prices were significantly cheaper, with a pack of 10 single-use public transport tickets costing just over £6, making each journey cost 60p. This is significantly less than the London Underground’s £2.50 single trip charge, so we were pleased, to say the least.
Currency differential benefit
Due to the difference in currency, items were slightly cheaper in Hungary compared to the UK. Eating out was significantly cheaper, with a meal costing between £5 and £10 per person, so long as you didn’t go to the higher end restaurants.
Most days, as we had the luxury of staying in a home with a large kitchen, we bought groceries from the local supermarket and cooked from scratch.
This usually turns out cheaper than eating out at restaurants every day, however, we found that there wasn’t much difference in cost in Hungary, which did lead to quite a few restaurant meals!
Touring with local guides
One of the most significant ways we kept costs down while exploring the city was to sign up to free walking tours with local providers. These operate with fully qualified and licensed tour guides, who earn their living from tips.
Free walking tours are easily accessible
The idea of the free walking tours is that if you enjoyed the tour, you tip generously. And so, though not exactly free, you give what you want, typically it’s significantly less than if you had booked a private tour.
During our 10-day stay, we went on two of these free walking tours.
The first was on the Pest side of the Danube River, where we explored the newer part of the city, visiting the Shoes on the Danube, and the Hungarian Parliament.
The second tour was on the Buda side of the River and was called the ‘Castle Tour.’
This was our favourite tour and included sights such as the Fisherman’s Bastion, Castle Hill, the Church of Saint Mary Magdalene, and the Matthias Fountain – a must-see!
Exploring characterful and beautiful Budapest
During the evenings we strolled down the Danube and walked onto St Margaret’s Island, walking past sights such as the Margaret Island Water Tower and the ruins of the 13th Century Dominican Convent which was canonised in 1943.
Don’t miss the river cruise
One evening, we went on a river cruise on the Danube, as this was highly recommended to us by friends and family. We opted for a 70-minute cruise, which circled St Margaret Island and travelled down both sides of the Danube River.
This River Cruise cost us 9 Euros each and included two drinks per person – one alcoholic, and one soft drink. My partner and I felt that this was brilliant value for money. We got to see Budapest as the sun set over the horizon while sipping on a glass of Champagne. Other options for the river cruises included a dinner cruise option, however, this was more expensive.
During our stay, we booked to visit one of the thermal baths. We chose to visit on a weekend so we could go together, despite it being a busier time to go. This is because many of the baths have specific days where only men or women are allowed to enter.
We visited the Rudas Thermal Baths, with a day ticket costing £18 each, due to the exchange rate at the time.
By choosing to visit during the day, rather than at night (the baths are open until 3 am!), we saved money. The later tickets were cheaper and so we were able to spend the afternoon relaxing in the medieval baths. We were also given the tip to bring our own flip-flops and towels. This also saved us money, we would have needed to rent them out for the day adding additional cost.
Best value budget travel
With the luxury of spending 10 days in Budapest, in a gorgeous home with an adorable pooch, we could relax. While caring for the adorable dog we spent several days by the pool, reading and playing board games in the garden. However, on our last weekend in the city, we ventured out for one final foray. We visited one of the local artists’ villages to see a bit more of the Hungarian culture. We booked a half-day guided tour of Szentendre, which cost us £35 per person.
The costs of public transport
The ticket included bus transport to and from Szentendre, as well as a meal of Lángos. This is a traditional Hungarian fried bread that was served hot from a local bakery in the town. Our tour guide was lovely. We had a great time exploring the small village, getting to see a bit more of Hungary before heading home.
In total, my partner and I spend £325 each (including flights) over the 10 days we were there. However, we could have made this trip a lot cheaper if we needed to by eating out less, buying fewer souvenirs, and drinking less wine! Hungary is definitely doable on a budget, and Budapest is a must-see city for anyone wanting to explore Eastern Europe!
Budget travel guide Budapest in Summary
Below are a roundup of our top tipsfrom our budget travel guide Budapest!
- Housesit rather than book private accommodation, as this will completely remove accommodation costs from the equation!
- Fly with a budget airline, and where possible, bring hand luggage only.
- Make the most of the free walking tours, but make sure to tip!
- When visiting the thermal baths, book the day ticket option and bring your own flip-flops and towels!
- Public transport is your friend! You’ll learn so much more about the city and it is the most cost-effective way to travel.
Further reading about housesitting and housesitters
At Housesitmatch.com we like to share useful blogs and practical advice about housesitters, housesitting and pet sitting. We hope you find this small selection of our blogs on house sitters and house sitting in London useful.