If you’re open minded enough to want to explore the world and celebrate all of its cultures then I can only assume today’s news has shocked and saddened you as much as it has me. 2016 is a year that, as nations, Britain and America have freely chosen to legitimise hate, support racism and turn a blind eye to the inequalities that plague our current society. As America takes back its stupidity crown from Britain, I could go on for days about the flaws in our democratic systems, but it’s probably best that I leave that for the experts. Instead, I chose to investigate what Trump’s victory could mean for those of us wanting to travel the world and experience it without the borders that are being created for us.

Cheaper Travel to the US

I’m feeling bitter just typing this after just getting back from needlessly expensive trip to the states courtesy of Brexit, but Trump’s win could make travel to the US a whole lot cheaper. Despite Wall Street remaining fairly stable, many experts are expecting a “Brexit-style crash” in the Dollar, as well as Trump’s trading policies causing worry for the currency. This could result in pretty great exchange rates for anyone elsewhere, as well as a predicted drop in general tourism during Trump’s presidency.

Cheaper General Travel

If the US Dollar does fall then we could see a fall in prices of things like oil which is globally priced using USDs. These savings could be passed on to customers with cheaper air fares and transportation.

Tougher Visas

We all know about Trump’s claim to ban Muslims from the USA and whilst it’s pretty unlikely that a nation will exclude an ENTIRE RELIGION from its population, we can expect the US Visa process to become a lot tougher in the coming years. Not only could this affect those visiting but American citizens could suffer the repercussions with other countries applying similar restrictions on US visitors.

Annoyance for American Travellers (Beyond Having Trump as Your Leader)

Chances are, if you’ve left your home town, you didn’t vote for Donald Trump. Well I’m sorry to inform you, but if you’re an American traveller, you should prepare for a bombardment of questions from foreigners about your mental state. The questioning after Brexit was border-line unbearable.

The main thing that Trump brings is uncertainty. While I researched this as much as I could, this man was a complete wild card and we have no way of predicting how anything is going to turn out moving forward. If one thing is for certain….Canada is looking pretty great right about now.

Katie x

 

For most young travellers, the main thing holding us back is money. We can work three jobs and save every penny (not that I can ever resist buying that perfect skirt I definitely don’t need) but we still long for more cash to take us further around the world for even longer. However, there are some destinations out there that’ll give you a hell of a lot more fun for your money.  Here are 10 of the best cheap cities to consider when planning your next budget adventure, including price estimations taken from the Backpacker Index by The Price of Travel.

Hanoi, Vietnam

Cost per Day: $17.14

Asia is pretty well known for its budget travel prospects and Hanoi is one of the cheapest, partially due to the abundance of ridiculously cheap, freshly brewed beer. Its proximity to Halong Bay and the Sapa Rice Terraces make it the perfect base to explore further into Vietnam. Just make sure you say a little prayer every time you cross the road.

Chiang Mai, Thailand

rafting

Cost per Day: $19.17

Take a step back from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok to relax in Thailand’s second city. Chiang Mia offers a much more laid back form of city life complete with all of the fantastic food, markets and culture you’d expect. It’s also the perfect place to explore rural Thailand with trekking, rafting and elephant conservation right on your doorstep.

Kathmandu, Nepal

Cost per Day: $19.82

Kathmandu receives a lot of attention because it serves as a hub for trekkers looking to explore Everest and the Himalayas, but you don’t have to go in to months of training to experience incredible things in the city. Whilst the nature is still a huge draw for anyone with eyes, the city is full of culture and you’ll find some of the friendliest people around nestled in these streets.

Quito, Ecuador

Cost per Day: $22.20

South America is completely foreign to me but someone I’ve always wanted to visit. Whilst the more popular destinations of Brazil and Peru are pricier than you’d expect from the continent, Quito in Ecuador offers the same atmosphere at a highly reduced price.

Luang Prabang, Laos

Cost per Day: $22.77

With tourism expanding in a lot of South East Asia, Laos is the perfect place to experience (excuse the cliche) the “real” Asia (ugh). Luang Prabang is a city full of charm with welcoming locals and fabulous scenery, including the nearby Kuang Si Falls, pictured above.

Colombo, Sri Lanka

Cost per Day: $23.10

Sri Lanka is becoming a more popular destination for those looking for something a little different in Asia and hat better place to start than the capital? Full of contrast, the city is home to all the ancient wonders you’d expect along with colonial buildings and modern skyscrapers. Don’t fancy a fast paced city holiday? Well you can always just relax on the beach instead.

Yangon, Myanmar

Cost per Day: $25.11

Much like Laos, Myanmar is behind the curve when it comes to tourism in Asia, making it perfect for a cheap but authentic getaway. Yangon, the former capital is the country’s largest city, full of temples, museums and teashops, where the locals pass their time. Visit between November and March to experience one of their local festivals.

Krakow, Poland

krakow

Cost per Day: $25.74

With a past tainted by the Second World War, Krakow is of great historical and cultural significance to Eastern Europe. Whether you’re interested in a relaxing beer in an outdoor cafe or taking an unforgettable trip to Auschwitz concentration camp, the city offers everything you could need from a European city break.

Belgrade, Serbia

Cost per Day: $27.64

I recently mentioned Belgrade as one of the most underrated cities in Europe and fact that you can survive there for under $30 a day means you have no excuse not to go! It’s huge student population proves that you can immerse yourself in the youthful atmosphere without breaking the bank.

Marrakech, Morrocco

marrakech

Cost per Day: $29.32

Morrocco’s proximity to Spain and the rest of Europe makes it more accessible to the Western world than many Arabic nations and Marrakech provides a cheap way to get involved in the culture. From staying in a traditional riad and getting swept up in the sprawling spice markets to taking a camel ride in the desert, Marrakech offers a whole host of bucket list items just waiting for you to tick!

Do you have any great budget travel tips? Let me know below!

Katie x

sziget

Never heard of Sziget? Well it’s time to get the 7 day extravaganza on your festival radar. The event brings the best of music and arts, oh and 500,000 people (not all at once, thank god), to a small island in the middle of the Danube in Budapest. Some of the biggest names in pop, such as Rhianna and Muse headlined this year, with a great line up of lesser known, international acts accompanying them across the entire week.

Buying Tickets

There are several different types of ticket to consider when planning your trip to Sziget:

  • Day passes are available for those who want to add a short festival experience to their Budapest holiday (or for locals). These grant access to the island for one day and don’t include camping.
  • 5 day tickets grant access to the 5 main days of the festival, usually Friday to Tuesday. The price includes camping on the island, although it’s pretty hard to get a spot by then.
  • 7 day tickets include access to the full 7 days, with the first days being described as day -1 and day 0. This year, Rhianna headlined day 0 so, although the organisers seem to claim the real fun starts on day 1, you really don’t want to miss out now do you?
  • Early move in tickets allow you to come and set up camp a few days early. While I would definitely not recommend sleeping in your tent for those few days, it might be a good idea to pitch early to secure a spot in the shade. I arrived early on day -1 and the whole island was practically full already.

If you can, buy your tickets well in advance. The price constantly rises throughout the year so get in their early to get the best deal. Also the first batch sold come with free t shirts, posters and a golden ticket which can be exchanged for a VIP experience. All tickets can be bought from the website, here.

sziget

Getting There

It’s fairly easy to get to Sziget from town. You’ll need to buy 2 single tickets from a BKK machine then hop on the metro to Batthyany Ter on the M2 red line. This will use one of your tickets. From there, take the suburban rail to Filatorigat. There will be plenty of posters with instructions around the metro stations and extra guards will be in place to help out. The festival is just a short walk from Filatorigat and is sign posted (if you’re luckily enough to not have to queue straight off the train).

Where to Stay

  • Camping is definitely the cheapest option for accommodation. I would recommend camping if you really want to get involved with all the festival has to offer. As you’re based on the island, you’re more likely to get up for the day time activities and don’t have to worry about getting home after a long night. For a festival, the shower and toilet facilities aren’t horrendous so the week was actually a lot more comfortable than I expected.
  • There are a few hostels around the island and obviously loads in the city itself. They do tend to jack up the prices for the week though as so many travellers decend on the city. There is even a dedicated Sziget hostel but it can fill up fast.
  • AirBnB is always a great option in eastern Europe as you can get a lot for your money. If you’re staying in a group, an AirBnB is both cost effective and more luxurious than a hostel. Plus you’ll be very thankful for that private bathroom.

What’s On

Basically, what isn’t on. Whilst the music is the main draw for most, the beauty of Sziget is that there’s so much more!

  • The Cirque du Sziget showcases numerous, breathtaking circus acts but you have to get there early as it’s way more popular than you’d think.
  • The Luminarium is basically this giant inflatable, light up sculpture thing that you walk around in. I can’t think of a better way to describe it so you’ll just have to see for yourself.
  • The festival holds nightly themed parties at the main stage, for example, one night there’ll be loads of confetti and one night will be a paint party etc. These are fun if you can make it but I’d never been involved in a paint party before and it felt like the apocalypse was upon us. I didn’t breathe fresh air for a good 10 minutes afterwards.
  • The whole island is full of art installations and sculptures for you to find and explore.
  • If you’re in the mood to relax, head to the relaxation zone and take part in a free yoga class.

As well as all the great activities on the island, the festival is close enough to the city that exploring Budapest in the day time is a great option. I would highly recommend taking a trip to a spa half way through the week just to have a really good clean. For more on what to do in Budapest, check out my travel guide here.

paint-party

Food

There were hundreds of food stalls available on the island, all paid for via a cashless card system called Festipay which made the whole new currency thing a lot easier to deal with. Meals ranged from pizza slices to gyros to Mexican feasts so there was something for everyone to enjoy. Meals ranged from £2 to about £7 which for a festival is pretty great. Alcohol is cheap too with a beer costing about £2 although considering it would be about 50p outside the festival walls, that seemed steep at the time.

  • There is an Aldi on site but the queues are big and the stock quite expensive.
  • There’s a huge Auchan supermarket just a short walk away. This has literally anything you could ever need so stock up on food and drinks here.
  • You’re not allowed to bring alcohol onto the site so we ended up getting pretty creative. Hiding vodka bottles in loaves of bread was our most successful trick.

The Negatives

  • Day -1 really did feel like day -1. Everything was open but there were still construction vans driving around and you definitely got the impression that nothing was quite finished yet.
  • The weather is very unpredictable. We had blazing heat, lightening storms and torrential rain. You need to pack for all of these.
  • The beach was not a beach. Be warned. We came with 3 bikinis each envisioning glorious days on the sand. But no. The beach was more like a cordoned off section of river bank, or just river depending on how much it had rained that day.
  • All of the foot paths doubled as road and there was A LOT of traffic. I don’t know if I’m just too used to the production values of Glastonbury but you did get a feeling that a lot of behind the scenes work was very much going on right in front of you. Whilst nearly running you over.

jess-glynne

Top Tips

General

  • Get up and do things in the day. Whether you head out to explore the city or just get involved in one of the many activities the island has to offer, don’t waste your day in the tent. For starters, it’ll be way too hot in there to get any real sleep, but more importantly, you don’t want to miss out on some amazing opportunities.
  • Try out some new music. There’s such a huge variety of music on that it’ll be easy to catch something new. Whether you head to the jazz tent for the evening or check out the Eastern European headliner the local have been buzzing about, make sure you step out of your comfort zone.
  • Don’t go in expecting to know all the acts. I’d been to Glastonbury just before Sziget and was used to having full days of music planned and having to pick between 3 of my favourite bands, all performing at the same time. Sziget is different. As a British person, I knew most of the headliners, and several main stage performers per day, but that was about it. It makes it all the more important to discover something new!
  • Shower really early, or really late. The facilities aren’t that bad but the queues can be huge if you go at peak time. By 9.00 the queues are already an hour long so either get up before then and race down or go at night while everyone is sleeping or too drunk to care about hygiene.

Camping

  • Camp in the shade. As I’ve mentioned, it can get HOT on the island, especially in a tent in the morning. If you can, pitch your tent in a shady area. If you can’t, ride out the midday heat in one of the many marquees.
  • GET THERE EARLY. I cannot stress to you enough the importance of getting there early. You’ll avoid queues at the train station, queues at wristband collection, queues at the entrance, (you see where I’m going). You’ll also get a better camping spot which is pretty vital for the rest of your week. Leaving early on the last day won’t hurt either.
  • Bring a tent with you. You can pre-order a tent to pick up at the festival but they’re pricey, tiny and not at all waterproof. The supermarket nearby also sells tents but as you can imagine they’re pretty expensive too. You’re best bet is to bring a tent from home or to try your luck at a supermarket in the centre of town (although I wouldn’t be brave enough for that).

Have you been to Sziget or are you planning to go? Tell me all about it in the comments!

Katie x

Everyone you ask will agree that Europe is an amazing place to visit. With so many countries in a relatively small area, it’s the perfect way to experience multiple cultures, landscapes and environments. However, places like Paris, Barcelona and Amsterdam often steal the show so smaller towns and cities can be left in the shadows. These little secret destinations are the hidden gems of Europe. Whilst the European big guns are still amazing places, here are 5 underrated European cities that should be on your radar.

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana has made its home very close to the top of my travel bucket list. The Slovenian capital is said to be one of the most beautiful cities in Europe whilst losing none of its charm to a tourist takeover. A cheap place to visit, full of fantastic food and breath taking architecture, what could be better? Oh yeah, the fact it’s only a short drive from the fairytale of Lake Bled. Should I just meet you there now?

Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

In the past, Bosnia and Herzegovina provided me with more spelling nightmares than travel dreams, until I came across Mostar. Surrounded by amazing landscapes, such as the Kravice Waterfalls, Mostar has rebuilt itself after the Bosnian War to become a thriving city full of culture. Remnants of the past, however, are what make the city unique with many abandoned buildings to explore and loads of thought provoking street art to discover.

Belgrade, Serbia

Another city moving away from a turbulent past to a promising future is Belgrade. Often recommended as a perfect diversion from the beaten path, it is the atmosphere here that is talked about among travellers. The Serbian capital is full of young people meaning the city offers an thriving, alternative nightlife scene.

Valencia, Spain

Moving away from Eastern Europe to Spain, a country rarely seen as underrated. However, in the shadow of the big guns of Barcelona and Madrid, Valencia sits, happily avoiding the crowds and crime that come with being a tourist trap. The perfect mix of old and new, Valencia boasts a vast and beautiful old town, contrasting with new ultra-modern development, along with all of the great culture and food you’d expect anywhere in Spain. Time your visit to coincide with one of their many festivals or go simply for some paella and orange juice.

Innsbruck

I mean, just look at that picture and tell me you don’t want to go there. The old town feels like a set of a medieval movie whilst the ever-present mountains remind you that this is a city like no other. Thanks to a large student population, the historic city remains young and vibrant with great restaurants and bars throughout. But you don’t need to know that cos you booked flight as soon as you saw the picture.

Where are your underrated European recommendations? Let me know in the comments.

Katie x

The Basics

budapest

Where: Budapest, Hungary

Currency: Hungarian Forint (Approx 365 to the £ which gets very confusing)

Language: Hungarian but English is fairly widely spoken especially by people working in tourism

Climate: The high season of June to September is hot, hot, hot but in the winter (November to February) wrap up warm and prepare for snow

What To Do

Thermal Baths: Relaxing the famous spas is a common pastime for the locals of Budapest. With the city sitting on a network of over 125 thermal springs, there are loads of different bath houses to choose from but the most popular with tourists are Szechenyi and the smaller Gellert. Both are incredibly intricately decorated with dozens of pools often* complete with a slightly round Eastern European man tutting at you which really adds to the authenticity of the experience. (*Cannot promise this addition).

Look Out Over Pest: The amazing pictures you see of Budapest from above are usually taken from one of Buda’s many hills and lookout points, one of the most popular of these being the Fisherman’s Bastion in the Castle District. You can take the funicular (which I’m still convinced is just a fancy name for a cable car) to the top or, if you’re feeling thrifty, or just plain healthy, the walk is well worth it.

budapest

Escape Rooms: You can visit an escape room in almost every city in Europe nowadays but the biggest and best are reserved for their original home in Budapest. Locked prides itself on being the most realistic game in the city but there are literally countless options from fiendishly tricky mental challenges to lifelike horror scenarios.

Buda Castle: Buda Castle is, surprisingly enough, the crowning glory of the Castle District. It’s well worth a visit, especially if you’ve already climbed the dreaded hill for a look at the view. Many different guided tours are available and the castle houses many national museums but you can walk around the grounds for free!

Ruin Bars: Budapest is famous for it’s quirky nightlife and this is centred around the world renowned ruin bars. Szimpla Kert is one of the oldest and most popular of these. It’s a maze of bizarre decorations and hidden nooks and crannies and is sure to capture your attention for hours.

Eat Goulash: An Eastern European staple, goulash is a beef stew often served in a bread bowl. You can find it at pretty much any food serving establishment, and goes pretty well with a refreshing Hungarian beer (apparently).

Hungarian Parliament Building: Whether you choose to view it from afar or up close, you can’t miss the Hungarian Parliament Building. Literally, it would be fairly hard to miss. You can even take a look inside if you visit when parliament isn’t in session.

Sziget Festival: For a week at the end of August, a small island in the middle of the Danube becomes a music Mecca with people all over the world flocking to Budapest for Sziget festival. A celebration of music and art, the event attracts some of the world’s biggest music stars along with independent local artists to create what it calls the “Island of Freedom”. 

sziget

Getting Around

  • Budapest is served by an integrated system of trams, metros and suburban trains run by BKK.
  • The cheapest option is to get a travel card for the duration of your trip. This will allow you to use all of the BKK transport. There is also an option to buy a group travel card for up to 5 people which works out fairly cheaply.
  • To get to the city from Budapest Ference Liszt Airport, take the public bus 200E to the nearest metro station, Kobanya Kispest. From here you can get a metro to the city centre and onward to your final destination.

Where To Stay

Budget

  • Budapest is a really popular destination for young so there are countless hostels available in the centre of the city. Due to nature of the city, there are plenty of party hostels around, such as Carpe Noctem, where solo travellers can pick up some new friends. Don’t worry if that isn’t your style though as it’s easy to find somewhere a lot more relaxed such as the 7×24 Central Hostel. Rates across the city start from as low as £8 a night for a bed in a shared dorm and £20 a night for a double private.
  • If you’re travelling in a group, AirBnB offers some amazing apartments for rent in Budapest. Because of its Eastern European location, you can find some amazing properties for a fraction of the UK or US price.
  • Because accommodation is relatively cheap here you may find that your budget stretches to a hotel. For around £60 you can get yourself a double room at the Mirage Fashion Hotel or Brody House, both just a few minutes walk from popular landmarks.

budapestchurch

Splurge

  • Boscolo Budapest: Stunningly beautiful inside and out, the luxurious 5 star Boscolo Budapest houses a spa as well as several restaurants. It is also the most marble that I’ve ever seen in one place. With rooms starting from £100 a night, it’s pricey for Budapest but fairly reasonable in comparison to other similar hotels around the world.
  • Iberostar Grand Hotel Budapest: Not quite The Grand Budapest Hotel from the film but the Iberostar manages to make the name proud. Combining classic architecture with modern design, the hotel is in a prime location, with many rooms boasting great views of Liberty Square.

Top Tips

 

  • If you see yourself visiting multiple paid attractions then a Budapest Card would definitely save you money. The cards are available for 1,2 or 3 days and get you unlimited public transport as well as entry into 12 museums and spas.
  • When planning your trip, remember that, in Budapest, museums are closed on Mondays.
  • Be sure to prepare for the weather. Budapest can get very cold in the winter and very hot in the summer and you’ll be spending a lot of time outside. Not bringing the right things to deal with the conditions could seriously ruin your trip.
  • If you’re planning on visiting Sziget festival, buy your tickets in advance. They get more and more expensive as the event gets closer. Same when booking accommodation if you choose not to camp on the island.

Have you been to Budapest? What would you suggest?

Katie x


Are you looking to go to Budapest? Let me plan your trip!

budapestad