Traveling with a toddler in Hungary
Having just finished a two week trip around Hungary with my daughter, who is 3 years 5 months old, here is a summary of what you need to know when traveling with a toddler in this very accessible country.
Buggies. We brought our yo-yo with us and have not used it at all but it is amazing to use in the airport. I actually don't think I could manage a toddler and all the bags without it, but at least with it, I can wheel her as far as checking in baggage. It then goes in the overhead.
Getting around in Hungary. We had a hire car with Klass Wagen and this definitely made getting around very easy. It also was pretty inexpensive (£249 for a Corsa). In the UK I try and log into Quidco and then refer myself over to Holiday Autos to get cashback.
Petrol is currently 480 HUF a litre (just over £1) so it is currently close to 50% the UK cost, as at the time of writing (June 2022) fuel costs are rapidly rising.
Parking is simple and practically every machine takes contactless payments, card payments or Apple Pay.
Driving is really straightforward. I just plugged my iphone into the car and used the Waze app for navigation. The Hungarian roads were flat and quiet (apart from central Budapest) and drivers considerate.
Car seats are bookable with the car hire people but I got a bit burnt in Mexico recently with ending up with a car seat which didn't really fit my daughter so decided this time to invest in an Urgan Kanga Car Seat (£139 from Amazon) which I think will pay for itself as you'd otherwise pay over £50 for a rented car seat, and eventually I will just sell it on.
Supermarkets are everywhere and very accessible. The most popular seems to be Lidl but there are also plenty of Aldis, a few Penny Markts and Spars, and (according to their website) over 200 Tescos in Hungary. They are usually located on the edge of towns so we would usually keep an eye out for the supermarket as Waze indicated we were getting close to our arrival point and stop just before we arrived in a town.
Baby supplies (nappies, wipes, formula, milk) are all readily available in the supermarkets.
Kettles for boiling water for baby formula are in every hotel room or Airbnb.
Cash versus card. It's worth having a bit of cash on you, Hungary is not completely card based just yet but it is not far off. You can use cards, contactless and Apple Pay just about everywhere (even for tiny purchases like straws in McDonalds and parking meters) which was very convenient.
Travel cots. We are still using the Baby Bjorn Travel Cot Light which is over £200 new but I got ours for £50 on Facebook Marketplace. I absolutely swear by this... it's the best. I tend to use the bathroom as a second bedroom for the travel cot. Packing-wise I actually pack the travelcot into a big wheely case and stuff all the empty space with clothes.
Accommodation. I have been relying solely on Booking.com and Airbnb booking on the go (and using www.quidco.com to then send me to Booking to earn cashback). We also have been booking as we go along thanks to disorganisation on my part, but it has also meant flexibility. It has definitely panned out that we are far better off having 2 nights in each place as otherwise it is just too much of a rush.
Tourist tax. Every now and again I was asked for very small amounts of additional money for tax, never very much and usually from Airbnb hosts. I am not sure exactly how this works, but worth making a note it exists.
Passports. Wherever you stay (hotel or Airbnb) the hosts must see the ID of everyone staying so in our case the adult passport and the baby passport. They need specific information, name, date of birth, place of birth, passport number and your home address including the postcode. Again, something to be aware of. If your handwriting is not legible it may be worth typing the information into the messaging application.
Mobile phone coverage. I am with EE as a UK customer and my monthly plan extends to Hungary without extra data charges, which was so helpful to access 4G, social media, my blog etc when I was away from wifi. I also used Waze app for navigation purposes so this was a saving.
Kids Clubs. Definitely worth keeping an eagle eye out for kids clubs in unusual places. The supervised soft play at the top of the shopping centre at the Malmo shopping centre in Kecskemét was a real treat!
Swimming. There are so many pools everywhere in Hungary - our top tip was Aquaworld in Budapest!
Trains. The children's railway in Budapest was a huge hit!
Budapest Airport. The airport is excellent. Flying with British Airways, we were put into the priority and fast track queues for everything. There is a soft play and buggy hire.