We traveled to Switzerland with our kids in April 2018. I had been to Switzerland twice before. but the prices never get easier to accept. From croissants to diapers to mailing something home; Switzerland without kids is expensive. Traveling to Switzerland with kids is super expensive. You have more mouths to feed with pricey food and daily costs are doubled. In order for us to be able to travel as much as we do, we can't travel in complete luxury. We try our hardest to stick to a budget. We made a plan before we arrived in Switzerland and adhered to it for the duration. I have complied our tips for traveling Switzerland on a budget.
Here are 5 very easy ways to save money on your next visit to Switzerland!
1) Don't buy water bottles.
Some of the best water in the world is found in Switzerland. Don't waste your hard earned money on bottled water from the store. Instead, pack a refillable water bottle and use the public fountains you'll find throughout every town. Water from the tap is completely safe, so don't forget to fill up before you head out for the day.
2) Stay in an Airbnb or Apartment Rental.
Hotels are going to be very expensive. While Airbnbs in Switzerland are expensive compared to other places in the world, you will get much more for your money in an apartment rental. In Zurich, we were able to get a 2-Bedroom apartment with a full kitchen, living room and washer/dryer access for only $196.35 a night. The apartment was in a killer location too. You won't find a hotel with those prices. Be sure to reserve your stay early so that you have access to more apartments before they book up!
3) Bring your own diapers/wipes/baby consumables.
Holy cow diapers are very expensive in Switzerland. You'll pay a cool 18.80 CHF for a BAG of Diapers...that is about $19.50. In one pharmacy I saw a bag of diapers for over 25 CHF. These prices are about twice that of the United States. When you start adding up baby food, diapers and wipes you are going to be out a pretty penny. If possible, pick these items up in the country you visit before Switzerland (we bought all of ours in Italy before going into Switzerland) or consider packing a "flex-bag" with your stock from home! This same concept goes for any adult consumables like shampoo, conditioner, or shave gel.
4) Make your own meals and pack a lunch.
One huge way we saved money while trekking for 8 days through Switzerland was to make our own meals. We usually made breakfast at the apartment, packed the kid's a lunch and we always cooked dinner at the apartment. One night Jimmy and I went to dinner alone in Zurich and for only two of us, it cost about 150CHF -- or $155. We had lunch out in Berne at the Rose Garden (an incredible place for families) and we spent a cool 87CHF or $90. Both of these outings the kids didn't order anything. It's just that expensive. My suggestion would be to find a Co-Op (a Swiss grocery chain) and buy some sandwiches/fruit/veggies and get creative! We did not miss out on the Swiss food experience one bit. We made Rösti for dinner, had pastries from the grocery store for breakfast, ate a ton of chocolate and our one splurge dinner was for Fondue! Another tip is to look for the 50% off items at the Co-Op -- we were able to get raw chicken, pre-made sandwiches, and pastries for 50% off in the evening. The food was still good, but they packaged it that morning, so they didn't want to sell it the next day. Grocery shopping is a must if you are on a budget in Switzerland. We also went right after Easter, so the Easter candy was always 50-75% off -- we loaded up on Swiss chocolate for a fraction of the normal price!
5) Get a rail pass.
There are many reasons to travel by train in Switzerland (#1 being it's the most famous rail system in the world) but the main reason is to save cash! We chose to do the 8-day consecutive pass because we were traveling for 8 days and we took trains almost every single day. Not to mention with a rail pass, you get FREE access to public transportation and into many museums. We were able to do boat tours of Lake Zurich and Lake Thun for free -- I definitely recommend the Interlaken to Thun boat; AMAZING. There are other options too. If you're only taking one or two trains, paying for single direction tickets may be best, BUT if you're only taking a train every few days a half-fare card may be the best option. The way to decide which pass works best for you is to price out your tickets and what you want to do! (If you are going to Schilthorn or Jungfrau -- you get your entrance FREE with a rail pass, 50% off with a half fare. Normal price Schilthorn cable care: $105 ONE WAY Normal price Jungfrau: $42-105 ONE WAY)
Everyone must visit Switzerland at least once in their lifetime and I encourage parents to bring their kids. The outdoors, the welcoming environment, the dreamy Alps; it is a kids paradise and a relaxing time for parents as well. While traveling Switzerland can be daunting for anyone's budget, it is managable. Save your money where you can so that you can see more and do more on your travels!
Have you traveled to Switzerland? What are some ways you saved money?
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