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Switzerland on a budget: Indian CA reveals secret to affordable Alps trip

Switzerland on a budget: Indian CA reveals secret to affordable Alps trip

Locals picnicking by Lake Thun | Photos: Gaurav Sharma

A family of four from India has recently returned from a whirlwind adventure in Switzerland, proving that a European vacation doesn’t have to break the bank. Their secret weapon? A combination of meticulous planning, resourceful travel hacks, and the magic of the Swiss Travel Pass. Mehul Shah, CA and tax litigator on X shared how he, along with his wife and children  travelled across Switzerland with 25+ cities in 11 days for only Rs 90,000. 

 

Swiss travel Pass: The Key to savings and convenience


The centerpiece of their strategy was the Swiss Travel Pass. This all-in-one pass granted them unlimited travel on trains, trams, buses, boats, and even select cogwheel railways throughout Switzerland.  For just Rs 45,000 per adult (around $560 USD) for a 15-day pass, they received:


Free travel for children: A bonus Family Card included free travel for their two children under 16, significantly reducing transportation costs.


Free Museum Entry: The pass provided free entry to over 500 museums, adding cultural enrichment without additional expense.

Discounted excursions: Certain excursions, like the Titlis and Glacier 3000 experiences, offered discounted pricing with a paying adult.


For frequent travelers within Switzerland, the Swiss Travel Pass can be cheaper than buying individual tickets for each leg of your journey. The longer the validity period of the pass (available in options like 3, 4, 8, and 15 days), the more cost-effective it becomes. The pass provides access to various modes of public transportation, giving you the freedom to explore different cities, towns, and scenic landscapes at your own pace.  Depending on the type of Swiss Travel Pass you purchase, you might receive additional discounts on mountain excursions, museum entries, and other tourist attractions.


Here are some things to keep in mind for  tourists:


Purchase Before Arrival: It’s generally recommended to purchase the Swiss Travel Pass before you arrive in Switzerland, as you might get a better price online or through travel agents.


Choose the Right Pass: There are different types of Swiss Travel Pass options available, such as Consecutive Pass (valid for continuous days) and Flexi Pass (valid for a certain number of days within a designated period). Choose the one that best suits your travel itinerary.


Consider Alternatives: If you plan on staying in one location or have a limited travel itinerary, a Swiss Travel Pass might not be the most economical option. Daily passes or regional travel cards might be more suitable.


Other travel hacks used by the family:


The family went beyond the Swiss Travel Pass, incorporating clever travel hacks to maximize their experience:


Tech-Savvy Navigation: The SBB app, developed by Swiss Railways, became their travel companion. Real-time schedules and efficient route planning ensured seamless connections and maximized sightseeing time.


Public Transport Champions: They embraced Switzerland’s exceptional public transport system, ditching expensive rental cars and parking fees. Trains, trams, and buses became their mode of choice, offering a scenic and eco-friendly way to explore.


Lausanne: A Strategic Basecamp: Choosing Lausanne as their initial base city provided a central location with more affordable accommodation compared to major tourist hubs like Interlaken or Lucerne.


Unveiling Hidden Gems: While Zermatt and Jungfrau are popular destinations, the family ventured beyond the beaten path. Gstaad, with its connection to the beloved Bollywood film “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge,” offered a unique cultural experience. Mürren, another charming town, provided stunning Alpine scenery without the crowds.


Panoramic Train Adventures: The Swiss Travel Pass included access to multiple scenic train journeys, including the GoldenPass line from Montreux. Reservations were often optional, allowing them the flexibility to explore spontaneously.

 


Luggage Logistics Made Easy: SBB’s luggage transfer service (around $15 USD per bag) freed them from lugging heavy suitcases between cities, allowing them to focus on sightseeing and creating memories.


Alternative Ascents 


Instead of the highly-trafficked Jungfraujoch, the family opted for Männlichen, a less crowded peak offering breathtaking panoramas at a fraction of the cost. They even enjoyed a thrilling cable car ride with a balcony upgrade for just $6 USD!


Bern, often overlooked by tourists, surprised them with its charming cobbled Old Town, boutique shops, and UNESCO-listed arcades, providing a delightful cultural experience.


The family stumbled upon a hidden gem: Mount Rigi. This majestic peak offered breathtaking panoramas. Combining a scenic boat ride with a ride on Europe’s oldest cogwheel railway, all included with the Swiss Travel Pass, created an unforgettable experience.


Sweetening the Deal: Lindt Chocolate Tour


A pre-booked tour at the iconic Lindt factory in Zurich (around $18 USD per person) provided a delicious treat for the entire family, particularly the younger members.


Lessons Learned for Budget-Minded Adventurers:


  1. Planning is Key: Investing time in research and utilizing resources like the Swiss Travel Pass can lead to significant savings and a smoother travel experience.

  2. Public Transport Wins: Switzerland’s public transport system is not just efficient and convenient, but also allows for a more eco-friendly exploration.

  3. Explore Beyond the Tourist Trail: Venturing off the beaten path can reveal hidden gems and a more authentic Swiss experience.

First Published: May 29 2024 | 10:38 AM IST