Switzerland is very much like a story book. The hills are definitely alive with the sound of music, and no matter how you’re travelling you can’t help but notice the cleanliness, the politeness, and the over-all put-togetherness of both the people, and the beautiful towns and cities.
Yes, towns here are way more polite than back home.
All this cleanliness and picture-perfectness comes at a price, of course – it’s damned expensive!
Case in point: I asked my friend from London to pick up hiking socks for me. She bought two pairs for less than it would have cost me for one, here in Switzerland. Imagine: cost-savings from the UK!?
I’m no expert, but I thought I might offer a few practical tips for the traveller on a budget. These have worked for me!
- Buy groceries. Everything seems a little pricier here, but man, oh man, nothing beats a good loaf of bread and a block/wheel of FANTASTIC Swiss cheese… Add a tomato, sausage, beer – well, you’ve got all the bases covered!
- Plan your trip around the first Saturday in the month – most galleries and museums are free! A bigger city might be an idea – you’ll have more choice and can realistically “museum hop”
- Find new Swiss friends to share fondue with. The price per portion are better with bigger groups…although it may be hard to find locals who will eat this famous national dish when snow isn’t lining the ground. Other travellers may collude with you to eat liquid cheese & wine out-of-season….even if it isn’t actually cheaper sharing, it’s waaaay more fun.
- Spend most of your time hiking, wandering towns, or swimming. These are free and healthy!!! You can work off the cheese and bread and chocolate that you’re bound to be consuming.
- Camp. Zero-star accommodation can be five-stars of FUN!
- Couchsurf and be amazed. (www.couchsurfing.com)
- Invest in a ½ Price Swiss Rail Card. The cost is $99CHF and it’s valid for all rail/bus passes in the country for one month. Even if your itinerary only allows a week or two in Switzerland, this may be worth while if you’re moving around a lot. You can order online a few weeks ahead, or pick one up from a major train station when you arrive in the country. Start here: (http://mct.sbb.ch/mct/en/sts.htm)
- Check out second hand stores for cheap souvenirs. There seems to be an abundance of cookery items and mugs and national flags…full fondue sets, figurines, cow bells…
- Take a break from the internet, and if you can’t manage that, alternatively make a “to do” for when you decide to pay the exorbitant prices (just so that you don’t spend all your time on Facebook stalking your friends and looking at pictures of people’s children and your exes…)
- Go during the off-season (not in August!)…sigh
This isn’t my usual style for this blog, I realize, but a little travel advice never hurt anyone. Hope it’s helpful!!