Switzerland – a country with vast expanses of open land, soaring mountains & small gorgeous villages that are straight out of some fairy tale will leave you awe-struck & then take your breath away.
This country was on my travel list since quite sometime but I was just never able to plan it out suitably to fit my work breaks & more importantly my budget. In 2016, I finally took the trip that I’ve so wanted to do. And all this, while staying on a pre-decided budget.
Planning a trip to Switzerland needed a lot of thought into it. Not because I wasn’t sure about going, but living in a developing country makes traveling to Western Europe a bit of a challenge unless I’m a millionaire & have nothing to worry about. And I knew I had to travel there & that too on a budget. So I took a top down approach, here’s what I did.
- Plan your daily budget before hand
Deciding on a daily budget beforehand makes sure you book your accommodation & other frills accordingly. With that in mind, I booked an Airbnb in Bern. It was the least expensive compared to Zurich & Lucern and connectivity is great as you would buy the Rail Pass. With Bern as my base I traveled extensively.
2. Buy the Swiss Rail Pass.
It’s a total no-brainer! No pass, no travel. Since the connectivity in Switzerland is so brilliant by rail & so scenic at that, that buying a rail pass is the best & most economical way to travel the lengths & breadths of the country. You can choose from a 4 days, 8 Days, 14 days pass. There are lots of permutations & combinations here. You can select the one that best suits you. (Buy it here)
3. Choose to go to Mount Titlis or Mt. Pilatus instead of Jungfraujoch
Of course Jungfrau has beautiful views & it’s the highest rail in the world, but the views beyond a point from a mountain top are similar (As said to me by the guys at the information desks in Switzerland). So what you see standing atop Jungfrau is similar to what you will see atop Mount Titlis only at $100 cheaper. So you can decide what you would prefer.
- Jungfraujoch – $ 143 per person
- Mount Titlis – $ 50 per person
4. Cook one meal each day.
I know nobody wants to cook on a holiday but why not. Especially, if you come from a country like mine where we are used to a wide variety of food palate, eating bread beyond a point gets to you. And of course it cuts down on your expenses too. Staying in an Airbnb as against a hotel has that advantage, you can cook your meals when you like.
5. Be frugal & avoid shopping
Shop for all your essentials like winter clothes, boots, etc from your home country. Switzerland is expensive. Period! Especially in places that you would normally travel, the more touristy places, goods are more expensive. Keep shopping restricted to only mementos, something that is unique to Switzerland which you would not otherwise get in your own country.
So with all this in mind, here’s some handy first hand information.
- Daily approx. budget – INR. 12,000
- Swiss Rail Pass – INR 34000 per person (4 days)
- Popular places to visit – Zurich, Lucern, Interlaken, Zermatt, Mount Titlis, Harder Klum, Rhine Falls, Weggis, Grindelwald
- Fun fact – Mount Titlis is among the very few places where you will get Vada Pav & Dhokla in Switzerland.
Think this is useful, or have more handy information to share? I’d love to hear in the comments below.