Planning a family vacation this summer!! Switzerland can be a wonderful place to enjoy with family. Switzerland is major tourist spot for early summers. Vacation with toddler has to be great fun since they always need to be entertained. Along with fun comes some serious hard work and preparation. So if you planning Switzerland family vacation and dragging along your toddler, then it is not as easy as packing your favorite suit for an office trip.
A few years ago, we planned a trip to explore the romantic and mountainous country of Switzerland. As explorers and nature loving people we prefer to experience the rich culture and wonderful cities by ourselves instead of hiring a professional guide. Also, planning a trip by ourselves instead of booking a group tour allows a lot of flexibility and permits us to have more fun and explore on our terms.
If you are someone who prefers to go for a group tours covering 7 countries in a week then this article might not be helpful. This will help you explore the country of your own choosing, on your own terms with lot of flexibility. In 7 days or more your trip will be enriching rather than a hectic time table where you run here and there based on some tour operator’s instructions.
Most tourist friendly countries are easy to travel if you do some research before travelling. This post aims to save your time since we have tried to cover almost everything you would need to plan before you travel with family. Will take our Switzerland family vacation as an example here.
Switzerland family vacation – Switzerland is one of the most romantic places for couples and most convenient places to travel with a toddler or an infant. Best part about the country is their transportation system which includes trains, trams, buses and boats.
When to Travel
If you’re not a skiing enthusiast, best time for would be summer (April – September). Switzerland is a perfect summer destination since it is pleasant and nice for outdoor activities and so planning a Switzerland family vacation for summer was so much fun
During summers you could experience the beauty and wonder of the Alps. Timing was the best part of our Switzerland family vacation. Even summers are quite unpredictable as far as the weather is concerned so prior to planning a trip best thing is to check the weather and see what works for you. Also, for visa filing you’ll have to take leave at least a month in advance so check with your boss as well.
Once you have date ready, check and compare plane tickets since the most expensive part of the trip will be this. Remember, if your kids are more than 2 years old you’ll have to pay for a full ticket. Check different airline and try to find a direct flight if you can. Lufthansa and Swiss Airlines ( probably the best for this particular trip) are good airlines to travel since both have very less travel and wait time. You could also check Aeroflot if you are booking way in advance. Make sure to book refundable tickets that allow you to make changes if required (bet to be prepared since you’re travelling with family). You would have to check flight to Geneva or Zurich and this should ideally be where you spend your first and last day.
A small tip when you book your flight – try couple of website like MakeMyTrip, ClearO’trip etc. They might have some deal that could allow you to save, get cashback etc.
Place to stay
This is the most important part of your trip since it helps you save time when you plan your excursions. Generally you should try staying in the center of your preferred place to maximize travel reach and minimize travel time.
For Switzerland, I would always suggest that you should stay in Bern since it is gorgeous, centrally placed and saves commute time to every corner of the country. Bern is an amazing city with beautiful churches and one of the biggest train stations in Switzerland. Bern also has amazing historical museums if that’s your thing, you’ll e in heaven. If your staying preference is inclined towards the romantic side then Engelberg is your destination to stay.
Choose your place based on your taste
We wanted our trip to be romantic ( as romantic as being with a toddler can be) and decided to stay in Engelberg for our entire trip. This made our Switzerland family vacation amazing. This increased our travel time to major destinations like Geneva, Bern and Jungfrau by an hour but it was worth it as this is probably the most beautiful place to stay from a scenic beauty standpoint. My advice would be to stay at one destination so that you are saved from unpacking and packing hassle which increases manifold when travelling with kids. Staying at one hotel saves your energy and allows to figure out how to manage food for kids.
Usually visa would cost you around INR 6000 per person. Children below 6 years do not have to pay any visa fee only a certain service fee is charge which is around 1500 INR. Just remember to carry some cash at the embassy/visa center when you go for bio-metrics.
Four steps for Visa processing –
- Fill the online form for each traveller and pay the fee
- Check all the documents required. Get copies since you might need an extra copy.
- Schedule an appointment at the VSF center the New Delhi branch of which, to our surprise, has good joints to eat ( need not to take your kid less than 6 for bio-metrics)
- After the formalities you may get the visas within couple of days. Just visit again to collect the passports ( you can also ask them to courier which will cost you more)
Packing for your trip
Most important and scary part for anyone travelling with a baby especially in an unfamiliar country. Remember that kids get tired and need rest so get your STROLLERS ready for this trip. Don’t worry it is easy to carry a stroller on most holiday destination countries. Second most important thing to pack an umbrella or a rain cover for your baby stroller. A stroller can be helpful for almost every age group till 4.
Next important thing is food. Kids will be travel weary and choosy so it is our job to be prepared for their wonderfully finicky attitude. I would suggest you to buy some “heat and eat” MTR’s and prepare some meals that could carry safely on a flight. Do remember to take some sweets or dry fruits for your baby for travel and flight time, most useful for take offs and landings.
Don’t forget to pack
Don’t forget to pack essential medication and, if travelling to European countries, toiletries. This would ease your travel experience since you would everything handy when you land. Most 3 star or above hotels and suites have basic toiletries like shampoo, body wash and soap but important thing to note is that countries have different concepts of “complimentary stuff” and you don’t want to end up paying 3 francs for a toothbrush. Do check with hotel if they have microwave or kettle. Swiss water heating system is great with lots of hot water at hotels and resorts. Since you will do a fair amount of walking do pack an additional pair of shoes ( I broke mine on my last day in Switzerland and was out of Francs to buy one ;)).
During this Switzerland family vacation, simple things like a pen, rubber-band and instant glu could be useful. Choose your clothes wisely –if you’re headed to a cold European country a few pairs might be Ok. Also, you would have laundry machine easily available at good places. Don’t forget ready to eat meals that could support you.
FYI – most supermarkets (COOP is their 7-Eleven) close around 7.00pm on week days expect the ones in main areas like Lucerne, Bern and Zurich so be mindful of time.
Based on your location in Switzerland you would need to decide what all places would you like to visit. The top most destinations for Switzerland are Mount Titlis , Jungfraujoch top of Europe, Mount Pilatus, Lake Lucerne, Lake Geneva and Interlaken.
Each excursion would need good enough travel time and travelling with the baby is not easy so make sure you cover the main ones since you are there for limited time. Just for your benefit I am listing the Itinerary and you could decide what works for you. You can plan yours to make your Switzerland family vacation much more fun.
Day 1 – Landing, take train to Bern and spend day travelling in and around the city (assuming you are landing in morning and have entire day)
Day 2 – Plan a trip to Titlis ( 2 hours train Journey to Engelberg, 15 minutes to Titlis and 30 minutes cable car ride). Perfect day excursions. Be prepared for side effects since some kids have height issues and they may tend to puke. Change of clothes would be great. Do note the temperature before you plan and always great to go on a sunny day as the sights will take your breath away.
Day 3 – Visit Lucerne and Interlaken. Interlaken good for shopping and Lucerne boat ride is good sightseeing tour. You could also have dinner but make sure you are dressed since it will be cold. Depending on your duration of stay, this could be extended another couple of days as there is lots to do in these exciting cities.
Day 4 – Plan a trip to Top of Europe, Jungfraujoch. This is a full day trip and would take more than 4 hours from Bern. It usually take 2 hours from Interlaken. The train journey is remarkably gorgeous and wonderful. Don’t forget to carry your camera. This will be most amazing sight since you will be walking on mountains of snow.
Day 5 – Plan a trip to Geneva or Zurich. You could just wander around the lake and enjoy the beautiful sun. You could also plan a trip Mt Pilatus
Important things before you plan to wander around
1) Swiss Travel Pass – you could buy this pass online when you plan your travel. This allows you to travel around Swiss including all forms of public transportation which the Euro rail pass does not cover like local trains, trams, buses and boats.
2) Ticket to Jungfraujoch – you can buy it ticket at the counter there and you will get 50% off if you have Swiss Travel Pass.
3) Titlis Ticket – You can buy this online or at the counter at Titlis , again at 50% off with Swiss Travel Pass. Do buy a ticket with The Iceflyer as an inclusion. It is an amazing experience. Checkout more about our visit to Titlis here
I could write a lot more about our Switzerland family vacation since it was an experience of a lifetime. Do share your travel stories