Our second trip to Europe was to Switzerland! Now, for people trying to travel on a budget this seemed to be a surprising choice for us. But with a lot of planning and a little bit of luck we were able to take a 10 day (9 nights) trip to Switzerland for just over two thousand dollars out of pocket (including all transportation, hotels, food and excursions).
Credit Card Points
First, let’s talk about credit cards. A big portion of how we were able to afford this trip was by using the points from our Chase Preferred card. This was the first travel card we opened and I have loved it! This is a great card to start with I you want to start accumulating points for travel. If you are getting a travel card, I recommend saving the minimal spend amount before opening the account that way you can spend the money you need to get the sign-up bonus points and then pay it off immediately. Thanks to the Chase Preferred card sign-up bonus points and travel rewards we had over $800 to spend for travel on this trip!
If you are interested in signing up for the Chase Preferred card you can sign up here using my referral code: Click Here
For more in-depth reviews of travel cards I high recommend checking out The Points Guys
Now this section really deserves its own blog post, because we have created a pretty efficient system for finding cheap flights. But for now, I’ll tell you exactly how we found cheap flights to Switzerland. My husband was the one who actually found these tickets and he found them by using Momondo. When searching for flights on Momondo, you can search “Anywhere" and “Anytime”. He also put a filter on the search to search for flights under $300. Then he saw a little dot in Europe and it was tickets to Basel, Switzerland for $250 RT. Momondo has a great feature where you can mess with the dates of your trip and see how that will affect the price. We messed with the dates until we found a trip that would correlate with my Spring Break dates. Then, I went onto the Chase Travel website and was able to purchase the same tickets to Basel using our points from Chase! Voila! Free flights to Switzerland! We weren’t planning on going to Switzerland at all but I had always wanted to see the Alps and we were just so excited for this opportunity!
Now once we book our flights to Switzerland, we then realized that Switzerland is actually a pretty expensive place to travel to. Whoops. We were shocked when we were looking at the hotel prices, it seemed like most of the hotels started at $200 a night (and that is a lot higher than we like to spend). We decided if we could find hotels $150 or less a night that must be a ‘deal’ in Switzerland, so that is exactly what we looked for! We traveled to Switzerland in mid-March and we learned that time period is sort of the beginning of the shoulder season for them. Most winter sports had ended and summer vacationers are not there yet. So with that being said we did notice a lot of fluctuation in the prices of hotels depending on where we were staying. We decided that we would stay in the cheapest areas we could find and that we would use the famous Swiss trains to take day trips to other cities. For instance we really wanted to stay in Geneva initially but we could not find anything under $200 per night but we were able to find much more affordable lodging in Bern. The best deals and towns we wanted to stay in were Bern, Murren, and Basel. We were able to use the rest of our Chase Travel points to pay for more than 1/3 of the hotel costs.
We got our flights free and hotels pretty darn cheap but our one big splurge for this trip was the Swiss Travel Pass. The Swiss Travel Pass was pricey but was 100% worth it for us. It easily paid for itself during our trip. If you plan on riding the train a lot during your travels to Switzerland I highly recommend getting one. Not only does this pass cover all train, bus, and boat rides but it also gets you into many museums for free and gives you discounts on many excursions. We were able to get into the Historical Museum in Bern for free and the Reformation Museum in Geneva for free. We also got a substantial discount on the Jungfraujoch and Matterhorn Excursions.
Food is another pricey item in Switzerland. Our first night in Switzerland we were starving, it was late and most restaurants were closed except for a McDonalds near our hotel. So we went there and a BigMac Meal and Chicken Nugget Meal cost us over $20. Yikes. So, after that pretty much all of our meals in Switzerland were grocery store meals! The grocery store meals were a little more expensive than what I would spend at home, but it wasn’t too bad. We did eat out a couple of nights, but we also really enjoyed strolling around the Swiss grocery stores and getting snacks! I also packed a lot of snacks in our luggage before leaving Houston and that also helped save us money! Switzerland also has lots of water fountains everywhere, so if you bring a refillable water bottle, you will be able to save money on water!
If it were not for the crazy cheap flight deal we found or the points used from Chase Travel, we would not have been able to afford a trip to Switzerland! I recommend keeping your eyes peeled and if you are open, travel where the deal is! That is our new motto! By keeping our eyes peeled for these flight deals we have been able to already book two more trips to Europe this year and use the same budgeting techniques we learned when planning our Switzerland trip! And if you ever see a deal going to Switzerland I say book it! This was such a gorgeous country and I can wait to share more from our travels to Switzerland.