Budgeting for Switzerland could be a tricky one. It is the #1 country with the highest living expenses in the world, after all. To be honest, I spent more than 20 million rupiahs for my Europe trip, and almost half of them was spent on Switzerland for 4.5 days out of 11 effective days in Europe with no tour agency.
Why do we need to make a budget plan for Switzerland?
I need to say this. You need quite a big of budget, in comparison to Asian countries, even to Japan, which is said to be the most expensive of all Asian countries. But fret not, it doesn’t mean we can’t try to save as much as we can. Because, yes, it was worth every penny that I spent.
Read more for my experiences and activities in Switzerland
Budget Tip #1: Avoid Peak Season
This is the rule of thumb for Switzerland budgeting. As far as I know, Summer is the peak season for Switzerland. Not only everyone in the world generally want to go to Switzerland, Switzerland is also a favourite holiday destination for Europeans themselves. I think winter could also be a peak season, knowing the various snow related activities available in Switzerland.
One thing for sure: Spring and Autumn are low seasons. I went to Switzerland in early Autumn with my friends and our group of 4 got the best deal of accommodation. IDR375.000,00 (or about EUR25) per night per person in a cute campsite! Imagine how expensive it would be if we go in summer. Or it could even be overbooked we can’t experience it!
Budget Tip #2: Pick Your Travel Pass Wisely
You might hear people use Eurail Pass or Swiss Travel Pass a lot, but let me tell you: they’re not the only travel pass available to be used in Switzerland.
For you who are not familiar with Travel Pass, it’s a kind of card that we can buy for public transportation usage. By using travel passes, we can ride on public transportations for free or in discount fare. Some passes also allow for discounts on some activities within an area. If you’ve been to Japan, JR Pass is also a travel pass.
For Interlaken region alone, the town that I visited with my friends, there are Swiss Travel Pass, Swiss Half Fare Pass, Berner-Oberland Pass, Jungfrau Travel Pass, and Eurail Pass (I told you there are a lot! lol). So, what is the right pass for you? I can’t answer that for you, but here is the trick.
What you need to do is to plan your agenda; what you want to do and where you want to go for each day. Then, research the normal price for each activity that you want to try and compare it with the discounted fare using each of the passes. I myself used Berner-Oberland Pass after careful calculation.
It could be tricky and take a lot of effort to choose the ultimate one, but it’s worth the money. These travel passes cost a lot. I spent CHF248 (or about IDR3.500.000,00 :”)) for the 4 day pass alone, already include youth discount (for anyone 26 years old or under), so you want to make sure you don’t waste your money.
Don’t forget that not buying any passes at all is also an option. That is, if after planning and calculation, you find that you wouldn’t spend a lot of money on activities and transportations.
Don’t worry about transportation if you don’t want to buy a travel pass. In fact, most of accommodations in Switzerland will give you a free city pass for your stay. You can go anywhere with that pass by bus and even get discounts on some activities on your chosen city. Generous, aren’t they? :”) Do check your hotel/hostel in case they don’t provide it.
Budget Tip #3: Cook Your Meals
Food is another key factor to your Switzerland budgeting plan. If you want to be impulsive on food, don’t do it here in Switzerland.
Cook. Then cook. And cook again.
In other words, the first thing you need to check with your accommodation is whether they provide a kitchen or not. If not, just pass it. No matter how cheap your accommodation is, if you always eat out, or even buy convenience store’s food, you’ll definitely need more money. A LOT :”D
Convenience store food also expensive, you know. If you can get an onigiri for about $1 in Japan or South Korea, you can’t have it here. It costs almost 5 times more expensive. Other simplest food, like Sandwich, costs CHF3.8 (about IDR52.000,00).
You need to cook every single one of your meals, except if you really want to try that traditional food you’ve been dreaming about from Switzerland. In my case, it was Cheese Fondue. One of my friend even brought a mini rice cooker for us to use :”D This also means you need to pack your lunch anywhere you go.
As for the cooking ingredients, we didn’t really utilize grocery stores in Switzerland, because in our mind everything would be expensive there. So, what did we do? We prepared all our ingredients BEFORE we get into Switzerland. We bought everything we need from Colmar, France, our stop between Paris and Interlaken. If your flight is direct to Switzerland, I figure you’d need to prepare the ingredients from your home country.
Budget Tip #4: Drink from Tap Water
It’s safe to use tap water for drinks here in Switzerland. The good news is, it’s free! With all expensive food and drinks at grocery stores and restaurants, at least we can have free drink (monyet)
Another good news is you can literally find tap waters anywhere. The rule is…if you don’t find any sign of “not for drinks”, you can drink it (jari ok). Neat for the Switzerland budgeting, isn’t it?
Budget Tip #5: Immerse Yourself with Free Activities
Switzerland is the land of hiking. Everywhere you go, you can find a hiking route. With Switzerland-like kind of view, who wouldn’t want to do it? You don’t? You should really try!!
By that, I mean…you can do it for free~ walk wherever your feet tells you to go. There are so much things to see, to feel, with all your senses, and maybe also with your photography gears. Forget about paragliding or gliders, hiking is by no means an inferior activity in Switzerland, especially if you want to avoid buying any travel pass, which is one of the cost contributors.
Another thing you can also do is museum visits. In major cities, there are a lot of museum that you can visit for free. You can also check your free city pass (the one I mentioned before, that you might get from your accommodation) if there is any free activities you can do.
For these tips to work, what you need is an open mind. Because actually, the option is endless!
So, what’s your version of Switzerland budgeting?