Bryan Dijkhuizen

Traveling Through Switzerland at 21 Was The Best Thing I Ever Did

Most people between 16–25 go party every night like it’s the summer of ’69.

Not us.

My sister and I went on a trip through Switzerland and Austria in April/May of this year to prepare her for her final exams of the year (she graduated).

It was the best decision of the year.

Ever since the pandemic broke out in the winter of 2020 I wanted to travel again — by train. We used Interrail to buy our tickets and it was amazing.

Cheap travel through Europe.

And my sister hadn’t left the country since 2019, so we kind of decided that it was time to travel together again.

Plans got changed straight away

Initially, we planned to visit Scotland.

That plan didn’t work out in the end because figured it would be way too expensive with the plane tickets, hotels, and transportation as we would be there.

It wasn’t affordable to do it by train either because we couldn’t travel from the Netherlands and Aberdeen within 24 hours so it would cost us another travel day (which increased the price).

Then I came up with another problem.

We didn’t have a passport, we have ID cards that don’t give us access to the United Kingdom (see Brexit).

There was only one option left: Switzerland by train.

We knew we wanted to see beautiful nature but it had to be reachable within a couple of hours. Switzerland is about 7–8 hours from here, so it was perfect.

Booking the hotels was stressful

We decided to book the hotels on the go, two weeks before we would go, we thought about that again — wasn’t a good idea.

6 undecided nights still had to be booked.

We sat on our beds for a whole evening trying to figure out what would be the perfect fit hotels for our trip. We knew that they had to be quite low-budget. If it had a bed and a shower it would be fine.

So that’s what we searched for.

Our biggest challenge was to find a place in the perfect middle of Austria to bring us closer to Hallstatt. We ended up in the Southern Part of Germany which was about 1.5 hours from Hallstatt (if the train were going).

It looked amazing.

Image by Author: Bryan Dijkhuizen | Bad Reichenhall 2022

Switzerland makes you go broke

Don’t get me wrong, I love Switzerland.

It’s my favorite country I’ve visited so far but it’s also incredibly expensive — especially Zürich.

That’s my favorite city in Switzerland.

Luckily we had purchased the Interrail pass for 7 days which saved us a lot of money (around $1800 in total). We didn’t have to purchase single tickets because those were so expensive.

We bought a 9-hour ticket for zone 1, 2, and 3 to go on a boat trip and go for a trip around the center of Zürich with the trams and trains.

That was about $20.

It which is okay if you would know what a single ticket from Amsterdam to Zürich costs and what we paid in total for our Interrail Pass.

Food is expensive as well.

We stuck to eating at McDonald’s and Burger King since it was the only thing that came close to the Northern European prices we were used to.

Certainly not good for our health.

Multi-landscape country

Switzerland has so many beautiful landscapes.

It’s not just lakes or mountains, it’s so diverse that you can’t take your eyes off it.

When we entered the country in the North we saw the beautiful falls of Neuhausen.

Image by Author: Bryan Dijkhuizen | Neuhausen am Rheinfall 2022

In the beginning, my sister wasn’t really convinced these were the biggest falls in Switzerland — but now we know the beauty of them.

It was about 45 minutes away from Zürich where we stayed and just traveling from here to the biggest city in Switzerland gave you such a great impression of the diverse landscape of the country.

Lakes & mountains

The next day we would visit central Switzerland and we would go into the mountain village of Lauterbrunnen and end up in the Southwest where a subtropical climate would wait for us.

Lac Léman or the lake of Geneva is magical. Just like the waterfall of Lauterbrunnen.

Images by Author: Bryan Dijkhuizen | Lauterbrunnen (left) & Montreux (right) | 2022

The lessons we learned

It wasn’t just beauty.

There were certain things that we would do differently if we would travel like this again:

  • We would travel 1st class now; 2nd class trains in Germany and Switzerland are always full in the summer. Switzerland dealt with it well, but Germany completely messed it up.
  • Always carry some cash on us; you can read more about that mistake here.
  • Booking hotels upfront; we were late with the booking, so we didn’t have the best choice left. Now, I’ve already booked all of the hotels for next year.

You certainly can’t travel perfectly, but you learn more about the process every year again.

I wouldn’t ever make a different decision — traveling through Switzerland was the best thing I did this year.

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