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family of 6 needs help with lodging and transportation

south florida
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family of 6 needs help with lodging and transportation

i'm in the very early planning stages of a possible trip to switzerland next summer (june, july, or august). i thought the trickiest part would be airfare, but as luck would have it, it looks like our frequent flyer miles will work in our favor.

so now i'm thinking of the rest of the trip - mostly lodging and transportation. we have 4 kids, who will be between the ages of 3 and 12 next summer. i DONT want to rent a car (minivan), so i'm hoping we can make due with public transportation (vs. bringing car seat, renting a super big car, etc.) will the swiss pass be useful to us? can we swing a week/10 day trip avoiding a car rental altogether?

another issue is lodging. we typically stay in places like residence inn or hyatt place, where we can have 2 queen beds + a sleeper sofa for the younger two kids. european hotels don't seem to be quite so spacious. searching hotels online isn't yielding too much, even if it were just 2 kids. 4 kids likely means 2 rooms at a regular "hotel"... the price begins to really get up there. so where do larger european families stay?!

i'm up for a vacation rental property, like a condo or something, but i know that most of those rent by the week only, so we'd likely have to make a solid base somewhere and then venture out on day trips... any recommendations for a good base? or a chain of hotels that might work in our favor?

itinerary is a primary concern, yet last on the list! the motivation for the trip comes from our oldest child who is doing a year-long project on switzerland in school this year. we haven't said anything yet, but i'm sure they will want to assist in planning and picking out must-see spots to visit. hopefully if we choose a condo rental it will be well-located to do that!

HOWEVER, i do not want to dangle a carrot if it's just not going to be logistically/financially possible. hotels for $700/night are likely going to be out of the question. i know i haven't mentioned our vacation habits and what we're looking for - but keep in mind we have a 3 year old, so we are limited by him. we can do short hikes, maybe a few museums, train rides, boat rides, etc. he's pretty portable, but we still have to be low-key.

i just feel like if we can find a hotel chain similar to hyatt place/residence inn, or some kind of vacation rental that is centrally located to "the main things to see", and we can avoid a car rental, then we have plenty of time to plan details and an itinerary. i hope this isn't too vague! thanks in advance for any advice... it isn't so easy to travel once you have more than 4 people in your family!

Anchorage, Alaska
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for Anchorage, Zermatt
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1. Re: family of 6 needs help with lodging and transportation

Hi, you can certainly manage totally without a car so that's that. Whether a Swiss Pass is useful depends on your final itinerary so we can worry about that a bit later.

There really aren't hotel chains with the kind of rooms we are accustomed to in the US with two beds and a sleeper sofa. I would suggest you want to look at a rental or bed and breakfast where you can get three double rooms all close to each other if not two rooms that will hold three each. (Very few hotel rooms even have two queen beds!) Watch for what are called Junior suites as they are sometimes also "family" rooms.

The Swiss tourism office has a great website with all kinds of information as well as rentals, etc.

www.myswitzerland.com

It's in English! Also, there are folks here in the US who have holiday rentals in Switzerland so you might try googling for vacation or holiday rentals Switzerland. One I like is

www.vrbo.com

Sometimes a holiday rental for 7 days but you only stay for 4 or 5 will still be the least expensive so don't give up on that idea.

You will want to fly into Geneva or Zurich if you can but which really depends on what you decide is your primary area of interest. When you are thinking 10 days, I would suggest you think something like:

Arrive in Zurich, (see link below - there are flats in Zurich for a couple of days rental) - ride trams, lake ferries, visit the Old Town, zoo for the littler ones (they need some fun too!), get over jet lag! Stay 2 days/2 nights and move to a base for the next 5 nights from which you can visit a variety of places fairly easily (Bern might be a place to consider as it is a good transportation hub and near enough to the Berner Oberland to make a couple of day trips to the mountains). Then move to the Geneva area and get your flight home from there.

www.zuerich.com

You're wise to start now to plan! A good approach might be to spend some time on the myswitzerland website and then taking a look at what they are studying in school (there are very different parts of Switzerland and it's really not possible to stay so centrally located that you can do day trips to all of them - those pesky mountains make trips a bit long sometimes!). You might try asking the student what he/she likes most about Switzerland so far to get some idea about what is really interesting!

So there's some info to get you started and please post back by replying as you have questions. We're glad to help!

Goldau, Switzerland
Destination Expert
for Lucerne, Zug, Brunnen
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2. Re: family of 6 needs help with lodging and transportation

Hi meab

In your case I anyway would look for an apartment or even a house to rent and to make it your base. There are apartments at Brunnen - www.brunnentourismus.ch - which could fit for you - for exemple at "Ferienwohnungen Alpicana & Metropol** " directly along lake Lucerne and a few steps from the boat station. There is a big choice of restaurants around the house.

I would recommend you travel directly to your destination from the airport (railway station at the airport Zurich or Geneva). For things to do look at the Top Questions about Brunnen (TA Brunnen forum) and the Top Questions about Lucerne (TA Lucerne forum). Both places are along lake Lucerne.

It will be important to rent early in advance as I can imagine that the larger apartments sell out early.

There are also a few possibilities at the Lucerne area (including Weggis etc).

Before you rent an apartment read exactly the tips given on the Top Questions about Brunnen or Lucerne as not all costs are included in the price offers.

For all public transport informations look at www.sbb.ch/en and for boat informations on lake Lucerne lok at www.lakelucerne.ch . With a Swiss Pass you can get a free family card which alows your kids to travel for free with you.

July and August are great months in the area. September would be great too as there would be less tourists than during main season. June can still be rainy here, this year the weather was good.

Great places to visit from Brunnen (or Lucerne)

- www.tierpark.ch

- www.rigi.ch

- http://www.morschach-stoos.ch/en/ and http://www.swissholidaypark.ch/en/ ((ten bus minutes from Brunnen)

- Top Questions about Schwyz

- swissknifevalley.ch/en/visitor-center/victor… (if you would like to buy knifes you can also go to the factory shop at Ibach near the large Migros center).

etc etc

Happy planing

pore

Martigny...
Destination Expert
for Switzerland
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3. Re: family of 6 needs help with lodging and transportation

To ad one thing to the two excellent posts aboe - children under 6 travel free here on all public transport. Between 6 and 16 you can cover them with a single "Family card" which will cost you 30frs (one time payment per year) if you do not have a swiss pass. if you have a swiss pass then you can get the family card free of charge.

If you are going to rent a flat (decidely the cheapest option in your case because you can also self-cater) then I would suggest somewhere central like around Luzern if you want to explore northern Switzerland. If you want to come to the French speaking area then somewhere around montreux/Vevey would be good. For the Grisons, somewhere in the Engadine. Best to do your research on MySwitzerland first and then choose your area.

Finally another site to try for rentals is www.ownersdirect.com I have rented several times via this site and always have had great experiences...

Ottawa, Ontario
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4. Re: family of 6 needs help with lodging and transportation

I feel your pain. We are a family of 5, spending a month in Switzerland next summer. We plan to base in Basel (because that's where we need to be, not really by choice although I am really looking forward to it... but its not very central). We plan to make several trips while there. I've spent teh better part of two months trying to find lodging, yes, I said 2 months. Now, I've been very fortunate and have found some wonderful places I hope. There are hotels that will do connecting rooms. Our kids are between ages of 5 and 10 so I don't want separate rooms without the connection if we can avoid it. The price can be steep. Many hotels have family rooms or they'll move a few beds around to accomodate. The websites are relatively useless. I've sent many many emails and I keep a spreadsheet of emails sent, prices, layout of rooms and tripadvisor reviews. Most hotels have been wonderfl about getting back to me about prices. As others have mentioned, have a look at B&Bs and apartment rentals. I was able to change my booking in Interlaken area from a $620 a night room to a $210 a night room (and in a place that is raved about!) I'm very excited about that one. I still have nothing in Lucerne. At least nothing we're willing to pay. Not yet anyway. There are a few options but being only an hour away, we may just decide to not stay overnight there and do a few daytrips instead. If you're using that as your base, you'll have much more luck as most places there do want at least 7days. I've found many other places are quite flexible. If I can help at all, just PM me as I've been there, done that (altho I'm not finished yet :-) )

As for transportation, we have no intention of renting a car. We'll take the train. Plan to get a SwissPass and we'll get teh free family card so the kids will travel for free. It also provides free museum entry, free local buses and many other discounts for cablecars, etc. That was the easy decision, lodging ont so much.

Oh, one other thing, for lodging, try www.airbnb.com I've found many places tehre are that are quite nice. We've booked elsewhere but depending on where you want to stay, it could really help you.

Joanne

Ottawa, Ontario
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5. Re: family of 6 needs help with lodging and transportation

Hambagahle, I tried to link to the ownersdirect site... it goes to one house in Virginia????

south florida
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43 posts
4 reviews
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6. Re: family of 6 needs help with lodging and transportation

wow - thanks for all the great replies.

i wish hyatt or marriott would take note and build some hyatt place or residence inn/courtyard properties in switzerland! i think there is a courtyard in basel, but that's about it!

i'm worried about some of the VRBO and other rentals that maybe they aren't conveniently located to public transit? i guess i will have to read a lot of fine print.

joanne, i will likely be sending you a PM as soon as i figure out how to do it.

i hate feeling pressed for time, but each day, the flights are getting fewer and fewer for our miles. now it looks like we can maybe only do a week in june. the month of may could be a possibility as well (for 7-10 days), but i'm not sure that the weather will be ideal. september is not out of the question, either. but the summer months seemed the most ideal.

i just know that if it might work out, i have to make those air reservations ASAP and then go from there. it is helpful to know that lodging will not be quite as impossible as i first thought. and i think the swiss pass will be great.

thanks for the help!

Martigny...
Destination Expert
for Switzerland
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7. Re: family of 6 needs help with lodging and transportation

Sorry about the link - my mistake! Here it is

www.ownersdirect.co.uk

and for B&B's here try www.bnb.ch There are quite a few self-catering places on this site, located at the owners main residence, including several in the Oberland.

As for timing - September is usually the best month here. Lovely sunny days and fewer tourists... So if you can, go for September. May can be cold and wet or hot and nice! A toss-up!! And June, July and August are high season for hotels, with corresponding prices!

For families with a lot of children and a budget, an ideal option are youth hostels. Many of the Swiss ones are in lovely buildings AND have family accomodations AND the possiblity of cooking. Friends of mine, for example, stayed the hostel in Solothurn and found it delightful. so look at this:

www.youthhostels.ch

Zurich, Switzerland
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8. Re: family of 6 needs help with lodging and transportation

Inspired by the link of kileysmom I have startet to search at VRBO. Look at this one: http://www.vrbo.com/313880. This seems to be a lovely place. My first thought was: thats middle of nowhere, but I admit, the place is quite good. For Alpnachstad (for Mt. Pilatus) 40 minutes by train, for Lucerne 1 hour, for jungfrau region 2 hours, ballenberg (swiss open air museum) 30 minutes, hasliberg (hiking area, also for kids) 40 minutes, hergiswil (glas manufactur) 45 minutes.

enjoy your trip

Southport, United...
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9. Re: family of 6 needs help with lodging and transportation

Lingern is lovely (house in post above) but the position of the house would be more suited to someone with a car as it's 10 - 15 mimnutes walk to the railway station and half of that is uphill!!

Southport, United...
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10. Re: family of 6 needs help with lodging and transportation

I have met many families from the USA who rent properites in the Hasliberg/Meiringen area. They all seem to rent from a company called Untours. I know nothing about the company apart from what they have said. I travel alone so stay in a hotel.