This forum was INVALUABLE in the planning of my trip to Switzerland. I did not post a lot of (any?) questions myself but I exhaustively read any threads I thought might help me. I realize in retrospect that this does not really contribute to the community—if nobody asked any questions there would be no answers for me to read—but it does seem as if plenty of questions get asked already! I hope this trip report will be useful for others who are planning trips and that will be how I pay it forward. Now that I’m done typing it, this report is perhaps unnecessarily epic. I already posted the very short “what we did” version, this has some of the reasons and how we liked / reacted to what we did. Apparently I do not do “happy medium”.
The back story: one of my cousins works for a food conglomerate in the US and was offered the chance to spend three years in Switzerland. He and his family are renting a house just outside Lausanne. Consequently, everyone they know is visiting Switzerland between now and 2013, including me and DangerMom (DM). I am in my mid-forties and my mom is, well, she’s old enough to be my mother. DangerHusband had a special trip of his own last fall, so it’s just me and mom.
Rail Travel: What kind of pass should I get? <thundering chorus> “DO THE MATH!” Oh, how I did the math! Every possible trip, day trip, side trip, reservation fee and class upgrade went into the spreadsheet. After a brief flirtation with several varieties of Flexi- and regional Passes, it came down to either a 15-day Swiss Saver Pass or a Half Fare Card (and P2P tickets). I opted for 2nd Class Swiss Passes and that turned out to be the right decision. Unless I have completely messed up my post-trip analysis, we saved about $125-$150 over the Half Fare Card option for what we did. About $100 of that is due to the fact that the exchange rate moved from $1.05 when I bought the passes to $1.20 when we were there, so the actual cost of the HFC option was about 15% higher in USD as it wouldn’t have been largely prepaid like the pass. We really liked being able to go to a museum and not feel like we needed to see EVERYTHING to get our money’s worth; we got about CHF 90 worth of museum admissions with the pass. We never bothered with seat reservations, upgrades to first class, or baggage services and that turned out just fine.