I’ve booked all of our hotels (and pre-paid some of them). I was really antsy to get the hotels in Munich because we’re going to be there near (after the official) OktoberFest. But the general plan is to fly into Geneva on a Sunday morning (leaving the states Saturday afternoon), then onto Zurich for a few days, then to Munich, Salzburg, and Vienna, and flying out of Vienna through Copenhagen. We were originally booked into and out of Frankfurt, but we’d have spent two days just on trains, so I took advantage of the free change to move our flights. I was also able to get a Saver award from Copenhagen to the states, so we’re in business class for both flights – it cost me an extra 50,000 miles. It’s a much longer overall flight (14 hours vs the 8 from Frankfurt), but most of that is a layover in Copenhagen – I’m going to see if the airport offers any quick city tours, since I’ve never been to Denmark.
Our budget for the trip is $5,000, and I think we’ll be well under that. The estimated train costs are $1000 if I buy the tickets separately with no discounts (next Oct dates are not available) – and only for the major routes (not for to and from airports, etc). I need to run some numbers to see if a 3-country RailPass ($1100) is a better option or if there are discounts available to me (like the Swiss Half-Fare card).
After the train, we expect to spend $800-$1000 on “excursions” or tours and museum entry, etc. The rest is for food. Dad wants to eat “real” fondue in Switzerland, and last I was in Zurich it was $70 per person for cheese fondue. Switzerland is just really expensive.
As a side note, you can spend a *lot* less on lodging if you go the hostel route, but Dad hates hostels, so we’re in 2-3 star hotels instead.
So far, I’ve spent 360,000 United Miles, 40,000 Hilton points, and $1610, with about $214 to pay. I used =GoogleFinance(“CURRENCY:EURUSD”) and the equivalent for CHF (Swiss Francs) to get the estimated “Still To Pay”, so as currency fluctuates between now and then I know what we’re paying. I also have several CHF and € at home that I’ve collected from my travels.
I’ve also been able to pay mostly in USD, which avoids the foreign exchange fee. I also mostly used ebates.com (2.5% cash back on hotels) to buy from Orbitz on my American Express card – which gives 2% cash back on travel purchases.
That sounds like a great trip. Is there any reason you couldn’t stay over there longer? It’s just such a long way to go for a week. When I was last in western Europe, 6 years ago, the multi-country rail passes were shockingly expensive. We found it was much cheaper, though a little more hassle, to fly Ryan Air between legs of our trip. Let us know what you figure out on the rail.
I wanted to go for 3 weeks (both Dad and I have the vacation – or will), but Dad didn’t want to be away from Daughter Person for longer than two weeks. We would have gone for three if Daughter Person had gone with us. The reason we’re looking at trains is the time – we’re staying hear the train station in all cities, and the longest train ride is 3 hours from Geneva to Zurich – it’s annoying to get to the airport for such a short trip. The Swiss railways have a half-fare card, but they haven’t published their rates for 2014 yet, so I can’t compare them to the railEurope or railpass prices yet. I’m going to start looking into the rail tickets about May next year.
Sounds like a great trip! Until Pretired Baby showed up we would alternate a sunny vacation with a cultural one (such as Europe). Now with the baby, I think we’re just going to sunny trips until he’s old enough to get something out of it. Posts like this make me so jealous, though. Can’t wait to start exploring again!
We’re not much for sunny vacations – even with Daughter Person – unless maybe there’s a lot of snow under that sun 🙂 We’ve taken her a few places, but we haven’t traveled as a family much since she was born – except to visit family. This is a kid-free trip, and probably the last one overseas we’ll take without her. I can’t wait until she’s old enough to sit still through such a long flight so that I can take her!