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5 Weeks and Counting - What Am I Forgetting?

I know I'm going to forget something major so I'm calling all pro travelers to help me...

Traveling with wife Jun 27 - July 11 from DC to Zurich via Iceland Air
- traveling to Colmar, France for first few days, rest of the time in BO
- car rental around Colmar, public transit in Switzerland (either Swiss Travel Pass or BO Pass + Half Fare card); haven't purchased yet. Best time to purchase?
- Every night booked except for last night
- passports good
- fully vaccinated; will purchase Covid tests for return trip in a couple weeks.

Anything else I should purchase/think about in advance?

Posted by
114 posts

You may need an international drivers permit, which you can get from AAA. I’d also check on how you will have phone service with your carrier when you are in a non-wifi area. I’d also check on quarantine rules in the country you will be departing from in case you test positive on your last day before flying back. Oh and I would get travel insurance to cover quarantine costs if you do have to change your flight and quarantine there.

Posted by
11246 posts

Alert your banks and Credit Card issuers of your travel (Travel Notification). Some institutions want them, others don't.

Posted by
5544 posts

Travel insurance for your trip plus insurance for if you need to extend due to Covid.

I would be loading up my kindle with some reading matter.

Think about how you are going to stay connected to family and friends whilst away. Presumably you will be paying your bills online whilst away.

Posted by
119 posts

I’d certainly get that last night booked as soon as you know where you’ll be.

Posted by
7189 posts

I just left Switzerland yesterday into Italy. I had a Swiss Travel Pass. Are you going to have data to access the web on your phone while on the go or relying on accessing the internet at your lodging? I have not read your other posts but you should have a plan for if you or someone tests positive the day before the flight to return. Currently no masks are required in Switzerland but don't let your guard down. I caught a minor cold on I suspect one of the lifts where someone had been coughing before I got on as I was getting on at the same time as putting on my mask. This was alarming, as I hadn't a cold since well before the pandemic started.

Posted by
1302 posts

I like to register my trip with the state dept. You can register and read about the benefits here:

https://step.state.gov/step/

This came in handy last year when I was in Switzerland as I was emailed about some planned protests and advised on what areas to avoid.

Print out the CDC attestation form to fill out on your return (if it’s still required in July). Swiss Air did ask to see these before we boarded our plane in Zurich to return to Chicago. I have heard others haven’t been asked for it. I’m a “have it, just in case” person.

https://www.cdc.gov/quarantine/pdf/NCEZID-combined-disclosure-attestation-en-508.pdf

Regarding the Swiss Travel Pass, I like to purchase ahead of time so I can print out multiple copies and add the QR code to my iphone and watch.

If you end up getting the Swiss Travel Pass, you may be asked to show your passport. I made copies of my picture page and was able to use that with no problems.

Posted by
38 posts

You guys are on it! Thanks so much

My travel credit card has trip cancellation insurance and covers car rentals. But I think you’ve convinced me to purchase travel insurance to cover COVID-related complications while there and emergencies. Looking into that.

I should say I’ve made reservations but haven’t paid for all of the lodging in advance for flexibility. Dumb question: if I reserve a room at a hotel in advance but don’t pay until in-person, will they use the at-purchase exchange rate or reservation rate?

I will check with AT&T - I’m sure I have to activate the international data thing. I’d like to not totally depend on wi-fi. Do the trains and train stations typically have wi-fi?

Is there a better/worse online retailer to purchase rail passes from?

Posted by
1302 posts

Is there a better/worse online retailer to purchase rail passes from?

I purchase mine on-line from the Switzerland travel center.

https://shop.switzerlandtravelcentre.com/?affiliateId=23&currency=CHF#/en/home

There are a few other sites that sell them also. In using the site above, when you purchase, you will receive an email saying the order is being processed. You will then receive a second email (either immediately or some have had to wait a day or two if purchased on the weekend) that will have one link to print the Pass and a second link to add the Pass to the wallet on your phone.

A couple issues may occur when purchasing: 1) I believe the phone number has to be entered in this format: +11234567890. 2) Depending on which credit card you use, you may have to approve the transaction before it is processed. I use a Chase Visa and have not had any issues.

Posted by
7189 posts

The rail does not have wifi. The locals use data (which is cheaper for them than a tourist) with the SBB ap with the Half Fare Card; this allows them freedom to book trains on the go without having to buy tickets from a machine or using a live person.

This is one reason why I find the Swiss Travel Pass is more convenient to use than the Half Fare Card because data is expensive. You don't have to buy tickets for the trains that connect you to some of the privately run trains and gondolas or lifts covered by the Swiss Travel Pass. You just hop on.

Connected to hotel wifi, I use the SBB ap to plan all of my itineraries day to day in advance and it saves all the info without wifi or data on the phone. It is an excellent tool. I found on this trip that it has the schedule of every mode of transportation I needed to use. You don't need wifi or data for it to work perfectly; it tells you the platform the train is arriving on and in how many minutes even without a data or wifi connection. The trick is to save all of the itineraries you plan on the ap while on the wifi

Finally you also have the option to buy the pass from a live person when you get there; it will come with a nice map of the area of validity of the STP; keep the receipt to have it reprinted at the SBB office if you lose it.

Posted by
13073 posts

The hotels will charge you the rate you actually booked, in Swiss Francs (or French, for Colmar). It will be converted by your credit card company at the current conversion rate for that day. Make sure they charge you in the local currency, not in dollars (they should ask you before they do that).

Posted by
9701 posts

I just spend 3 nights in Colmar a few weeks ago and wow, it was so neat! I recommend going to the Tourist Information office and getting this walking tour map. I enjoyed following this and seeing the various sights. I also discovered on about stop #4 that there are QR codes on the information signs so you can follow the route on your phone if you have service.

https://reservation.tourisme-colmar.com/medias/documents/documentation/documentation-PLANCOLMAR-UK.pdf

One day I was pooped and took the tourist train and thought it was not worthwhile. It can't get to some of the sights in the pedestrian areas.

The Unterlinden Museum was excellent - wide range of Roman to current. No reservation needed when I was there in April although it was surprisingly busy. Do get the Audioguide as the Altarpiece needs some explanation.

Colmar was very busy when I was there the week after Easter. Lots of German tourists, few Americans but most everyone in the tourist sector speaks English. Lovely outdoor terraces which will be even more fun in June over April, lol!

I recommend testing yourselves intermittently thru your trip so you don't have any surprises if a negative test requirement still remains. I took 6 tests with me (non-proctored) and bought a 5-pack at a pharmacie in Paris. I had terrible allergies from all the tree pollen so kept testing as I had some symptoms which thankfully were just allergies.

Have a wonderful time!

Posted by
2082 posts

Electrical adapters for both the EU and for Switzerland, and for any country you transit through, in the event of delays.
Safe travels!

Posted by
454 posts

Figure out the phone situation you mention, it can be hard to do from there! Make sure you can talk, text and data with your phones there even when not on WiFi.

I would also recommend taking masks. When we went to the Uk a couple of months ago no one was hardly wearing them but we did and glad we did because Covid was skyrocketing at that time. Also echo the need for good travel insurance and contingency plans for your home and pets, etc. if you test positive and need to stay awhile before you can get back.

We loved Colmar and didn’t have a car, we walked and used rental bikes all around. Loved wine tasting there.