My husband and I will be traveling from Zurich to Appenzell, then to Lauterbrunnen, then to Verbier, then to Gruyeres and finally back to Zurich. Our trip is 13 days, July 7-20, and we will be mostly hiking. I read in Rick Steves' book that travel for July it is a good idea to book ahead. I am uncertain where to start in booking ahead. Would someone be so kind as to help me out?
Booking accommodations is wise. Trains, not so much as they are all unreserved. Almost all the time, the Swiss Half Card will save you money if you have more than 240 CHF worth of tickets per person, which it looks like you will. Passes are convenient, but will cost more. Even passes only give discounts for mountain lifts.
I have booked our accommodations, thankfully. If I buy the Swiss Half Card, does that mean that we won't be turned away from the trains if they are filled up?
The trains go very frequently, at least once per hour and often twice. If a train would be full, you'd just have to stand until seats opened up. But they don't turn people away. But just looking at your arrival date, the 9:51 train to Gossau where you change to an S-Bahn to Appenzell, shows "low to average occupancy expected". You can get this information off the SBB route planner. There is a connection every 30 minutes from Zurich airport.
Are you leaving next month or in 2018? it is not clear. You should get the high price pass asap if you are leaving next month.
I am leaving in 26 days and have bought super saver tickets which saves you a lot of money.
I do not have a pass though as my total of 5 journeys does not exceed the price of a Swiss Travel Pass or Half Price Travel pass
You should look into that asap as you will get half off super saver tickets with the half price pass. For example I got a super saver ticket Zurich to Luzern for 19 Chf otherwise it was 40Chf. With a half price pass you would only pay 9.50 CHF for the same ticket.
I am also staying in Lauterbrunnen and then Geneva and used https://www.booking.com/
Thank you for your replies. Since we will be in Switzerland July 7 through July 20, 2017, it seems that I should buy the Swiss Half Fare Card today (it lasts a month-June 20-July 20). Other than that, I don't need to do anything more until we arrive on the 7th and then we will use our Swiss Half Fare Card to purchase our train tickets as we travel along until the 20th of July. Does this sound correct?
If you are flying in, you can buy the Half Fare Cards at the airport train station if you don't want to mess with buying them on-line. You can just take the first available train after you land, get to the station in the basement of the shopping center/parking garage across the street. I think they have a sky-bridge now. There was a lot of construction the last time I was there.
As was pointed out earlier, if you can commit to certain times for the other journeys, there may be SuperSaver tickets available that go on sale 30 days before your travel dates. They are nonrefundable and you must travel on the exact itinerary printed on the ticket, but you can get another 50% off the already 50% off with the Half Fare Card. They have to be bought on-line and you do not have to have the Half Fare Card when you buy them, but you must have it in your possession when you board the train.
With non-SuperSaver tickets, you can hop on and off along the way as you like as long as you stick to the route.