Traveling with kids can be difficult. There are so many decisions to be made to balance the needs of the adults and the kids. Then there is the gear. Hauling car seats and entertainment can easily make things seem overwhelming. What if I told you that one simple choice could remove many of these travel stressors.
Travel by Train!
This summer my three little ones (5, 3 and 8 months), my mom, my husband and I traveled Switzerland entirely with the Swiss Rail Pass. We went from Geneva to Zurich and out to the Italian boarder using nothing but public transportation. The Swiss Rail Pass covers travel on boats, trains, gondolas and local transportation through most of Switzerland. We mixed and matched the transportation options to match our itinerary.
We were able to leave car seats behind since we wouldn’t need a car to get around. This greatly reduced our gear load. We also left the stroller behind. The public transportation almost always dropped us off steps from our destination. We used soft-sided carriers for hikes and longer walks.
Swiss Rail’s trains and boats have space for luggage. It was easy to store it between the seats and have everything near us on our rides.
Lockers in the train stations made it easy to stash what we didn’t want to carry on day trips.
The trains and boats are all equipped with bathrooms, many of which had baby changing facilities. Without needing to stop every time one of the littles needed the bathroom, we were more relaxed and always on time.
The panoramic train cars have low windows making looking outside much easier for the kids than riding in a car. We often found our kids quietly sitting looking out the window. (A miracle I know!)
When the scenery no longer amused them we easily accessed entertainment. They had plenty of space to drive their cars around or work on coloring books. We even resorted to iPads a few times, plugging them in with the provided outlets.
Meanwhile the adults were able to chat and take in the stunning views! I’ve never had a car trip where I could really appreciate the scenery!
Trust me when you’re in Switzerland you’ll want to stare out the window as much as possible.
Some boats and trains have designated kids areas. Depending on your route you might find books, toys, a playground or even a kids activity packet based on the route. Kids cars are marked on the outside with fun characters, so you know where to board. They are also marked on the train schedule.
The ability to freely walk around is a game changer. We took trips to the cafe car and bought a drink.
We planned meals for longer routes, eating at the restaurant on a boat or picking up a picnic for the train. The kids thought this was amazing!
There was also space for our little one to crawl around and explore, something you don’t really have on any other form of transportation.
When the littlest one got fussy there was plenty of room to walk and bounce till he fell asleep.
Overall though, if your kids are like mine the transportation may turn out to be the best part of the trip.
The Swiss Rail pass covered such a wide variety of transportation the kids were continuously excited about the new offerings. The Lugano funicular has windows up front where the kids all gathered to watch us go down to the city from the train station.
We rode a variety of mountain gondolas that took us high up into the air, providing a birds eye view of the valleys.
We even rode a cable car up past the clouds.
We never once heard “Are We There Yet?” I’d say that is a win!
In order to help you plan your Switzerland Train Trip check out our itinerary.
– Fly into Geneva
– Fondu Dinner at the famous Restaurant Les Armures (Sit outside; they have high chair)
– Morning in GenevaHeim
– Regional Train to Montreux
– Take boat to Chillion Castle
– Golden Pass Railway Panoramic Train to Zweisimmen
– Regional Train Zweisimmen to Interlaken Ost
– Walk a few blocks to Heimwehfluh Funicular – playground, ice cream & alpine coaster
– Regional Train from Interlaken Ost to Meiringen
– 12 min walk to Gondola, ride up to Hasliberg
– Stay at Hotel Reuti (Family Suites available)
– Enjoy the cable car rides to cafes and playgroundsMu
– Muggestutz Children’s Hike
– Take Gondola down to Meiringen
– Take Tram to hike Aare Gorge (playground and cafe at entrance)
– Lunch in Meiringen
– Brunig Pass train from Meringen to Lucerne (along the route there are wooden animals to spot and a kids packet)
– Explore Lucerne
– Mount Pilatus Day Trip
– Hop off at first Gondola stop for playground
– At Gondola terminus ride Switzerland’s Longest Summer Luge Ride
– Cable Car to top of observation area, there are several easy hikes with great views
– Take Cogwheel Train Down
– Go by Boat boat back to Lucerne
– Visit the Swiss Museum of Transport
– Morning explore Lucerne
– 2 hours Gotthard Panorama Express Boat from Lucern Docks (children’s area on the bottom of the boat; have lunch on board)
– In Fluelen, transfer to 2 hour Panoramic Train
– Arrive Lugano and check into Hotel & Hostel Montarina
– Explore Lugano
– Visit the Alprose Chocolate Factory
– Take boat tour of lake
– 2 hour Express train back to Zurich