By Les Roches MBA Student Ambassador Sandhya Rao
One of the biggest perks of being a student at Les Roches is the opportunity to live in one of the most gorgeous countries in the world: Switzerland.
However… NEWS FLASH… it is also one of the most expensive countries in the world!
As a non-European, and someone who had a salary until three months ago, my biggest dilemma has been wanting to see it all on a student’s budget without compromising on my comfort.
Over the last few months, I identified the four key areas that can be easy to overspend on when traveling, and came up with a few hacks for tackling them:
Hack #1: Transportation
The Swiss train system – AMAZING! The fares – ALARMING!
So here are some hacks for you to consider:
- Saver options – the SBB train app and website constantly have features for “Supersaver Tickets”, “Supersaver Day Pass” and “City Passes”. When planning a trip, look at the fares a week in advance. It could save you a substantial amount of money.
- Look outside of SBB – when travelling to towns that are close to the German border, Deutsche Bahn (German Rail) can be cheaper. You can book your ticket to the first German town across the border and still get off at your Swiss destination such as Zürich.
- Take the school trips – this is the easiest way to see locations as a new student, since transportation door-to-door is taken care of by Les Roches. A lot of the activities planned within individual trips, such as boat rides and cable cars, are heavily discounted in comparison to planning these activities on your own.
Hack #2: Food and Beverage
Yes, fondue is delicious. It also melts a hole through your pocket.
Why not try these foodie hacks:
- Eat on the go – the restaurant model is designed to make you spend. Pick up a wrap or sandwich from a grocery store and either eat on the train or find a nice spot by a lake to enjoy your meal.
- Carry a water bottle – there is no concept of drinkable tap water in most of Europe. In Switzerland, there are plenty of water fountains where you can fill up your bottle and stay hydrated.
- Granola bars are a life saver – keep in mind that a lot of restaurants in smaller Swiss towns close early on weekends. So a granola bar is a good back-up to have just in case.
Hack #3: Accommodation
What about a hostel? No thanks, I’m a student, not a backpacker!
Here are a couple of ‘hotel hacks’ for you:
- Stay at airport hotels in major cities – while these are not exactly central, a lot of hotels run a free shuttle service to and from the airport, which will have a major train station for commuting to the city center.
- Take day trips – there are so many wonderful locations within 2-3 hours of Crans-Montana; all of which can be seen without an overnight stay if you are willing to start your day a little early. Keep in mind that the early trains are usually the cheaper ones too, especially during weekends.
Hack #4: Shopping
Me in Crans-Montana – I’ll just buy cookies for my room… Me in Zürich – is that Sephora??!!!
Shopping costs money, especially in Switzerland! So here are a couple of hacks that might save you some cash:
- Make an itinerary to keep out of the shops – it doesn’t need to be long or detailed but having a “must-see” list will keep you distracted. I find it very useful to flag the places that I want to go to on Google Maps in advance. If you start looking for things to do only when you arrive in a city, there is a good chance of you aimlessly wandering into a store.
- Look across the border – use any travels to France, Germany or Italy to buy “must-haves”. Chances are that it will cost you a good deal less across the Swiss border.