Post by Lauren
We have visitors coming soon!! The next few posts are all about what you need to know when you visit us.
-We live in Geneva, so the GVA airport is the best to fly into. It is only 20 minutes driving or a 30 minute bus ride from our house.
-If we are picking you up: when you exit baggage claim, there is only one exit to the GVA airport so don’t worry about getting lost! We’ll be there waiting!
-If for some reason you are taking public transportation, please note that you can get a free transportation ticket in the baggage claim area, good for one hour. Make sure to get it at the time when you are leaving so you maximize the hour.
What to Bring:
-Many of your small electronics may not work. We have a Swiss hairdryer, so don’t bother to bring yours. Use your curling irons and straigteners at your own risk as the electricity is known to eat them.
-We have a Swiss converter for you to use while you are here. But, if you are going to another country, you may want to buy one in advance for that country since the Swiss one is special.
-If you want to pack lighter and bring only a few outfits, you are welcome to do laundry while you are here. Just know that it takes 5 hours for one load. I will also make you do it so you get to see how fun it is!
-If you have any specific medicines you use or think you might need, bring them. They don’t have things like cold medicine, Pepto Bismol, etc. here. We do have a stock of American Advil and common pain killers though.
-If you have any special things you like, such as Lipton Tea or Sweet & Low, you may want to bring a stash. We don’t have that stuff here either.
-Same goes for snacks. It’s good to maybe bring a stash of your favorite stuff for day trips since a bag of chips at a convenience store will cost 8 francs. Also, they might not have a selection you like.
-We have towels, washcloths and linens so you don’t need to bring that stuff.
-We also have practical things like soap, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, band-aids, etc at our home so you can pack less of that. However, if you like a certain kind, feel free to bring it.
-If we are traveling during your stay to hotels, do bring a little bottle of conditioner if it something you like to use. European hotels don’t provide this. One of my pet peeves!!
-We only have one bathroom, so you may want a light robe or something to walk around in.
-The water is completely safe here and yummy. They have fountains everywhere. Bring a bottle to save money on buying bottled water.
-A large daybag or backpack could be handy for the plane carry-on and you
could also take it on our day trips.
-Women should bring a purse that zips fully and is secure. The main type of crime in Europe is pickpocketing, not violent crime, so you should select a purse that can be
closed up easily.
-If you are doing a smaller trip without us, you are welcome to borrow a backpack or small suitcase of ours.
Finances and Budgeting:
-Depending on where we go, you could need Swiss Francs and Euros (over the border). We recommend that you use an ATM card to take out money at an ATM here. There are a lot of ATMs at the Geneva airport, and around town. You could get them before you leave the US, but most banks charge $10 or so to order them for you, which is more than your fee will be taking the cash out here.
-You can use your credit card for big activities like train tickets, cable car rides and hotels. But, please be warned you’re your card could have a fee associated with it, at 1-2% for International purchases. Also, do not assume you can use your credit card at restaurants, convenience stores, or for street food….this is more of a cash society and they are often not taken.
-Call your credit card company beforehand if you plan to use your card while you are here….just to avoid it being shut off when they see a European purchase
-Switzerland is expensive! We can make meals at home as much as you like, such as breakfasts and dinners, but here is what to budget:
-Breakfast out if not provided by us or hotel: around 10 CHF for coffee & a pastry
-Lunches out: 15 CHF minimum but most places are 20-30 CHF
-Dinners out: 20-30 CHF minimum
-A soda or a water at a cafe: 5-6 CHF
-Train tickets: One hour away – about 30 CHF, two hours, about 50 CHF. See tomorrow’s train post for savings.
-If we’ll be taking public transportation, it only takes coins (3.50 CHF/one or 8-10 CHF/day), so keep your change. Also note that it doesn’t give change so its good to have lots of change handy so that you have the right amount.
-The exchange rate fluctuates between 10-20% over the dollar. So just know that if its marked CHF, its 10-20% more than the USD depending on when your visit is.
Other Travel tips:
-Make a color copy of your passport to slip into each luggage that you bring. Just in case it is stolen, its easier to recover with a copy.
-Always be aware of your belongings. Keep purses and backpacks in your lap on public transportation vs. at your side or on your back. Keep purses in your lap when eating at a restaurant vs. on the back of your chair. If you sit your backpack down on the ground when you are eating, loop your foot through the strap so that it can’t be grabbed. We don’t mean to scare you as you’ll be safe….the crime is just limited to theft. However, we know many very smart and alert people who have been robbed in Europe. Just remember, it is these people’s profession and they are GOOD at stealing.
-If you are traveling without us, its good practice to pick up a hotel card so you always have it in case you get lost, you can use it to get directions or a cab ride.