December 12, 2017
When people think about traveling safe and traveling smart when on vacation they usually think about pickpockets.
This is certainly something to think of and it can happen in any country, including Switzerland, but here there are other aspects of your safety that should be given higher priority while in Switzerland.
Before we get into the ins and outs of worry-free travel in Switzerland, be sure to visit your countries travel advisory website to read up-to-date information about traveling Switzerland. Useful information, like entry/exit visa information, is typically discussed there as well. You certainly don’t want to travel all the way to Switzerland and get turned away at the border!
Now, the basic details of traveling to any country is to be aware of thieves and other ne‘er–do–wells at train stations and airports in large towns – for Switzerland that is Zurich and Geneva and perhaps the capital, Bern.
After that, one should also be aware that terrorist attacks have, unfortunately, happened in a few countries in Europe in the past several years. While Switzerland has not had any major attacks, one should always be vigilant when attending events that draw a lot of people to one area, such as football games or Christmas markets.
For most people though, crowds aren’t what they are looking for when vacationing in Switzerland. They want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and into nature. Luckily, an abundance of nature is on offer for adventurous (and not so adventurous) people in Switzerland. This ranges from hiking, skiing and mountain biking opportunities; to more extreme sports like paragliding and base jumping.
Due to the amount of outdoor, physical activities people tend to enjoy when in Switzerland, medical insurance should be a top priority for every traveler. There is nothing worse than having a fall when hiking at altitudes (sometimes over 3000 meters)! Even a minor fall resulting in a twisted ankle can mean a mountain rescue – if a helicopter is involved (and it often can be here) costs could be well over $20,000 USD. Current emergency numbers in Switzerland are: 117 for the police, 118 for the fire department and 144 for an ambulance and of course rescue by helicopter is 1414 – a good number to know!
If you decide to hire a car while in Switzerland, to tackle some of the world’s most amazing roads, you also need to be aware of Swiss traffic laws. Switzerland is extremely diligent about enforcing their traffic laws. Cameras are located all over Swiss towns and on highways to catch speeders. Fines start at 40 Swiss Francs for 1 kilometer per hour over the speed limit – and fines go up sharply from there! Due to these high fines, many Swiss drivers will slow down very quickly when there is a speed limit change – so be alert!
If you don’t want to worry about speeding fines or the steep mountain passes of Switzerland you should consider taking a train. Trains while traveling Switzerland are an excellent and efficient way to see this country and will allow you to sit back, relax and enjoy the amazing scenery passing by your window. Furthermore, many mountains are only accessible by train or gondola; so, you will need to park the car at some point to enjoy all of Switzerland’s beauty.
Some people often worry about their luggage when traveling by train. While you should keep an eye on your luggage; it is quite rare for things to go missing on Swiss trains but it is a good habit to get into. There are almost always luggage racks (or just empty space) at each end of a train carriage where you can keep larger suitcases etc. Small luggage/backpacks can usually be kept behind/below your seat or above you on a small luggage rack.
Be sure to keep your valid ticket/rail pass and your ID/passport on you for safety and for when train employees ask to see your ticket – riding without a valid ticket or rail pass will result in you being required to buy a ticket on the spot (much more expensive than buying a ticket before boarding) as well as a fine for traveling without a valid ticket.
Be sure not to let these notes of warning discourage you from traveling Switzerland. With the knowledge gained here and some practical sense while traveling you will no doubt have a safe and enjoyable holiday in Switzerland!