Featured, Travel

Our Switzerland/Italy trip itinerary! Every detail down to every point & dollar we spent.

Sup sup party people.

It’s been much too long since I posted! I need to get my blogging act together. But sometimes the sweet, sweet rays of summer sun, fun with friends, & traveling the world take precedence of this here blog.  I really do have aspirations to be a too legit to quit blogger, and I know consistency is key. However, I never want to turn this blog into a ‘fluff’ blog where I post just to post.  I want to always post helpful, real content.  So forgive my inconsistency & remember that when I DO post, I at least always feel like it’s meaningful 🙂

ANYWAY.

Let’s get to it.

If you guys follow me or Nate on INSTAGRAM (which you totally should!) then you’ll know that the past 2 weeks we spent touring Switzerland & Italy.  We documented each day through pictures (follow me on insta & check it) & a lot of people asked for the details & itinerary of our trip. So without further adieu, here it is!

(This post we are going to focus on how we traveled for free & the overall itinerary.  Stay tuned for a posts about “Dos, Don’ts, & Details of both Switzerland & Italy)

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Monday, July 10

  • Rented a Enterprise car – one way – Pocatello to SLC airport ($35, Nate’s work discount removes one-way charges so we use this a lot)
  • Delta Flight – SLC (17:00) -> CDG (Paris) (11:15 July 11) 
  • FLIGHT GOT DELAYED UNTIL 1 PM ON TUESDAY
  • Our sister, Heidi, came to our rescue. Came and got us late on Monday night, let us crash at her house, then drove us back to the airport the next day

TOTAL SPENT FOR THE DAY: $50 rental car + gas


Tuesday, July 11

What WAS scheduled:

  • Arrive in Paris at 11:15 am
  • Air Canada Lounge only available until 1:30pm 
  • 12:15 subway (“Direct 2”, green line, 1 hr, 7 stops to Eiffel Tower)
    • Eiffel Tower
    • Musee d’Orsay (12 Eur)
    • Louvre
    • Notre Dame
    • Jardin de Luxembourg (free?)
    • Sainte Chappelle
    • Subway from Notre Dame station goes direct to airport
  • Air France Flight: Paris  -> Geneva, Switzerland 
  • Hotel: NH Geneva Airport (7,300 pts – Booked via Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal – didn’t get the points back 🙁 ) 

What actually happened:

  • Delta Flight: SLC  -> Paris (Wednesday morning)
  • Dinner & Breakfast served on plane

TOTAL SPENT FOR THE DAY: 60,000 Delta Airline points


Wednesday, July 12

  • Air France Flight: Paris  -> Geneva, Switzerland
  • Rental car: Hertz  ($200 – one way, drop off at Italian border (Lugano) to save big $$)
  • Lake Geneva
  • Montreaux 
    • Chillon Castle ($30 for 2)
  • Gruyères
    • Gruyeres Cheese Fondue Dinner (10% discount by staying at local hotel – paid about $50 for both of us)
    • Hotel: Hôtel de Gruyères – Free breakfast (Booked through Chase – 12,000 pts)

TOTAL SPENT FOR THE DAY: $280 + 12,000 Chase Points


Thursday, July 13

Gruyères

  • Breakfast at our hotel (super good) + grabbed a couple croissants/fruit for lunch
  • Checked out/paid hotel tax fee ($10)
  • Maison Cailler Chocolate factory ($20 for both of us; got a small discount by staying at local hotel)
  • Castle (outside, free)
  • Wander the village

Bern

  • Wandered & shopped at Bern Old Town
  • Saw the Zytglogge (Bern Clock Tower; outside, free)
  • Bern LDS Temple 

Weggis (up against Lake Lucerne)

  • Dinner at the hotel restaurant  $35)
  • Hotel: Seehof Hotel Du Lac – free breakfast and parking (Booked using a free night through hotels.com; Nate gets free nights by booking his team’s trips through hotels.com  –  “$155” for 1 night)

TOTAL SPENT FOR THE DAY: $65 + hotels.com Free night voucher

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Friday, July 14

Weggis

  • Breakfast at our hotel (again, great) + grabbed a few extra things for lunch
  • Checked out/paid hotel tax fee ($10)
  • Wandered around lake/little town

Lucerne

  • Parked car ($8)
  • Chapel Bridge (free)
  • Jesuit church (free)
  • Wander around (also free)

Drive to Interlaken area (beautiful drive)

Sigriswil

  • Dinner at McDonalds (we were starving and tired – but I will say, even their Mickey D’s food was better!) ($20 for both of us)
  • Hotel: Bären Sigriswil – free breakfast and parking (my favorite hotel we stayed in!) (Booked through Chase – 12,600 pts)

TOTAL SPENT FOR THE DAY: $38 + 12,600 Chase points


Saturday, July 15

Sigriswil

  • Breakfast quickly at hotel + took some lunch for later
  • Checked out/paid hotel tax fee ($10)

Grindelwald

  • Eiger Ultra Trail Race! – 10am 

Drive the Tremola Passatrasse instead of the tunnel (amazing)

Swim in Lavartezzo  (free)

Rental car drop off Lugano 

  • Filled up with gas ($60)

Train to Milano Centrale station + 5 min walk to hotel ($40 for 2)

Milan

  • Dinner at local pizza joint ($12)
  • Gelato ($2)
  • Hotel: Marconi Hotel – (Free hotels.com Voucher – “$216” for 2 nights)

TOTAL SPENT FOR THE DAY: $124 + hotels.com voucher


Sunday, July 16

Milan

  • Breakfast at hotel
  • Buy metro day pass  ($9 for 2)
  • 9:30 Church – Cimiano Ward
  • Bought some snacks for lunch ($8)
  • 14:00 – Skip the Line: Duomo di Milano (Booked through Chase – 4,500 pts for 2)
  • 15:45 – Last Supper – reserved in advance ($24)
  • Shoppin’ (Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II)
  • Dinner ($45)
  • Gelato ($8)

TOTAL SPENT FOR THE DAY: $94 + 4,500 Chase Points


Monday, July 17

Milan

  • Breakfast at hotel
  • Checked out/paid hotel tax ($20)
  • Gelato ($8)

Train to Cinque Terre (3.5 hrs) ($55)

  • Milano Centrale, through Genoa, to Levanto, then to Corniglia

Cinque Terre (Corniglia)

  • Hotel: Beppe’s B&B (Booked through AirBnB – $259 for 2 nights)
  • To-go Pizza ($12)
  • Gelato ($4)

TOTAL SPENT FOR THE DAY: $388


Tuesday, July 18

Cinque Terre National Park (trail entrance fee + train pass $24 for two)

  • Hike from Corniglia -> Vernazza
  • Jump in water
  • Hike from Vernazza -> Monterosso
  • Jump in water
  • Gelato + Snacks ($8)
  • Train from Monterosso -> Corniglia
  • Dinner at home (amazing and only $10 for 2)

TOTAL SPENT FOR THE DAY: $42

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Wednesday, July 19

Train(s) to Venice (5.5 hrs via train – $110 for 2)

  • 4 trains:
    • Corniglia -> La Spezia
      • Lunch ($5)
    • La Spezia -> Viareggio
    • Viareggio -> Venice (Mestre station)
    • Venice (Mestre) -> Venice (Santa Lucia)

Venice

  • Dinner at Dal Moro’s Pasta to Go ($12)
  • Gelato + Drinks ($8)
  • Wander the streets at night (cooler, less crowded)

 

  • Hotel: Hotel Abbazia  – Free breakfast (Booked through Chase – 19,000 pts for 2 nights)

TOTAL SPENT FOR THE DAY: $135 + 19,000 Chase Points


Thursday, July 20

Venice

  • Breakfast at hotel + lunch for later
  • 30-minute Gondola ride (Chase activity – 4,200 pts for 2)
  • Dinner ($30)
  • Gelato + Snack ($10)
  • Virtuosi di Venezia: Vivaldi Four Seasons concert (Chase activity – 4,300 pts for 2)

TOTAL SPENT FOR THE DAY: $40 + 8,500 Chase Points


Friday, July 21

Checked out of hotel/paid tax ($16)

To airport via Bus ($16)

  • 30 min via bus, across bridge from train station 

Flights

  • American Airlines Flight: Venice -> Philadelphia (2 meals served) 
  • Use American Airlines Admirals Lounge passes (Free food in lounge; this was our dinner)
  • Minute Suites lounge – hour-long bedrooms available (took advantage of this & took a power nap) 
  • American Airlines Flight: Philadelphia -> Salt Lake City

Arrive in Salt Lake at Midnight

TOTAL SPENT FOR THE DAY: $32 + 60,000 American Airline miles


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How we got all the points we used to book flights, activities, & hotels:

2 Flights to Europe (60,000 points):

  • American Express Gold Delta Card 50,000 points sign up bonus (after spending $1000 on it the first 3 months) + 3,000 points from earned from using it on purchases. Has no annual fee for the first year (it bounces between a 30k sign up bonus and 50k sign up bonus…wait for the 50k!) (53,000)
  • We already had leftover Delta Airline miles that we used (7,000)
    • Got these from signing up for the American Express Everyday Card a long time ago. The sign up bonus & perks aren’t as great as other cards, but it never has an annual fee so you don’t have to cancel it and can accumulate points over time.

Hotels, Activities, & Airport Lounges (56,000 points total + 3 Free night Vouchers):

  • 3 Free hotel nights from hotels.com
    • If you reserved 10 hotel rooms through hotels.com they give you a free night.  We rack up the free nights because Nate books a lot of hotel rooms for his job.  So unless you book a ton of hotel rooms, this will be harder to accumulate free nights.
  • Chase Sapphire Reserved – 100,000 points + $300 travel credit + access to Priority Club (gets you into a ton of airport lounges) sign up bonuses. $450 annual fee NOT WAIVED but with the $300 cash travel credit and all the perks this card offers, it definitely is worth the annual fee. (all 56,000 points came from this card)
    • This card doesn’t have this high of sign up bonus very often. So you will probably have to wait awhile for this deal to come up again. If you are looking to take a trip sooner than later, I would highly recommend the Chase Sapphire Preferred card! It has 50,000 points sign up bonus (after spending $4,000 on it in the first 3 months) & you can still use these points to book hotels, activities, etc.  AND it has NO ANNUAL FEE the first year opposed to the $450 from the other card.  So if you want to go on a trip soon, sign up for this card and get those 50,000 very valuable points. Check it out HERE.

All other trip necessities not booked with points: ($1,288 Cash)

  • Rental Cars & Gas – $310
  • Hotel Tax + Airbnb for 2 nights – $325
  • Trains – $230
  • Activities – $106
  • Food – $287
  • Misc.+ Souvenirs – $30

2 Flights Home (60,000 points):

  • American Airlines AAdvantage Citi card – 50,000 points sign up bonus after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months.  Annual Fee waived the first year (it bounces between a 30k sign up bonus and 50k sign up bonus…wait for the 50k!) (50,000)
  • We had extra American Airlines points that we got in various ways; I don’t even remember where we got all of them haha but that’s what we used to make up the rest of the miles (10,000)

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And there you have it.  Seriously every point & dollar we spent. So for 2 weeks in Switzerland/Italy (which are a couple of the most expensive countries to travel to) we only spent $1,288 cash for 2 people. That’s only $644 a person!! And I honestly didn’t feel like we were restricted or went cheap on anything.  Yes, we tried to spend as little as possible on breakfast & lunch…but that’s only because we wanted more money for nice dinners & lots of gelato. Loooots of gelato.  Could we have spent more money? You always can. Could we have spent less? yes, but we believe that when you travel you have to splurge a little and really take full advantage of it.

I quickly did a rough estimate of what this trip would have cost had we not used points for flight, hotels, & a few of the activities and it would have totaled about $6,600 dollars! ($3,000 flights, $2,100 hotels, $1,500 for transportation/food/activities) By taking a year to get 3 different credit cards we were able to save about $5,300 dollars. I mean, really. It’s SO SO worth it to get credit cards (read HERE to find out how to own & use credit cards wisely)

The reason we share all of this is because we are HUGE advocates of traveling (obviously, ha). Not only is it just plain ol fun, it really gives you appreciation for other cultures, races, and every single time we come home from a big trip like this I am overwhelmed with gratitude for my life I have here in ol’ Idaho, USA. It gives you SO much perspective & I really think that it’s something that every one could benefit from.

So even if you aren’t rolling in the dough (we definitely aren’t; we live on a strict, smallish budget) It is POSSIBLE to travel the world & do it well on a very small budget. All it takes is some saving (which, with points, can happen in less than a year) & some planning and you can be on your way.

So grab a few credit cards, pick a location, and get on your way! The world is waiting.

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PS Stay tuned for 2 more posts about what we loved, what we didn’t, and our tips to make your trip even more affordable & enjoyable!

-till next time-