We just returned from a week in the Swiss Alps, and I still feel like I am floating … or maybe that’s just jet lag? Really though, this trip was one we will all remember forever, and I wanted to record a few of my favorite memories and moments, plus a few helpful tips for those of you who may be traveling abroad with a wee one. Enjoy!
:: Water troughs adorned with fresh wildflower bouquets
:: The sound of cowbells and bird song.
:: Hiking everyday, even if it was just a walk down the (steep!) hill into town.
:: Fresh croissants and breads from the local bakery each morning.
:: Watching Bixby play and explore with his cousins.
And a few tips…
- Pack light. I only brought the single bag you see above, plus an empty canvas tote tucked inside. Ben brought a small wheelie bag with both his and Bixby’s clothes in it. It’s freeing! I did such a good job of packing light I ended up having plenty of room for my big camera, which I was considering leaving at home.
- Have a mission. We started reading How to Train a Dragon before the trip, and decided there were probably dragons in Switzerland — which led to hours of dragon games and dragon hunting on the trail. Engaging the imagination is a great way to keep kids entertained!
- Seek the best treats. Switzerland has amazing chocolates; in Italy you may want to sample the gelato from every shop; in Vienna the pastries, and so on. It’s vacation! Go a little crazy on the treats.
- Go in a group. We were so lucky to be traveling with Bixby’s cousins — it made all the difference in the world! Traveling with family or friends takes some of the strangeness out of visiting a new place.
- Stay in a house. We had a large group, so we split up with most of us in a chalet, and the rest in an apartment. Both had well-stocked kitchens and laundry, so we were able to eat meals, relax, and wash clothes at home. It’s often more affordable than a hotel, and feels so much easier when traveling with little ones.
- Always bring a rain jacket! A lightweight rain jacket for each person takes up barely any space, can be used as a windbreaker, and is a lifesaver in places with unpredictable weather.
- Find playgrounds. The Swiss have some of the best playgrounds I have ever seen, and they were tucked in everywhere, from train stations to mountain restaurants. Bixby got to jump on trampolines, slide down giant hillside slides, and swing on swing sets with panoramic views. Some playgrounds had gorgeous natural features, like streams for the children to splash in, and tunnels tucked into the hillside.
And a few more moments…
:: Waking to see the sunrise over the Alps.
:: Spending everyday with our family, no work, no school, no distractions.
:: Sitting in a cafe, sipping a cappuccino while listening to people speaking German.
:: Watching Bixby experience a new place, a new culture, a new landscape for the first time.
:: Riding Swiss trains and watching the scenery roll by.
:: Finally having a moment to breath, and think about big-picture things instead of being swept up in day-to-day busyness.
:: That feeling that a single week felt longer than the past month, and knowing it was because we were mindful of every moment.
And finally, a few details about where we were…
- We stayed in Grindelwald at chalet Rivendell and Hotel Bodmi.
- We took a day trip to the Ballenberg open-air folk museum, which was lovely (and huge!) with lots of hands-on activities for kids, like learning to saw, carve wood, and pump water.
- The hike to Pfingstegg was a favorite, steep and a little cliff-y, but worth it as you are rewarded with spectacular views and a restaurant, playground, and toboggan run at the top, plus a lift to take you back down to Grindelwald.
- We also took the lift to First, though at this time of year it was still a bit wintery up there! There is also a really excellent looking playground at the lower lift stop of Bort, with hiking from there as well.
- This is my bag — I got it for this trip, and it’s my new favorite. Just the right size, super light, and the backpack straps zip away to turn it into a duffel.
The morning after we returned home, Bixby said he wanted to go back to Switzerland. I call that success! I felt like we could have easily traveled for the next month, and I can’t wait to start planning for another trip. xo Laura