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Driving from Essex to Switzerland(27 Posts)
We are going to Interlaken, Switzerland from Essex for Christmas. Are we crazy to consider driving there with our 4 and 6 year old children?
Flights and car hire are looking to be at least £300 more expensive than petrol/ channel tunnel/ insurance/ breakdown cover, etc.
Any thoughts? Will it be a nightmare?
No advice but ive been twice pre dc and it's stunning. We plan to drive there next summer with dc 5 and 7. I don't think it's a crazy idea!!!
Just seen you said Christmas! I went for Xmas too!! I would be wary of the mountainous snow driving, but I'm sure you can educate yourself on this! I went by coach at Xmas and drive in the summer.
Never driven to Switzerland but have driven to the south of France a lot, and Austria. Much prefer driving, chuck the kids and all their stuff in and just go!
We've done it from Lancashire to Chamonix which us about 4 hours linger bith in winter and summer conditions.
For winter remember to have winter tyres on your car! That is essential.
I've inly Fri an to interlaken once and that was in autumn and it's a nice drive.
Thank you, I feel very reassured. I guess it takes just as long to travel to the airport, get through it, fly, get bags, rent car and drive again.
I shall stop doubting myself and book the channel tunnel then!
Do you have the right tyres? Is snow clearance efficient on the roads you will be using? Are you confident driving on ice/snow?
If the answers to those are yes, I'd go for it.
Remember driver will be on the wrong side of the car once you cross, I don't know how awkward that is.
We will have to drive regardless whether it is our car or a rented car out there. I am definitely not confident about it.
No idea about snow clearance. We will have to adapt our car.
Ooh Interlaken is one of my favourite places. We did it with DD when she was 7. Although we sailed from Hull to Rotterdam on the overnight ferry which was fab, then stopped with relatives in Zurich on the way. And it was summer. Although our car was badly damaged by hailstones whilst in Interlaken. .
The Swiss will have very efficient snow clearance, but you will definitely need winter tyres. I think it might be a criminal offence in Switzerland to drive without them in winter. I could be wrong though.
We've done this route a fair few times. Oxford to Lauterbrunnen (then on the train up to Wengen) which is just a little bit further up the road from Interlaken.
Our kids are now 11, 9 and 6 but we've done it about 4 times at varying ages. And many times before kids.
We've done it stopping overnight around Strasbourg, and in mid france but our preferred journey is leave straight from school on the Friday and drive to hotel at folkstone, get on the channel tunnel train (using tesco clubcard vouchers) around 6.20am. Then it takes us about 10 hours to drive to Lauterbrunnen so we end up in Wengen in time for a late dinner.
Ours have never minded long car journeys as we have other family that lives near Inverness and with 3 kids, driving to both scotland and switzerland is much much cheaper than flying.
It's motorway all the way to Interlaken so you won't need to worry about driving in the snow, and at Christmas it's very unlikely there will be snow on the ground in Interlaken itself, it is surrounded by mountains but is very low itself. From Interlaken you can get the train up the mountains if you want to get to snow.
We tend to feed them in the car, we drive for 3 hours, stop stretch everyone's legs, have a run around and then get back in the car and eat our sandwiches etc whist moving. I don't see the point in stopping to sit down and eat as you're already sitting in the car for hours and hours. We also both drive so we can share the driving.
Getting a Liber-T tag for the tolls on the french motorways. Means you can use the lanes with a T above them at the toll barriers and can sail through without stopping, it automatically blips your tag attached to your windscreen and you will be billed at the end of the month. The queues can get very long otherwise if you're travelling to/from Calais in the holiday period. You will also need a tax vingette for the Swiss motorways.
We've never had in car dvd players but lots of people do. If you don't mind driving and your kids travel well, then go for it, not mad at all. By the time you've allowed for queueing at airports and boarding etc and then got the train to interlaken, it really isn't that much longer journey time to go by car and you're not limited in amount of luggage etc that you can take, and it's cheaper!
With respect to winter tyres, we've probably been around 10 times, 9 of those in December or February, and drive much further up the mountain than Interlaken. We've never had winter tyres as the cost would probably outweight the savings over flying, we'd never use them here and don't have anywhere to store 4 tyres. We have taken snow chains, which work out much cheaper (and practised putting them on) but never had to use them.
That is so helpful. Was just pricing up winter tyres and thinking we’d be better off to fly.
I’ve found snow chains £60 per pair, I wonder whether I can find some second hand.
I was thinking about getting a cheaper fixed time ticket for the channel tunnel on the way there and then a flexi ticket for the way home because we cannot guarantee traffic. Does this sound sensible?
Yes, we got our snow chains from ebay. Remember you only need them on your driving wheels so unless you have a 4x4 one pair is sufficient. But as I say, Interlaken is not mountainous, it is very very unlikely you will come across snow.
There will be a lot of british traffic heading back after the holidays. There will be big queues but as long as you turn up within 2 hours either side of your timed slot, they will just put you on the next available train (which could be a couple of hours wait if you've missed your timed slot). Even if you're later than that it's not a problem, they are used to people being stuck in traffic. You won't have to pay any extra for this.
If you're travelling back on the Saturday or Sunday, in our experience, they roughly try and board you according to your ticket but in reality, you all get put in a big overflow pen with different lines and they just keep the boarding rolling as quick as they can. You can be waiting a couple of hours though.
Don't bother paying extra for a flexi ticket, that's more for if you need to change your day of travel, not for if your just a bit late for check in .
I've done that exact journey but not with DC. It's easily doable especially if you add in a couple of stopovers to make the journey part of the holiday.
On the way there we stopped off in Rheims (champagne caves) and Besancon (beautiful medieval town) and on the way back in the Black Forest and somewhere in Belgium (horrible hotel, low point of the trip).
Have fun planning!
Is it really motorway all the way to Interlaken now? One of the best bits is driving down past the lakes.
If it's not motorway its national speed limit roads, even down the sides of the lake. Beautiful but not for pootling. By the time we get there in winter it's dark anyway.
If you want to go non motorway of course you can but it will take longer, as we do it all in one day, time is of the essence.
Your advice has been invaluable, thank you so much.
I’ve booked the tunnel, we are committed!
Oooh! Can people recommend family friendly accommodation please?
A family member has booked (and paid for!) a massive, very luxury chalet. It’s the only reason we can afford to go, I feel very fortunate.
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