Our journey from Switzerland to Italy was filled with several misadventures and these are the TOP 3 lessons that we have learned.
1. Do not stay at HotelF1 Mulhouse Bale Aeroport if you are travelling with elderly
In my experience, hotels located next to airports are generally expensive like the Crowne Plaza Changi Airport, Radisson Blu Hotel Manchester Airport, and the stretch of hotels along the Delhi Aerocity region.
Therefore, I was certainly thrilled when I found a hotel that was located right next to Basel Airport (EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg) that was offering rooms that were much cheaper than those in the city center of Basel. The reason is that the hotel was located in the French territory and the cost of living in France is significantly lower than in Switzerland.
Without much hesitation, I booked it for our last night in Switzerland, all ready to flash our passports and cross the border to France, just to save some dime.
（一） 如果您与老人同行，请勿入住HotelF1 Mulhouse Bale Aeroport
因此，当我发现一家位于巴塞尔机场 (EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg) 旁边的酒店提供比巴塞尔市中心便宜多的客房时，我非常兴奋，毫不犹豫地为我们在瑞士的最后一夜预订了一晚。这酒店之所以会比较便宜是因为位于法国境内而法国的生活消费低于瑞士。即使要出示护照并越过边境前往法国，如果能省点钱，我当时侯预订住宿时认为是值得的。
HotelF1 Mulhouse Bale Aeroport ( 87 Euros / S$127 for 3 Pax)
Photo via Red Devilz Raj/FB
On a side note, if you are coming from the west and planning to base yourself in a country (e.g. Malaysia, Johor Bahru) that has a lower cost of living and making day trips to the neighbouring country (e.g. Singapore), be prepared to stand in line for a few hours at the custom to cross the border. You can check out this article for some hacks on how you can potentially shave off some waiting time.
Nevertheless, it was not a bed of roses getting to our hotel either. This is because you can only walk or take a taxi to get to the hotel. I had no qualms about walking but it was a big issue for my dad who suffers from joint pain from prolonged standing and walking.
However, if you plan to take a taxi from the hotel to the airport, it will cost you 15-20 Euros even though it is just a 5-10 mins car ride. Uber does not work in this area so you can only get the hotel staff to order a cab on your behalf. Therefore, when you add up all the taxi bills, you may not save much at the end of the day as compared to staying in a hotel in Basel city center which will give you access to more amenities and sightseeing attractions.
2. Never exchange money at Europe airports
Another lesson that I learned was never to change money at Europe airports ever again. These service providers charge a hefty service charge. For SGD 100 that I changed, I ended up losing SGD 27 on the exchange fee changing at the Western Union counter in Basel Airport. I thought I would never fall for such a “trap” after watching this heroic video. Alas, I was so wrong.
The usual prudent and energetic me would have easily spotted this exorbitant service fee. However, 3 days of travelling had weathered me down and I was certainly not at my personal best that day. Coupled with a cute and charming guy that was stationed at the counter to create small talks to distract me, I was completely disarmed and did not bother checking my receipt or seeking clarifications.
This mistake hit me hard when I thought about all the time that I cajoled my dad to walk a little more instead of taking taxis to save a few dimes. I certainly need to improve on this aspect as a daughter and prioritise my dad’s well-being above anything else. I will be compiling a guide to planning an age-friendly travel itinerary in time to come to share what I learned from travelling with my parents who are in their mid-sixties in 2022.
3. Do not take transit flights if you are flying with budget airlines
Unfortunately, the worst was yet to come for my parents. Our flight to Venice from Basel had to transit at Naples Airport. The two flights were catered by 2 airlines, EasyJet and Wizz Air. When the first leg of the flight with EasyJet was delayed by 40 minutes, we had only 20 mins to transit at Naples Airport. I made my parents run across the airport to catch our next flight, not knowing that the second leg of the flight with Wizz Air was also delayed.
It was the most traumatic experience having to beg people to let us pass at the security check and not knowing what we should do if we were to miss our flight. My best advice is to never book a transit flight with budget airlines because it is not worth the stress and trauma. Change your destination and itinerary if need be!
Fortunately, these were the only major hiccups in our 11-days-trip and our remaining journey in Italy was really smooth-sailing even though half the time I was really worried that we would get mugged or scammed. In the next article, I will be sharing with you all the interesting sites and insights we experienced in Venice which I can’t wait to tell you more!
我们从巴塞尔(Basel) 飞往威尼斯(Venice) 的航班必须在那不勒斯（Naples) 机场中转。这两个航班由两家不同的航空公司 EasyJet 和 Wizz Air 提供服务。当 EasyJet 的第一段航班延误四十分钟时，我们只有二十分钟在那不勒斯机场转机。我们胆战心惊，飞奔似地赶下一班航班，却不知情Wizz Air 的第二段航班也延误了。