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This Is How We Traveled Switzerland for Free

Times are weird right now. Love is met with hate, advocacy is met with ignorance, and courage is met with complacency. In these trying times, I try to invest my time and energy into things that create peace within us and around us. This is why I have so much pride in an organization that is dedicated to peace building.

In 2009, I joined Servas when I backpacked through Europe with my friend Charlotte. It was then that I learned about their mission to foster "peace and understanding through travel and hosting." It was an incredible experience that made me feel connected to humankind. It showed me how uncommon people can always find common ground. And it also taught me how to pack a backpack like a boss.

This past year, I photographed Sisi & Rosa's wedding in Iceland (pictured above) and decided it would be the perfect opportunity to take Taylor on an adventure through Europe. And, of course, it only felt natural that I first reach out to my network of peace builders and hosts in Servas. But more on that later. First, let me tell you more about what Servas is and the ways you can get involved!


As a Servas traveler, you can visit Servas hosts anywhere in the world.

Apart from saving money while traveling, Servas offers incredible experiences by simply connecting us to the people around us. Traveling suddenly gains deeper meaning, enriching conversations, and surprising knowledge you would have never gained if you traveled on your own. It's like having a personal tour guide who can show you all the hidden gems, help you navigate a new place, teach you how to cook authentic food, and tell you the history of where your feet meet the ground.


As a Servas host, you can host any Servas traveler in your home from anywhere around the world.

This means that you get to give travelers an incredible cultural experience. You can introduce them to your favorite spots and make connections with people you wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity to.

One of the biggest perks to being a host is the ability to travel domestically and stay with other US hosts through the Servas host-to-host program.



I have made lifelong friends with the people I've met through Servas. Friends who I've connected with over cuisine that would blow your mind and hikes that you wouldn't believe if I painted a picture of the them myself. Here are a few of the people Taylor and I met throughout our trip that made a tremendous impact on our experience.

Lilo Hirsiger: we stayed in Lilo's backyard camper during our July visit to Scherzingen, Switzerland. She took us on hikes, cooked authentic Swiss cuisine for us, and introduced us to "Altnau," a place for swimming. We brought each Servas host a Ohio-themed dish towel that I purchased from elm & IRON to give them a taste of our home, too!

Karl-Heinz: we stayed with Karl in Lengwil, Switzerland on a beautiful organic farm. (We picked black currants in the morning and hiked to gorgeous views in the evening. It was insane!)

Amy Carroll: Amy, a native to Michigan who now lives in Vevey Switzerland, took us to the best farmer's market and showed us a place to swim and relax with other locals!




I cannot say enough wonderful things about this organization. If you're thinking about joining, please contact me! I interview potential new members in Ohio and would love to chat more over a cup of coffee. In the meantime, you can read about how to become a Servas traveler or how to become a Servas host!

I'll leave you with a few last photos from our travels. I look forward to chatting with you soon!

All photos are taken by Emma Parker Photography.

For more information, please contact Emma.

Follow Emma on Facebook and Instagram.

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