Travel/Flights:
  • Flights to Europe are cheaper after October 1st. I have found flights to be less crowded in the Fall and Winter as well so it is easier to sit a distance away from children and pregnant women.
  • Kayak.com and Momondo.com are my favorite flight search websites.
  • Sometimes flying to a less popular city rather than a major hub is cheaper. For example a one-way ticket from NYC to Geneva was $1500 but a ticket NYC to Lugano in the Italian part of Switzerland (with a change of planes in Geneva ironically) was $700! I rented a car in beautiful Lugano and drove through the Alps to Basel. The second time (mid October) I flew with my son and his family from NYC to Naples for $300, rented a car and visited Italy for ten days before the treatment. Here are a few photos of my second trip. Pizza in Naples for Euro 5.00! My grandson wasn’t happy when it was all gone.

      

  • I guess it depends on how sick you are and if you need to fly directly into Basel. My symptoms seemed to match my one year old grandson’s: eating all the time (my low blood sugar) and napping in between - so it was a win-win.
  • Basel has an international airport so you can fly directly there or fly into Zurich and take the train to Basel, which takes approximately an hour and 15 minutes depending on how many stops your train makes. That gives you more options for finding the best price. But don’t forget you’ll have two train tickets to purchase for approximately $40 each. Flying into Geneva isn’t really practical if you are going straight to the hospital. It would require a two and a half hour train ride north along the Jura mountain range (not the beautiful Alps) and would cost about $100 each.
  • Companion: The first time I went I dragged a friend along because I was unsure how I would feel after the treatment. We arrived Lugano and traveled around post-card perfect Switzerland for two weeks. I used to live in the French-speaking part for 20 years so it was like going back home. In the end the treatment went so well I didn’t really need anyone with me. So for the second treatment, after Italy, my family carried on to France and I went to Basel on my own. In my case I am very familiar and comfortable with the languages and the country but I would not advise you go alone for your first treatment because everyone reacts differently.
  • Hotels:
    • The closest hotel is Hotel Rochat, which is literally across the street and up a block on Petersgraben street, the entrance to the part of the hospital you will use. Prices reasonable, elevators, and the room I stayed in was newly renovated, no parking. IMPORTANT: Hotel Rochat seems to be several buildings connected together by tunnels so there are many short flights of stairs. If that’s a problem ask for a room in the main building.
    • Hotel Spalenthor is not too far away, a nice walk from the hospital through a park, and is located by the ancient city gate called Spalenthor built in the early 1300’s, which is very impressive and not to be missed! This hotel has newly renovated, spacious rooms. Slightly more expensive than Rochat. Limited parking available for $20/night I think. Reserve a spot when you reserve a room if you need parking. Photo of me and the Spalenthor gate in the background.
    • There was a pediatric convention on when I checked out of the hospital the second time, both Rochat and Spalenthor were fully booked, so I booked a room at Steinenschanze Stadthotel. A fifteen minute walk through the lovely old streets of Basel, Tram #16 or a taxi. It was a fine hotel but I’m sure you could find something closer.
    • Another American couple I met in the hospital booked an apartment through Airbnb, which is a great idea if you are with a companion. I’m not sure how much it cost but it’s probably cheaper than a hotel.
    • Hotels: tripAdviser.com; Hotels.com, etc. For rooms and apartments: Airbnb.com; homeaway.com
  • Other Travel Tips:
    • Parking: You can park in the underground parking lot (drive to the right end to be closest to the hospital exits) and exit via Petersgraben street. But be aware – 24 hour parking is at least Sfr.25. Parking in Basel is expensive and scarce. We returned our rental car in Basel upon arrival and rented a new car after the treatment to carry on with our voyage.
    • Plugs: Always a pain in Europe because every country has their own type. Switzerland has a diamond type which can be hard to find. The best one I have found is made by Go Travel but you can find all sorts online and probably cheaper. Be sure it has the added diamond plug that sticks out, which is the Swiss/Italy plug. Also it’s very useful to bring one of those three way American plugs so you can plug three things in and only need one adaptor, and a plug with two USB ports is real handy. Photo is of our debacle in Italy!
    • Car Rental: The smaller the car, the better as streets are so narrow, although Switzerland isn’t too bad. They add on a hefty fee ($450) if you return your car in a different country so we tried to return it in the same country and rent one over the border in the next country whenever possible. An extreme hassle though. For example while you are in the hospital in Basel, your companion can use the train to nip over the border into Germany or France (depending on which country you want to return it to), rent a car and then drive it back to Basel to pick you up. Or you both can go the day they let you out.
    • Driving: If you are doing a driving tour be sure to bring a double USB cigarette lighter plug thing and your GPS.
    • Using Your Cell Phone: I switched to T-Mobile because they have nearly free International calling World-wide! I think for an additional $10 all international texts are free and calls are .20/minute. Data roaming is free too. You don’t get the best speed but it’s definitely enough to use your phone as a GPS. If you go that route be sure to bring a holder for your phone so you are hands free. I use the one that attaches to the air vent because it’s so small: Kenu Airframe Portable Smartphone Car Mount. It costs $23 but I’ve seen copies on Amazon for $8.00.
    • Maps: If you are going to use your cell phone as your GPS, then having a detailed paper map is always handy as a reference while your phone is not available. If you can’t use data roaming while you travel because of your phone plan, then a good paper map is essential if you are traveling by car.
    • Google Maps: You can download static maps from google maps onto your ipad or cell that you can use without internet. But don’t do it too far in advance because it won’t let you use them if they need to be updated (which of course you can’t do if you have no internet - frustrating!)
  • Radiation and Immigration:
    • The first time, we flew home from Shannon, Ireland, which was really great because you go through US immigration in Shannon instead of stateside (Dublin does this as well). It was a lot quicker going through the radiation deal there than doing it stateside. It took me a half hour instead of the three hours it could take in the states. They had me sit in a room with the Geiger counter next to me. I told them they probably wouldn’t find the radiation I had because it wasn’t yet approved in the US, and they didn’t. They were in contact with Washington DC, which is open 24/7. They assured me I wouldn’t miss my flight. If you are arriving stateside, be sure and have a long layover just in case. (Editor's note - it has nothing to do with approvals, it is just the number of isotope that the rapidscan has in the units memory)
    • They don’t detect for radiation at European airports, only the international airports in the US.
    • On my second trip I flew Basel – Heathrow – Austin. The flight from Heathrow to Austin was direct so Austin was my first stop for radiation screening. I have a Global Access pass, so I went straight to the machines, skipping the lines, but once I tried to leave the area (sneak out!) an immigration officer stopped me (they wear radiation monitors on their uniforms). But all I had to do was show him my PRRT paperwork and he let me go. It was sooooo easy and took all of 60 seconds!
    • Basel will give you a paper explaining what treatment you had and the date. When I went through Shannon they told me next time not only to show immigration that paper, but the invoice and the treatment confirmation page as well – in fact he said the more paperwork you can show the faster it will go. So that’s what I did in Austin but he just skimmed them in the end.
    • Josh Mailman and Gary Murfin have a questionnaire on their prrtinfo.org site that you can fill out when you get home to make them aware of any issues with immigration: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1O7x6mDHuea1QavaH4VLYSqdGxOMtK_6m18MWqMS6hgM/viewform