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Visiting the Historic Sites of Trier, Germany

Visiting the Historic Sites of Trier, Germany | CosmosMariners.com

The last stop we made in Germany before crossing the border into Luxembourg was in Trier, a mid-sized town of just over 100,000. Located on the Moselle River, Trier is a typical German town, much like dozens of others you can find in the Moselle wine region. But one thing sets Trier apart: the town claims that it has been continually inhabited since 1300 BC (give or take a few years).

How to Spend 2 Days in Charming Luxembourg

How to Spend 2 Days in Charming Luxembourg | CosmosMariners.com

I will fully admit that my knowledge of world geography stinks. I'm okay with the biggies on each continent, but when you start getting into the smaller countries, I struggle a bit. So, with that in mind, don't make too much fun of me when I share this next tidbit of knowledge: I don't think that I could've found Luxembourg on a map if you'd paid me a million dollars prior to October of 2015.

One wonderful thing about traveling (and travel blogging) is that I am exposed to and read about many, many different countries, so--good news!--my geography is slowly improving every day. And, for an even bigger slice of that good news pie, I'm happy to report that some of these countries that I didn't have a clue about are actually well worth your and my time.

Hotel Sonne: A History-themed Inn in the Heart of Füssen, Germany | A Review

Hotel Sonne: A Review of a History-themed Inn in the Heart of Füssen, Germany | CosmosMariners.com

This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase through one of the links, I will receive a small commission at no additional charge to you. 

After several fun days in Munich and Ettal, our road trip through Germany next took us to the picturesque Bavarian town of Füssen. The day of our arrival was grey and rainy, but we were excited to explore the city and the famous Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau castles nearby.

Before we could  do any of that, we wanted to get settled into our room at our hotel, the Hotel Sonne. After reading dozens of reviews online for the Hotel Sonne and other accommodations in and around Füssen, my family and I had settled on this place because of its excellent reviews and unique historical theming.

Bacharach, the Romantic Rhine, and the Marksburg Castle Visit that Never Happened

Bacharach, the Romantic Rhine, and the Marksburg Castle Visit that Never Happened | CosmosMariners.com

For the most part, our trip to Germany ran smoothly: we stuck to our schedule, all of the hotels we'd booked were waiting on us, and we stayed on budget.

But, there were a few times scattered across that two week road trip that we floundered despite our best efforts.

And that, my friends, brings me to the story of our time in Bacharach, the cutest little town on the Romantic Rhine, and why Marksburg Castle just didn't happen for us.

History, Schneeballen, and Murder in Rothenburg ob der Tauber

History, Schneeballen, and Murder in Rothenburg ob der Tauber | CosmosMariners.com

As I was working with my mom and sister to create our road trip itinerary through Germany and Luxembourg (my dad and toddler were also along on the trip, but they had equal interest in contributing to the trip planning), one of us stumbled across Rothenburg ob der Tauber in a guide book and proposed at least a night's stop.

What to Do in Luxembourg: Vianden Castle

What to Do in Luxembourg: Vianden Castle | CosmosMariners.com

You're sitting in a hotel room, and you're wondering what to do in Luxembourg.

If you've got half a day, the answer should be: go to Vianden Castle! My road to visiting Vianden's amazing castle was a long one. Don't make the same mistake that I did and just put it on your list.

You won't be sorry.

9 Reasons Why I Loved Munich, Germany

9 Reasons Why I Loved Munich, Germany | CosmosMariners.com

The first stop on our Germany and Luxembourg trip was the Bavarian city of Munich. My parents, sister, daughter, and I arrived after an unending flight where my toddler refused to sleep, and we were all exhausted. After being up for 48 hours straight (and nearly 9 of those hours wrestling a two-year-old on an international flight), I was not in a loving mood towards this new city.

Spending a Day in Ettal, Germany: Exploring Schloss Linderhof + Ettal Abbey

Spending a Day in Ettal, Germany: Exploring Schloss Linderhof + Ettal Abbey | CosmosMariners.com

One of the major focuses of our road trip through Germany was Bavaria, mostly because of the Alps and Neuschwanstein Castle.

As we began to research the exact path that we were going to take through the German countryside, my mom, my sister, and I began to realize that the area had so much more to offer than mountains and one (spectacular) castle. We ended up finding so much to do between Munich and Fussen that we had to make some difficult choices on what to skip. Tegelberg Cable Car, I'm coming back for you one day!

A Tale of Two Castles: Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau

A Tale of Two Castles: Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau | CosmosMariners.com

Even if you don't know the name of it, you've definitely seen pictures of it before. As one of the
world's most recognized castles, Neuschwanstein is a must-see stop on most people's visit to Füssen, Germany.

A Tale of Two Castles: Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau | CosmosMariners.com
Neuschwanstein Castle
However, to focus on Neuschwanstein is to learn only half of the story. The smaller, less imposing-- but equally as interesting--Hohenschwangau should be visited as well. Seeing both in a one-two punch will give you a better view of the Ludwig II, the man who links these two properties, and his short, tragic life.

A Tale of Two Castles: Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau | CosmosMariners.com
Hohenschwangau, as seen from Neuschwanstein
When we visited during our 11-day road trip through Germany and Luxembourg, we decided to visit the castles in chronological order. I find it helpful to see how the history builds on each other, but you could easily do them in reverse if you were more familiar with Ludwig's history.

After getting our tickets for both castles, we tried to make our way to Hohenschwangau. I say tried since we weren't quite successful the first time. Britton spotted a horse and carriage under a sign that said "rides to castle," so (not thinking) we hopped on it...only to find out that the castle in reference was Neuschwanstein, not Hohenschwangau. We walked back down to the village and then climbed the many stairs up to the correct castle to finally start our day of tours.

A Tale of Two Castles: Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau | CosmosMariners.com
Hohenschwangau
The story that slowly unfolds about Ludwig as you tour the castles is quite a sad one that's filled with lost opportunities, family mysteries, and mental illness.

No Happily Ever After Here

Hohenschwangau is the childhood home of King Ludwig II and Prince Otto, the two children of Maximilian and Marie. Of the two castles, it feels more like a home, and it's easy to imagine the king and queen entertaining in the rooms here.

A Tale of Two Castles: Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau | CosmosMariners.com
Hohenschwangau
After his father passed away suddenly, Ludwig was crowned king at the age of 18. Unlike his more outgoing little brother, Ludwig was withdrawn and private, and had difficulty with large gatherings and social events.

He never married, and, as he grew older, he became more reclusive. In 1869, Ludwig began construction on Neuschwanstein (one of four major construction projects he had going at this time), a castle that he'd dreamed of building in that spot since he was a boy at Hohenschwangau.

A Tale of Two Castles: Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau | CosmosMariners.com
Neuschwanstein peeking through the fog
Ludwig, who was deeply disappointed that he hadn't been born into a monarchy with absolute power, spent his time brooding over his lack of governmental control. He admired France's Louis XIV, who had the type of power for which Ludwig wished. If he couldn't have that kind of ruling power, Ludwig decided that he'd start spending his money and time on making structures that reminded him of the ornate Versailles.

In the portion of Neuschwanstein that was finished, you'll be able to see the intricate details on every inch of every room. Ludwig was close friends with composer Richard Wagner, and you'll see references to Wagner's operas, including Tristan und Isolde, Parsifal, and Lohengrin in the expansive murals. Unlike Hohenschwangau, Neuschwanstein seems isolated, dark, and quiet. It's not hard to imagine the haunted Ludwig wandering the silent rooms by himself in the middle of the night (in his later years, he would often stay up all night and sleep all day, so as to avoid visitors).

At the age of 40, Ludwig was deemed to be mentally unwell and was taken from Neuschwanstein to Berg Castle so he could be watched. Just three days after arriving, Ludwig's body was found floating in the nearby lake next to the body of his supervising doctor.

A Tale of Two Castles: Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau | CosmosMariners.com

The family difficulties extended to Ludwig's little brother as well.

Otto, as the second son, was sent into military service and served during the Austro-Prussian and Franco-Prussian Wars. As a direct result of his military service, Otto began to grow depressed and distant; he was ultimately deemed mentally ill and placed under the medical supervision of several doctors and his uncle Luitpold. Although Otto was declared king by the Bavarian cabinet after Ludwig's diagnosis of mental illness (and subsequent death), he wasn't ever able to rule, and his uncle Luitpold served as Prince Regent until Otto died.

So, by 1916, you have two deceased brothers and no direct heirs. Neuschwanstein was never finished and sat vacant for years until it was turned into the touring destination that it is today.

There are all sorts of theories about what exactly happened to Ludwig and Otto, as it's very possible that their mental illnesses were invented, exaggerated, or not treated properly for political gain. Ludwig's death in particular is highly suspicious, as he was a strong swimmer and likely wouldn't have drowned in the shallow water in which he was found.

Knowing all of that, it's strange to me that people look at Neuschwanstein at this fairy tale castle, as Ludwig's life was anything but a fairy tale. Walt Disney, who visited during the 1940s and then used it as inspiration for the castle that appears in Sleeping Beauty, is partially to blame for this, but there are many visitors who don't even consider the history of this area when they're putting Neuschwanstein on their itineraries.

A Tale of Two Castles: Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau | CosmosMariners.com
Braving the rain as we trekked to Neuschwanstein
Walking through Hohenschwangau first gives you some sense of the potential both brothers had as children, while a follow up visit to Neuschwanstein shows you the darker chapter of this family's legacy.

Both castles are well worth a visit, and, if you're anywhere near Fussen, I highly recommend a stop. There are guided tours in multiple languages, including English and German, throughout the day.

Practical Things to Know Before You Visit

Know How to Get to the Castles
While the only way up to Hohenschwangau is via your own two feet, you've got some options when it comes to getting to Neuschwanstein. You can walk, but it's quite a long trek, and there's a steady incline the entire 20-30 minute way up. You also have the option of taking a horse and carriage (€6 per person, kids 3 and under free) or a bus (€1.50 per person, kids 3 and under free). The horse and carriage gives you more of an idea of what Ludwig experienced on his way up to the castle, but the horse and carriage stops below the castle. The bus is quicker and stops above the castle.

A Tale of Two Castles: Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau | CosmosMariners.com
After we rode up in this carriage, Britton said, "Danke schön, horses."
Make sure to pay attention to the entrance times on your tickets. 
You can't show up late for your tour, or you won't be able to enter the castle. There's no free time to wander on your own on either tour, so the tours are kept to a very strict schedule. Show up at the right time, or risk missing out completely.

A Tale of Two Castles: Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau | CosmosMariners.com

Pick your parking carefully.
There are several parking lots in the village of Hohenschwangau, but the best one is lot 4. Lot 4 is right at the base of Hohenschwangau Castle, across the street from the bus stop and public restrooms, and just up the street from the ticket center.

Have you visited either of these castles? What do you enjoy more when visiting a place like this: the history or the architecture?
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Paying Our Respects 70 Years Later: World War II, My Family, and the Luxembourg American Cemetery

 Paying Our Respects 70 Years Later: World War II, My Family, and the Luxembourg American Cemetery | CosmosMariners.com

I don't know when I first heard about my grandmother's brother.

I had to be very young because I remember always knowing that my great-uncle Ernest was killed in World War II. He'd been killed by friendly fire towards the end of the war, my grandmother had told me. On rare occasions, she'd take out his Purple Heart (which was normally kept in its box in the dining room sideboard) and let us see it.

Paying Our Respects 70 Years Later: World War II, My Family, and the Luxembourg American Cemetery | CosmosMariners.com
My great-uncle Ernest (on the right) in the only picture that my grandmother has of him
Even decades later, it was obvious to me that Ernest's death had greatly affected my grandma. After he'd been killed, he'd been buried in Luxembourg. We weren't sure why my great-grandfather had chosen to leave his son's body there: it would've been free to have it shipped home.

At some point, the idea of going to the Luxembourg American Cemetery began to be bandied about between my grandmother, my grandfather, and my mom. My grandfather was actually very close to my great-uncle Ernest--it was because of their friendship that my grandparents actually met. I imagine that my grandfather, who was a World War II Pacific theatre veteran, would have liked visiting his old friend one last time.

My grandparents were going to Germany and Luxembourg to see the grave back in 2001--but, just days before they left, 9/11 happened. They got spooked, canceled the trip, and never planned another. My grandfather passed away in late 2013 without ever going on that journey.

About a year ago, my grandmother began talking about finally going to see Ernest's grave. She wanted us to come with her, and our preliminary plans began to take shape.

As we firmed up our itinerary, it became obvious that my grandmother wouldn't be able to keep up. She's still in great health, but she has trouble walking long distances. About 8 months ago, she decided that she wasn't going, but she wanted the rest of us to keep planning the trip in her absence.

A month ago, my mom, dad, sister, daughter, and I climbed aboard a plane to begin our journey towards finally seeing my great-uncle Ernest's final resting place. After 10 days of working our way across southern and western Germany, we arrived in Luxembourg, and, on a foggy fall morning, we entered the golden gates of the American Cemetery.


Paying Our Respects 70 Years Later: World War II, My Family, and the Luxembourg American Cemetery | CosmosMariners.com

The superintendent of the site greeted us and took us around the cemetery, sharing details about the construction of the cemetery, the fighting in and around Luxembourg, and current operations.

I'd done a little research before I'd left home and discovered that my great-uncle Ernest had been a member of the 166th Engineer Battalion. He'd enlisted in mid-1943, been a part of the Utah Beach invasion (one of five areas that were part of the D-Day offensive), and had helped construct bridges and roads with Patton's army between Normandy, France, and Luxembourg City.

Paying Our Respects 70 Years Later: World War II, My Family, and the Luxembourg American Cemetery | CosmosMariners.com
Display at the cemetery showing the Battle of the Bulge
When he was killed in March 1945, he was only 2 months shy of surviving the war: V-E Day was May 8, 1945. Ernest survived the Battle of the Bulge, only to be killed when he stepped on one of our own land mines.

Learning these details about him made me feel as if I knew him a little bit. He died before my mom was born, so my only way to know him is through my grandmother's stories and what I can find through my research.

Paying Our Respects 70 Years Later: World War II, My Family, and the Luxembourg American Cemetery | CosmosMariners.com


As the superintendent led us towards Ernest's grave, I was sobered by the thousands of white headstones stretching out on the green grass. All of these men (and 1 woman) died thousands of miles from home away from the people they loved.

When we arrived at Ernest's headstone, I couldn't believe that we'd actually made it. I'd heard about this moment my entire life, and we were there, fulfilling a goal that my grandparents had wanted for decades.

Paying Our Respects 70 Years Later: World War II, My Family, and the Luxembourg American Cemetery | CosmosMariners.com


We paid our respects and stood quietly at his grave for several moments. I was moved to be there in this place with my great-uncle, a place that is so far from his hometown of Florence, South Carolina.

I have no idea what happens to us after we die, but I hope that, wherever he is, my uncle knows that his family still loves him. When we got back to Charleston and showed these pictures to my grandmother, she cried. She was so glad to hear that her brother had finally had some company.

We also took the time to look at the rest of the cemetery, which is immaculate. A team of soldiers comes to clean all 5,076 headstones each week. The grass is kept trimmed and free of weeds. It's wonderful to know that, if these people couldn't be buried in their hometowns, they're still taken care of--even 70 years after the war ended.

If you visit, take time to visit the memorial, which has a beautiful mosaic ceiling that took an Italian craftsman 18 months to construct.

Paying Our Respects 70 Years Later: World War II, My Family, and the Luxembourg American Cemetery | CosmosMariners.com

Ultimately, this is what travel is all about to me: finding those moments where emotion, personal interest, and history intersect. I feel incredibly privileged to have been given the opportunity to travel to Luxembourg and experience that moment with my family.
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Traveling Overseas with a Toddler or Preschooler: What You Need to Know to Make Your Trip Fantastic

Traveling Overseas with a Toddler or Preschooler: What You Need to Know to Make Your Trip Fantastic | CosmosMariners.com

When we originally started to plan our trip to Germany and Luxembourg, taking my daughter wasn’t a part of the plan. We had some distinctly non-toddler activities planned, including a trip to the Dachau concentration camp outside of Munich, plus I was worried about how she’d deal with sightseeing and new places to sleep and irregular schedules. 

Then, a few things changed: we all decided we didn’t have time in our very packed schedule to go to the concentration camp, and Britton started talking about planes all of the time. One afternoon, I was talking with my mom and she asked (again) if Britton could go. 

Even though I’d been staunchly against her going up to this point, it was as if a lightbulb went off in my head at that moment. 

Why shouldn’t Britton go? What was the worst that could happen? 

Traveling Overseas with a Toddler or Preschooler: What You Need to Know to Make Your Trip Fantastic | CosmosMariners.com
Running around outside the Pilgrimage Church of Wies, Germany
In a flight of fancy, I applied for and got Britton’s first passport, we purchased her plane ticket, and ordered a car seat for our rental vehicle. She was going to Germany with us, a trip that would require her to fly on five different planes, deal with a six-hour time difference, and spend 11 days sightseeing in 6 areas of Germany and Luxembourg. 

I was nervous about taking her once everything was in place, but I was excited to share this time with her. 

So, how did she do? 

For the most part, she was a champion traveler! If you’re thinking about traveling long distance with your toddler or preschooler, here’s what you need to know. 

Lay a groundwork before you leave. 

Even if your child has traveled on a plane or overseas before, it’s always a good idea to prepare them for what they’re about to go through each time. This was Britton’s first plane experience and her first time abroad, so we talked a lot about what she’d see and do on the airplane before we even stepped foot in the airport. 

I also made sure to show her pictures of the castles, the Alps, and Munich before we left, so she’d have something tangible to focus on. 

Be prepared to work on the plane

And by “work,” I mean get yourself in a frenzy as you try to keep a toddler quiet-ish and still-ish for the duration of the flight. Of all of the components of toddler travel, I found the plane rides the most stressful. The space each passenger is given is tiny and not truly suited for someone who’s main goal in life is to move as much as possible as often as possible. 

We walked up and down the aisles as much as possible. When we were confined to our seats during turbulence, Britton was allowed to watch some of her favorite movies, including "Frozen" and "Paddington Bear" (both of which were in the Delta Sky Kids movie lineup). 

Traveling Overseas with a Toddler or Preschooler: What You Need to Know to Make Your Trip Fantastic | CosmosMariners.com
Britton in the Charleston airport testing out her new Frozen headphones
A few other tips for the plane:
  • Order the kid's meal before you board. My kid is pretty adventurous when it comes to eating, but she still loves the kid standards (apple slices, bananas, chicken fingers, PB&J, etc). The kid's meals that she got had fresh fruit, a biscuit, cheese, ravioli, juice, and chocolate pudding. 
  • Bring noise-reducing headphones. Britton loves messing with knobs and buttons, and I didn't want to run the risk of her turning up the movie audio too much. We bought a pair of kids' Frozen headphones and didn't have to worry about her harming her hearing while watching movies. 
  • Pack some cheap toys. If you get a handful of small toys at the Dollar Store, your child can play with them without worrying about losing them. If one does get left behind or broken, it's no big deal. 



Consider doing self-guided or privately guide tours


Those little legs and little attention spans aren’t often made for a traditional 2+ hour walking tour. We ended up doing some self-guided tours of Munich, Luxembourg City, and Trier, which was fantastic, since we could stop and start as necessary. 

If you’re not as cheap as we are, you could consider hiring a private guide who would be willing to go at a slower pace. Many cities also have shorter tours specifically for kids, so look into booking one of those when traveling with little ones. 

Leave free time in your schedule. 

Traveling Overseas with a Toddler or Preschooler: What You Need to Know to Make Your Trip Fantastic | CosmosMariners.com

At several points in our trip, we’d head back to the hotel in late afternoon to rest, take baths, watch a movie, or play. Having some extra time at the end of the day allowed Britton to wind down and get used to her new schedule. We even had a playground at our hotel in Trier (Berghotel Kockelsberg), which delighted Britton. 

Bring a toddler backpack. 

First off, I know these look ridiculous. You look as if you’re walking your kid on a leash! If you can get over the weird factor, this can be a lifesaver when you’re traveling with little kids. Carrying a 30 pound kid can quickly wear anyone out!

Traveling Overseas with a Toddler or Preschooler: What You Need to Know to Make Your Trip Fantastic | CosmosMariners.com
My dad and my daughter in the Residenz in Munich
We’d brought a stroller, but, after a while, Britton would get tired of sitting. We’d put on the backpack and leash (or “lush,” as Britton called it), and she’d get to stretch her legs. It was particularly great when we were in museums (so we could keep her from touching everything in sight) or in crowds. 

The backpack also served another purpose: it carried a small case of wipes, a few pull-ups, and some snacks. I got to leave my heavy diaper bag back in Charleston, and Britton liked being in charge of her snack stash. 

(We had the Brica Safety Harness Backpack in green; it also comes in pink.)


Booking.com


Pack snacks. Lots of snacks.  

Even though you’ll get peanuts and pretzels and meals on the plane, your toddler will still want more. Having a box of cereal bars and some special treats saved me when my daughter started getting super grumpy on the plane. 

When we were on the road trip, those snacks (as well as the ones that we picked up at grocery stores along the way) were crucial to keeping Britton happy in between the stops. 

Know that that toddler jet lag is even worse than adult jet lag. 

When I get jet lag, I force myself to stay awake as long as possible in order to try and get into some sort of new routine. If I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t sleep, I force myself to lay there in bed and just relax. 

Toddlers have no concept of either of these coping mechanisms. When they’re tired, they want to sleep. When they’re ready to get up, they climb out of bed. 

Despite our best efforts to readjust Britton’s schedule, we still ended up having a very tired, very grumpy toddler on our hands the first day we were in Munich. The first three nights of our trip included a wonderful little break around 3 AM, where Britton decided that she needed a snack and playtime. Next to the plane rides, the readjustment period was the toughest part of traveling with a little one. 

Take a travel cot

When we were booking our rooms, we decided to get family rooms or apartments; these were cheaper, and I’d have more help watching Britton. However, even the family rooms only slept four adults, which meant we’d have to rent another room just for Britton. 

Since she’s so little and she can sleep just about anywhere, we decided to purchase a toddler travel cot (we used the Regalo My Cot Deluxe, which I can't say enough good things about). At only $27, this was an awesome investment, and she loved her special bed. Since it had such a small profile, we could put it next to my bed, so Britton felt safe and secure in an otherwise unfamiliar room.

I liked that it was soft and comfortable, it only weighed a few pounds, it collapsed easily, and it came with an attached pillow and sleeping bag. 

Work some teaching moments into your trip

At 2-4, your child isn’t going to remember everything about the trip—and that’s okay. This age is all about living in the moment and appreciating what’s directly in front of you.

However, this age group is amazing in that they are constantly soaking up what they’re seeing, hearing, and doing. Britton was in love with the castles that we visited, probably because they reminded her of Walt Disney World. Even after she realized that Mickey Mouse wasn’t popping out of the castle door, she still liked learning about King Ludwig (who lived at three of the castles we visited: Neuschwanstein, Hohenschwangau, and Linderhof).

Traveling Overseas with a Toddler or Preschooler: What You Need to Know to Make Your Trip Fantastic | CosmosMariners.com
Braving the rain and fog at Neuschwanstein Castle on one of Britton's favorite days of sightseeing
We found her a free pamphlet at Linderhof with his picture on it and told her a little bit about King Ludwig. By the time we’d visited all three places, she was able to tell us that King Ludwig lived in three castles. We heard, “I love King Ludwig!” more than once on the trip! 

She was also amazed at the Glockenspiel (which she still calls the “Clock-and-spell”), and tell us regularly that it goes “ding dong!” 

These types of experiences excited our toddler so much that, even three weeks after we’ve returned home, she asks to go back to Germany at least once a day!
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Have you traveled with young kids before? What’s your best tip?


Booking.com


This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase through one of the above links, I will receive a small commission at no additional charge to you.

Traveling Overseas with a Toddler or Preschooler: What You Need to Know to Make Your Trip Fantastic | CosmosMariners.com
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The Best of Bavaria and Beyond: Luxembourg and Germany Road Trip Itinerary

The Best of Bavaria and Beyond: 11 Day Itinerary through Germany + Luxembourg | CosmosMariners.com

Two weeks ago, I set off with my mom, dad, sister and daughter to discover the wonders that awaited on our Luxembourg and Germany road trip itinerary: over the next 11 days, we wound our way from Munich to Fussen to the Rhine Valley to Trier and, finally, Luxembourg City.

I've been home for four days now, and I'm still exhausted! I don't know if it's because we packed so much into our trip or because I'm not as young as I think I am, but I'm struggling to get back into our regular schedule.

Even with the tiredness, I wouldn't change anything about our Europe road trip for anything. If you haven't been to this area of the world, you absolutely must put it on your travel list immediately.

This is one of the best European road trips for getting samples of the different cultures that make up this area of the continent: you'll be able to figure out what you'd like to go back and see for longer on a later trip.

Packing for a Two Week Trip to Germany: Parent + Kid Edition

Packing for a Two Week Trip to Germany: Parent + Kid | CosmosMariners.com

It's crunch time. You know, that time right before your trip when you're starting to realize that you're leaving in just a few days and your to-do list is still crazy long and the plane will be leaving whether you get yourself together or not.

I'm smack dab in the middle of it.

I'm planning on sticking pretty closely to what I packed for our time in the UK. I'm going the route of just a carry-on again, so I'm working on packing for two weeks in just a carry-on case.

It's going to be cold while we're there, as we're going to be traveling through the Alps and into Austria. That means lots of layers, a puffy vest or two, and my trusty Columbia 3-in-1 jacket.

Packing for a Two Week Trip to Germany: Parent + Kid | CosmosMariners.com


My final packing list will look something like this:
4 thin sweaters
1 sweatshirt
4 turtlenecks
Plaid flannel shirt
1 pair insulated tights
1 pair regular tights
2 pairs skinny jeans
2 pair jeggings
1 wool skirt
Black flats
Grey boots
3-in-1 jacket
Orange puffy vest
Gloves
Hat
Travel Scarf (don't forget to enter to win one of your own!)
Pajamas
Tablet
Camera + charger
Phone + charger
Travel blanket

Another wrench in my packing right now is that it's still 80 degrees here in Charleston, so all of our winter stuff is shoved in the back of the closet. I've had to go through, see what still fits, what needs to be replaced, and what needs to be washed. I still haven't figured out how I'm going to get on the plane in Charleston in warm weather clothing and get off the plane in Germany in winter weather clothing. Fun times!

Packing for a Two Week Trip to Germany: Parent + Kid | CosmosMariners.com


We made a last minute decision to take Britton with us on the trip, so there's that added level of stuff to organize and pack. She's completely delighted and keeps telling us, "Going to Germ-er-ny. Going on big plane in sky. Zoom. Go see castles!" which pretty much sums up the trip.

While she's getting excited about the plane ride, I'm slowly figuring out how we're going to fit all of her stuff into her little Frozen suitcase.

Packing for a Two Week Trip to Germany: Parent + Kid | CosmosMariners.com

I'm very much a minimalist when it comes to packing, and I'm doing my ever-loving best to apply those same techniques to Britton's stuff, too. The entire process is just so much harder when I know I have to pack extra clothes since she tends to use herself as an extra napkin at most meals.

Packing for a Two Week Trip to Germany: Parent + Kid | CosmosMariners.com


Her packing list:
Wool coat
Mittens
Beanie
5 sweaters/sweatshirts
2 pairs jeans
4 pairs leggings
2 skirts
3 pairs of tights
Brown mary janes
Black boots
3 pajama sleepers
Stroller
Sleeping cot
Sippy cup
One of her small blankets
Her travel pillow
One stuffed animal
Basic first aid stuff: band-aids, toddler Tylenol, and Neosporin

For the first time in a very long time, I'm checking a bag at the airport. Since Britton doesn't do well in full sized beds yet (i.e. she will kick whoever's sleeping next to her all night long), we decided to get her a little cot of her own. This is the perfect solution, but it requires us to check the carrying bag.

Our backpacks for the airplane will have:
Extra headphones for Britton
Books for Britton
Coloring book + markers/crayons
My tablet with e-books
My travel journal/ notebook

For parents who've traveled internationally with little ones, tell me your best tips! I will be traveling with my parents and sister, so I'll have extra hands to help with all of the stuff. I've never taken Britton, who is a very enthusiastic and inquisitive kid, on an airplane before: what do you recommend that I take to keep her happy on a trans-Atlantic flight?

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