11 Days in Germany with A Toddler – What Excites & Worries Me

Castle Neuschwanstein

Tomorrow, Athena and I leave for Germany. It’s just us and planes, trains, buses, castles, parks, unique accommodations, bucket list adventures, family fun, and authentic cuisine. Without a doubt, I’m excited and so is Athena. We’ve been dreaming about it for more than a month, talking about all of the new experiences we’ll have and what we’ll see. What excites me, though, is equally matched by what scares me. I’m traveling internationally with a toddler who definitely exhibits moments of “the terrible twos.” What am I thinking as I plan for this bonding experience? Find out below. 

Athena Going to the Park

Firstly, packing is a challenge in itself. I can’t decide if I want to bring the stroller or just a baby carrier. Athena is getting a little old for her Britax Baby Carrier but it’s made for children between 8-32 pounds and it’s easy to pack. A stroller, however, saves my back and can be used to carry luggage as well. We have the Joovy Caboose Ultralight Stand-On Tandem Stroller. If I bring that, Athena can sleep while I’m dealing with customs and when she’s tired and we’re on the road. I can use the extra space to store my backpack and the suitcase, leaving me with no extra weight. The problem is getting it on and off trains and buses. Even getting to the train or bus can be an issue because of stairs or escalators. Do I save my back and rely on others to help lift the stroller onto the transportation system or avoid the stress of waiting for help?

Athena-playing-in-the-water

Diapers are another packing nightmare. Athena is in the middle of potty training, but that will all go down the toilet when we’re traveling for excessive periods on planes and trains. Alas, I’ll resort to diapers. Do I bring enough to last the entire trip or rely on buying while I’m there? It’s not like I’m going to extremely isolated areas so I’ve decided to bring enough for a few days and buy there. We’ll see how that plan pans out.

Athena Playing in the Grass

The flight is also a concern. It’s more than 10 hours on a plane with an active toddler and no other support. What should I bring for her to do on the plane? Remember, I have to carry it all when we arrive. Then, when we do arrive, it’s still the middle of the night for us. How will she transition when we have to wait in lines and hop on a train to get to our first hotel? Even though she has lots of international experience, this is the longest flight yet with the biggest difference in time change. Sleeping issues and activities while traveling are all part of the mystery.

We have amazing adventures planned including a trip to Europa Park, Neuschwanstein Castle, Kinderhotel Oberjoch, a boat trip to Forggensee, and an adventure bus (not sure what that is but it sounds fun). I’m sure once we get settled in and we’re actually there my worries will fade away and new ones will come up.

I have this opportunity to experience a new country and bucket list activities that I never dreamed possible and I get to do it with Athena at my side. Any worry that I have is well-worth it. Watch and read how it all turns out over the next two weeks.

See you in Germany!

****Our trip to Germany is sponsored by the German National Tourist Board but all thoughts, ideas, and options are my own.***

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65 thoughts on “11 Days in Germany with A Toddler – What Excites & Worries Me

  1. Just remember to breathe and stay calm…your little will sense it if you’re anxious and react. I would hope people around you would help you and remember to make a game out of EVERYTHING. Buy cherry juice–it helps with finding your hours with jet-lag! Happy Trails. I recognize the fountains…we enjoyed many laughs when mine were toddlers there!

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  2. Good luck, I’m sure it’ll work out fine, I think you know best in what to bring in knowing your child. I traveled back and forth to England from SF when my kids were 6 months and every year after that. There are a lot of people who are helpful too. I hope you have a great time!

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  3. I remember traveling with my 1 1/2 year old many moons ago, and you can only do so much. I think Athena will do well on the flight, especially if she sleeps during the night right now. I would also go with taking the stroller, too. As much as the carrier is a convenience where stairs are concerned, overall, having a comfy place for Athena to sleep would tip the scales for me where this decision is concerned. I didn’t take a stroller with me when I traveled with my child, and I wish I would have! I can’t wait to read about all of your adventures!

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  4. hi I’m German and I’d like to dispel some of your concerns. First, public transport and strollers.
    In Germany, even in more rural areas, public transportation is used by almost everybody. You’ll always find people who’ll help you with your stroller. In buses, you have to enter through the second or third door (every bus has up to three doors). The first is too narrow. People will help you, the most buses can lower the entrance part of the bus (you’ll see what I mean when you’re there). Using trains, almost all train stations have elevators to get to the platform (if not they have to indicate this on their website). If not, people will help you immediately. The same is when you get on the train. People will help you. But best is you’ll ask the employees on the platform where to get on. There is always a special place in the train (sometimes even a whole wagon) for people with bunky devices like strollers or wheelchairs.
    If there’s something I’m proud of in Germany, it’s our public transport system, it’s excellent!
    Second, you don’t have to bring diapers. You can buy them everywhere. Just bring some for the first days, then go to stores that we call drugstores (drogerie markt), the best are dm and rossmann. Everything is of very good quality and above all – cheap! Ask the locals where you can find those stores, they’re chains and they are almost in every city or even village.

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  5. I once traveled with a six month old and a 2 1/2 yr. old. Our flight was cancelled, the airport wouldn’t let us stay overnight, the airlines wouldn’t comp for rooms and I was out of money. I was on my way home and was carrying a baby swing, a fold-up stroller, baby carrier, bags, etc. If it hadn’t been for the help of strangers I don’t know what I wouldn’t done. You will do fine, people will help. Enjoy your journey and be sure to share.

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  6. Just came back from a trip alone with my 5 year old and 2 year old from South Africa to Germany by plane. First of all: all trains are stroller friendly, no stairs. all stations have lifts for your stroller. Busses can store the stroller in the underneath storage for longer drives. Germany is a very kid friendly country, the playgrounds and fun swimming venues are amazing. For how to plan your airplane trip, you could check my post with some (hopefully) helpful hints here, although that was written about an earlier trip where daddy came along. Traveling alone was just as fun I must say, the individual screens on the seat provided excellent entertainment for my little ones. Dont force the airplane food, rather eat less, have no runny tummy, and catch up eating once you arrived.
    Love, Christiane http://cvheerden.wordpress.com/2013/09/02/airtravel-with-children/

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  7. PS potty training doesnt stop. Pull up panty diapers do the trick, you can still do all the potty stops just have the convenience of feelign safe when in a bus or train. And Germany has the highest quality, safety tested baby products in the world for cheap, make sure you buy at stores like DM or Rossmann for all your toiletry needs and you don’t need to carry anything extra along.

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  8. Don’t worry, Germany has the most efficient and easiest transport system I have ever experienced. Plus, Germany people are generally super friendly and they love children so there will pretty much always be someone around willing to help you 🙂

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  9. This will be interesting. Wishing you all the best. People are usually helpful when a toddler is concerned. Keeping Athena occupied but inactive…wishing you luck. You’re a brave woman. I can hardly look after myself and my bags in an airport. Hope you bring a harness for her when she’s walking. Have a lovely holiday. Athena is gorgeous and will be a star traveler.

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  10. You seem like you adapt well, I’m sure she will too. The diapers and tantrums will be no different from home…But, you will cherish these memories forever (making it all worth it). I commend you for your bravery and I cannot wait to hear about your trip.

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  11. I’ll be sitting here with my chin in my heads, awaiting pictures and updates, and, to be honest, lots and lots of advice on how you did it (and well!) You’re going to have so much fun, I know. Can’t wait to see the stories.

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  12. Enjoy your stay in my home country I’m sure you’ll have lots of fun together. And don’t bother about too many things. As KleeButterfly already said: the German public transportation system is excellent and usually the people are friendly and helpful. Looking forward to your posts especially from the castle Neuwschwanenstein because I’ve never been there.

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  13. I think the stroller will end up being an asset. No matter how complicated it might get hopping it on and off trains and other transportation, I think in the end it will prove better for both of you. A couple of hours of baby on back can get gruesome. She can nap on the stroller while you enjoy a walk with her. Personally, when I travelled with my little ones, I used the folding strollers (umbrella folding type strollers). Those a real easy to get on and off planes and stuff. Also escalators are no problem. Some even have a basket at the bottom and shade on top. I would also pack extra diapers. Not for the entire trip, but enough for at least 2 days. You don’t know what you’ll run into. (For example an unexpected soft stool process 😉 ) For the plane: a notebook with crayons. She can draw, pretend to write, you can play tic – tac – toe, etc. Doesn’t take much space. Pack plenty of snacks. I hope you guys have a blast. Little Athena’s passport already has more stamps than mine I’m sure. Safe and happy travels to the girls!

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    • I think you’re right about the stroller. I wasn’t going to bring it but it will provide a place for her to sleep during waiting times and that’s going to be the hardest part. Good call. Also the crayons and paper are a great suggestion. I think when we’re at the mall getting money changed today, I’ll stop in the dollar store and let her pick out a fun notepad. Your comment really helped. I’m feeling more confident 🙂

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  14. For keeping Athena entertained during the flight, she’ll probably sleep at least part of the time. I’d also take her walking around the airport after you check in so she can burn off some of her toddler energy before the flight.

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  15. I know the feeling, we’ve traveled a lot with both kids this age. Not sure if you have one, but I’d highly suggest a super lightweight umbrella stroller with a carry strap. We used the Uppa Baby G-Lite in India with a 2.5 year old. Two people can pick up the stroller AND sleeping toddler up flight of steeps in temples in India (there were never elevators). And by myself I could easily do trains, busses, etc. The G-Luxe reclines but adds 2 lbs. We used a Joovy Sit and Stand in Argentina with 2, but it’s heavy and hard to find space on public transit; I would not suggest it if you don’t need seating for two.

    Travelwithbaby.com did extensive travel in Europe with a toddler and stroller, she will have some good advice and stroller reviews. And my blog has a few reviews of strollers and how I’ve used them.

    Good luck, can’t wait to see pictures and hear your stories!

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  16. I genuinely hope I will be able to share mother daughter trips like this with my little girl some day. There are always so many reasons not to do it but my type A personality is fueled by seeing some of your adventures … I have read a post more than once and thought ‘if she can do it with a family, so can I’. Thank you for that!

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  17. Hi Lesley, do your self a favor and take the pram!! Germany’s transportation is pretty modern, for the most part and the buses sometimes (I don’t know how else to say it) But the wheels deflate, tip over to get closer to the ground so getting prams in and out is not so difficult. Plus You will need it trust me. The hike up to Neuschwanstein is quite something, so unless you are going to pay for a horse and carriage ride, you are going to need something to wheel your little one up that hill. If you don’t want to take one. Plus usually, at least here in Switzerland, people tend to help mother’s with children. And just think it is safer for her in the carriage then you having to juggle all sorts of bags while holding her. Have a great time, Neuschwanstein is quite something, it’s in a beautiful area. And near Europa park is the town of ‘Freiburg’ (in Breisgau) http://www.freiburg.de/pb/,Len/226394.html
    Beautiful traditional old town ‘Altstadt’ with your typical curvy layout. Practical with the tram to get around and just a beautiful place, but be careful of the little canal system that runs through the town because sometimes people trip in them.
    Enjoy your trip, can’t wait to hear all about it!
    Jodie

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  18. I´d take the stroller – most public transportation in Germany is set up without a Gap or stairs, and people will definitely help a mother to get her kid on the train/bus.

    Have fun

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  19. Hi Lesley! I live in Germany and I can assure you you won’t have any problem with the stroller and the public transport. A tip. buy your diapers in DM, that is a chain with the most convenient prices. If you decide to come to visit the north of Germany, Bremen is really nice! (That’s where we live 😉

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  20. i just got back from 2-week in germany just few weeks ago. loved it. the best potatoes anywhere. oh, remember to book or purchase a ticket to Neuschwanstein Castle WAY in advance. unless you go super early. i learned a hard lesson for not able to enter the castle due to tickets sold out. the earliest i could get was the last entrance time, if i was willing to wait for 3-4 hours. anyways, one needs to buy a ticket at the visitor’s center, and then still needs to get into a super crowded bus OR horse carriage, at an extra cost, in order to go up to the hill to reach to the castle. you can still do that if you just want to take pics from afar like i did (since i couldn’t get a ticket). the walk down isn’t too bad, if you missed the last ride like i did. it was about maybe 20-30 minutes walk depending on how fast you go. nice clean air, though. lots of trees. and oh, almost everyone there in germany speaks english!! so you shouldn’t have to worry about asking strangers for help or directions. the locals there are very nice. and don’t be surprised to see lots of immigrants from the eastern europe who have migrated into germany for a permanent stay. they do most of the low paying jobs, such as at hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, shops, etc.

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    • I already have tickets, but that is good advice. (It may help that I’m working with the tourism board during my trip. I think they’ll make sure I get in 😉 ).

      What was your favorite thing that you did in Germany? Was the castle as amazing as expect?

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      • believe it or not, i didn’t grow up with stories of castles and Disney fairytales. i grew up in South East Asia. and so the visit to the castle was not a top priority of mine. though i do find the castle looks real nice from afar.

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  21. and oh, prepare lots of 0.50 cents Euro coins. you’ll need that as a tip for most public toilets. but they all are very clean, so worth the tip. and also 2.00 Euro coins to pay for the baggage trolly machine at airports, if you need to use one.

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  22. Sounds AMAZING!!!! I hope it all goes well! With a 14-month old I hope you post about what the best options are and the details of your adventure! You guys will travel just beautifully, I’m sure!

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  23. I read that you stay in Freiburg – its a great city. If you have any spare time you might also want to consider visiting Basel in Switzerland, just around the corner: I believe it is very underrated and has a lot to offer (if the German Tourist board allows any spare time on your own)

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