So we’ve been preparing since Ava was born for our first overseas trip with her. We finally did it! Here are all the details and the things I’d do the same or differently the next around.
First of all…flying…with a toddler…for 11 hours. I highly recommend booking an overnight flight so that baby has the best chance for sleeping for a large portion of the flight. To make it even easier, we used this amazing little inflatable ottoman to make the plane seat into something that better resembles her crib at home. There are lots of more expensive options out there, but I didn’t want to spend the money on something that might not work. But it did! Once we got her set up with the Wandering Tot, she slept for at least half the flight! (And that was with a 3 hours delay before we left). Also, note to self–make sure you pack PLENTY of extra diapers for the flight/wait in the airport.
Also, make sure to pack a blanket, any loveys/stuffed animals, etc. I don’t pack a lot of toys or games for the airplane, but the cheapest way to entertain a 14 month old is with a pack of stickers and some Post-It Notes. You can put them all over the seat and watch them try to take them off and put them back again, and not worry about losing any of their favorite toys! She entertained herself with the in-flight magazines and occasionally watched the in-flight entertainment movies we tried playing for her too. Yes, in HER seat. It might be free to fly with a lap infant, but no one wants a lap infant for 11 straight hours, and the extra seat gives your little one room to move! We used these great headphones for her as well.
We flew direct from Dallas-Ft. Worth International to Frankfurt on American Airlines. We rented a car from Sixt–a Volvo X90! There was plenty of space for 4 people, a baby, and all of our luggage! For the trip, I didn’t want to take our 30 pound+ usual car seat with us, so we ordered an easy to install, 7 pound Cosco Scenera NEXT car seat and it’s own rolling luggage bag. (I had previously heard a lot of horror stories about rental car seats, so that’s why we chose our own affordable version.)
We packed an umbrella stroller (checked it and everything) but ended up never touching it. I used our Ergo Baby Carrier for the ENTIRE trip. Our little girl doesn’t love getting in and out of a stroller, but has never seemed to mind being in the carrier. The carrier was comfortable for me, no worries about stroller access anywhere, and easy to keep her close by at the same time. If your baby likes one or the other, bring only one–no need for both!
Also, we NEVER travel without a noise machine and a baby monitor. We keep these in a little makeup bag in our little’s ones suitcase–permanently. They are great options for travel, and I’ll admit that the travel monitor has a more clear picture than our monitor at home!
Ok, so enough about packing–check out this free printable checklist for packing for a great trip with baby…then proceed to our itinerary for a week in Bavaria!
What we did in Bavaria for a week (I wouldn’t have changed much)!
Day 1: Arrive in Frankfurt. Pick up rental car. Drive to Wurzburg and visit the Wurzburg Residence, walk around town, and grab a bite to eat at the Wirtshaus Lammle (authentic Franconian food, and you’ll likely be the only ones there that don’t speak German!). Arrive in Bamberg by nightfall, check in at the Welcome Hotel Residenzschloss Bamberg (their rooms are huge, especially by European standards), and grab a bite to eat and a good German brew at Ambrausianum (a short walk from the hotel) before calling it a night.
Day 2: Eat breakfast at the hotel (they have an amazing spread), explore Bamberg on foot, take the Romantic Road to Rothenberg ob der Tauber and spend the afternoon walking around this beautiful Medieval town straight out of a storybook. Walk the old wall around town, grab a bite to eat, check out the Christmas Museum (it goes on and on and on and on), take some great photos, and then proceed down the road to Dinkelsbuhl, Augsburg (one of the oldest cities in Bavaria), and then arrive to your AirBnb in Munich (this is the easiest way to find at least semi-affordable accommodations for Oktoberfest–unless of course you want to camp). Don’t be afraid to stay 20 minutes away from Oktoberfest (just be semi-close to a U-Bahn stop).
Day 3: Since we had a little one in tow, we decided to hit Oktoberfest during the day. It is much easier to find a spot at a table (without a reservation) during the day, and enjoy plenty of time before babies are asked to leave at 8pm. Eat Gingerbread hearts, take great photos, chug and/or enjoy liters of beers from Germany’s most famous beer houses. (Before you go, download the official Oktoberfest App so you can check capacities of beer tents and find the best chance at finding an actual seat.) You should not miss some bratwurst, pretzels, and of course the beer. Check out the 5 loop (think Olympic Rings) roller coaster if your stomach can still handle it. This is the very best fair you’ll ever attend. If you don’t have a little one with you, try to stick around for the late night activities! BABIES MUST BE OUT BY 8PM. Also it’s not 100% necessary, but you should plan on buying some Tracht (Lederhosen and Dirndls) either in Munich or before you go. We found fairly cheap options on Amazon but also found some great stores right outside the Oktoberfest entrance. Also, Oktoberfest is cash only–come prepared!
Day 4: Recover from the hangover with a beautiful drive to Neuschwanstein castle. Plan on driving for about 1.5-2 hours and then plan on spending multiple hours there–you’ll want to see both castles and each of them take at least 30 minutes. Save yourself a little time by requesting a reservation for the tour BEFORE you ever leave for your trip. The walk up to Neuschwanstein takes about 30 minutes as well. Note there isn’t much to eat in the small village at the bottom of the hill. Plan on stopping at the little restaurant on the way up or the way down. They had some great German pastries here that our entire group enjoyed (especially Ava), pizzas/flatbreads, and some other great options as well. Drive back to Munich, and enjoy a night on the town. Check out Ratskeller for a great meal, good beer, and a great wine/cocktail selection as well.
Day 5: If you have a little one with you, find a babysitter (do NOT take little ones) so you can see the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site. It’s dark but an important part of history and a very well done memorial site/museum. It took us about 30 minutes to drive there and a solid 2.5-3 hours to tour the site. Plan on at least half a day. Then when you’re done, refresh by exploring old town Munich, Marienplatz (try to be there at Noon to see the MASSIVE cuckoo clock in all its glory), and the outdoor market Viktualienmarket immediately adjacent. Buy your souvenirs here (be aware that most of these shops and the market are closed on Sundays). Walk just slightly off the beaten path a little and find a great meal at the Wirtshaus im Braunauer Hof. (We found a parking garage right next door and used this for our day in Munich.) For another great night on the town, head to the Masters Home. The meal is a surprise, 7 courses, and it’s absolutely outstanding. I’ve truly never had such a great meal for such a great price!
Day 6: Drive back to Frankfurt by way of Nuremburg and spend time exploring Nuremburg itself. We didn’t get to spend as much time here as we would have liked (and also got a late start on the day). I would even recommend a night here if you have an extra. We made it back to Frankfurt and stayed at a hotel near the airport to make the next morning easier. We sat down for one more delicious (Italian) meal and enjoyed some Lambrusco to round out the trip.
Day 7: Catch your flight back home. Whew!
Other useful tips:
- For sleep: call or email your hotels/AirBnB ahead of time to have Pack N Play or crib set up for you when you arrive.
- If your Airbnb doesn’t have a crib of some sort, rent one! We used ToddGo and a sweet family set us up with a pack n play for our 3 days in Munich (we couldn’t have it delivered though).
- Use the U-Bahn/S-Bahn while in Munich.
- Don’t be afraid to Uber when you need to.
- Always be prepared to walk–that’s the best way to enjoy your adventures getting from here to there!
- Also, I hate beer–but I LOVED German beer. Don’t be afraid to try it!
- You can enjoy some of the best Riesling wine you’ll ever experience too!
- German towns/cities have lots of great playgrounds and parks for young ones to stretch their legs.
- You could consider using the train to get around as well, but the car (with our own car seat) was definitely worth it! (Think FAST highways and great cars.)
- Make sure you have cash. Europeans use it more than we do and you’ll need it for the markets/Oktoberfest, etc.
What else can we tell you? We had so much fun even with a 14 month old. (Granted she was a trooper and in as much awe as we were). Bavaria is a beautiful, fairy-tale land straight out of Disney-type storybooks. I can’t wait to go back! Leave your comments below or contact me if you have more questions!