Winter Family Travel: Germany and Austria
I'm an overthinker in terms of trip plannings, especially when it comes to bringing an active toddler for an international trip. The thought of extra planning plus safety cautions is enough to give me an initial panic attack. For this most recent family trip to Europe, I was worrying so much that I would wake up at 3am and couldn't fall back to sleep. If you are like me, who likes to go on trips but just exhausted by all the thoughts and "what ifs" that comes with it, this post might be a light holiday read for you. I want to list the things that initially concerned me, mistakes that we actually made, and how those struggles eventually turned out.
First of all, is it worth traveling overseas with toddlers? The answer is yes, well... mostly yes.
- Toddlers are too young to remember everything from trips. If you ask my baby what he enjoyed the most about the trip, his first three words will be elevators, trains and lollipops! It is kinda sad that he didn't remember that first snow day, the tranquil lake or the Zugspitze Summit. But I think an easy way to fix that is to take as many pictures as possible and make a travel album to document every precious moment and read the travel book to the kids back home.
- Toddlers are curious about everything, which makes traveling more fun and a lot more work than traveling without them. To be honest, it was more like a "parents workout retreat". We spent most of the time watching and chasing the kiddo so that he won't run away, fall, or break anything. But that's just like every weekend at the park or any public places. I have grown a very thick skin in terms of yelling at my kid in the public, which gives me some confidence to feel comfortable "managing" my kid during traveling. Even the worse scenario happens, people overseas probably won't ever see me or my kid again, right?
|Family Travel in Europe|
However, it is just impossible to fit in everything in less than 10 days. I don't want to spend all the time in commuting between cities. I have to figure out what the goals are and what my family values the most:
- The situation was: we had two huge luggage, which would be a pain to drag them every day from city to city. So I decided to only pick 3 cities, and stay in each city for 3 nights.
- Which cities? Berlin is about 6-hour train ride (one way) from Munich, which would be a big waste of time on the road. So I took out Berlin. Switzerland has many beautiful mountain cities to offer, but most of the summit mountain trains and tours are not operating during late November. It's a bummer but we will have to visit it another time. Austria is only 2-3 hours away from Munich, and most of the spots that we want to visit are open!
So here's the final itinerary that's definitely not perfect but worked out for us in the end:
- The first day was fully dedicated to travel: Flying in Munich, heading straight to Salzburg, Austria. Based in Salzburg for 3 nights. Many day trip options around Salzburg and walking tours inside the city.
- The next three days were based in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, which is about 2 hours south of Munich. It's a ski town that has many day trip options to the mountains, castles and royal palace.
- The last two nights were spent in Munich. Munich has the biggest Christmas market during winter holiday seasons. We did all the shopping and beer drinkings. From there, we flew back to the State.
1. Hallstatt, Austria - the most picturesque town in Austria. You can watch my IG story here.
|Lake view, Hallstatt, Austria|
|Skywalk, Hallstatt, Austria|
|11 F degrees at Zugspitze Summit, Germany|
|Family photo at Zugspitze, Bayern, Germany|
|Playground by Lake Königssee|
|A restaurant near Lake Königssee|
4. Christmas Market, Munich, Germany - the most popular place during winter
|Shopping at Munich Christmas Market|
|The Marienplatz, Munich, Germany|
5. Hohensalzburg Fortress, Salzburg - the biggest fully preserved castle in Central Europe
|At the bottom of the Fortress, Salzburg, Germany|
|After a short hike, taking in the grand view of Salzburg city|
Now behind the glamours and the IG perfect photos, some of the other highlights, or should I say, the laughable mistakes from the trip:
- My kid rolled off the bed in the middle of the night even though he slept in between me and my husband. Screaming, tears and busted lips...
- The stroller got stuck in the turnstile gate while the baby was napping inside. Scared me to death when I saw the turnstiles pressing against his body.
- Poor baby had stomach flu and we had to cancel the day tour to the Neuschwanstein Castle.
- He acted out when missed a nap, and couldn't stop crying on the train full of passengers.
- We have missed our trains during the trip (some trains in small towns only run once in an hour). We've also done some other things like jumped on the wrong trains and bought wrong tickets...