One of my top priorities during my little break the last couple weeks was buckling down and figuring out details for our upcoming trip overseas. Most of you know that my sister, brother-in-law, niece, and nephew have been stationed in Ansbach, Germany for about 16ish months, and the time is finally (!) right to hop a plane and make a visit!
Ever since we found out that they’d be over there for at least two years, I knew I’d go visit but just didn’t know when. Turns out the planning got much more complicated than I anticipated (IMAGINE THAT with work schedules, little ones, yadda yadda), but Hallelujah, we finally made a solid plan that has everyone bursting with eagerness to get this show on the road. 🙂
It became clear a few months ago that this Fall would be an ideal time for me to travel to Germany, but as the time drew closer to book, I got major cold feet about traveling without my family.
Being in Turks and Caicos back in May was really the nail in the coffin for me regarding traveling solo; I didn’t want to do it. Going to Turks was one of the absolute best trips ever, but it was so good that it actually made me a little sad to experience all of it without the ones who I want to always experience that level of adventure and goodness with – my husband and kiddos. I thought about how much fun Germany would be and all of the fun things that I’d inevitably do with my sister’s family, and I know myself – a big part of me would be wishing with all of my might that Jamie and the girls were there too.
So Jamie and I talked and talked and talked some more to see if we could make it work for all of us to go while working around his work schedule, Army Reserves schedule, and my brother-in-law’s Army schedule (because of course we wanted to make sure he could spend max time with us as well since he and Jamie are very close), and voila – the stars finally aligned.
Okay, okay, okay. So we picked our dates. Now we had to book, which meant things started getting nutty. Immediate family members receive discounted airfare to fly in and out of the country the service member is stationed in, so we used their wonky foreign travel website to get our flights booked.
But before that, we needed to figure out what we wanted our nine days to look like. The only European country I’ve been to is Germany (back in 2011 spontaneously when Jamie had to have surgery during a deployment), and Jamie’s passed through Germany a couple times as well. We knew if we were flying all the way over there that we wanted to take advantage of seeing another country as well, and picking Switzerland was easy because it borders Germany (which like I said, we have to fly both into and out of.)
My sister and BIL have a whole itinerary of things they want to pack into our five days in Germany (“Just give me enough time to snuggle with Luke and Carly!” is all I tell her, hehe), but we had our work cut out for us to plan our three days in Switzerland, a country that neither of us admittedly knew one single thing about.
And Lordy me, planning Switzerland was wild, stressful, and kind of not fun at all, which was the exact opposite of what I was expecting. We love love love to plan trips (and how do I say this humbly, but we’re kind of good at it??), but this one made my head spin for some reason. Trying to research cities and pick things to do was tough, I think because of the pressure to plan the best possible trip we could rather quickly. We aren’t spending all of this moolah (and bringing our young kids overseas) for nothin’, and we likely will never see Switzerland again. Travel agents from now on when we travel to places I know nadda about. 😉
So to do it, I used TripAdvisor, Booking.com, and Instagram to do my research. TripAdvisor was great for reading hotel reviews, Booking.com was excellent for offering suggested hotels and attractions, and Instagram knocked it out of the park with the helpful use of hashtags.
So, we finally (finally!) decided to stay at this fabulous resort in Weggis. We booked it on Booking.com, and I legit had the biggest butterflies in my stomach as we were booking. We were pumped!
But later that night, I saw an ad for Airbnb and realized that I hadn’t looked into any of their options. We’ve never done an Airbnb before, and traveling internationally with two young children didn’t seem like the right time to roll the dice on our first Airbnb experience.
But then I started looking at prices, and holy macaroni – it was obvious that we could save so much money without sacrificing our experience (and likely getting an even better lodging experience actually).
So, long story short, we found a simply perfect Airbnb in Gersau, canceled our Booking.com reservation (with no fees), and are saving over $500 on our three-night stay!
The Airbnb host and I have been emailing back and forth a zillion times the last 10 days or so, and she is the cutest! She is going to cook for us (“Erica, do you all like cheese? I would like to make fondue for you.” UMM IS THE POPE CATHOLIC – YES WE LOVE CHEESE.), have a toddler bed with rails ready for Sadie, and a whole itinerary of suggestions for the one day we are leaving open to explore. She speaks fantastic English and lives in the home next door. Well hot dang Airbnb – you are winning right now.
My sister and her family have traveled to an unreal amount of places since they moved overseas (life is actually EXTREMELY TOUGH for them at the moment as they lay on a beach at an all-inclusive resort in Spain…), and I asked her how in the world they manage to plan such fabulous, frequent trips, seeing how just this one made us a little loopy during the few days of planning. She laughed and said that the trip planning is annoying, hard, and exhausting, but that the travel is always so, so, so worth it (obviously).
We’re excited to fly and are counting down the days! I haven’t been this excited for a trip in a long, long time. It’s going to be…an adventure. 😉
Oh, FYI, something Jamie and I learned during this process: Passports for children 16 and under are only valid for five years instead of 10 years like adults are. They were also more expensive.
I think we spent $130 for each of their passports. Yikes! We originally thought “Oh, $100 for each passport, and we’ll get our money’s worth out of them since they’ll be good for 10 years.” And then we found out that they were more expensive than ours and good for only half the time. Whoops! Guess we’ll be looking for more adventurous places to travel the next few years – ha!
Have you been to Germany? Switzerland? Traveled abroad with kids? Routinely use Airbnbs?
Hi! I’m a proud Army wife and mom to two little girls (ages 1 and 4), and I love sharing our lives with you. I blog all about motherhood, our time in the military, our travels, our meals, my fitness journey, my fashion favorites, and so much more. I truly enjoy sharing it all! I can’t get enough of birthday cake ice cream, weekend sunrise runs, or making my girls belly-laugh. I write almost daily about my family’s lives, and though I like to keep things light, I also share the messy parts too. Welcome! So glad to have you around. I’m active on Facebook and Instagram and would love to communicate with you there!