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Need Transportation Advice

Our family of 8 are traveling to Germany and Austria in July this summer. There are 2 adults, 3 college students, 2 high school students, and 1 ten year old in our group. We have our plane tickets and are flying in and out of Frankfurt. I have our itinerary set with hotels booked in all places. We currently have a 9 passenger van that we are picking up and dropping off at the Frankfurt airport. But I'm wondering if we should do a combination or train and van rental. With so many in our group, I thought train passes would be a lot more expensive. Below is our itinerary. Does anyone have any advice on if we should stick with our rental van for the entire trip?

Day 1: Arrive Frankfurt. Pick up Rental Van. Drive to Kaub.
Day 2: Kaub: Middle Rhine Rock Climb. See a Castle
Day 3: Kaub: Ring Tour in Rudesheim am Rhein
Day 4: Kaub: Day trip to Cologne. Back to Kaub for the night.
Day 5: Drive to Wurzburg. Prince Bishop’s Residenz. Spend night in Rothenburg
Day 6: Rothenburg. Spend night in Rothenburg
Day 7: Drive to Neuschwanstein. Night in Mittenwald
Day 8: Luge, Partnach Gorge (Klamm), Zugspitze Cable Car from Ehrwal. Night in Mittenwald
Day 9: Drive to Salzburg. Night in Salzburg
Day 10: Salzburg. Night in Salzburg
Day 11: Drive to Nuremberg. Night in Nuremberg
Day 12: Drive to Frankfurt to catch flight home.

Posted by
1494 posts

Even if you have a 9-passenger van. How about your luggage for 8 pax and 12 days? Are you sure that you will get everything into that 1 van?

Just as example FVMR category from Sixt: 9 seats, 3 suitcases, 2 bags.

Posted by
13 posts

Yes, I mean Rothenburg! I will edit my post. Thanks! We are packing light and plan to do laundry once to cut down on how much we need to bring.

Posted by
13 posts

We also figure since we have 8 passengers instead of 9, we will have the extra unused seat space for luggage also. That one empty seat should be enough room for 4 carryons.

Posted by
519 posts

The advantage of the van is that you are not tied to the train schedule and you will not be stressed out for trying to catch the train. You can leave at a time that is convenient to you. And if you booked a place with parking your walk to the van is shorter than to the train.

Posted by
2543 posts

We were in Croatia this past summer and rented a similar van, we were 7 adults. We drove all over and even to Venice for a day. The driving should be fine because unlike Croatia, Germany has nice wide roads and not many of the hills. We drove in Germany too and it was very easy. Our luggage fit fine, cause like you, we told everyone only one carry on size bag.

Posted by
5607 posts

There is no place called Mittenberg that part of Germany AFAIK. Mittenwald, I would guess.

"But I'm wondering if we should do a combination or train and van rental."

Which travel legs are you concerned about with the van?

My concern would be your final 4 days... I would not want a car, much less a huge van, in either Salzburg or Nuremberg. (I wouldn't want it in Cologne on that day trip either. Perhaps you ought to alter your destination that day. There are many nice places to visit in this part of Germany.) It seems to me illogical to overnight in Nuremberg proper, if that's where you have booked. You don't have time to see much of Nuremberg anyway, it seems. But you've locked in your accommodations, it seems.

Perhaps you could drop the van in Garmisch. Two Bayern tickets would get all of you from there to Salzburg. Alternatively, drive it to Freilassing and drop it there - then ride the train a few miles into Salzburg for your time there.

Two Bayern tickets from Salzburg to Nuremberg (if you really have to go there) could work. Look into "Day pass for Germany" options for Nuremberg - Frankfurt on Day 12. What day is your flight? Day 13? Were you planning to drive to FRA and also fly out on the same day, Day 12?? That sounds snug but I don't know your flight schedule. I would think it wiser to overnight in Frankfurt on Day 11 if you have to fly out on Day 12.

Posted by
3656 posts

To each his own, but I never drive on the day of arrival. Lack of sleep, jet lag, and being on unfamiliar roads might be an accident waiting to happen. Some are not bothered by any of those things, some are driving impaired without knowing it, and others (like me) shouldn't be allowed around sharp instruments. Don't mean to rain on your parade, just offering food for thought.

Posted by
13 posts

Russ, my oldest son lived in Germany for 2 years and wants to go to Cologne on this trip. That's why we are going up there for a day. His only 2 requests were Cologne and Wurzburg. Our flight home on Day 12 leaves at 1:15 pm. Since we will be coming from Salzburg, we didn't want to be coming from so far away the day of our flight home. That's why we decided to drive to Nuremberg on Day 11--so we'd be in closer proximity to Frankfurt and we'd be someplace interesting for half a day. Our Nuremberg accommodations are changeable.

Posted by
5607 posts

Our flight home on Day 12 leaves at 1:15 pm. Since we will be coming
from Salzburg, we didn't want to be coming from so far away the day of
our flight home. That's why we decided to drive to Nuremberg on Day
11--so we'd be in closer proximity to Frankfurt and we'd be someplace
interesting for half a day. Our Nuremberg accommodations are
changeable.

If you're keeping the van, you'll need to drop it off at FRA - have a walk-around inspection, conclude your paperwork, etc. and then shuttle to your terminal. FRA airport itself recommends arrival at your terminal 2.5 hours prior. I always plan on 3 in case I am delayed for any reason. How much time did your airline recommend? So personally I'd want no more than an hour's drive that morning before all this stuff. I would look into something a good deal closer than Nuremberg but no further out than Wertheim (Main River) - a lovely town with a few things to keep your interest. And for something really interesting on Day 11, I would suggest a stop at Bad Windsheim's Franconian Open Air Museum, not too far from Nuremberg, where you get a solid look at local history over the last 500 years or so. It's a great place for families:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g198421-d284746-Reviews-Frankonian_Open_Air_Museum-Bad_Windsheim_Middle_Franconia_Franconia_Bavaria.html

Posted by
2995 posts

I like Nurnberg but agree with Russ that it's a little too far from Frankfurt to make me feel comfortable when you'll need to arrive at the airport to drop off the car by 10ish to be safe. Rush hour traffic can be really awful all over the outskirts of German cities if you're traveling on a weekday. I'd suck up the long day of driving to spend your last night within a hour's drive of FRA.

Otherwise I think this looks like a good if busy trip, and the van is well-suited for your group. Salzburg isn't difficult to drive in provided your hotel isn't like, in a pedestrianized area (if it is, look for Park + bus options).

Posted by
13 posts

Thanks Russ and Sarah for your advice. I will look into staying someplace closer to Frankfurt the night before we fly home. In Salzburg we are staying at Hotel Bloberger Hof and plan to take the bus into the downtown area.

Posted by
823 posts

Some practical advise...

What time is your flight home from Frankfurt? If it's in the morning, I would recommend staying somewhere closer than Nuremberg - like Mainz or Weisbaden. I would even consider Frankfurt Alstadt, drop the van off the evening prior and s-bahn to the airport in the morning.

Consider your luggage plans very carefully because a 9-pax van will have almost zero luggage space. Research ever model van that is a potential rental to determine if this is doable. I've seen too many families having absolute melt-downs in the FRA rental car garage as they find out that only 1/3 of their luggage will fit.

Research child safety seat requirements for your 10 year old as the EU age requirement is 12 and under. Google Kinder Travel Guide for details. BTW - this may also impact seating space...

Wash and vacuum the van immediately prior to returning it at FRA. Rental agency return personnel don't take kindly to dirty vehicles (I've seen my fair share of melt-downs there as well). And they will charge you for deep cleaning if they see any evidence of eating/drinking in the inside.

Posted by
28121 posts

We also figure since we have 8 passengers instead of 9, we will have the extra unused seat space for luggage also. That one empty seat should be enough room for 4 carryons.

I find that I have to repeat myself on this quite a lot, but since I have had to attend accidents (the old term or RTC the new term) where things flying around in the passenger compartment were a factor in fatalities, I feel qualified to chip in my advice.

If you have loose luggage on a seat and the vehicle stops abruptly from speed, either accident or trying to avoid one, physics class will tell you that the vehicle will stop eventually, the strapped in correctly passengers will stop at about the same time as the vehicle and anything not strapped down or stopped by a wall, like the wall behind the seats to the trunk/boot, will keep on going at about the same speed until they hit something that stops them moving to the front of the vehicle. If that is the back of a seat - great. If, as is usually the case, they go up and forward instead of down and forward, what stops them, or slows them down some, could be the back of your head. With unfortunately predictable consequences.

I know it isn't pleasant to think about - and I can promise you that it is even less pleasant to encounter at the roadside - but please consider my request to ensure that anything with any significant mass is properly contained in a vehicle.

Please believe us when we say that there isn't much room in a 9-seater for luggage. The back row of seats goes right back to nearly the back window.

Posted by
316 posts

Hi Austen- Add another VOE to those above. DO NOT try to drive from Nuremberg to FRA the morning of the 12th. Maaaaany years ago I drove from Munich to FRA one drizzly Sunday morning to catch a 'noonish flight home. I made it (with time to pay a speeding ticket on the spot) but there were no long security lines in those days. Since then I have always stayed in Mainz, Wiesbaden- Nordenstadt, Frankfurt proper, or (my favorite) Heidelberg the night before a return flight from FRA.

As far as the van size, can you get a van with a roof that is designed for luggage storage on top? You might need some tiedowns but it might make things a lot more comfortable...

FYI, there isn't a lot to do in Mittenwald at night. You might consider staying in Garmisch for nights 7 & 8 and save more than a half hour driving each day.

Have a great trip!!!