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Overwhelmed , greatest family trip ever

I am new to this forum and company(sorry :))
I have so many questions and need so much advice and direction, so maybe my first step will be putting it out there of what i would LOVE to do, but with the realization and direction from all of you and expertise advise, will see what I should do. I am a very optimistic person, but sometimes, a huge appetite with a small stomach. :)
My husband and I have two sons, 24 and 26, and the older has a girlfriend of 6 years, so my first thoughts it would be for all of us, but with finances and the amount of time to be off work, for sure the part including the wedding in Solingen Germany, to include the kids and girlfriend, which is the reason for going. We had a foreign exchange student who lived with us in 2012 and went to school in our small community, Caldwell, Kansas. He is getting married and that is where the wedding is on September 3rd.
So.... HERE are my thoughts, just need a lot of help :O!!!
* Would leave August 21, or 22 out of Wichita Kansas
* possible fly to another country to explore until 27 or 28th. (third wish)
*Would then go to Oberammergau Passion Play in Germany----(which is my second must) although I don't know how to get tickets or where to stay ( possible on 28th, and stay in that town a day or two)
* leave on the 30th to go back to Solingen where the wedding is held, which we would have somewhere to stay in Leverkusen Germany, then leave after the wedding on September 4th or 5th. (first must)

Was given Edinburgh Scotland as a Country to visit? When we went to visit German son before, we went to Rome for 5 days. We love the outdoors and would love a days hike in the most beautiful place ever :) Switzerland? New Zealand? So as you can see, I need SO much help where someone almost just puts an itinerary together for me. lol
We love to explore, castles, histories, just the adventure. I would love to have a day hike in the prettiest place ever !!!

So as you can see, I have a HUGE desire to live life to its fullest, specially vacations :)
I am the only one doing the leg work, so I need a lot of help!! So if anyone is able to help or guidance, would MUCH appreciate it and THANK YOU in advance. Or if you can direct me how to get this accomplished. I would love a one shop stop, lol, where I can buy tickets and reservations for everything,
Lost in mind of planning a vacation of a lifetime,

Posted by
1434 posts

I have a couple of thoughts to help organize your ideas.

1 - Plan on visiting only one country, in this case Germany. With COVID regs changing frequently and with each country having different requirements, trying to ensure everyone in your party satisfies those requirements before the trip and then again in the days before return home will be difficult. If you plan to visit multiple countries, the difficulty will be increased manifold.

2 - Find the places you want to visit on a map and then pick an arrival and departing city/airport. Possibly Hamburg and Munich.

Posted by
9533 posts

Welcome to the forum. You are all over the map as far as where you might want to go. So far we know you must be in Solingen, which is in northern Germany. You also want to go to Oberammergau, located in Bavaria. Switzerland is definitely achievable from Bavaria in southern Germany. I suggest you look at some maps and guidebooks to figure out realistically what you can do in your allotted time. At first glance I would consider flying to Zurich, spend time in Switzerland, most here recommend the Berner Oberland for a beautiful area of the Alps, then go to Bavaria from there. Spend the rest of your time in Germany, full of castles and history. Scotland isn’t anywhere near where you will be and look on the map to see where New Zealand is.

Good luck!

Posted by
22581 posts

Difficult if not impossible to answer. First thought --- You cannot see everything the first time or even the second or third time. Second thought -- You can burn through a lot of time and money trying to hit a lot of places quickly. Some like to do that. I don't. I would prefer to spend time in three or four places in a two week period than five or six place in the same two weeks. Third thought -- You absolutely must be willing to accept compromise and trade offs. My wife's favorite comment on our first trip to Europe was, "We will see that next time." It was 25 years later for the next time but we now have had maybe 20 next times.

First stop -- local library and check out the travel DVDs and the guide books related to your three top interests. Spend a few evening enjoying and seeing what appears to you the most. Second step -- buy a map to put pins so that you can see how things lay out. Seriously consider an open jaw -- multi city ticket -- into one city and home from another. It will be cheaper. Also understand, that when you change locations you will lose most of the day just packing, unpacking, riding the train or plane, finding new hotel, getting oriented, etc., etc. Changing locations will waste a lot of valuable time.

Then, as you develop you plan come back here with specific questions. The site works best answering specific question rather than, Is the world really round? Good luck.

Posted by
3920 posts

From the info you've given, it looks like you would only have 2 weeks, give or take a day or two. 4-5 days of which you want to be near the wedding venue. That leaves about 10 days of touring.

I would point out that Oberammergau is a full days journey to Solingen by train, so that reduces your touring to 9 days. Subtract 2 days for your Passion Play visit, and you only have a week. By the way- those tickets historically sell out waaaaaay in advance, so you'll want to hop on that. Visit the official website for info, then perhaps check out tour packages for the play, since they usually include accommodations and meals.

I would also suggest, given the complexities of travel during the pandemic, that you confine your trip to a single country. Germany can certainly meet your wishes of beautiful hikes (Bavaria), castles (all over, but the Rhine is easy), and adventure.

I don't think anyone here would recommend a one stop shop for all your travel needs, when you have very specific and time sensitive needs. What you need is a way to quickly learn how to do these things for yourself. It's intimidating at first blush, but easy once you get the hang of it. For a start, get a good guide book or 2 on Germany. And Ricks Europe through the Back Door can show you how to go about planning and booking any trip. If you have specific questions, you can always ask here.

Personally, I'd start the trip at the furthest point from where you will end. So perhaps fly into Munich and spend a few days in southern Bavaria, get in your hike (perhaps around Garmisch or Mittenwald), and see the Passion Play. Then head over to the Rhine area for a few more days. Check out some of the castles on the Rhine and Moselle, maybe a winery or 3. Then head to your final destination before flying home from the closest airport that can easily get you home (likely Dusseldorf, requiring at least one or 2 connections). This would mean buying a multicity ticket, rather than a return ticket.

Posted by
1441 posts

Congrats on the upcoming journey and wedding celebration to enjoy!
Relax and breathe for you have come to the right place to find people who enjoy helping people travel.
Some thoughts to consider.............
1) Keep this journey simple as planning for four + one people is a lot.
2) Rent apartments for the extra room and having a kitchen.
3) Germany is a huge country offering a diverse wonderful menu of opportunities so DO NOT encumber the trip by adding another country (adds expense and decrease effective travel enjoyment time)
4) price flights from major airport hubs (DFW, Chicago and Denver) to determine a range of values and also check on pricing from KC. Learn about "open jaw" airline tickets which provide an excellent way to gain more value from your travel.
5) Lets say depart August 22 and return on Sept 4, which provides a great foundation for enjoying a wonderful journey.
With one anchor being the passion play and the other the wedding, seek to infill your journey with places sating your curiosity while not taxing your stress or budget.
7) keep updating the forum with your requests so we may provide more detailed assistance.

Posted by
5932 posts

There are P.P. tickets available for Aug. 28 and other dates here:

It may be a bit of trouble to locate accommodations that are both available and reasonably priced for 5.

If the P.P. is a "must" for everyone, then you probably have no choice to go for it. But I do suspect that you haven't done a lot of research so far, and that with your short time in Germany, you might find some options that for your group fall more obviously into the "must" category. Oberammergau tourism will be at its peak, making for extreme pricing and crowds, and it makes for a long journey with your eyes on Leverkusen, for sure.

"...possible fly to another country to explore until 27 or 28th."

Leverkusen is of course quite close to interesting places in the Netherlands and in Belgium. Have a look at...


Belgian Ardennes WW II towns (Spa, Malmedy, St. Vith, Stavelot) and beer brewery routes

Have a look also at some nearby destinations in Germany:


Impossibly beautiful Monschau

Middle Rhine Valley (castles, castle hotels, vineyards and wineries, great hiking options, river cruises)

Posted by
5705 posts


As others have recommended, I also would definitely stick with just one country - Germany. There’s so much variety, it will satisfy all of your requests without hassling with multiple-country Covid requirements & maximize your time having fun vs. transportation time.

Next, buy a Rick Steves Germany guidebook. It will give you lots of info and answer questions you’re not even thinking about, yet. It also does a nice job of prioritizing places or activities to help you. You also might want to pull up the Rick Steves tours that go to Germany and read the itineraries to give you ideas:

We always travel by train in Europe since it’s so easy & stress-free. Here’s the German train site:

Have a great time!

Posted by
14483 posts

You have been given excellent advice above, the best of which is to keep your trip to one country—-Germany. There is plenty to see and do there to satisfy all your wishes.

Here’s why: no one knows what this summer will bring in the way of covid rules and restrictions. Travel that includes 2 countries just doubles the complications.

For example: let’s say this trip to visit your German son was planned for this Christmas (instead of the August wedding). You booked everything 4 months ago, when it all looked quite possible. You built in a stop in Scotland on the way, as a second country to visit, and bought plane tickets to Edinburgh and then on to Germany 5 days later. You booked lodging in Scotland, etc. Then, you find out yesterday that as of December 20, persons entering Germany who have been in the UK for more than 24 hours in the past few days, whether vaccinated or not, must quarantine 14 days upon arrival in Germany. So of course you can’t do that, and you would have to choose between going to one or the other—-Scotland or Germany.

And then you would have to scramble to change your flight reservations—-and good luck with that. The airline call centers are so busy this month—-even before this tighter Germany regulation—-that people are spending hours and hours on hold, and even then not getting through. (I have been cut off by British Airways after being on hold for exactly 60 minutes, 5 times now.) There are many, many complaints on FlyerTalk about this, including from “high status” Gold members of the airline’s loyalty club. And it isn’t just British Airways—-I have see complaints about the impossibility of getting through by phone with American, Delta, and Lufthansa, to name a few.

I am not trying to scare you or dissuade you from your trip; not at all. Just trying to persuade you to keep it to Germany. Planning to visit any other country on the way puts you at risk of a “shutdown” of that country, or a new quarantine requirement in Germany if that country is added to the “red” list (or whatever it is at the time).

If, after you arrive in August, it looks like green lights to leave the country, and you have booked some reservations you can cancel between the Passion Plan and the wedding, you could take the train into Switzerland for a few days. . .

You should look in the Germany forum to read more about this quarantine situation, just so you understand how quickly things can change. Of course things are almost certain to improve well before August, so the requirements will be eased. But then a new variant could appear, and the whole thing is back to restrictions on travel again.

There are Alps in Germany as well as in Switzerland, and you can have some wonderful hiking there. Garmisch-Partenkirchen offers warm hospitality, lots of accommodation options (including vacation apartments, or Ferienwohnungen (“FeWo”) and some really interesting hiking through gorges as well as in the mountains. This would make a great stop after Oberammergau. And do use the link Russ gave you to get your tickets to the Passion Play—-I was surprised to see that there are some still left.

Fly into Munich, spend a week or so in Bavaria, then make your way north to Solingen. I personally would build in an overnight stop on the way, to break up the journey and to visit a new place. I am sure people will have lots of good ideas on where you might do this. We enjoyed Bamberg, but there are lots of other options.

Posted by
8797 posts

Reading some of Rick Steves books would be really helpful. You can get them from your library, bookstore, online. Europe Through the Back Door is a good beginner, then his country specific books. No one here can give you all the very helpful info his books are full of. Happy reading and planning!

Posted by
6651 posts

We saw the Passion Play while living in Augsburg, Germany, a great city to spend at least one day. Also, you many wish to stay there, but would need a rental car to drive to the play.
Work on getting tickets now, we purchased ours from the US Army, which wouldn't apply to you now.

Stick to Germany with only two weeks, unless you want to cross the border into Austria (Salzburg or Innsbruck).

Munich is worth a few days, as well as Garmish/Fussen, go up the Zugspitze, tallest mountain in Germany. Also, visit all the castles in that area.

Check out Berchtesgaden and Salzburg as well. Consider taking The Romantic Road up to Rothenberg ob der Tauber (medieveal town perfectly preserved).

Posted by
1070 posts

You are getting some excellent advice here. You are trying to do way too much in too short of a time. Flying into Munich and catching the train down to Garmisch makes sense. We stayed for almost a week at and could have used more time. There is so much to do in Garmisch itself, and day trips were easy. The Zugspritz is amazing as is The Partnach Gorge, freat hiking and Eibsee. The owners helped us out with day car rentals when we needed one, as they have a friend who owns a car rental place just a couple of blocks from the hotel. We would walk down, grab a car, and go. Oberammergau is an easy and short drive from Garmisch as well as Fussen (Cinderella Castle-Neuschwanstein Castle), Ettal Monestary and Linderhof Palace, Charming Mittenwald, and so much more. If COVID restrictions permit, Innsbruck is an easy day trip from Garmisch. If you stay a couple of nights in Munich, there is a lot to see and do there as well. Salzburg is an easy day trip from Munich. Again, if COVID allows, you could fly into Zurich as suggested above in another post, visit Lucerne, the mountains, then train to Innsbruck for a quick couple of hours, then train on to Garmisch for a few nights then on to Munich and fly out of Munich to your final destination area. You have so many options within the region that adding Scotland would take away from everything you are trying to do.

Posted by
47 posts

Lots of great advice on here. I would agree that it would be best to try and stick to one country especially during COVID. It can be maddening to keep track of the ever changing entry requirements for each country, locator forms, testing requirements for each country, etc. We just returned from two weeks in the UK/Germany/France and it was challenging keeping up on the regulations. And if you are a novice international traveler, then it will likely be an uphill battle.

As other have suggested, maybe fly into Munich, which would put you in the Bavaria region, then work your way west towards the Black Forest area and then north up the Rhine eventually making your way to Solingen where you can fly out of Dusseldorf or Frankfurt to come home. All of this is easily done by rail. A car rental car is nice out in the rural areas of Bavaria but traveling with 5 adults would in most cases require two cars. While in Bavaria region, you might be able to get a second country visit in on a day trip via rail to Austria, maybe Salzburg or Innsbruck depending where in Bavaria you would be staying. You'd still need to check the entry requirements. Both Innsbruck and Salzburg are easily reached by train. In Bavaria you've got the Neuschwanstein Castle, Linderhof Palace, and the Herrenchiemsee Palace just to name a few.

The Rhine River has a ton of history, castle remnants, and sightseeing river cruises up and down the river. The most popular region seems to be the stretch from Cologne south to Mainz. We stayed a few nights in Boppard. You could easily spend a week just in this stretch. If big ass impressive churches are your thing, then a stop in Cologne to visit the cathedral is a must! It's literally right outside the main train station in Cologne.

Good luck with the trip!

Posted by
3487 posts

Greatest family trip ever? That's a lot of pressure to put on yourself. Aim for a "good" trip and plan to be flexible in these unusual travel times. A good trip + spending time with the people you love = a great experience and great memories! 🙂

Posted by
15087 posts

Well, you posted 19 December and got a lot of advice, but you never returned. So I am a bit hesitant to participate, but it’s a slow day, so what the heck.

Leaving on 21 August, I would look at a United/Turkish Air flight to Budapest (if you want a city stay) or Montenegro (if you want at nature stay). Turkish Air because they have great open jaw rates, best service and reliability in business, and serve more cities than any other airline.

Arrive 22 August in Budapest
23 August in Budapest or Podgorica, Montenegro
24 August in Budapest (and possibly Eger or Pecs) or tour the mountains and coast line of Montenegro.

25 August in Budapest (and possibly Eger or Pecs) or tour the mountains and coast line of Montenegro
26 August in Budapest (and possibly Eger or Pecs) or tour the mountains and coast line of Montenegro ending in Dubrovnik.
27 Non-stop Lufthansa flight to Munich ($100 to $200) separate ticket then train (?) to Oberammergau. Both flights are under 2 hours.

30 August train (?) to Leverkusen
4 September flight home out of Cologne (other half of the United/Turkish Air open jaw ticket).

Airfare right now is about $1500 + $200 = $1700. But its sort of early. Keep an eye out and I suspect you will be able to buy it for closer to $1200. You also might be able to save a few dollars by booking on United/Lufthansa and combining the hop from Budapest or Dubrovnik into the ticket. But unless the savings is more than a few hundred I would stick to Turkish Air. You also might save a few hundred if you drive to DFW or buy a separate ticket to ORD or IAH to pick up the Turkish Air (or Lufthansa) flight; for instance the Turkish Air open jaw is about $900 out of IAH.

As far as the advice to sticking to one country? Who knows in August? I picked Hungary and Montenegro because they have had a consistent open border policy for a considerable time now. I suspect (hope?) by August this is even more open. Germany might be the sticking point. With Turkish Air you can rebook for $250 and save the trip by going to location that is open if Germany is an issue. Hungary and Montenegro also give you the opportunity to see something totally different than Germany. For me a trip with a number of unique experiences is always a plus.

Don't let the complications of traveling during COVID bother you too much. With a little planning and being well informed, travel can be enjoyable even if things in August are like they are now. Since the start of COVID I have been to 9 countries, a few twice; all without a hitch.

Have fun planning.

Posted by
11 posts

If you have 2 weeks total, there are more than enough things to see and do in Germany to keep you occupy, especially if 3-4 of those days will be spent where the wedding is. As a country, Germany offers more variety than just about any other country in Europe. I have been to the following places and have enjoyed them all, even though cities like Frankfurt and Hamburg feel a bit sterile. I would definitely recommend any of the following: Berlin (my favorite city in Germany, going back for 5 nights in June, hopefully), Munich, Rothenburg, Nuremberg, Dresden, Rhine Valley, Fussen, Wurzburg, Leipzig, Dortmund, Dusseldorf, and Cologne. Obviously, some of these are better than others and it just all depends on what you want to do and see. If you must add a second country, Austria makes lots of sense. You can explote western Austria and Bavaria region in Germany.

If you have any specific questions, just ask.

Posted by
3893 posts

Fast Eddie was both fast and right, stressing that this is not the time to hip-hop around Europe. especially not with limited time. And no, there is no one-stop-shopping on-line. A full service travel agent might qualify or a guided tour but you don't sound as if those are the way you want to go.
To be more helpful, here is a general comment from someone who has travelled with groups of friends. Avoid being a group leader. These five adults can take care of themselves. And can contribute. So let the individuals and couples go restaurant-shopping and sight-seeing on their own or as a group. When they come to a consensus, they will remember, in later years, how smart mom was.

Posted by
15087 posts

Fast Eddie was both fast and right, stressing that this is not the
time to hip-hop around Europe. especially not with limited time.

Well a lot of Europe, Yes. Much of Europe not much of a problem. You just have to enjoy Europe's back doors and basement windows. Their rules have remained fairly constant and arent have the trouble of France or Italy. But not even I would try France/Italy/Germany/Spain right now; but Hungary/Croatia/Bosnia/Montenegro/Ukraine/Albania ... sure (and have). No significant issues and very little paperwork for countries that have been constant in their rules for 6 months or more.

Posted by
2 posts

I first want to apologize for my very unacceptable delay. Just getting back from Hampton New Hampshire where I worked as a travel nurse and I love love love exploring all of New England in the fall, to enjoying Christmas with family, then back on the road again to Boise Idaho where I am working now for 3 months. Every response I received, I very much appreciated and was excellent advice! and I had hoped to respond after each one, as I was so excited how this worked and everyone's wonderful advice and help.
So, Yes, I agree, that Germany is the place to focus on. There are so many great recommendations that I am now trying to weed through them to see what would work best for us.

I was wondering if anyone had a suggestion for a full service travel company who does book the tickets, fares, housing? A friend who travels frequently stated that in the discounts they save for you, it can be close to a break even fee and a whole lot less stress and work? :) and also,
wasn't sure if they offer insurance to have on the trip for the "just in case" situations.

Posted by
1434 posts

I used Audley's Travel for a recent trip to Japan. They helped me fashion a custom itinerary, bought my rail and subway passes, arranged for excellent half-day city guides, and had a person meet us at the airport to help us get oriented. They even pulled off a last-minute purchase of tickets to a Japanese league baseball game.

Posted by
264 posts

Hamburg is only sterile if you stick to the guide books. It's got nice sights and all, but it has a different energy from other German cities--politically, culturally, etc. it is less like the others. To get that feel, you have to go to where the locals are. We are firmly convinced that anything south of the Elbe is actually Italy, that we live in the best city in the world, and that anyone who has a different opinion is welcome to just be wrong. ;)

Anyway, don't rule us out simply because Rick hasn't figured out what makes us special!

Posted by
14483 posts

I think you may be disappointed in what a full-service travel agent offers.

I took a look at 6-7 of the travel agencies listed in Boise, and they all do pretty much the same thing—-they book cruises, package tours, safaris, luxury resorts, and other existing packages, plus airfare and maybe train tickets. While some say they will design a “custom experience” just for you, It appears they just put something together from the tours they already deal with. And the photos on the websites lean heavily toward tropical locations.

Maybe if you told them your main goals, like the Passion Play and the wedding, they could help you with tickets and hotels for those two, and airfare, and leave space between the two events for you to work out on your own, based on the recommendations here. But I don’t know how well it would suit your needs if you simply left everything up to them.