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3 weeks in Germany with 4 kids (lodging

Hi everyone,
We're planning a 3 week trip in July 11 with our 4 boys (13,11, 6, 6)in Germany and maybe Denmark or Switzerland (TBD). I would like to know if we can manage lodging for all of us at a reasonable price and when should I book?

We are thinking of travelling mostly by train because we need a minivan which is quite expensive.

If you have any advice on place we should definitly go to with them, please let me know.

All of your advice is very welcome.

Martine

Posted by
252 posts

With a family of 6, you might want to look at renting a vacation apartment. You would probably need to do a one week rental in a couple of base locations and use public transportation for day trips. Bavaria would be one good location in Germany and the Berner Oberland would be great for Switzerland. Don't know anything about Denmark I'm afraid.

This website should get you started:

http://www.fodors.com/community/europe/bavaria-want-to-rent-apthouse.cfm

Posted by
2297 posts

July is high season and many German families are travelling. And like you, they want to travel on a budget and that means renting vacation appartments. They are indeed a very affordable option but you need to book early during that time of year to get the best deals. Especially since you're travelling as a family of SIX. Many families reserve their favourite spots the day they are leaving home - for the coming year.

Another option are family programs offered by the youth hostel association. Or booking a family room without extra programming in a youth hostel. There are quite a few in grat locations such as inside historical castles. That'll be really cool for your boys. Burg Stahleck in Bacharach is overlooking the most romantic and famous stretch of the Middle Rhine and very popular. So again this means book early. But there are many other castle accommodations. The website www.djh.de even lets you search specifically for such sites.

BTW taking the train is not a bad option as all your kids are still at an age where they're travelling for free if accompanied by a parent. And since Jan 2010 that option is even available for special sales tickets (it wasn't when we were travelling and with "only" 4 of us the car often was the cheaper option). We usually did a mix of car and train travel.

As for other German places: I'm a huge fan of Berlin. There's tons to do and lots of options that are fun for families as well. And it's one of the more affordable European capitals.

Denmark is very popular for families who rent cabins there, often close to the beach.

We did Switzerland as a family a few years back and decided to base ourselves in the Emmental region. Not as touristy as the Berner Oberland but it meant accommodation (appartment) and even restaurant food was much much cheaper. Popular destinations like Lucerne or Bern were still great options for daytrips.

Posted by
664 posts

Bonjour Martine
We just did 2 weeks in Germany and 1 week (split beetween Paris and Brugge)
I think apartments would worked best for you family you could save on food, kids need more room than a bed and breakfast,
and a TV after all the sightseeing.
We stayed at 2 hostels the one in Cochem and at Burg Stahleck, very kid friendly, we liked them both.
I you plan on staying there book early web got the
room and booked in March.

We used the train very easy and cheap ( thanks to
Lee). Berchtesgaden , Munich and Berlin are great
places for kids! Pm me is you need more info.

Posted by
1357 posts

Definitely go with apartments. In Germany, you can look on accomodation.de. Farmhouses with apartments are also a great option. The website that I use is http://www.bauernhof-urlaub.com/, it's in German, but maybe you could use an online translator. It's pretty easy to find a 2BR apartment with a sofa, but I don't know about finding a 3BR one. I'd suggest finding a place that rents out more than one apartment, that way there's a good chance there will be other kids there, too. In Germany and (I believe) Switzerland, you can rent by the day and not the week. Don't know about Denmark. You can also look an a specific city's tourism site in Germany by looking up www.(name of city).de. They'll have links to accomodation, and are usually in English (look for the British or American flag on the homepage and click on it).

I'd strongly suggest getting Cynthia Harriman's book "Take Your Kids to Europe." It's not like a regular guidebook that lists specific accomodations and restaurants, but she gives you great tools and lists tons of websites. She does have a country-by-country list at the end of the book of kid-friendly sights. Mine has been dogeared a lot.

Posted by
5610 posts

Hostel-association hostels are a more expensive option for families, generally, than apartments, as you pay by the person. But they can be good choices in Germany, where there are nearly 600 of them around the country. They are quite popular with German families during vacation periods. They are also heavily used during the school year by (noisy) groups of traveling schoolkids and their teachers and consequently are located in cities and in the countryside in places of interest that make for good field trips. Some have nice recreation facilities or are near them (like Cochem's, which is next to a waterpark.) Some hostels are in historic buildings or castles. A substantial breakfast or breakfast buffet is included.

Mid-July is a great time for German hostels since the school kids have just gone on vacation in most states. They'll be easier to book and to enjoy.

If you're visiting the Rhine Valley region, the Bacharach castle-hostel is really popular - but it's hard to reserve and it's located very high on the cliffs, making coming and going very tough. Nearby hostels in St. Goar and Bingen are not in castles but are easier to reach on foot and offer amazing views of the valley. in Diez, just east of the Rhine, there's an amazing castle-hostel that's just been fully remodeled - it's much more like a hotel than a hostel.

In German cities, hostels are typically well-located, whereas vacation rentals will often be off in the suburbs.

Official German Hostel website in English:
DJH

Posted by
5610 posts

(Continued) Vacation rentals are a great way to go. Book early. The town tourist office websites are usually your most complete resource, and the town TI will often give advice and help you book.

I'd start here to get an idea of what's possible: vacation rental website

Do a keyword search with "Germany", then "select all", and "6 persons", and 500 places that can accommodate your family will appear.

Town websites: these have a rentals page or a link to a regional tourist office that has rental listings. For a given town, try www.(town name).de then look for an English option. Example: here are
St. Goar's vacation rentals

There's usually a small cleaning fee that you pay to owners but no agency fee if you go through the owners or through the first website I gave you. Make sure that sheets are included (some owners don't provide them and families bring their own, or they charge a small fee for them.)

German words for rentals: "Ferienwohnung" ("Fewo" for short) or "Ferienhaus".

We've booked rentals directly on numerous occasions with great success. Deposits are not common - I've never paid one. Just book and give your word that you'll show and pay, and that's normally enough.

Posted by
1525 posts

Martine,

I would invite you to read our blog for the trip we just returned from. It included parts of Germany and elsewhere. We have three children almost the same age as yours so our circumstances were similar except that we were able to rent a small car.

www.lee-reid2010.blogspot.com

I agree that for lodgings, rentals would be ideal. There are many to choose from. We stayed in one outside of Füssen in which we could see Neuschanstein (sp?) from our balcony. It cost only $100/night.

Hostels are also a great deal if you cannot arrange to stay in one area long enough to get a rental. In particular, make it a point to stay at;

http://www.jugendherberge.de/en/hostels/search/portrait/jh.jsp?IDJH=390

in Bacharach, along the Rhine. It's a hostel in a castle. I would recommend it to anyone, but it's almost a must for a family. It's a great deal to buy into half-boarding where they feed you all-you-can-eat dinner for about 5 euro extra.

Have a great trip. PM me for any specific questions.