Scouting New Places to Take the Family! Here are My Top 5

I love to travel the way some people can take solace in knitting a scarf.

My friend calls this angry knitting.

My step-mom describes this as allowing the magic to flow through you.

All I know is if there is such a thing as a knitting chakra, it’s blocked.

My travel chakra on the other hand is my center.  Right next to that is my writing chakra.  When I think of what helps me rebalance and recharge my life energy, it usually comes down to those two.  Protecting the flow of what works is a serious keystone to being happy.

For me that means sometimes we shouldn’t do something because we are simply able to.  Case in point, traveling to 9 locations in one week.  Extremely doable.  Very Exhausting.  Stressful.  Huge recovery time.

I understand the feeling that we need to see everything and having so little time to do it.  Which works if you know what you want to see and experience ahead of time.

Wandering on a whim is a lot of fun.  Blowing your budget too fast is not.  If you’re not aware of certain details, a trip for 6 can easily become expensive.  Especially if the expectations fail to meet reality.  Something that ultimately I should avoid at all cost… unless it’s for reconnaissance.

A quick recon is a perfect way to figure out if a location deserves more of your time and mulah!  Here are five places I discovered would be worth taking the whole family to;

1. Berlin.  I packed 3 different travel books and picked up various maps to get around Berlin.  We found good restaurant suggestions in one, and a list of free or alternative museums worth seeing in another.  After returning home I came across something that would have worked way more intuitively for me… Rick Steves’ Snapshot Berlin!

Notes to self;

  • Hostels were practically non-existent for last minute booking in the heat of the season!  We went with what we could find on Booking.com.  When we arrived it looked like the place had closed-up shop.  Then we caught someone leaving and asked.  Turned out the hotel was upstairs!  We were able to upgrade our reservations and the beds were clean and comfortable.
  • I’m not a big fan of Hop-on, Hop-off Tours.  There were too many times where they did not stop and let anyone on or off.  However the combination Museum/transportation passes available at the Tourist Office are worth considering with a family in tow. The S/U Bahns were under construction and we found ourselves rerouting in frustration more often than we liked.  We discovered City Bus #100 hit most of the places we were going and with greater frequency.
  • The GDW (Gedenkstätte Deutscher Widerstand) or the German Resistance Memorial Center was a personal favorite.
  • Keep in mind for the family; Christmas markets, the zoo and aquarium at the Zoologischer Garten, the DDR Museum.

2. Prague.  

Notes to Self;

  • We missed the train we had planned on taking.  The one we had boarded listed online that it would carry us all the way through but that turned out to not be the case.  Instead we ended up spending 4-5 hours in Dresden’s train station until the connecting train ran again.  It was cold and by the time we arrived the one thing we wanted most was a refreshing shower and a nap.  The delay and the rest period ate into our travel plans so we used the Hop-on, Hop-off recommended by our hotel to get quickly acquainted with the area.  The map they gave us for the tour gave a nice big picture feel to what was available and how to tackle it.
  • Prague is actually Praha.  Important to know when you’re buying tickets.
  • The Prague Castle is the largest medieval castle in the world.  In my opinion the city center has the largest historic feel of any place I have seen… without feeling too spread out.
  • Keep in mind for next time; My Czech Republic has a good 3 day itinerary to start off with. I would add the Beer Museum or a beer tour.  The dark beer from this area was lovely!
  • With children specifically in mind: Lots of museums and parks in this area that I know my family would enjoy.  The Toy Museum and the zoo in particular sounds interesting.
  • I had the hardest time finding travel trinkets.  I found neat glass nail files and The Devil’s Workshop from a bookstore near the train station.  

3. Salzburg?

Notes to Self;

  • Berchtesgarten is a lovely place to spend a week or weekend on the border between the Bavarian and the Austrian Alps!  It’s near the Eagle’s Nest and the Documentation Museum.  The train line ends here and and can connect you to the buses that take you up to the highest points, or down into Salzburg. It’s a short walk or a short ride down the hill to the Salt Mines.
  • Watzmann Haus for a child friendly hostel and serious hiking.
  • BigBoyTravel.com has the best 3 day itineraries I’ve come across.
  • So this turned out to really be about Berchtesgarden then Salzburg.  Oops.  Well there are a couple of reasons to visit Salzburg but for me the only reason to visit is for The Sound of Music tour!  Of course we may not all agree so you should check out BigBoyTravel.com list of 16 day trips from Berchtesgarten to decide for yourself.

4. Basel. 

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What can I say?  It’s a charming city with an amusing personality!

Notes to Self;

  • The most amazing chocolate is found here! 
  • Including a delicious gingerbread! Do you like brownies? Imagine if gingerbread was a fluffy brownie than you might have an idea of what it would taste like!
  • Basel has areas that extend into Germany and France.
  • It would be fun to come back during Christmas and New Years!
  • We wanted the exercise, but the City Tour Bus in Basel doesn’t skimp if you want to give your legs a rest!

5. Belfast

The lure for me to make this our base of operations for the Game of Thrones Tour, was the Titanic Museum.  What I did not expect was the amazing food or the lovely vegetarian options …but that post is for another day!

What places are you looking to explore this year?  Where would you like to go on your own vs with your family?

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