Planning a trip to Europe with Germany as the main entrance and exit spot.
• Book your round-trip flight from your city to Frankfurt Am Main (FRA). This is a large international hub and may save some money on the flight. Alternate locations to try as the main hub are Amsterdam, Paris, and Brussels.
• After booking your main roundtrip flight, book your small hop flights on Skyscanner.com NOT Kayak. Skyscanner has access to smaller aircraft companies around Europe and will save a LOT of money. This website is the best-kept secret about traveling overseas.
• Use booking.com to book "family-friendly" rooms such as A&O Hostel or B&B Hotel. These 2 hotels have private rooms with bunk beds for kids and a queen size bed. They are low on amenities but will be a great place to clean up and leave the bags while you explore.
REMINDER: SMART TRAVEL TIPS
MONEY: Before you leave the US, make sure to contact your banks and do a "travel notification." This will ensure your cards work while abroad. Upon arrival in Europe, make sure you go to an ATM and have some Euros in your wallet at all times. Some vendors may not have debit/credit machines available. For all vendors that DO accept cards, make sure you use a CREDIT CARD. Any fraudulent activity can be claimed and reimbursed by the credit card company.
BAGGAGE: Each passenger will be given an allowance for a carry-on bag, a personal item (like a purse), and a certain limit for weight per checked baggage. Each of our kids had a backpack as a carry-on full of toys, coloring books, or other small comfort items. When packing, make sure to not overload one or 2 "main" bags. Instead, have one medium-sized bag for each adult and each child. Check the weights on a scale at home before you fly. There is nothing worse than showing up to check in for your flight and you have to shuffle clothes from one bag to another due to overweight bags.
ELECTRONICS: Make sure to pick up adapters for euro wall plugs and double-check your electronics are safe on 220v power versus the 110v we have in the states. One hack is to ask the hotel check-in clerk if any USB/Wall adapters have been left in a room by other customers. They may just give you some for free. Cell phones will obviously not work when you leave the US or may result in astronomical roaming charges. To avoid this, make sure you have a plan. One option is to call your service provider and ask for European travel options. Another option is to purchase one sim card and use it in an unlocked device, then use the mobile hotspot option to share the data with other family devices. Remember to put all devices in airplane mode if they are not connected to cellular service. The phone's battery will quickly die while traveling as it searches for a nearby cell tower.
EXPENSIVE PERSONAL ITEMS: Pack and carry a "main" backpack which contains the passports, money, and other important personal items. It is also super handy for stowing away light jackets, sunglasses, souvenirs, and a portable charge bank to recharge any cell phones while you're out exploring. Do NOT leave these important items in your hotel room.
MEDICAL SAFETY: Before leaving the States, be sure to refill any prescription medicine and carry it in your checked baggage. Keep a bit of it in your main backpack as you explore. Calling 911 in Europe won't work. Their version is usually 112, but google this information for each country you visit. Medical care for emergencies can be stressful. Make sure to consider this in your travel planning process, and it will be fine. Last note, make sure to carry seasonal appropriate clothing. Some European countries have significantly colder or hotter seasons than others. Make sure you take the appropriate precautions in either case (sunscreen, or extra thick hats, jackets and gloves).