Travelling with a toddler, a backpack and on public transport alone …? To many, that means adventure all along. To me, it meant finally getting out the door again after many months of lockdown. I simply contacted friends I knew from previous travels, many of whom now also had children, and asked if Liam and I could come visit as part of a major pan-European trip. Like, why not?
Just why I’ve chosen to do our three-weeks trip through Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg on the train and public transport only, is something I am explaining in more detail here. Summing up, I believe it’s much easier to take a young child along on public transport, and of course it’s less strain on the environment, too. Buses or trains always provide entertainment, I can walk Liam around, there are other kids, you can play, draw or read together, etc. It’s much easier than driving, I believe (especially alone as an adult in a car with a young child).
Kid-friendly travel options in Germany
So how to set up this trip according to the needs of my two-year-old son? For him (and myself as his sole companion) I’ve of course put some thought into it before leaving. My planning involved choosing train travel times that didn’t exceed four or five hours a day. And also, to spend several days in a row with friends not planning to do much at all. To give him, and myself, some rest on the journey.
It was these same friends, and their families, who came up with all the wonderful ideas for kid-friendly stopovers, for instance in Munich, or tips for excursions in or near Cologne-Düsseldorf that were easy to do with a young child. Playgrounds, cafés, some sightseeing in between, refreshing local grocery stores or shops provided for some great balance when travelling with little Liam!
What to do in Cologne when travelling with young children?
We have only spent several days visiting Cologne, but did so in the relaxing way of feeling “almost local”! In part, this was due to the great location of our friends’ apartment, in the Köln-Klettenberg district near Sülzburgstraße. It is a part of Cologne I have never seen or visited before, and one I will remember for its many quiet, green streets and easy shopping options!
My friend Mary, her three-year-old son Ferdinand, Liam and I have also ventured a little further and headed down to a Cologne classic: The famous promenade by the Rhine river near the Cologne Cathedral! Right below it, there is a fun little public water park for young children that makes for great entertainment when travelling with kids! We then headed down the promenade and stopped at the famous local pub “Die Ex-Vertretung”, having Tarte Flambee and typical Kölsch beer. Lovely.
What to do in Düsseldorf when travelling with young children?
Our next stop was another friend’s apartment, Janett Schindler who also writes on her travel blog @Teilzeitreisende. She conveniently lives right between the two major cities Cologne and Düsseldorf, and has happily welcomed us to her country home.
Thanks to her, Liam and I discovered the small medieval town of Zons by the Rhine river, the city of Wuppertal with its historic overhead railway, the local zoo, as well as the Aquazoo Düsseldorf and Düsseldorf old town. All of it explicitly, or also, possible with a young child in tow.
Are there any more questions about our trip? Just ask!
Did Liam manage to sleep well everywhere?
Did he enjoy the local food?
Did you pack (a lot of) toys and other knick-knacks?
How did you pack?
And did anything – something happen to you while on the road …?
I could imagine these to be the most typical questions about individual adventure trips with a young child. My answer are that yes, Liam did sleep well everywhere – even quite long stretches at a time where he clearly did recover well from the excitement of travelling. As far as eating is concerned, he has always enjoyed food in general, so no problem when travelling either.
I only brought very few toys on the road: As we’ve almost exclusively travelled from one family household to the next, I did not bring more than 10 small toys (cars, trains, books) for Liam.
Packing was quite easy, too: I have packed everything into my middle-sized backpack and one small bag attached to his travel stroller. I packed in a way so as to do our laundry every now and then at our friends’ homes. No issue at all, thank you all who have supported us in this way.
And no, nothing major happened, except for me having had a cold and sore throat for well over a week. It can be a little more exhausting than usual when travelling with a young child, but nothing too difficult, either. Honestly, it was ok.
Where will your next trip lead you to – whether with or without children?