Remember when I passionately made a case in favor of traveling when one becomes a parent?
Remember how I made said case when I was still a mom to exactly one kid, not two?
Yeah, so, about that…
Turns out, friends, that traveling with two kids is ENTIRELY different from traveling with one. Don’t misunderstand me: I stand by my post about traveling with kids. It’s good for you, it’s good for them, it’s good for the world. But if you thought traveling with one kid was a challenge, add another to the mix and you’ve got yourself a bona fide adventure story to routinely bring up in front of your kids’ friends and dates. There’s no harm in some lighthearted embarrassment for all the times they threw up on you, right?
We had a sneaking suspicion traveling with two would be crazy which is why we didn’t go anywhere until this month. For my family, November brings a special joy our way each year. Not because of Thanksgiving or the arrival of Vienna’s Christmas markets – though those are definitely an added bonus – but because November means it’s time for our annual trip to Rothenburg, Germany. For 53 years, American and European Christians have gathered together in Rothenburg’s fairytale town to worship, learn, hang out, and eat a surplus of delicious food. For a brief moment, Will and I weren’t sure if we should go this year since Lucy is still little and very much not sleeping through the night. But we quickly dismissed the idea of missing Rothenburg, especially since my parents offered their help, and added an additional 2-day trip to Nürnberg onto our 4-day stay in Rothenburg instead.
Because I’m anti-car and very pro-train, I persuaded Will to let us travel by train to Rothenburg. What I forgot was… it actually takes four trains to get to Rothenburg, not one. So that was my big mistake of the trip. Both kids did beautifully on the first train, fell completely apart on the second train, were indifferent on the third train, and were totally done on the fourth train. I’m not sure how many times Will gave me a “we’re taking a car next year” look, but it was a lot.
Rothenburg was just as wonderful as it is every year, but it was certainly more challenging with two in tow. I underpacked for Elliott but overpacked for Lucy. We had to keep track of two nap schedules and different meal schedules and two bedtimes. There was a lot of “You take one, I’ll take the other.” Will would run down to a session while I sat with the kids so my parents could grab dinner, then we’d switch so I could get some talking in.
But the hardest part about traveling with kids, to me, is creating a balance of keeping them active without pushing them too hard. Travel is strenuous even for the most experienced of us, so for a toddler and a baby, train-hopping, new foods, weird surroundings, and large groups of people can take a toll on the little guys. Thankfully, since my parents accompanied us on the trip, Will and I were able to visit with old friends, make new ones and attend most of the sessions available while the kids strolled around town or played in our hotel room. We were close to closing out our time in Rothenburg without a hitch until Elliott’s stomach decided it was unhappy for reasons unknown to us which resulted in him throwing up a whole bunch our last evening there. First he threw up on me, then again on my parents’ bed, then once more on both Will and our bed. Luckily that was the end of it and we headed to Nürnberg throw-up free the next morning.
Nürnberg (Nuremberg) is charming, beautiful, AND HAS A PIZZA HUT. I know the existence of a Pizza Hut in a European city should be an insignificant point to make given Nürnberg’s very old history, but sometimes ya’ just need a pepperoni lovers personal pan pizza and nothing else matters, you know?? Post-pizza, we walked around the old part of Nürnberg, toured a cathedral and peeked at the Christmas market set up.
The next day we all went to the Nürnberg Castle. Because miracles do happen, our babies were fantastic while we walked among stone rooms that have been around since 1050. But not wanting to overdo it, we agreed that after lunch (Pizza Hut one more time), I would put the kids down for their naps and stay at the hotel while Will and my parents went to the German History Museum.
I was looking forward to this break because it meant I had some time to myself, or so I had hoped. But as it usually goes for me, every time it looks like I’m about to get some “me time”, some sort of bodily functions crisis comes up with one or both of my kids, as was of course the case that afternoon. I heard Elliott wailing from across the hall, which I thought was odd because he’s usually a pro napper. But it was his “Rescue me!!!” cry so I hurried over to see what the deal was. I found him in his bed, clutching his diaper which had about a golf ball size of poop in it. Awesome. I was going to take the diaper from him, but upon further examination of the golf ball, something didn’t seem right. Poop was missing. Oh nooo, I thought. It’s probably under his pillow or smeared in the sheets. Wrong on both guesses. Elliott always has to sleep with teddy, caterpillar, and Elmo. You know who had his poop? ELMO. Elmo had his poop. I don’t know how. I don’t know why. I only know in some bizarre chain of events Elmo was left literally holding a piece of poop half his body size.
So, parents and future parents, know this: Sometimes you’ll go to a new city and learn about its deep history while standing in awe of its unique architecture, and other times you’ll spend too many hours inside your hotel room wondering how in the world your kid’s stuffed muppet managed to get ahold of your kid’s diaper contents.
And it’s totally worth it.