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Today has been a long day getting from NWA to Germany. We’re spending the next week and a half with relatives there. We’re planning two days with Aunt Agnes and Aunt Amalie in Munich and the rest of the time with Aunt Baerbel, Uncle Horst, Cousins Jochen and Daniella and their kids. It will be a wonderful and relaxing time with family. The problem: getting me, my in-laws, two toddlers (3 1/2 years and 22 months), 6 pieces of luggage, 2 car seats, double stroller (with sun umbrella), gifts, laptop, diapers, wipes, sippy cups, birthday cake, a baby panda, flying carpet, the Ark of the Covenant, and well, the list kind of blurs out in my memory at this point. Fortunately, my lovely wife (who’s been at a seminar in Berlin for the past 2 weeks) has planned a fairly direct route for us, XNA to Atlanta to Munich with plenty of time to get to the next flight. The kids were very good considering all the excitement. They snarfed down a ton of snackies, played with the new toys mommy left, napped lots, and only one of them had a brief 5-10 minute meltdown. All in all it was a pretty good trip.

As IĀ mentioned, we brought the car seats along with a couple of contraptions that put some wheels on them. They were the TOTEaTOT Travel accessory for children and the Go-Go Kidz Travelmate. We decided to get get one of each instead of two of both because we didn’t know which one would be more reliable. We figured if the straps fall off of one or the wheels fall off of another, we’d still have one that works. If the end, they were both tough, rugged, not too hard to lock in to plane seats, and completely not worth the effort. If you’re traveling internationally, beg, borrow, or steal a car seat wherever you’re going. The seats were way too unwieldly to take along especially if you have to travel by trains. If you absolutely must travel with a car seat, go with the TOTEaTOT Travel accessory for children. You free up one hand by combining a baby seat and a bag. One of the upsides of taking so much stuff is that IĀ got great workouts every time we traveled. Who needs a gym when you have little kids and their gear?

I guess the main rule for traveling is kind of like the rule for writing on the web. Pack as you would normally, then take half the stuff out. Then do it again. One of these days I’ll take my own advice.

After landing, checking into the hotel, and cleaning up, the first stop was Aunt Agnes’ and Aunt Amalie’s house, which was a good place to deal with jet lag. She mothers you a lot with tons of home cooked German foods as well as strong coffee and great cakes.

Now the first of the wonderful differences between our countries. Does no one here wear shorts? And what’s the deal with everybody toting jackets? I’m pretty warm-natured most of the time, and I’m wearing just a t-shirt and shorts. Its not that cold here.

We took lots of pictures on our trip over and I’ll be adding more with each blog post. You can take a look at them here. There are many more pictures available if you’re one of my Flickr contacts. If you’re one of my friends or family members, email me, fill out the contact form, or Twitter me and I’ll give you access.

Tomorrow, more great German food!