In Part 1, Fashion and PR insider Shauna McMahon told us how and why she planned a 4-month family break with her husband, John, and 11-year old twins, Finn and Pyper. Today she shares the nitty gritty: Their route, where they stayed and how they kept the kids busy with loads of joy and less stress. Think of it as crib notes for the travel-chic mom.
“I have to say we travelled really well together. Of course, sometimes it got a little crazy but despite those moments, it was one of the greatest things we did together. Because the kids are older, John and I could get up in early and sneak out for a morning walk. We would use that time to process and plan our next steps,” she says. “I hope that we do it again. It was inspiring to break out of the routines of our daily lives. We tried to keep in mind the needs of the kids like deciding to chill-out at home or doing something kid-friendly instead of visiting a museum, while also thinking our needs. Every day was different but our routine remained the same: Sitting down for all our meals together and then experiencing things in between, even if it was as simple as going for a walk close by.”
“We basically snaked our way through France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Croatia, Hungary, Austria, Czech Republic, Poland and Germany and we did it all by train and by car — renting a new car in every country — whenever we could to avoid a flight. We also plotted out our trip from day one until the day we got home and our accommodations were all planned through lots of research on Airbnb, VRBO and TripAdvisor. The idea was to see places we had never seen before and also take the kids to places that we love and wanted them to experience too.”
“While we were planning, we knew we wanted to have moments of stillness. We didn’t want to be over-ambitious and would book villas or apartments we could call home for a couple of weeks and plan day trips from there. We did this in Avignon, Tuscany, Amalfi Coast, Greece and we lived in a sailboat for a week in Croatia (my husband is an avid sailor). The kids can’t be on the move all the time and as we all know, moving around so much can be fatiguing. We needed moments to just hang out. There were days where they didn’t want to leave the house. They just wanted to hang out and play with each other, and longer stays in places that felt more like a home than a hotel made that possible.”
“When we did stay in hotels, they weren’t always fancy or precious. We were mindful of our budget but we had extra funds for a spontaneous change in our plans. For example, when we arrived in Athens, there was a heatwave, it was really busy and the hotel’s A/C wasn’t enough to keep us comfortable. We were supposed to stay there for 5 days but I felt like we needed a break after Amalfi (it was heaving with people everywhere) and I found a 5-star resort on the coast outside of Athens where we stayed for 3 nights. There were moments when we just needed modern conveniences and room to roam outside of a city. Or, we would take advantage of a last-minute deal at a hotel — which is what happened when we decided to stay in Venice which wasn’t part of our original plan.”
The Tech Advisors
“We planned a lot of things with our phones. We made sure a lot of our rentals included wifi in their rates and when we were on the go, I had Vodaphone data cartridges that I would buy from town to town. TripAdvisor really was a miracle worker and I also depended a lot on social media. For example, when I landed in France, I started following local social influencers on Instagram to see where they are and what they were doing to give us insider tips of where to go. I was also on social following my friends who were also traveling and we would message each other so we could meet-up, or at least let each other know what to see.” Some of the influencers and social channels that inspired her path include:
Shauna’s List Of Hot Links
While you’re dreaming about your own getaway, check out the places that Shauna remembers best from her well-planned family adventure.
Where to stay
- Le Cosy Provencal, Avignon
- Maison Viros, Kardamyli, Greece
- Casa Lisuccia, Amalfi Coast
- Hotel Byzantio, Monemvasia, Greece
- Plaza Resort Hotel, Anavyssos, Greece
- Silver Sail sail boat rental and skipper service, Dubrovnik
Where to go with the kids
- Hydromania, an outdoor waterpark on the outskirts of Rome. “We tried to get lots of beach time and hit water parks whenever we could. It was very hot for most of the trip so we were always looking for places to cool off.”
- Discover the Path of the Gods, a family-friendly walking excursion in Positano
- Plitvice Lake National Park
- Krka National Park (between Split and Zadar)
- Visit the Sea Organ in Zadar
- Sign up for parasailing at Borik Beach, Zadar
- Bungee jumping, Kamerlengo Castle, Trogir
- Wiener Prater amusement park, Vienna
In the Czech Republic…
- Take a pause at the John Lennon Wall, Prague
- The city centre’s Letna Park, Prague
- Shauna’s tip: “Where possible, rent a bike. It’s a great way to explore a city. The kids loved it in Prague, Berlin and Ils de Ré.
- The city’s greenspace, Tiergarten is where you’ll also find the Berlin Zoo.
- The Reichstag Dome (a landmark impressively made of glass), Berlin
— Photos courtesy of Shauna McMahon