Travel Mom Shauna, the founder of Startup Renegades, joins us to talk about the Europe Road Trips her family of 6 is having while living in Germany and how she makes sure always to have a new, cool experience on each trip.
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Tell us about Yourself
I’m an entrepreneur, a fractional CMO for early-stage startups, which sounds like a lot, but I basically do the marketing for scalable companies that are getting started. I’m also a military spouse and a mother of four (3, 5, 7, and 12-year-olds), and we’ve had some great adventures while we lived in Colorado. And now that we’re stationed out in Germany, we’re trying to have some great adventures in Europe.
Tell us about some of your Europe Road Trips in Germany
The easiest thing to do in Germany is to visit castles. You could literally throw a rock and hit a castle. I always think of castles in Scotland and England and these big fortresses, but a lot of families built what would be considered castles in Germany.
In the Rhine area, there’s this stretch of about 30 minutes, and you can find them all along the road. The kids have enjoyed all the castles, but I think they really enjoy the ruined ones. We do day hikes up to them, where they can climb on rocks and walk through all the rooms. And mom and dad aren’t telling them to be quiet while the tour guide is talking about what happened in this room in the 1600s.
Tell us about your Europe Road Trip to France
Chamonix, France, is a place where people usually go skiing. Last September, we had a long weekend there and stayed in a beautiful chalet our friends found on Airbnb. It was great as it wasn’t ski season, and it wasn’t very busy.
What I always try to do, no matter whether I’m traveling with the kids or not, is try to find a cool new experience.
Chamonix is also the home of the Mer de Glace (Sea of Ice), which is a glacier. You can take the train up the mountain and then walk inside the caves inside of the glacier, which was what I thought was going to be our cool experience.
And then my husband got on the Airbnb app and realized that they had paragliding there. We all did paragliding. I am terrified of heights, and I still can’t believe that I let my children do this. And it was one of the coolest things I have ever done. My husband’s a smart one. He mentioned it to the kids, they were super excited, and we all did it.
What are some of your road trip tips?
The biggest tip I can give is just to be prepared.
- If somebody must go to the bathroom, you may not have somewhere to stop. So always have that extra pair of clothes.
- Use what is at your disposal, like pack plenty of snacks. Many people are anti tablets or screens. We use the hell out of those when we’re on road trips because we want everybody to be calm and relaxed as it can be hard sitting in the car for a long period of time.
- We always plan stops if we can. If it’s a six or seven-hour road trip, we usually find somewhere two or three hours in to stop for lunch or to go on a short hike to stretch and get the kids’ energy out.
Tell us about your upcoming adventure?
We’re planning a 10-day trip to Rome, then down to Naples for a few days to see Pompeii. And then we fly to Santorini, Greece, for a few days. And we end in Athens.
We’re looking forward to seeing ancient ruins, doing a caldera cruise in Santorini, and an ATV tour of the island. And one of the last days, we’re going on a donkey trek in the countryside outside of Athens, and I’m pretty sure that’s going to be the kids’ absolute favorite part of the whole experience.
Why do you think it’s important to travel with kids?
My kids have experienced so much. They are seeing things that most kids just read about in textbooks. And that is an amazing way to learn about the world. Especially in our world today. It’s so important to really get outside of your bubble, to meet new people, see new places, and understand new cultures.
Even in the U.S., there are different people and different regions. There’s so much to learn about, and the best way that we can expose our kids to it, if we’re able to, is to take them places and let them experience things firsthand.