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The Founder of Lingua Franca on the Art of Traveling with Children

Rachelle Hruska MacPherson shares her favorite kid-friendly destinations around the globe, plus the items she never leaves home without.

The Founder of Lingua Franca on the Art of Traveling with Children
Photo: Courtesy of Rachelle Hruska MacPherson

You probably know Rachelle Hruska MacPherson from her statement-making, hand-stitched cashmere brand, Lingua Franca, which has made a splash with its I MISS BARACK and TIME’s UP sweaters, worn by the likes of Reese Witherspoon and Meryl Streep. The range was born after MacPherson suffered crazy postpartum anxiety and her therapist encouraged her to do something with her hands, so the founder of party website, Guest of a Guest, embroidered a sweater for fun. After she posted a photo of the BOOYAH sweater, friends asked if they could buy one and the rest is history.

While current politics often drive the messages on Hruska MacPherson’s Lingua Franca pieces, travel is also a huge source of inspiration for her. (Her LF x Emporio Sirenuse collab collection, for example.) If you follow her on Instagram, you see a slew of family travel shots featuring her two boys and her hotelier husband Sean MacPherson (of Hotel Chelsea, the Crow’s Nest, the Bowery Hotel, and the Waverly Inn, among others), in glamorous locales like Patmos St. Moritz, and Venice.

We checked in with the busy mom to get her tips on traveling in style with two kids in tow and hear more about her favorite kid-friendly destinations.

Photos: Courtesy of Rachelle Hruska MacPherson

What was the first place you ever traveled to with kids?

We traveled to see family in Malibu and Nebraska when they were infants, but the first real travel adventure we took was to northern Italy—Portofino, Lucca, and Lake Como.

How has having kids changed the way you travel?

I am a nervous flier, and having kids made that aspect of traveling a little easier because I was always so occupied with having to meet their little needs it took my mind off of my anxiety. Other than that, I guess I’d say I’m more likely to check where the nearest hospital is or what the local emergency number is now.

It looks like you took some great trips over the summer with your kids. What were some of your kids' favorite places you visited and why?

I love a vacation that leaves time for lots of relaxing, but also some culture/historic teachings. We’ve fallen in love with the Greek island of Patmos, and have been revisiting it frequently—it has the most churches per square mile of anywhere in the world and is where John the Baptist wrote the Book of Revelation (in a cave). My boys are happy anywhere we get family swims, cliff jumping and games of cards in, but it is starting to be fun to visit museums and ancient structures with them at this new age of awareness, too. We also visited the Greek Acropolis in Athens this last trip, which they are currently studying in school. It was fun to experience it through their eyes.

Photos: Courtesy of Rachelle Hruska MacPherson

What is one of your favorite destinations + hotels at that specific destination to travel to with your kids? Why is it particularly great for kids and adults?

My favorite places are usually ones where we have a connection to the location, like Patmos in the summer or Jose Ignacio, where we’ve been going every winter. We rent houses in those areas.

But, since you asked, and since we are in the business of hotels, I have had the fortune of staying at some pretty great ones with my kids:

  • Hotel Ritz in Paris - It seems obvious, but I love visiting Paris with my kids—at all ages—and this hotel is incredible at treating them like little princes. I remember being blown away the first time we traveled there with an infant; the amenities for kids are off the hook.
  • La Posta Vecchia - Outside of Rome is not only really fun for families, it is where my son Dash took his first steps, so it will always hold a special place in my heart.

I love traveling with my boys to Mexico, both because it’s part of them (their grandmother was half Mexican from Mazatlan) and also because it has so much to discover and do;each trip is a completely new adventure. My favorite thing to do in Mexico is to stop for a couple days in Mexico City—which is so happening right now—we stay at the Four Seasons when we are with the kids. Then we head to one of the countless vibrant towns around the country. In Oaxaca, we stayed at this really cool hotel, the Quinta Real, that’s an old converted convent and in San Miguel de Allende we stayed at the Casa de Sierra Nevada—both very kid friendly and so much fun to walk around in. Lately we've been going to Mexico to surf in Troncones.

Some other great hotels for kids:

  • La Mamounia in Marrakech
  • Shanghai Peninsula - They have a really fun, hour-long scavenger hunt set up for kids through the entire hotel.
  • The Fasano in San Paulo - They set up really adorable tents to play in and have loads of amenities for kids—plus, they have the best rooftop pool.
  • La Sirenuse in Positano - Positano with kids makes for the best photo ops and we love visiting our friends Carla and Antonio. The Italians really do know how to take care of visitors!
  • Badrutt’s Palace in St. Moritz - They serve your kids French fries on silver platters in black tie. I mean it’s over the top, but it's also sort of a surreal experience.
  • La Residencia in Deia - I love playing tennis with the kids here!
  • The Grand Hotel Timeo in Taormina - Another convent, what can I say?
  • Villa D'este on Lake Como - The Italians LOVE kids and they are so friendly here. Same with the Splendido in Portofino. Anywhere in Italy with kids is fantastic!

Photos: Courtesy of Rachelle Hruska MacPherson

What are some things you never travel without…

We recently switched from Globetrotters to carry-on only Rimowa. Not as groovy, but totally functional. Post-pandemic we’ve forced ourselves to get really great at packing and mostly only take carry-on bags. I also love my Paravel tote bag for my second bag option. If I take an overnight flight, I always take silk pjs to change into. I know it sounds silly, but it makes the flight feel luxe. I also like having my ear plugs charged, and a great (Lingua Franca, obviously) eye mask and cashmere wrap. We try to make our kids self-sufficient and did so at a pretty young age (they were about 5?), so they have to pack and carry what they will need in their backpacks without much help from mom.

Is there anywhere in particular you have traveled with your kids in the past that you would NOT recommend?

I absolutely love Istanbul, but I honestly don’t recommend taking a baby around the mosques at sundown. Sean and I did a really incredible trip to India with two friends of ours sans kids one holiday and while I missed them dearly, we wouldn’t have been able to see half of the things we got to had they been with us. They wouldn’t have been happy with our travel schedule and I’m certain we made the right decision.

Photos: Courtesy of Rachelle Hruska MacPherson

What is your best advice to young parents out there trying to navigate traveling with young ones?

My only advice is what I say to myself every time I set out to travel. Expect that everything will go wrong and you will be pleasantly surprised. No, but really, you have to just be prepared for disaster and know that it’s all part of it. It’s part of the adventure. Some of our best family lore has come from travel disasters.

Any good travel with kid hacks you might want to share if you haven't already?

When we had babies and were traveling to different time zones we would always “hack” the time we fed via bottles to our kids to help get them on the right schedule. There are now gummies for older toddlers and kids to help them sleep. If you are traveling and changing time zones, there is, in my opinion, nothing wrong in trying to get everyone on the right schedule as soon as possible, yourself included.

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