VETERAN ROADTRIPPER MEG HAFDAHL LOVES PACKING THE FAMILY’S RV AND HITTING THE OPEN ROAD WITH HUSBAND, LUKE, AND SONS FOX, 10, AND DEXTER, 6. THE COUPLE BOUGHT THEIR RIG A YEAR AGO AND SPENT LAST SUMMER EXPLORING.
“The boys were big enough, and we wanted it to be a summer memory they looked back on with nostalgia,” says the Rochester mom. “Last summer we went to the Wisconsin Dells, as well as the Iron Range, Kamp Dels and a few other Minnesota places. We loved it!”
THE JOURNEY, NOT JUST THE DESTINATION
Sarah Larson always heads to the family’s lake cabin near Itasca State Park with sons Reed, 6, and Trey, 4, for two weeks each summer. Larson has learned how to approach the five-hour drive for best results with her tykes. She packs a bag full of library books, sticker books, Matchbox cars, crayons and paper and props it in the back seat for whenever the boys get restless.
“Since my family lives so far away, I knew that I needed to travel early and often with my children when they were infants to prepare them and myself for travel,” Larson remarks. “I want to instill in them my excitement about adventure and also let them know that with just a few simple tricks, traveling is easy and a wonderful togetherness activity.”
CATCHING FISH, EATING S’MORES AND MAKING MEMORIES
For locals Amy and Andy O’Hare and their children, Ahnika, 14, and Abbott, 10, this summer’s hot spot is Duluth, Minnesota where the family plans to take in Spirit Mountain and Gooseberry Falls and go agate hunting and camping.
Plainview’s Rebecca Kahn’s family consisting of husband, Brock, and Isaac, 14, and Jared, 10, will surely be found at one of our state parks, where they enjoy s’mores, campfires and tent sleeping. “My husband and I are very thankful we have this time together: the two of us and our boys! The years pass by so quickly. It’s important to us to make memories to last a lifetime–ours and theirs,” shares Kahn. “(We have) great big hopes that one day, they’ll do the same types of memory-making with their own families.”
“The best thing about traveling with children is they will remember it forever,” says Judith Zavala, local travel agent with Cruise Planners. “It’s wonderful for them to understand and see other cultures, explore history of the U.S. and other countries and, if you live in Minnesota, it’s great to see a real beach that isn’t a lake.”
TRAVELING WITH TEENS
For Shannon Hrabak, mom to 15-year-old Megan, the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is a frequent destination. But she suggests being realistic about how family time will go. For example, if you are traveling with teens, it can be different than one anticipates if you aren’t mindful of their boundaries.
“Let them pick out a couple of things they would like to see or do if possible and value their opinions,” Hrabak says of teen travelers. “Be respectful of their need to disappear into their book or phone for a while to recharge, and don’t expect them to stay engaged all of the time.”
DON’T LET THE KIDS RUN THE WHOLE SHOW, PARENTALS
Hafdahl cautions parents not to let children run the whole show when planning and embarking on a trip. “I would say, try to balance what you want out of the trip and what your kids want,” she says. “My boys want to be busy constantly and I want to relax and do some reading, so make time for both.”
If a road trip isn’t your idea of a good time, consider direct flights out of Rochester or Minneapolis. Travel expert Tammy Marquez, travel consultant with Rochester’s Bursch Travel says, “There are some great airfares out there right now to locations you may not first think of for a vacation.”