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Travel doesn’t have to be glamorous – The Minnesota Daily

For many travelers, a destination without a recognized name is not worth visiting.

I’ve written off countless small towns as boring without ever visiting their downtowns. Americans often find entire states lacking worthwhile attractions (sorry, Nebraska and Kansas).

When California, Florida and other places abroad are idealized as the most attractive tourist destinations, it’s easy to assume that nowhere else has value. Certain climates are objectively better, and I would never turn down the opportunity to experience a different culture abroad.

However, a long, glamorous trip is never something that is easily accessible. When a dream trip is not possible, a simple trip to local destinations can be equally rewarding and enjoyable.

The biggest barrier to a traditional, elegant vacation is cost.

Tom Bartel, editor of the Travel to Minnesota A website that offers advice for travelers within Minnesota says that traveling to popular destinations, such as Europe, can be very expensive due to the excessive number of tourists and the ever-increasing demand. The cost of traveling locally is negligible in comparison.

“Minnesota is obviously closer,” Bartel said. “Does it offer everything that Europe, South America or Asia offer? No, but it offers different things.”

The weather can also make it difficult to organize long vacations.

Longtime Minneapolis resident Stan Hale said he and his wife often choose to travel within Minnesota rather than farther away because it’s less hassle.

“We spent three years in Germany. We spent six months in Pensacola, Florida. Three years in Philadelphia, six or seven months in Washington,” Hale said. “It’s not that I was bored. If they put me somewhere really nice, I would enjoy it, but I hate flying and I don’t even like to drive anymore.”

Cost and logistics are the same reasons I don’t have any extravagant trips planned for this summer. As much as I’d love to visit another country, I can’t afford to take more than a few days off work to accommodate flight schedules, let alone pay for tickets.

Travel within these limitations is still possible, however. My only major trip this summer will be a three-night camping trip in Wisconsin, one of many local travel opportunities our region offers.

Holly Babcock, executive director of the Albert Lea Convention and Visitors Bureau, said Minnesota’s small towns offer unique travel opportunities that many locals never take advantage of.

“We have people who have lived here for 55 years and have traveled all over the country to visit state parks when they have never explored their backyard or visited the big state park that is closer than our Walmart,” Babcock said.

Babcock said Albert Lea, like many towns, prioritizes the well-being of its residents over tourism. However, resort towns are not the only valuable destinations. According to Babcock, the lakes are the main draw for Albert Lea, located in southern Minnesota, along with the Three Oak Winery and vibrant downtown that thrive despite the town’s small size.

You don’t have to have a specific destination for a trip to be successful. Bartel said it’s possible to find places worth visiting in almost any new place.

“Usually on a main street, especially in a small town in Minnesota, you can find the coffee shop where people hang out,” Bartel said. “Go there, sit at the counter and ask the waiter or waitress, ‘What’s going on here?’”

Bartel said he used this strategy when he first visited Red Wing, Minnesota.

“Soon we were talking to the whole town,” Bartel said. “They pointed out a couple of interesting historic homes and things like that. Same thing we did in Granite Falls.”

When in doubt, you can always count on one of Minnesota’s most popular resources for a successful trip: the lakes.

“Duluth is a really nice place and visiting the North Shore is fantastic,” Hale said. “Just go to a lake, rent a boat and have fun.”

According to Bartel, Minnesota’s rich history can make a trip worthwhile even for long-term residents.

“If you’re looking for something interesting to do, go to Minnesota’s historic sites,” Bartel said. “There are 30 or 40 sites, and many of them are homes of important citizens from early Minnesota.”

Bartel said Minnesota’s strong programs to preserve historic sites help keep important stories more accessible to travelers than many other states.

“Minnesota does a great job through the state park system and the historical society, working together,” Bartel said. “They don’t shy away from some of the worst parts of history.”

While some find it more appealing to relax on a beach for days, for others, visiting dozens of historic sites is the ideal vacation. While both ends of this spectrum tend to prefer long trips to far-flung places, there are also satisfying destinations for everyone in the area.

Travel is best when it’s tailored to each person, so don’t rule out easy, local destinations. It may not seem as exciting on social media, but enjoying yourself is much more important.