Staff Directory 10646201

Kerri Westenberg

Travel editor | Newsroom
phone: 612-673-4282
As a travel writer and editor, Kerri Westenberg focuses on destinations and consumer travel issues. She has worked at Bon Appetit, Cooking Light and National Geographic and has written for those magazines and others, including National Geographic Traveler and Real Simple.
Recent content from Kerri Westenberg
File photo: A Sun Country flight at the gate at Terminal 2 during a winter storm.

Snowstorm reveals why smaller airlines like Sun Country may not save you money in the end

The airline's initial response may have been a rookie mistake by new owners.
Students studying at the Rural Studio in Newbern, Ala., have an array of small fanciful rooms, called pods, to live in for the year. Photo by Jillian

Alabama's Rural Studio provides sleek modern buildings — and shelter for the soul

An architectural outpost in one of the country's poorest regions, where modern buildings dot Alabama's bucolic landscape.
An Alaska Airlines jet takes off at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in SeaTac, Wash.

Overall, airlines getting the job done

Recent news about airlines could have travelers checking Amtrak and Greyhound schedules. Airplane seats keep getting squeezed. Choosing a seat at the time of booking…
If you don’t know where to start when looking for a travel company, TripAdvisor has more than 500 million reviews posted on its site.

How to find the best tour company for your trip

Finding the right tour company can be tricky, but your vacation — and your safety — may depend upon it. A reader recently asked me…
Debris snagged from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch during an ocean sampling operation.

My close encounter with the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

A great green mass roiled in the ocean below. From the hiking trail on a volcanic cliff high above a bay in Hawaii’s Waianapanapa State…
“An American Marriage,” by Tayari Jones. Oprah Winfrey has chosen the novel as her next book club pick. Winfrey’s production company, Harpo Film

REVIEWS: 'An American Marriage,' by Tayari Jones, and 'You Were There Before My Eyes,' by Maria Riva

Review of Oprah pick.
Upgrades to MSP Mall help the airport rank among the best.

Why Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport keeps winning awards

When I arrive at the airport, I check the giant electronic signs above the two main security checkpoints to see which one to choose; the…
Pay attention to flight changes, especially if you booked using airline rewards, to avoid getting stuck with a short layover.

Suddenly, my one-hour layover was squeezed, courtesy of Delta

Soon my family and I will head to Maui on flights that seem free, since I used Delta points to nab them. But I came…
The stress leading up to a vacation can actually cause illness.

Do you get sick on vacation? Here's why, and how to avoid it

I was in sunny Santa Monica, Calif., sitting by the pool, a situation I would have enjoyed more without a migraine. In New Orleans, my…
A young moose took advantage of the lack of traffic on the Gunflint Trail at daybreak.

Searching for moose – and dinner – in northern Minnesota

On the Gunflint Trail, come for the moose but stay for the meal.
Waiting to book that trip to Florence? Tracking airfare on Google Flights could help you save money.

Ways to save on (and for) travel

Do you have a modest travel budget, but not-so-modest travel aspirations? There are ways to save on ­— and to save for — travel that…
Delta Air Lines has announced new requirements for passengers flying with service animals or emotional support animals.

Delta changes its policy on in-cabin service and support animals

Delta is changing its approach to in-cabin service and support animals. Beginning March 1, owners will be required to show proof of their animal’s health…
Don’t overlook guidebooks — they’re becoming better than ever.

Why I love guidebooks more than ever: They clue you in to locals' tips

Even in this age of internet research, guidebooks are not dead. In fact, they’ve gotten better. The best, smartest guidebooks focus on insider tips from…
There were Viking fans who were cheering "Skol Vikings."]The Wolves take on the Blazers at Target Center.

Travel tips for Vikings fans heading to Philly for the NFC title game

Travel tips you need to know to paint the town purple next weekend.
The tower at Casa de la Torre in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Mexico has an overall level 2 rating, but Puerto Vallarta has a level 3.

State Department makes changes to its travel warnings

I have long suggested that travelers heading overseas review the U.S. State Department’s information about their destination country. It sounds nerdy and unnecessary, but it…
St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square, New Orleans.

In New Orleans, another reason to party: The city turns 300 in 2018

New Orleans isn’t the South; it’s its own country. That’s what my New Orleans-born husband told me before we had gone on our first date.…
A plane travels across a supermoon, as seen from Arlington, Va.

Where to see the supermoons coming in January

During a ride to a restaurant in early December, my friend pointed to the east. “Wow, look at the moon,” she said. Hovering just above…
Candy canes and plastic cones filled with candies draw customers to a vendor’s booth at the Gendarmenmarkt Christmas market in Berlin, 2016. Photo b

Three problems with insuring snowbirds' trip

I recently heard from a reader who travels from six weeks to three months each winter. He and his wife use miles for airline tickets…
Given its location on an elevated rise near Detroit Lakes, Maplelag Resort often has snow on its cross-country trails, while other places remain brown

State of skiing: 7 ski resorts to hit in Minnesota

Where to ski in Minnesota this season, from vertical drops to Nordic trails.
Demonstrators gathered at the Barcelona town hall in November. Travelers should always keep tabs on their destination.

Can I travel to Barcelona? What to do when heading to an overseas hotbed of protests

Several weeks ago, I heard from a reader who had purchased tickets for a late-March trip to Barcelona. Since political tensions there are running high…
Bartenders, not concierges, often know the full scoop on a city’s “hot” and “not” spots.

For top tourist tips, skip the concierge and cozy up to the bar

I was starving.I'd been in Mexico for two hours, shuttling from the airport to my resort, and in the process, I'd skipped lunch. I was…
Changes are coming to standard airport security checkpoints as the TSA rolls out closer scrutiny of electronics.

Changes to airport security procedures

Many years ago, I traveled to Israel. Along with the tour of Jerusalem, one of the world's most beautiful cities, and dinner at a seaside…
JetBlue airplanes are seen at JFK airport in a Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2007 file photo. German airline Deutsche Lufthansa AG said Thursday, Dec. 13, 2007 it

JetBlue coming to MSP: 6 things you need to know to get on board

The budget airline will begin operating three daily nonstop flights between Minneapolis-St. Paul and Boston in May. What's the big deal? We'll tell you.
The chairs and view from the shoreline at the Naniboujou Lodge, about 15 miles up the shore from Grand Marais.

Minnesotans' travel questions answered

As Travel editor, I get lots of questions from readers. My upcoming trip to Napa just took a different direction. If you have airline…
Hurricane Irma slammed into St. John, wreaking havoc in paradise. This photo of Cruz Bay was taken shortly after the storm.

Claim denied: a post-hurricane travel insurance tale of woe

It was set. The reader would travel with family to St. John over Christmas. Then hurricanes Irma and Maria happened.
The historic main Sperry Chalet building was engulfed in flames in Montana’s Glacier National Park.

Mother Nature wreaks havoc on our favorite vacation spots

Between wildfires and hurricanes, the past few weeks have changed the landscape at some of America's most beloved destinations.
Brilliant red sumac leaves give a hint of things to come.

Get ready for Minnesota's brilliant autumn show

Rain fell on my summer vacation, but I don’t mind. This fall, I’ll see the payoff. When leaves are healthy, fortified with ample rainfall, they…
Minnesotans began enjoying the Great River Road even before 1959, when Gov. Orville Freeman and Valora Allen, Miss Minnesota Highways, put up the firs

Minnesota's best fall drive? Great River Road might be it.

When it comes to the Great River Road, it’s hard to know what exactly the “great” in the name describes. There is, of course, the…
The one-way Wilderness Drive in Itasca State Park is shared by cars and bicycles.

Hike, bike and glide your way to autumn colors

Hike, ride and glide your way to Minnesota's best autumn shows.
From paradise to problem? The U.S. government warns of violent crime in Quintana Roo, which includes Cancun.

Going to Cancun? Check new State Dept. warning about violent crime

On Tuesday, the State Department updated its travel warning about Mexico, and Minnesotans planning a trip there should take note.
The Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America, in Washington, D.C.

NAACP warns about travel to Missouri

As Travel editor, I often suggest that readers check the State Department website before traveling to a foreign country, in case a warning or alert…
A solar eclipse.

Sun Country offers round-trip flight to Nebraska for rare solar eclipse viewing

The Twin Cities-based airline announced a special package for people to see the rare occurrence — and be home in time for dinner.
A trip with Taylors Falls Scenic Boat Tours reveals a closer look at the rock formations along the St. Croix River.

Minnesotans find getaways to relish summer

August is the best month to relish a Minnesota summer — in part because you can already sense it fading away.
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Resort travelers warned of 'tainted' Mexican alcohol after Wisconsin woman's death

The State Department has a new warning for travelers headed to Mexico: Beware of the alcohol there.
TSA pat-downs get even more invasive

TSA pat-downs get even more invasive

In March, the Transportation Security Administration instituted a new pat-down procedure for airport security, and it is more thorough — and more invasive — than…

Minnesota ticks can carry several diseases, not just Lyme's

Heading Up North soon? You will not be alone. Wood ticks thrive there — and they are growing more worrisome. Powassan, babesiosis, human anaplasmosis: These…
Fireworks explode over the U.S. Capitol, Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial.

The best fireworks in the nation, in Washington, D.C.

Night had fallen, and I lay on a blanket looking skyward. My head seemed to swirl; my brain could barely absorb the scene. The ground…
It's time for a summer getaway to a Minnesota resort.

Looking for a summer retreat? Here are 13 great Minnesota getaways

Here are 13 places in Minnesota to lounge by the lake, one for each week of summer.
Minnesota medicine, aka the North Shore of Lake Superior.

Why Minnesota's woods are good for you

Do you need a reason to head Up North, to be among all those healthful birds, trees and lakes?
A recent study found that June is the worst month for flight delays, not wintertime months.

Prepare for a new season of flight delays: summer

June, when congestion and thunderstorms converge, is the worst month for flight delays, not winter months.
A dog perches on its owner’s lap on a commercial airliner.

Why you see more animals at the airport

In 2003, the Department of Transportation expanded the definition of service animal to include not just guide dogs, but also animals that lend emotional support.
The grave of Marquis de La Fayette at the Picpus Cemetery in Paris. In 2002, a resolution of the U.S. Congress proclaimed Lafayette to be a citizen of

A must-see spot in Paris: Picpus Cemetery

Picpus Cemetery has a thrilling history, and not just because the Marquis de La Fayette was laid to rest there.
A Delta Air Lines jet takes off from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Va.

Looking for lowest airfares? Here are some strategies from our travel expert

Which is the best online travel site to use for buying airline tickets? The answer, well, there is no simple answer. It may be best to use many.
Passengers make their way through the TSA PreCheck area at Terminal 1 at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Something gone wrong with your PreCheck? Here's why

Readers occasionally complain that although their application for TSA PreCheck was approved — and they paid the $85 application fee — they do not get a pass to the fast lane.
Via dei Condotti is the fashionable shopping center of Rome.

Are you leaving money in Europe?

I travel, I shop, I buy. Then I come home and brace for the credit card bill.
A United Airlines passenger plane.

Know your rights as a passenger — and brace for overbooked summer flights

What you need to know about getting bumped off a flight.
Hotel bookings made through third parties may not be as reliable as those made directly with a hotel.

Why third-party hotel bookings can be bad

Not all hotel bookings are created equal, as reader Jim Walsh discovered during a trip to Georgia.
Euro notes at a currency exchange office in downtown Rome.

Currency or credit cards for cash: What's best when traveling overseas?

I use Visa and American Express credit cards and a bank debit card. Which of these would make the best source of euros at cash machines during a trip to Italy?
Workers assembled a Boeing 737 MAX wing at the company’s production facility.

Why planes can take turbulence (maybe better than you can)

An airplane's wings are meant to give — a little or a lot, depending on the conditions in the air.
The beautiful Badlands National Park is open year round.

Great spring break spots, a car ride away

Where should you go for spring break if you don't want to hop on a plane? Buckle your seat belt and get ready for takeoff…
In this Feb. 4, 2007 file photo, Prince performs during the halftime show of Super Bowl XLI.

Delta's boarding music almost rocks

A twangy rendition of Prince’s iconic “Purple Rain” hit my ears. I was sitting in my seat at the start of a Delta flight from…
The W XYZ bar at the Aloft Hotel is filled with games and modern decor in the lobby.

How and why hotels are getting hipper

I once wandered into Aloft Minneapolis during a lunch-hour walk. When I saw the living room-like lobby, I wished that I were from out of town.
Windows shine bright at Lutsen’s Lakeside Dining Room.

Romantic dinner, with a lake view

I polled well-traveled foodies at Star Tribune to come up the most romantic restaurants worth a short drive.
Swimmers watch the sun set in Honolulu. Hawaii hasn’t had any locally acquired cases of Zika.

Zika has infected 64 Minnesotans so far

Hitting a Cancun beach, but forgoing day trips that would pass through a jungle. Heading to Hawaii instead of Puerto Rico. Wearing DEET, the heavy-duty…
A passenger checks her cell phone before a flight in Boston.

Voice your opinion: Should phone calls be allowed on flights?

Fliers, let your voice be heard — in Washington, D.C., not necessarily aboard an airplane. The Department of Transportation is seeking public comment on whether…
A pine-covered island framed by a rocky shoreline shows a tranquil beauty on Minnesota’s North Shore. This shot was taken at Split Rock Lighthouse S

Viewfinders event: Best Star Tribune reader photos

Minnesotans travel the globe, and they've got the photographs to prove it.
Dubrovnik, Croatia

An Airbnb search — and a lesson learned

It is way past my bedtime and I can't pull myself from the computer screen. I keep going deeper into the rabbit hole of Airbnb, contemplating apartments in Rome.
Laundry hanging out to dry in Shanghai’s Old City.

The travel writer's mission: We travel with you in mind and skip freebies

My colleagues and I travel for work. Not a bad gig. But we never take it for granted — or forget that at its core, our job is to travel for our readers.
More of us could be traveling overseas. Amsterdam, anyone?

Reason to fly in 2017: Airfares keep falling

With every new year comes a heap of predictions about travel. The most exciting among them for 2017? Airfares so low that it'll be a breeze to keep our travel resolution — or to make one now.
At the Hungry Hippie Hostel in Grand Marais, a transformed barn holds five private rooms and a bunk room. photo provided by Hungry Hippie Hostel

Top 6 places in the region to visit in 2017

A burgeoning folk school, a newly acquired iconic painting, a green hostel overlooking Lake Superior: These are great reasons to go exploring. In fact, this…
Dec. 22, 23, 26 and 27 will be the busiest days at MSP this holiday season, according to the TSA.

Getting a behind-the-scenes look at a TSA airport checkpoint

If there's one thing that MSP TSA agent Marcelino Puente, a 13-year veteran, wants the flying public to know, it's this: Be prepared.
United Airlines fliers who buy seats at the lowest fares will be allowed only one personal item that must fit under a seat.

New United Airlines overhead-bin ban riles fliers

United Airlines is riling the flying public by decreeing that those who purchase seats at the lowest fares cannot use overhead bins to stow their…
To ease your way through TSA security checkpoints at airports, know the rules, including the 3-1-1 liquid rule.

How to prepare for TSA security

If you want to get through security without slowing down the line, read on. With any luck — and the proper preparation — your checkpoint experience won't dampen holiday spirits.
Traffic on highway with cars.

Know when to hit the road to avoid gridlock this Thanksgiving

The economy is up and gas prices are down. That's reason to be grateful — until you hit the road for the Thanksgiving holiday.
U.S. passport

Passport is valid, but Europe won't let you in? Here's why

I am planning a family trip to Italy for spring break in March 2017. My daughter's passport is good through August. That'll work, right?
The Gunflint Lake Cabin, one of the vacation rental properties listed with PlansMatter, embodies a modern aesthetic.

PlansMatter, a Minneapolis start-up, curates awesome vacation rentals

Connie Lindor and Scott Muellner, the duo behind the much-missed Redlurered design shop in Minneapolis, founded PlansMatter as a way to connect consumers with architecturally significant vacation rental properties.
Even misdemeanors can keep you from enjoying the Canadian coasts, including seeing the Cape d'Or Lighthouse in Nova Scotia.

You can be kept out of Canada for this?

Anyone traveling to Canada should know that your past can follow you to the border — and keep you from crossing it.
TripAdvisor has stopped selling tickets to attractions that feature wild animals in captivity, such as elephant rides.

Animal cruelty no longer flies at TripAdvisor

The giant travel website and its booking site, Viator, has already stopped selling tickets to attractions that feature wild animals held in captivity.
Glensheen, seen from its fence along Duluth’s Lake Superior shoreline, has been drawing more visitors with fresh offerings.

Glensheen's own Night at the Museum, with food trucks

Forget old and stuffy. The latest innovative offering at Glensheen is its own version of Night at the Museum — with drinks and food trucks.
The price of airline tickets to New Orleans may fluctuate, but the charm of the city never does.

Is this the year of affordable holiday flights?

Airline tickets are like real estate: Buy when the price works for your budget, and don't look back when the market — or the prices — drop.
The Superior Hiking Trail slices through lush forest near Tofte.

Resources for finding fall colors

I found the perfect trail for fall, even if I hiked it surrounded by green leaves.
Delta Airlines passengers waited at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas as the airline grounded flights due to a system outage in August.

These 5 simple tricks can help you deal with flight delays at MSP and beyond

Remember when bad weather was the usual suspect for flight delays? Not anymore. And unlike weather patterns, computer problems can strike without warning.
The “Discover destinations” tool is a perk of Google Flights.

Travel Desk: Airfare site mergers mean fewer price deals

You are no doubt familiar with the mad dash from site to site when looking for good airfare. You try Expedia, then Kayak, then Priceline.…
On Madeline Island, the view from a sick bed is pretty sweet.

Vacationing while sick? Slow down the pace

It was Day Four of a family trip to Madeline Island, and I sat listless in the armless chair beside the doctor's desk, recounting my woes.
Burntside Lodge, a family-owned resort in Ely, Minn., remained open even after devastating storms blew threw July 21.

Itasca State Park, BWCA, Ely recover from storms

When storms ripped through northern Minnesota in the early morning hours of July 21, it wreaked havoc in beloved vacation spots. But the area is recovering fast.
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