Escape Artists offers up a global discourse ranging from great finds close to home to adventures far afield. You'll find weekly travel deals here, too. Share your road wisdom, rave about great finds and rant about roadblocks that get in the way of a great trip.

Contributor: Travel editor Kerri Westenberg.

Email us with tips and questions.

Selling Duluth to Europeans

Posted by: Kerri Westenberg under Adventure travel, Regional travel Updated: January 22, 2015 - 10:54 AM

Tour company the Duluth Experience and Visit Duluth, the city's convention and visitor's bureau, are teaming up to introduce Duluth at biking and hiking expos in Amsterdam and Antwerp.

The two-year-old tour company has given Twin Citians, Iron Rangers and Canadians a deeper appreciation of Duluth with its history tours of the port city, mountain and road bike tours, kayak experiences in Lake Superior and brewery tours. Most of its customers come from the region, and some are from Duluth itself. By exhibiting at the two expos, they hope to bring in another crowd: adventure-seeking Europeans.

The two expos are expected to draw a combined 35,000 people.

"We're looking forward to showing off Duluth on an international stage," said Dave Grandmaison, of Duluth Experience.

Grandmaison's company is creating a new tour to entice Europeans interested in biking and visiting our unique patch of the United States. Called the "7-day Lake Superior Bicycle Adventure Package," it includes a cycling trip along the North Shore from Duluth to Grand Marais, stays in cabins and a tour of Castle Danger Brewery in Two Harbors.

Minnesotans are welcome, too. More info here.

Gluten Free Traveling

Posted by: Sarah Johnson under Consumer travel, International travel, U.S. travel Updated: January 9, 2015 - 4:44 PM

You know the Boy Scout motto “be prepared”? I feel like adopting that when I travel since I follow a gluten free diet. Venturing away from home when you have special food requirements may seem overwhelming, but I haven’t let it stop me from seeing the world and have adopted some tricks to make it manageable.

Research your destination ahead of time - most restaurants now have menus posted online. I’ve found that if you call when they are not busy they are happy to suggest some options. You can also print gluten free dining cards that are available in more than 50 languages online for free.

Even if you don’t check your bag, there are some things you can bring through security - apples, bananas and oranges hold up well, don’t need to be refrigerated and are easy to eat on the go. Individual packets of nut butter are smaller than three ounces and provide some protein. Live by a grocery store that has a bulk section with the ingredients listed on the bin? It’s fun to make your own trail mix.

If you’re traveling internationally and will be served meals and/or snacks on your flight, call the airline ahead of time and request a special meal. When I went to Germany, the gluten free meal was chicken with broccoli, carrots and rice with a fruit cup and salad. (The snack before we landed was a banana with an Udi’s gluten free chocolate chip muffin, which was much more appealing than the processed egg sandwich everyone else was eating.) I try not to worry about leaving my comfort zone - sometimes it’s easier to find gluten free food in foreign countries. In Peru, the standard side dishes are potatoes and rice and one of their specialties is pollo a la brasa (similar to rotisserie chicken).

Not only can visiting a farmer’s market or going to the grocery store in a new place be a good way to find real food, it can also be a great free sightseeing option. (At a grocery store in Amsterdam, I saw drinks with Hello Kitty and Spongebob Squarepants on them.) If your hotel offers rooms with a refrigerator, Greek yogurt with fruit or string cheese with gluten free crackers are good snacks with some protein that don’t need to be cooked.

An added bonus to bringing my own snacks means less time spent sitting in restaurants waiting for food and more time (and money) I can devote to maximizing my sightseeing time. I can’t wait to discover more tricks.

Sun Country adds flights for Citrus Bowl

Posted by: Kerri Westenberg under Airlines Updated: December 17, 2014 - 3:43 PM

When the University of Minnesota’s football team lands a spot in the prestigious Citrus Bowl, people take notice. That includes the staff of Sun Country Airlines.

The Mendota Heights-based carrier announced Wednesday that it is adding flights between Minneapolis-St. Paul International and Orlando International airports for people heading to the New Year’s Day bowl game.

The added flights from MSP to Orlando are scheduled for Dec. 31 and the morning of Jan. 1. Extra flights will return to MSP on Jan. 1, 3 and 4. The Jan. 1 return flight is a red-eye that departs at 11:30 p.m., landing in the Twin Cities at 1:45 a.m. on Jan. 2. These flights are in addition to regularly scheduled Sun Country flights between the two locations.

Shortly after the announcement, a round-trip with an outbound seat on the Jan. 1, 6:15 a.m. flight and returning on the red-eye flight that evening rang up at $373. Costs for other sequences were similar.
No need to bring the gold and maroon scarves and wool caps. The average high on New Year’s Day in the Orlando area is 68 degrees; the average low is a balmy 49 degrees.

No windows, but great view

Posted by: Kerri Westenberg under Airlines Updated: October 28, 2014 - 3:41 PM

There is buzz this week about a recently unveiled airplane design. This new concept — let me be clear, no such planes are in production — has no windows in the airplane’s fuselage, including the passengers cabin.
It sounds claustrophobic, right? Don’t worry. The entire wall of the aircraft will become virtual windows, possibly displaying the view outside in large panels that wrap the plane’s interior. There’s you, buckled into your seat, and there’s the clouds outside, right beside you displayed on the wall. OK, you can worry if you like (claustrophobic or not).
 The idea comes from UK-based technology firm the Centre for Process Innovation. It’s flashy introductory video explains that such walls, beyond offering entertainment, would be thinner than those now used. In the company’s rosy view, that situation would lead to wider seats for passengers and reduced fuel consumption, which would naturally lower carbon dioxide emissions.  
“Every year, 3.1 billion people fly around the world … using 220,000 gallons of fuel and producing over 705 million tons of CO2,” the video intones. The company expects such a plane could fly in about a decade. 

Sidewalk sale at MSP

Posted by: Kerri Westenberg under Airports Updated: October 13, 2014 - 11:43 AM

Today marks the launch of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport's sixth annual sidewalk sale, with airport shops offering deals. The sale runs Oct. 13-19, to correspond with the Education Minnesota-inspired long weekend break, typically a busy time at the airport.

More than 20 retailers are participating, including The Body Shop in the Airport Mall, tech store BluWire on Concourses C and F, and Uptown Minnesota on Concourse G. Many retailers offer shipping.

A few notes of caution: Only travelers with a boarding pass are allowed to area of the sale. And, given the week's surge in travel,please arrive at least 90 minutes prior to your flight, but allow more time if you plan to shop the sales.


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