Featured Blogger - Lindsey Ranzau
At Up North Trading Co. we strive to celebrate the things we love, and the places we love, with the people we love... much like our guest today Lindsey Ranzau of lookaboutlindsey.com (who also happens to be one of those people we love 🤗 ). Since we first met Lindsey a little over a year ago she has been an absolute delight to follow and a nonstop source of north-loving inspiration. Her zeal for life is undeniable, her enthusiasm infectious, and her Instagram stories are so genuine they make you feel as if you are a close personal friend exploring the world right by her side. If ever you need a quick travel reco, whether around the corner or around the world, be sure to hit up the website of this true Minnesotan treasure – lookaboutlindsey.com
For those who are not yet obsessed with your site or have not yet fully explored the “Look About Lindsey” experience we’d love it if you would tell us a little bit about yourself so... what’s the story of Lindsey Ranzau? How is it that you decided to become a travel blogger? And what made you choose to specifically focus the majority of your work on the great state of Minnesota (and surrounding area) ?
Haha, obsessed might be a strong word, but I really do love what I do, so if you haven’t yet been to lookaboutlindsey.com, go give it a look!
I started my site about 2.5 years ago. I travel a lot for my full time job, and found myself becoming the go-to travel expert of everyone I knew. So, I decided to start writing about my experiences and putting my travel guides online!
I have two goals with my site. One is to redefine the meaning of travel. You’ll see that we take lots of weekend trips, try to find flight deals, and take a lot of road trips. “Travel” doesn’t need to be expensive or take long periods of time.
Along the same lines of redefining the meaning of travel, my second goal is to bring awareness that there’s so much to do right in your backyard – you just have to know where to look! I was born and raised in Minnesota, and I always heard that it was the best place to take a vacation from. And people always complained about the snow and cold. Because of that, I’m all about showing people the awesome things to do right here in Minnesota. And it has been SO FUN. I’ve received such a great response for showcasing the hidden gems of our state that it’s where I now focus the majority of my time.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself? (Just kidding) I read on your website how you dread that question and just couldn’t resist. How about instead… tell us a little about what sets you apart from other travel bloggers and what was your path to discovering this unique voice?
I DO hate that question! When I look at other travel writers and bloggers out there, I would always look at them with envy. I could never afford to travel full time or stay at really swanky 5 star hotels or bungalows that overlook the ocean. They always have great photos that made me want to travel more, but that wasn’t a reality for me.
I really found my focus when I posted about a day trip I did with my sister to Montgomery, MN. She was working in the area at the time and I went to visit her. I had never heard of this town but there were so many fun and unique things to do there that she showed me! That post really blew up and that’s when I discovered I was onto something!
So, I decided to focus on trips that other people can actually do with their work and vacation schedules. I focus on showing why Minnesota is the ultimate hidden gem of the US and try to inspire others to explore it. Lots of Minnesota and Midwest road trips and things that you could pick up and do with little planning!
I can’t possibly ask you about your blog without including your partner in crime (and marriage) Mr. Cole Ranzau… what role does this tall drink of water play and, just wondering, but does he ever go anywhere without his UNTC hats? (from the looks of things it doesn’t seem so... not that we can blame him)
He’s the one who keeps me sane and focused on why I started this endeavor in the first place! There’s SO MUCH that comes with travel writing and promotion and it would be impossible to generate content and innovate at the same time without him.
By day he’s a web strategist, so he helps me a lot with my website and making it as optimized as possible. He has also become quite the photographer over the years, so he takes a lot of my photos. But most importantly, he’s my travel companion (corny, I know) and he makes everything so much fun.
And I almost forgot his hats! He does wear them everywhere, even when we climbed Mt. Fuji in Japan this summer! He loves that they have a simple design, are made by a MN company, and he always gets compliments on them!
Embarking on a blog seems like a simple step into self publishing, but the grind to always be working on new content can be exhausting to say the least. What lessons have you learned since starting your blog? About yourself? About running a blog? And about traveling?
Oh gosh, I could almost write a whole book just about this! It is so much more work than I ever imagined. I work full time and love my job, so after a day of giving it my all there, I come home to give it my all for creating content for my site. I love what I’m doing with Look About Lindsey so much that it doesn’t seem like work and it doesn’t totally wear me out. If I didn’t feel that way, definitely wouldn’t be able to keep up with it all.
One thing that I’ve learned is that traveling really makes you realize how similar everyone is. No matter where you are in the state, country, or world. No matter where you go, people love to show off their city. They love their families and want what’s best for their children. Traveling really makes the world feel more connected.
I’ve also learned that traveling for fun and traveling to produce content is SO DIFFERENT. Cole and I have it down to a science now and don’t even realize we do some of the things we do, like the photo shoots we do in the middle of a crowded place, the crazy schedules we keep to try to experience as much as we can in one day, and how we always try to talk to business owners and learn about the location we’re at. I’ve had to get really used to people staring at us wondering what the heck we’re doing while we’re taking photos or videos. But it’s always a good conversation starter!
What goals, dreams or ambitions do you have for your site in the future?
I’m really excited for what’s to come, but I don’t know if I even know what that is exactly. I want to do more videos because they can be really fun and engaging for featuring an area or an activity. I also think it would be fun to do some sort of ebook or even a group travel event with my followers. I’m toying with these ideas now, but more to come!
What has been your biggest frustration since starting out? Biggest triumph?
Biggest frustration is keeping up with what other people are doing. It’s so easy to compare yourself to other people, but like I said Cole’s always so great about bringing me back to why we do what we do!
Biggest triumph has been finding my own voice. I basically created the website that I wish existed and it turns out that other people wanted that too! This has lead to other great triumphs like being on the Jason Show 3 times this year talking about my recommendations for travel in Minnesota!
In addition to being your own writer, editor, publisher and photojournalist as a travel blogger you have to be your own travel agent, how much planning and research goes into a trip once you decide where to go?
Sometimes, it’s a lot. Other times, it’s barely anything and we just wing it! I’ve found that planning is always better though, especially when we try to do unique things. Sometimes that requires more planning time and finding the right person to contact.
But, if you want one tip for planning, USE PINTEREST! Travel writers like me put their travel guides on Pinterest, so it’s a great spot to go if you want ideas from a real person!
What one destination stands out amongst your travels as the most surprising?
We were just in Faribault Minnesota a few weekends ago and everything there was so unexpected. It’s a little town in Southern MN that we’ve driven by a lot, so we decided to stop in! Our favorites were touring the Faribault Woolen Mill (it’s such an iconic piece of MN history and I think every Minnesotan should do it!), sampled cheese from a local cheese cave, shopped in cute stores, ate at a delicious bakery, and took photos with the tilt-a-whirls downtown because that’s where they were invented!
Do you have a favorite trip from this year so far?
We’ve done a lot of cool stuff this year, like visit Asia for the first time, but I would have to say our trip to Arizona and Utah might make the top of my list. We did a bunch of hiking, rode mules into the Grand Canyon, stayed in a sheep wagon – it was a bucket list trip for me and we just felt so disconnected from everything out there!
Can you tell us about some of the new things you have explored and experienced around the state that you never would have tried otherwise?
Yes, so many things! The biggest being small towns. We make a point to visit them and find what’s unique there. For example, we took part in the Governor’s fishing opener in Albert Lea this spring. When most people think of lakes and fishing they only think of Northern MN. But there are so many awesome lakes in that area and lots of unique things to do.
The other is Airbnb experiences. We tried these for the first time in Japan and LOVED them. You basically sign up for an activity that’s led by a local guide. So we decided to try this in Minnesota too. We recently went on a hike in St. Paul and learned so much about the area! I would recommend it to locals and visitors alike!
What are your must haves for traveling? What absolutely has to go in your bag for any trip? (Around the state? Out of country?)
When I’m flying I always have to have my noise cancelling headphones, compression socks, and refillable water bottle. I also always need my photo stuff like my travel tripod, camera, external batteries, etc.
When we’re road tripping, I always have a refillable coffee mug (I use yours a lot!), my hiking boots, camelbak, and especially right now in the fall – lots of layers! We never know what we’re going to get into, so I always have extra clothes for any situation.
One of the running themes along your travels has been checking out the local wineries and craft breweries. Do you have a favorite from your travels thus far?
We love our local wineries and breweries. Partly because we like to have a few drinks, but also because it brings awareness to these local businesses. My favorite winery has to be Elmaro Winery which is just over the border of Wisconsin, near Winona MN. You can sip wine while looking out at the bluffs. It’s so pretty.
Favorite brewery would either be Junkyard Brewing in Moorhead or Castle Danger on the North Shore. Both have some of our favorite beer and the best atmospheres!
You and Cole also seem to have a knack for seeking out the best ice cream and pizza places within a given town. Where have you gotten the best pizza in MN? Ice cream?
Haha yes, we also love to eat. My all time favorite pizza in Minnesota is Black Sheep, which you can find around Minneapolis and St. Paul. But we were recently in Crosby after hiking the Cuyuna forest and stopped into Iron Range Eatery for their gyro pizza and it was AMAZING. I’ll be dreaming about that one forever.
And for ice cream, this spot isn’t in MN, but Nelson Creamery in Nelson Wisconsin is one of my favorites! It’s only $2.50 for a cone and it’s so authentic.
Being that this is fall in Minnesota and it is right in the heart of apple picking season, do you happen to have any apple orchard recommendations around the state?
I really love the Montgomery Orchard in Montgomery, MN. It’s not overly busy like a lot of apple orchards, you can pick your own apples, and they even have an on-site cidery! So you can take hay rides while drinking homemade cider – it’s pretty awesome.
While blogging can in some ways be an isolated personal experience it is also at its heart about connecting with a community and sharing with others. What other bloggers do you look up to or delight in their content?
I originally got interested in blogging by following The Blonde Abroad. She was constantly traveling and sharing her experiences and inspired me in so many ways. She’s not doing as much traveling anymore, so now I love following the Bucket List Family. They’re a family who travels full time and are all about facing your fears and trying new things. I also really love following Living on a One Way. She’s another travel blogger from Minnesota who has been traveling full time for the last few years and has recently returned home. She does a lot of great videos and has so much energy and positivity!
Who are your heroes?
Oh boy this is a hard question! I’m going to be a little corny here and say my parents, because they always encouraged me to try new things and be different.
I also really look up to females who are blazing the trials in their industry. I still work full time in a very male-dominated industry, so I will always look up to people like Samantha Ponder, who is a sports anchor on ESPN. I identify with SO MUCH of what she does and it’s so great to have a role model like her.
What destinations are on your bucket list that you haven’t yet had the chance to experience?
EVERYWHERE! But in reality, I’m hoping to do a few more of our bucket list trips this next year. I’ve always wanted to visit Australia and New Zealand, a lot of places in Canada (like Banff, Montreal, and Vancouver), and Germany. We’ve been to Europe a lot but for some reason have never been to Germany. My family has a lot of history there, including the homestead where my relatives immigrated from in the 1800s. I want to bring my parents and experience that together!
What’s one piece of advice you would offer someone who is just starting out in blogging?
Make sure you’re writing about something you absolutely love and have a lot of passion around. It might look like it’s easy and really fun, but there’s so much work that goes into it! So, make sure you have people around you who support you, and also connect yourself with a group of like-minded individuals. These people will come to be very important to lean on when times get tough!
This one comes from our previous featured person of interest Tyler Godes who would like to know …
Who would win in a fight? Grizzly Bear or Gorilla?
I’m going to go with Grizzly Bear here. Have you seen their claws??
What one question would you ask our next featured person? (Anything you like)
If you could only eat Italian food or Mexican food for the rest of your life, which would you choose?
Time to pay it forward... who else would you like to see featured on this blog?
Some of my favorite MN peeps of course! Girl of 10,000 Lakes and Living on a One Way!
Thank you so much for your time!
For more Look About Lindsey goodness be sure to follow along in her adventures at:
Love the article. Lindsey, I love your “love of life” and infectious smile. Cole, I love the bow ties! You two are a perfect couple and have so much fun together. I enjoy traveling with you through your blogs.