A Minneapolis family-run business called Wildfam makes travel guides based on their family vacations—anywhere from Naples to Belize to Texas. Starting just last month, they’ve been selling the guides online as PDFs to parents looking for an easy way to plan a kid-friendly trip.
Mom of the family and businesswoman Mollie Krengel started Wildfam as an extension of her Twin Cities–based Wildhive classes, which aim to help people live more adventurously through music and dance. Travel—which she sees more as a necessity than a luxury—is her next focus. The guides direct families to the activities and foods that checked out during Mollie’s online research and her family’s experiences.
She told Minnesota Monthly about the Wildfam “travel journals” and the edge they have over Googling your next vacay.
Courtesy of Mollie Krengel
MNMO: What made you want to start sharing your travels this way?
Krengel: My husband and I made a point to start traveling when our kids were really young, both with and without them. It strengthened our relationship, our minds were expanded, and we loved exploring new cities. Our friends and acquaintances were always joking with us, like, “Where are you off to now?” or, “You guys happen to be in town?” and we started realizing this is something we love to do. And we were thinking, “How can we incorporate it into something to encourage other people to travel?”
MNMO: Can you describe the process of putting together one of these travel guides based on a family vacation?
Krengel: The guides start off as just a bunch of messy notes that I create. I’m hoping that it continues to evolve. I break it out into sections. I have where we stayed—be it at an Airbnb, a VRBO, or a hotel. I also list some places that I considered and that have really good reviews. Then I have a section on where to eat. The last section has bullet points of all the different activities that we did or maybe that we didn’t get to but I heard were awesome. … I love all of this stuff—I love the nitty gritty. So if people are looking for more specifics, we let them know we’re happy to help. It’s really just putting it all out there so people don’t have to spend the days or the weeks doing it themselves because either they don’t have the time or the energy or it frustrates them and it’s not their jam.
MNMO: Could you describe your research process?
Krengel: I get borderline obsessive. I love the planning. Not necessarily to plan out every second of our experiences, but just putting time into researching to make it really special. I research unique things to do, what not to miss, where to eat, cool experiences. All this information—it’s all over the place, and it can take me days, if not weeks. There are so many things out there online to explore. Some are more well known, like Trip Advisor, Yelp, and Fodor’s, or any big travel publications—down to the little things. Like, maybe several pages into a Google search, you can find more current blog posts. Basically, I take all of that information and start putting it into a document. For myself, I like to find things that are really current. So, maybe it’s looking up current events, like what’s happening when we’re going to be there.
Photo Courtesy of Mollie Krengel
MNMO: What makes these guides valuable when people can search Google on their own?
Krengel: Not everyone likes to get online, or maybe they don’t have the time. That’s really what it’s about. Both near and far—whether you’re going an hour away or taking a plane or driving your car hours or thousands of miles—it’s just nice to have all of this there for you, so that you can make the most of your time there. The guide isn’t generic; it’s current. I love to go places and feel like I’m living like a local, so I might look up things like “most scenic highways” or “best place to take photos.”
MNMO: For your guides, how do you find places that are suitable to children but fun for adults?
Krengel: The idea of traveling with kids makes a lot of parents feel nervous. We did wine country with the kids, and most people are like, “Why would you take your kids to wine country?” And it was actually an amazing experience. It’s just doing the research and realizing that a lot of places are quite kid-friendly, and you can have experiences that are for both of you. We went to some vineyards that love having kids. They had coloring books and different yard games. It’s just taking the time to figure that out.
MNMO: What is the best food you’ve eaten abroad?
Krengel: A lot of times I’ll meet local people and they’ll say, “How do you know about these restaurants?” It’s because I get so passionate about the research and I get so immersed in it. We did have a really cool experience in Belize. We went to a cacao farm and actually got to make chocolate. We got to see how a cacao bean grows, what it looks like, and got to taste some of the flavors before cracking open the shell. The sugary pulp that surrounds the actual beans tasted like a real Jolly Rancher—like, not from fabricated chemical fills. It was like a natural Jolly Rancher.
You can buy $10 Wildfam travel journals at wildfam.com. Look for guides on the Turks and Caicos Islands in June and on Utah in August. Journals come as downloadable PDFs. Seven locations are available currently.