My Biggest “Up North” Travel Tips

Did anyone else’s family “vacations” always involve a long car ride, fishing, and a lot of bug spray? Because growing up, that was the only vacation we would take. A few times a year we would load up our family van and head to the Mississippi river. When I was younger I was bitter I never got to go on a plane or visit Mickey Mouse like other families did. Now, our up north trips are some of my favorite memories.

It’s been a while since we’ve had a true Wisconsin “up-north” experience. We were lucky enough to be invited to my sister’s boyfriend’s family cabin. I’ve heard great things, and it was even better than described. His dad had built the cabin on a small lake, and it was something out of a dream. Being an avid-up-north-traveler means we’ve picked up a few trick and tips along the way. Here are just a few.


If you aren’t lucky enough to know someone (or own your own) lake house air bnb has some incredible options. For a true Up North experience, you have to find one on the water. Air bnb makes it easy to filter by amenities, so you can filter by your price point and chose a property that’s water front.

There are also some amazing campsites that offer cabins. Explore Wisconsin has some great options. You’ll have to think about the amenities you want. They can vary drastically from campsite, think about if you want electricity, how many people you’re bringing, or if it’s pet friendly. Some cabins might also have TV’s or kitchens too.

Packing for Up North

  1. Have everyone coming bring a can of bug spray and sun screen. You’ll need a lot more of both these things than you think. They’ll get lost and used fast, so the more you have the better.
  2. Pack layered clothes. You don’t need a bulky jacket. Instead pack a lot of clothes you can layer over each other. The temperature can change drastically throughout the day, so you may want to strip a few layers as the sun goes up or down. It can also be pretty stuffy in a cabin when you first get there. Windbreakers may not be cute, but they will be your best friend.
  3. Bring a variety of shoes. When we were in Mexico (which you can read about here), I broke my flip flop on the beach. Pack at least 4 pairs of shoes: sandals, hiking or tennis shoes, a dressy shoe, and an extra pair of something just in case.
  4. Bedding: The cabin we went to we could live in when we walked in. But if it weren’t a family cabin, we’d probably bring our own bedding even if it was provided. Your specific campground or airbnb should tell you whether or not it’ll have bedding… but you may want to bring your own anyway.
  5. Games. On this trip we didn’t get to play games. But growing up we played checkers and cards like no ones business. My dad teaching me checkers is a cherished memory. Regardless of what, you’ll want to pack movies or books to pass the time.F


You’ll want to have a vague plan of your meals so you’ll know what to pack or shop for. We found a restaurant to go to from my sister asking what was good in the area. Make easy prep ahead meals to make your life easier.

Don’t forget to have fun. I know some people say traveling isn’t enjoyable because of the planning, but the purpose of up north is to relax. Don’t worry about the small things. Just pull up a chair, grab a blanket, and watch the sunset.

June 3, 2021

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