Local travel expert guides clients to the best destinations in the world.
As you’re gazing out the window before you, your thoughts drifting away like clouds in the sky … are you dreaming of someplace warm and wonderful, like a sun-filled beach? Or maybe, you’re longing to be whisked away on a wild adventure.
“Obviously, we live in Minnesota, we love to run away,” says Andrew Hallfrisch, founder of Woodbury-based Northstar Travel Company.
Born and raised in Duluth, Hallfrisch has lived in Woodbury since 2017, and prior to opening his own business, he worked in food and beverage management for 12 years and later led a sales team in the telecommunications industry. With a love for travel—and a passion for guiding others toward building their dream vacations—Hallfrisch decided to launch Northstar Travel Company.
“I love to travel, and I was one of those [people] that had the ability to travel,” he says. “It was something I was already doing, and I have the business background.”
As for the business’ namesake, Hallfrisch says, “I wanted to have something that paid homage to Minnesota. That’s how I came up with Northstar. It’s the North Star State.”
While it’s tough to play favorites, Hallfrisch will tell you that Italy tops his list of best places to visit in the world. “For me personally, if someone ever mentions they like food, wine, they love history—OK, let’s talk Italy,” he says. “I dream about the food. The wine there is incredible. It just has a special place in my heart.”
Although Europe is a favorite, the bigger focus as an agency is on tropical destinations, such as Bora Bora, the Caribbean, Hawaii, Mexico, Thailand and cruises.
“To me, there’s something exciting about being able to wake up in a different country every day and only having to unpack your suitcase once,” Hallfrisch says.
Finding the right cruise line is key and that’s why he uses his expertise to find what best fits his clients’ needs. While a large cruise ship can be overwhelming for some, a smaller one might not have enough to offer for others.
Although European travels accounts for 70 percent of the business, another one of the most popular bookings are for Alaskan cruises. He says seeing your first glacier is truly unforgettable. “It’s almost a life-changing experience. Just the views, the scenery, it took me by surprise,” he says.
For those who have been to Alaska, he says, “If you’ve seen Alaska, Norway would be next to see all the fjords. Norway is another, just equally amazing adventure.”
Travelers are paying a bit more for air fares, so choosing the right week to travel will help your budget, Hallfrisch says. At the same time, he warns his clients about being too price focused, when an extra $50 or $100 can really improve the overall trip experience.
When it comes to traveling with children, there will always be special details to consider. “Most of the time, the fewer flights the better. Especially with younger children, [avoid] a layover in a busy airport like Los Angeles or New York City. If the layover is too short, that can be an issue, too,” he says.
Before sending clients off on their big getaway, Hallfrisch walks them through their itinerary step by step to ensure there are no last-minute surprises. It’s also a good opportunity to discuss some basic safety tips, too, reminding clients to be aware of their surroundings wherever they go.
“Pickpocketing can be an unfortunate thing in Europe,” he says. “For guys, hold your wallet in your front pocket, versus your back pocket. For women, if you’re bringing a purse, keep to something smaller. If there’s a flap and a zip, that helps.”
When Hallfrisch isn’t working around the clock, booking adventures for his clients, he’s off soaring to higher heights.
“Somewhere around eight times around the world, I’ve traveled. It’s like my mileage count,” he says. “Truthfully, I love what I do. I think we all, at some point in our life, find what we’re passionate about. Being able to help people travel the world and explore is so fun.”