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travelling with extended family

Kottayam, India
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travelling with extended family

For a group of people which include 1 6 year old and 2 tots of almost 2 and a couple of seniors, which would be the better place to visit (from India), Europe or North America? RVing was an option that came to mind.

Delavan, Illinois
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1. Re: travelling with extended family

I only know the Americas (both North and South). Certainly the USA and Canada would have an eclectic set of choices for you. There are more museums per capita in the USA than any other country. Of course, some of them are collections of twine or junk cars buried on end in concrete. But I suspect it is just those sort of places that pop up unexpectedly all over the USA that will make it fun for your 6 year old. For the seniors, the USA is very conscience about making things handicap accessible if that is an issue. For instance, my wife is handicapped unable to walk long distance or rough ground, and we were able to borrow (no charge) a wheelchair to take her around the geyser trails at Yellowstone.

Because of the price of gas (today $2.89/gallon), renting an RV is probably more expensive than renting a car and staying in the ubiquitous roadside motel chains. But that doesn't mean it wouldn't be the right experience for you. Lots of people do it and love it. It seems particularly popular in the desert and southwestern parts of the USA.

Do be aware of driving distances in the USA and Canada. A trip from New York City on the east coast to Los Angeles on the west coast, driving 8 hours a day (not including stops for sightseeing or even meals), would take 5 days to complete. People do it faster by driving longer hours, and not stopping at all. Even if you took 3 months, you can't explore the whole of either country. In terms of area, North America is more than twice the size of Europe. And it would take 3 Indias to fill just the continental USA.

western WA
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2. Re: travelling with extended family

Three Indias to fill the US - I had never heard that before.

Is your goal a road trip or a stay in one or two places? How long do you have? Does your family get along well in small spaces for long periods, or do people need some space of their own?

These things will affect your vacation choices.

There is much to do all over the US, but I am of course a fan of the western part of the country.

If you want to go to Yellowstone or Yosemite National Parks, it is high time to make reservations for next summer. If you want to see things like Carhenge (mentioned above) there is lots of time to plan.

Kottayam, India
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3. Re: travelling with extended family

In the US, the base would be Chicago, as we have close family there. For the 'family together' part of the holiday, I thought of a maximum of a week to 10 days. I thought of an RV because the tots could then have some kind of schedule with regard to feeding and sleeping, without compromising on distance covered. I did think of the West Coast as in driving the Pacific Coast Highway and being able to cover Sea World and Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Then there was the thought of Orlando, but I wonder whether the adults would get bored and how much really would the tiny tots enjoy.

western WA
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4. Re: travelling with extended family

You wouldn't want to take a 10 day trip to the west based in Chicago.

Kids actually do quite fine on a car trip. They can sleep anywhere. They get rather attached to their car seats, and calm down when placed in them. I used to bring a little pillow to support the head better. I say this as RV camping can be very expensive. If you get an RV big enough for everyone, it might work out but the gas will be very expensive (6mpg).

If you want to go to Monterey and Sea World, your best bet would be to fly to San Francisco from Chicago and spend the week to ten days exploring central and southern CA.

Kottayam, India
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5. Re: travelling with extended family

Thanks for your input 'Ainwa'.

About RVing, I had actually thought about an RV big enough for everyone and no travelling long distances. Certainly if we think of the West Coast or Florida, we would fly. Amtrak would have been fun too. But, from what I see on their website, it is more expensive than flying!

Delavan, Illinois
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6. Re: travelling with extended family

With regard to Orlando, it's hard for me to image that you won't find enough to do to keep an adult from getting bored. There is soooo much more than just Disney World afterall. In fact, I spent a week there (attending a conference), never went to see the mouse, and still was finding new (and relatively inexpensive) things to do with our free time as we left to head home. But I suppose it really depends on what you find boring/interesting and how much of your day you need filled by these sorts of activities vs. just hanging out together as a family.

As regards using Chicago as a base for a 10-day vacation. I think that's a wonderful choice. But Chicago is not a good base for a trip out west, you'll spend all your time on the road and no time at your western destination. If you want to see the west, fly directly a city in the west, not the midwest. But for seeing the midwest it is perfect. A day's drive (up to 8 hours) can get you most any place in the following states: Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Missouri. You can also get to the major cities of Minnesota and even to Niagara Falls or Toronto, Canada in a day's drive.

Here are some major attractions in Chicago that are worth a visit (I've starred * those that I think would be especially enjoyed by your children):

Adler Planetarium

The Art Institute of Chicago

*Buckingham Memorial Fountain

Chicago Architecture Foundation and Tour Center

*Chicago Children's Museum

Chicago Line Cruises

*Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago—Visitors Center and Money Museum

*The Field Museum (The Field Museum of Natural History is a MUST SEE.)

Henry Crown Space Center and Omnimax Theater

*John G. Shedd Aquarium

John Hancock Observatory (Actually has a better view than the Willis Tower and generally a shorter line.)

*Lincoln Park Zoo (free admission, just pay for parking)

*The Loop (The Loop itself is just another busy downtown business district, but as a child I loved riding the EL, short for elevated train, the commuter train/subway that makes a loop through the downtown.)

Mercury: Chicago's Skyline Cruiseline & Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise

Millennium Park

*Museum of Science and Industry (At the age of 7 my parents promised me a trip to any museum of my choice in Chicago for each A on my report card. I got straight As that year and choose to go to the Museum of Science and Industry every time.)

National Museum of Mexican Art (NMMA)

*Navy Pier (But watch your wallet, not because of pickpockets, but because of how many times your kids will be asking you to spend money on something.)

*Oriental Institute (A truly fascinating, and in my view underrated, museum. While I say it has appeal for kids, it is probably more appealing for older children than yours.)

Rockefeller Memorial Chapel (I like it, but it's not for everybody.)

*Willis Tower (formerly known as Sears Tower) Skydeck (Presently, tallest building in the US.)

Untouchable Tours (I hesitated to include this, as I've never been, but I hear stories from people who like this sort of living history and enjoyed it. Others think it is more hooey than history.)

Elsewhere in Illinois:

*Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum -- Springfield, IL

Baha'i House of Worship -- Wilmette, IL

Berlin Wall -- Dixon, IL

*Brookfield Zoo -- Brookfield, IL

*Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site -- Collinsville, IL

*Children's Museum of Illinois -- Decatur, IL (Must confess, I lived here and never visited, but we had no children at home by then. Don't make the trip just for this museum, but if you are in the area, certainly stop in.)

*Dickson Mounds State Museum -- Lewistown, IL (This is a favorite field trip destination for grade schools in that part of the state.)

*Discovery Center Museum -- Rockford, IL

*Exploration Station, A Children's Museum -- Bourbannais, IL

*Fulton's Dutch Windmill (De Immigrant Windmill) -- Fulton, IL (Another place not worth a special trip, but certainly worth a stop if passing nearby.)

*Giant City State Park -- Makanda, IL (This is just one fun park to romp through for the day.)

*Historic Nauvoo Visitors Center -- Nauvoo, IL (The visitor's center is a Mormon mecca. But if you can look beyond the fact that this restored town is a all about catering to the Mormon faithful, it is a great living history of frontier life here in the in 1830s. And the road from Nauvoo south along the Mississippi is one of the prettiest stretches of highway in the entire country.)

Illinois Amish Interpretive Center & Amish Country Tours -- Arcola, IL (Rockhome Gardens in nearby Arthur, IL is an attempt at an Amish-flavored amusement park; but it caters to tourists not the Amish.)

Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center -- Skokie, IL

John Deere Pavilion -- Moline, IL (For some this place is a real treat, exploring modern and old farm machinery. For others that makes it a real snore. It is free.)

Lake County Discovery Museum -- Wauconda, IL

*Lakeview Planetarium -- Peoria, IL (While not universally recognized like the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, for a child this planetarium is probably more fun. There is a scale model of the solar system here that puts BOTH planet size and distances to scale. To do that the building is the sun and Pluto is about an hours drive away. An intersting and effective way to present the concept.)

Lincoln Home National Historic Site -- Springfield, IL (Good movies at the interpretive center.)

*Lincoln's New Salem State Historic Site -- Petersburg, IL (This is worth a trip downstate for, especially if combined with the Lincoln sites in Springfield. Be sure to allow at least a day, or more, to take in everything.)

Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site -- Springfield, IL

*Magic Waters Waterpark -- Cherry Valley (near Rockford), IL (I don't normally recommend waterparks, but I find this a nice place for a family on a summer's day.)

*Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament -- Schuamburg, IL (Just an excuse for a fun way to get an overpriced meal along with some entertainment in a Chicago suburb. But your 6-year old will remember this.)

Midwest Museum of Natural History -- Sycamore, IL (Not on par with the Field Museum in Chicago, but still interesting.)

Mississippi Palisades -- Savana, IL (If you are RVing, this makes a nice place to camp with plenty of hiking trails, and pretty views.)

Mississippi River Visitor Center -- Rock Island, IL (When we lived here, our international guests always enjoyed this experience, that for those of us who lived on the river didn't realize the uniqueness of what we saw everyday.)

Morton Arboretum -- Lisle, IL

Naper Settlement -- Naperville, IL

*Niabi Zoo -- Coal Valley, IL (near Moline and Rock Island) (Definitely a children friendly zoo.)

Ronald Reagan Birthplace & Museum -- Tampico, IL

Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home -- Dixon, IL

St. Charles Paddlewheel Riverboats -- St. Charles, IL

*SciTech Hands On Museum -- Aurora, IL (Because of the hand-on nature of the exhibits, a good place for children.)

*Six Flags Great America -- Gurnee, IL (One of the bigger amusement parks in the country.)

*Starved Rock State Park -- Utica, IL (A great place for a day of hiking with the kids.)

State Capitol -- Springfield, IL

Tri-State Trolley Tour -- Galena, IL

Ulysses S. Grant Home State Historic Site -- Galena, IL

Wheels O' Time Museum -- Peoria, IL

*Wildlife Prairie State Park -- Hanna City, IL (near Peoria) (Most zoos feature exotic animals from around the world, this "zoo" features native wildlife in natural settings.)

In Indiana:

The Indianapolis Zoo -- Indianapolis, IN

Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site -- Indianapolis, IN

*The Children's Museum of Indianapolis -- Indianapolis, IN (Perhaps the BEST Children's Museum in the country. Definitely worth a trip from Chicago to Indianapolis for this alone.)

Indiana Medical History Museum -- Indianapolis, IN

*Indianapolis Motor Speedway -- Indianapolis, IN (As a child I loved this place.)

Indianapolis Museum of Art -- Indianapolis, IN

Indiana State Museum -- Indianapolis, IN

*Rhythm! Discovery Center -- Indianapolis, IN (Be sure to bring earplugs.)

Soldiers' & Sailors' Monument -- Indianapolis, IN

Amish Acres -- Nappanee, IL

Atheneum -- New Harmony, IN

*Billie Creek Village -- Rockville, IN (This part of Indiana, especially Park County, has lots of interesting country roads to explore complete with covered bridges.)

*Bluespring Caverns -- Bedford, IN

Brown County -- Nashville, IN (This is a small community with a large number of artists and artisans. Lots of people enjoy shopping for crafts and artworks throughout this community.)

Buggy Line Tours -- Shipshewana, IN (An interesting way to explore this Amish community.)

Cave Country Canoes -- Milltown, IN (Indiana has a number of canoe liveries, this is just one of them. Indiana rivers are generally slow, shallow, and warm. In late summer you may do more walking than paddling in some of the shallowest sections.)

Center for History -- South Bend, IN

*Conner Prairie -- Fishers, IN (near Indianapolis) (This is a living history museum.)

*Fair Oaks Farms -- Fair Oaks, IN

*Fort Wayne Children's Zoo -- Fort Wayne, IN

George Rogers Clark National Historical Park -- Vincennes, IN

Historic New Harmony Walking Tours -- New Harmony, IN (The restaurant here would get 5-stars if located in one of the world's major cities.)

Historic Prophetstown --Battleground, IN

Historic Wyandotte Caves -- Leavenworth, IN

*Holiday World Theme Park and Splashin' Safari Water Park -- Santa Claus, IN (Not the biggest, best, fastest or most visited theme park, what it is is the most family friendly amusement park in the country.)

*Indiana Beach -- Monticello, IN

*Indiana Dunes State Park -- Chesterton, IN (As a child, when I wasn't making my parent's take me to Chicago museums, this is where I wanted to go.)

Indiana Territory Capitol -- Vincennes, IN

Living Historical Farm -- Lincoln City, IN

Main Building (Golden Dome) Norte Dame University -- South Bend, IN (Cool to look at for about 30 seconds, but then what?)

Marengo Cave National Landmark -- Marengo, IN (My daughter and two of her university friends from Hong Kong toured this cave with me this past summer as part of their self-directed see the USA tour, and it was one of their highlights. I don't mean to imply that it would be better than some of the truly spectacular caves elsewhere in the country, but for a small cave it holds it own with some of the more famous ones incredibly well. Indiana has lots of caves, especially in the southern part of the state.)

Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden -- Evansville, IN

Mid-America Windmill Museum -- Kendallville, IN

Museum of Miniature Houses & Other Collections -- Carmel, IN (Girls love this.)

RV/Motor Home Hall of Fame Museum and Library -- Elkhart, IN (If you're RVing, why not?)

*Science Central -- Fort Wayne, IN

Sechler's Pickles, Inc. -- St. Joe, IN (guided plant tours)

The South Bend Chocolate Company -- South Bend (guided chocolate factory tour)

Spring Mill State Park -- Mitchell, IN

Squire Boone Caverns and Village -- Mauckport, IN

*Terre Haute Children's Museum -- Terre Haute, IN

Tippecanoe Battlefield -- Battleground, IN

*Turkey Run State Park -- Marshall, IN (This is the park my kids most asked me to take them when they were small. In addition to lots of easy hiking trails, there is a river for canoing or tubing, horseback rides, and a small museum.)

The USS LST-325 Ship Memorial -- Evansville, IN

*WonderLab Museum of Health, Science and Technology -- Bloomington, IN

Most a of the above attractions are 2-4 hours from downtown Chicago, not a one of them is more than 6. And they are all listed in a AAA Tour Guidebooks. You can read details about them and check out other attractions in other states online at https:/…

My adult daughter loves taking her children (ages 1 yr, 4 yr, 6 yr, and 8 yr) to Saint Louis, Missouri. Another activitiy that fits a Chicago base is to do a circle tour of Lake Michigan. This is a great family experience, and can be done either by RV or by car. The dunes and lots of small amusment centers make it fun for kids. Mears, MI; Mackinaw Island, MI; Wisconsin Dells, WI and Milwaukee, WI might be a some of your prime destinations on such a trip.

Kottayam, India
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7. Re: travelling with extended family

That is such an interesting and comprehensive list, that I must send it to my family in Chicago. This sounds like a good plan. Than you so much t--b!

8. Re: travelling with extended family

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