Never go there when you travel

Never go there when you travel

As enormous and frightening as the dinosaur was, my 11-year-old daughter strolled past it as if it didn’t exist. That’s because, to her, it didn’t.

I’d made the mistake of taking her and her brothers to a blacklisted place — in this case, the Geological Museum at the University of Wyoming. I had no choice. It was a blistering hot Saturday in Laramie, and we needed to cool off and use the restrooms. The museum was the only open building on campus.

And the rule I violated? No dinosaurs. After years of being on the road, my kids have come up with a short list of places they never want to see again. They include fossil exhibits, train museums, air and space museums, and, of course, kids’ museums. A recent poll by The Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds that more than half of all Americans find experiencing local culture and cuisine to be “very important” when they’re on vacation. Presumably, that also means figuring out what they don’t want to experience.

Chances are, you’re planning out your summer vacation itinerary right now. Our irreverent but eminently practical list of forbidden destinations can help you avoid boredom — yours and your kids’.

Never go there when you travel
Aren and Iden Elliott check out a train in Williams, Ariz. America is filled with old trains, hardly any of which run anymore.
Please, no trains

Why does every town seem to have a train museum? Everywhere we go, there they are.

Train museums are such a cliché, we often laugh about them. In Durango recently, I remember saying to my kids, “Finally, an authentic Western town without a train museum!” But I was wrong. Durango has a train museum, and it’s really good.

By the way, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with train museums. It’s just that there are 109 railroad museums in the United States, many of them the pride and joy of their community. From the Georgia State Railroad Museum in Savannah, Ga., to Sacramento’s California State Railroad Museum, these are impressive places filled with carefully restored engines and cars.

But generally, they have the same exhibits, memorabilia, and railroad maps. You have to be a die-hard fan of rail travel to want to see every single one of these museums. I can understand why, after seeing about a dozen of them and being good sports about it, the kids said: “Please, no more!”

Never go there when you travel
A helicopter at Hill Air Force Base Museum in Ogden, Utah. It’s an impressive place — if you’ve never been to an air and space museum.
How about an air and space museum?

A close second on our banned list is the air and space museum. Every air force base and major city seems to have one. By my count, there are 254 air museums in the United States, and we’ve seen probably half of them. Our favorite is the Museum of Flight in Seattle.

But after a while, air and space fatigue start to creep in. That’s because, like the train museum, they repeat themselves. Planes, planes, and more planes. Rockets. Black-and-white newsreels about wartime heroics. More planes.

And you start to ask yourself, “Is this really what I want to be doing on my vacation? Looking at flying war machines?” And then you look at your daughter, who is so bored that she is trying to spin the propeller on an exhibit, and you know the answer.

Don't go there when you travel
Aren Elliott inspects a native American carving at the Cantor Arts Center on the campus of Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif. Art museums can be a great alternative to the train-plane options, if your kids are up for it.
Kids museums and alternatives

But the one place my kids will never, ever allow me to visit is the kids’ museum. These places often cater to the lowest common denominator — toddlers and their stressed-out parents. If you’re toilet-trained and can spell, you probably want to avoid the very simplistic exhibits and enhanced playtime opportunities.

Also, kids museums are germ factories. You can touch everything, and everyone touches everything. The goats in the petting zoo are so desensitized to the human touch, when you reach out for them, they don’t even flinch. The starfish in the touch tank look so anemic, it wouldn’t surprise me if they floated to the surface.
Now granted, some kids’ museums are really compelling. My personal favorite is the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, with the T. Rex bursting out of the building. Oh, sorry. I forgot — no dinosaurs. But once you’ve been, you realize that nothing else quite measures up. But also, tell the kids not to touch anything.

There are alternatives. Kids know when you’re patronizing them with silly museum exhibits, but if you use a little reverse psychology on them, you might persuade them to try something even better. When we showed up at the Cantor Arts Center last summer, I issued a stern warning. “I’m not sure if you’re going to be able to understand this,” I said. “This is a museum for adults.”

But they did. They drew on their history and art lessons and were — for the most part — on their best behavior. That’s not a dis on kids museums; it’s just to say that sometimes, the best museum for a kid is the best one for an adult, too.

OK, I know what you’re thinking: “So where do you go when you travel, Chris?” Tune in next week for the answer.

Underwritten by

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by

With nearly 20 years in the industry, over 128 airport covered in the U.S. and Canada, and over 1,000 Hotel and Parking Partners-we provide travelers the best options on how to get to the airport when flying. Whether you want to; drive yourself and park near an Airport (Airport Parking), stay the night before your flight at an airport hotel and leave your car (Hotel and Parking Package), or take a shared Shuttle/Private Car/Limo to the Airport- we got you covered. The best deals can be found online, and booking a reservation has never been easier. You can explore all of our options by visiting us at,,, and

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Cavalry Travel Insurance

Cavalry takes the worry of out travel by providing 24/7 access to medical and security professionals combined with the best medical evacuation and security extraction services. Cavalry gets you home safely when you need it most. Learn more at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by

Since its inception over three decades ago, G1G has continued to revolutionize the travel insurance industry by being the only aggregator to operate a customer portal, placing all of the user's primary needs in one place. We have continued to innovate and disrupt the market by reimagining the way travel insurance can be delivered to the end user in ways no competition can. Simply put, no one knows the market as well as its founders and no one else shares G1G values and mission.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Arch RoamRight

Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International,, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

Send this to a friend