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American Road Trip part one: first stop, Chicago

Thursday, October 21, 2010
Watch the second part of this week's American Road Trip Chicago video here!

It's hard to believe how quickly the year has gone, but it's that time of year again. The time of year we send four Australians who've never met before on a road trip. Last year it was Europe — this year it's the US.

When word got out that Getaway was looking for four volunteers, we received hundreds of video applications from across the country. Some were funny, some were serious, but all keen to be chosen.

The final decision wasn't an easy one but the lucky four travellers are:

  • Clare, a journalism student from Sydney;
  • James, a film project manager from Brisbane;
  • Katie, a Melbourne exercise science student; and
  • Matt, a carpenter from Sydney.

Related gallery: Meet the road trippers!

Over the next six weeks we will watch them travel from big cities and through small-town America. They will come face-to-face with weird, the wonderful and the downright legendary. They will cover more than 2000km on their journey from Chicago to New Orleans.


Known as the "Windy City", Chicago sits on the south-western tip of Lake Michigan. After winter, which presents an average of 94cm of snow, everyone heads outdoors when summer arrives. There are festivals, lakefront beaches, lots of parks and the famous gourmet hot dog. There are many ethnic neighbourhoods — Mexican, Polish and Vietnamese and a variety of others — so cuisine is a real adventure.

Segway tour

Our four travellers had a good look around on a 2.5-hour Bike and Roll Chicago Segway tour. The British invention is a two-wheeled, self-balancing electric vehicle and they have taken the world by storm. They are amazingly good fun and easy to manipulate. They whiz along the city's lakefront, through parks and riders' have great views of the city's remarkable skyline.

Millennium Park

The newest addition to Grant Park, Millennium Park is well worth a stop. It's an award-winning centre for art, music, architecture and landscape design. It opened in 2004 as the result of a partnership between the city and philanthropic community.

The 10-hectare park is fun and cultural. Highlights include the interactive Jaume Plensa Crown Fountain, the contemporary Lurie Garden and the very popular Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate sculpture. There are many free activities in both parks and Millennium's Pavilion has concerts at 6.30pm every day of summer.

Route 66

The famous road starts in Chicago's Loop. It heads south-west to Springfield, the state capital, through Braidwood and Wilmington.

The travellers rented themselves an 8m-long Apollo Sunrise Escape five-berth RV. They are roomy, comfortable and have some special deals for Getaway viewers, not just in the US but closer to home as well.

No American road trip would be complete without stopping at a diner or two. Launching Pad Drive-In was opened in the 1960s and sold just hot dogs and ice-cream.

The Gemini Giant, wearing 1960s futuristic green, space helmet and holding a rocket ship, is a much-photographed sight. It's quite eccentric and these days it has much more variety on the menu. In 2000 it was inducted into the Route 66 Hall of Fame.


Around Chicago and along Route 66.


Bike and Roll Chicago 2.5-hour Segway Tours are around $60 for adults and $50 for children. They start at 9.30am every day. Segway and helmet are included. There are 10 locations across Chicago.

Apollo Sunrise Escape five-berth RV rental is $990 for 12 days. They're valid for travel from Los Angeles and return, San Francisco and return and Las Vegas and return.

V Australia has flights to Los Angeles from:

  • Melbourne $929
  • Sydney $989
  • Brisbane $1029
  • Adelaide $1289
  • Perth $1589

On sale until October 21, 2010, and for travel until November 5, 2010.

Prices correct at October 21, 2010.

For further information

V Australia

Bike and Roll Chicago
239 E Randolph Street
Chicago, Illinois 60601
United States

Millennium Park
55 North Michigan Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60611
United States
Ph: +1 312 742 5222

Launching Pad Drive-In
810 East Baltimore Street
Wilmington, Illinois 60481
United States
Ph: +1 815 476 6535

Apollo Motorhome Holidays
Ph: 1800 777 779

Twelve-day Family RV Adventure for $1299. Rent a 27-foot Apollo Eclipse Camper (6 Berth RV) for 12 days for $1299. Valid for travel from Los Angeles to Los Angeles, San Francisco to San Francisco or Las Vegas to Las Vegas.

Free upgrade into a 31-foot Apollo US Wanderer for online bookings. Includes all fees, charges, living equipment and unlimited miles. Booking Code: APUSGETE

Book online at or call on 1800 777 779. The booking codes must be used to receive the special rate. Valid for travel until March 31, 2011.

For those travelling closer to home, Apollo also has a pre-Christmas Santa special in Australia and New Zealand.Visit

Visas: Most Australians do not need a visa, providing they have a machine-readable passport with at least six months' validity after the departure day, have a round-trip non-refundable ticket and do not intend to stay longer than 90 days. Australians need to complete a pre-travel authorisation at

Electricity: 110V to 115V at 60Hz. Outlets take two parallel, flat prongs. Australian visitors will need a US adapter and converter.

Time zone: Chicago is GMT -6.

Currency: The American dollar.

International dialling code: +1.

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