Getting to Chicago for Thanksgiving

2 Nov

www.purdue.edu/mymoney

Whether you are heading up to Chicago to see family there for the Thanksgiving holiday, planning on going to the airport to fly elsewhere, or just feel like hitting the Windy City instead of seeing family, Chicago is a common destination! However, getting there can be a challenge. Whether you’re visiting short-term or using it as a way to get further from Purdue for a little while, you probably want to do it the cheapest way possible.

Note: For the airport travelers, the Indianapolis airport is closer to Purdue but flight prices may differ greatly between the airports!

I’ve gone ahead and listed a few of your options for transportation on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday returning. Some of the numbers I’ve listed below are for a specific weekend, which I’ve noted, so you’ll want to double-check your travel dates to verify the prices.

Amtrak 

Amtrak Station

11/23: Departs from Lafayette at 3:45 p.m., arrives in Chicago at 5:45 p.m.($36)

11/27: Departs from Chicago at 5:45 PM, arrives in Lafayette at 9:57PM ($36)

Total Cost: $72 and up

Total Time: 6 hours, 41 minutes

Don’t forget about how you’ll be getting around once you get there. Whether it’s arranging a pick up from someone there, using local transit, or walking you’ll need to be prepared! If you plan to use the bus or subway (which you’ll need if the airport is your destination), you will definitely be spending extra on that and should budget accordingly. The Chicago Union station is right by downtown so you can reasonably walk to destinations if that’s the goal.

Driving

2 hours from West Lafayette to Chicago (122.5 miles)

2 hours from Chicago to West Lafayette (122.5 miles)

Gas: National average at $2.20/gallon

Total Cost: $27.50 and up plus parking

Total Time: 4 hours

If you’re averaging 20 miles/gallon, it will take about $27.50 in gas to get you to and from Chicago. However, this does not include paying for parking or any driving you may do around the city. Parking runs anywhere from $3-$15/ hour depending on the time and place you go. There are some parking lots in the heart of the city that offer flat rates for the entire day on the weekends, but you really have to search for these good deals and (as an effect of this) could use up even more gas and money. There are several apps that you can download on your phone which can help you compare parking prices. Sometimes the difference in a block is as much as $20!

The upside of this option is that you can split it with friends. Not only do they provide some company and navigation on the drive in, but they can also split the gas costs (and parking if you’re hanging out together).

If you’re catching a plane ride out of Chicago, remember that parking can cost you big! Daily parking is $35/ day if you don’t use one of the economy lots which are between $10-17/ day.

MegaBus

 MegaBus

11/23: Departs from Indianapolis at 5:00 p.m., arrives in Chicago at 7:30 p.m. ($49)

11/27: Depart from Chicago at 12:30 p.m., arrives in Indianapolis at 5:15 p.m. ($49)

Total Cost: $98 and up

While MegaBus might be known for their fares as low as $1.00, that’s not the case for the Thanksgiving weekend where prices are significantly higher than usual. On top of this, the route to Chicago leaves from Indianapolis. If you drive the hour down you’ll need to pay for parking and gas. You might be able to snag a ride with a friend who is going down to visit family, but ideally you’ll throw a few dollars their way to help with gas since they are likely going out of their way. Much like the Amtrak option, though, don’t forget to take into account your transportation costs once you get there. If you’re driving yourself, going straight to Chicago might be the better bet for Thanksgiving weekend.

Lafayette Limo

Lafayette Limo

Leave Purdue Memorial Union Follett’s Purdue West Arrive at O’Hare Airport Leave Chicago Arrive Lafayette
4:30 AM 4:40 AM 6:40 AM CST 8:00 AM CST  12:00 PM
10:30 AM 10:40 AM 12:40 PM CST 2:00 PM CST  6:00 PM
3:30 PM 3:40 PM 5:40 PM CST 7:00 PM CST  11 PM

Lafayette Limo cost $60 for a one-way ticket to O’Hare Airport and $110 for a round trip back to Lafayette.

There are some considerations to keep in mind when travelling with Lafayette Limo. Once you are in Chicago you will need to consider other transportation options from the airport to the city, if you are planning on staying in Chicago. Lafayette Limo has strict pick-up and drop off times. This could keep your Chicago visit to a tight schedule. Lafayette Limo is mainly used as a transportation method for Purdue University students traveling to home during peak times (before and after each semester) which creates limited space during peak times. On top of battling students trying to return home, the Limo may be full of luggage. A packed ride to and from Chicago has the potential to put a damper on one’s trip. Though, during these peak times you can rent Lafayette Limo and have a safe ride for your group. You can find more details about renting Lafayette Limo through their website online. If you’re planning on going to the O’Hare airport, the shuttle service might save you if you would have to pay for parking otherwise.

Of the four options above, which do you think you would be most likely to use? Is your choice completely based on the prices? Or do you have another method of travel you like to use for traveling to Chicago? Let us know if you do!

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