Getting around Chicago cheaply can be accomplished if you have a few pointers in the right direction. There is so much to do and see in Chicago that a lot of your fun money could be spent on transportation. If you have a little more time than money, here are a few tips for getting around Chicago cheaply.
First, choose a hotel that has a free shuttle to and from the airport. Free shuttle transportation in Chicago can save you from as little as about $7 if you are staying near the airport to as much as $35 if you are staying downtown. Take the time to call a variety of hotels and ask two very important questions. The first is obviously if they have free shuttle transportation. Secondly, but even more important, ask them what is the schedule of the free shuttle. Ideally you should be able to find free transportation that runs every thirty minutes. No on goes to Chicago to sit still and the hotels know it, so most hotels will offer this free shuttle and on a schedule. Free shuttle transportation is a great way for hotels in Chicago to compete for customers.
Next, while you are on the phone with the hotel front desk ask them if they offer free shuttle transportaion anywhere else in the Chicago area. Many guests will have similar destinations and the hotel will offer complimentary transportation to and from a few select key locations. Specifically in downtown Chicago I have stayed at four and five star hotels that offer a schedule of free shuttle transportation to a different tourist destination daily and on weekend days. The shuttle went to a different destination almost everyday of the week and repeated its cycle every Monday. This is one of the many courtesies a higher quality hotel can afford you. Best of all in a walking friendly city like Chicago it is possible to take the free shuttle to a tourist destination, but quickly walk a block or two and be off the beaten path, at your destination, or discovering something new. Walking is great cheap transportation! In the suburbs of Chicago many hotels will also offer a daily shuttle to local malls or shopping areas. This may not seem as exiting as downtown Chicago shuttles to tourist destinations, but if you are in Chicago for an extended time on business this can be a great way to get out for a quick bite in th evening, pick up a few essentials at the local Target, or even squeeze in a little shopping for yourself, family, or friends.
Everyone in Chicago and most likely in the rest of the free world has heard of Chicago’s “El.” This elevated train system goes under the name CTA online and can transport you cheaply anywhere in and around the Chicago area for about $2. Their website is www.transitchicago.com. Maps and train routes are available online as well as inside the train.
Chicago also has a very effective bus system that is a great form of cheap transportation in this large city. The same pass you bought online at www.transitchicago.com can be used on the bus as well. Maps and routes can be planned ahead on this site as well. Best of all when you ride the bus if you use your CTA card a bus ride is only $1.75 instead of $2.00. This may seem like small savings, but if you are on a tight budget then every little bit can help.
During the summer months the city of Chicago offers their tourists and locals a form of cheap transportation to major tourist destinatiosn and local Chicago neighborhoods. This cheap transportaion if the free trolley shuttle. Their website with destination information, times, and locations is http://www.pilsenlittlevillage.org/shuttle/aboutus.html.
Finally, for the last cheap transportation in Chicago, try riding a bycycle. There will be the initial rental fee for the bike, but after that your bike will become free and cheap transportation. Chicago is known for its progressive plan to become an extremely bike friendly city. There are bike paths sectioned off on the public roads throughout the city. Chicago is also relatively flat, so biking should not only be cheap transportationm, but relatively easy as well. Stop by any visitors center for free maps of Chicago and you will be ready to check out the city on your bike.