I’m a huge fan of Google, but search engines can only be so much help when traveling somewhere new. This time last year I had never been on a plane before, but in a matter of the next seven months I found myself embarking on ten different planes to four conferences, and one trip to visit a friend. Chicago’s various modes of transportation and I have gotten to know each other very well, so hopefully these tips can be of help to anyone traveling from their home state to DePaul for the first time!
Two Airports, One City
Midway and O’Hare are your key words here. Midway is located southwest of the center of the city, and O’Hare northwest of the city. With 188 gates and 122 food and beverage locations, O’Hare is a huge airport. Flying in and out of O’Hare is nice, because more gates means more destinations and more flight times. The benefits of flying in and out of Midway is that the airport is much smaller than O’Hare, making it easier to navigate. At Midway there’s only three terminals and each gate has a fair amount of charging space for laptops and cell phones. Whether you choose Midway or O’Hare both airports are pretty solid with plenty of food options strategically placed past security (a major plus), and easy access to both public transportation and cabs.
When it comes to booking the flight, some travel gurus say the cheapest time to book is domestic flight is six weeks in advance on a Tuesday afternoon. For me, I’ve had the most luck avoiding Sunday flights and using websites like the one linked here
to compare prices. Always be sure to take into account the airline’s baggage policy. Southwest might be a few dollars more than a smaller airline, but there’s no extra nickel diming and up to two checked bags always fly free!
Airport to Campus
Both airports have direct access to public transportation. Buses are great, but the ‘L’ is the truest form of Chicago transportation and much faster! Here’s an outline of your route if you’re headed to the Lincoln Park Campus.
From O’Hare: Blue Line (O’Hare to Clark/Lake), then transfer to the Brown Line (Clark/Lake to Fullerton). This route takes about an hour.
From Midway: Orange Line (Midway to Roosevelt), then transfer to the Red Line (Roosevelt to Fullerton). This route takes about 50 minutes.
Boarding the ‘L’ train is easy using a contactless debit or credit card or by purchasing a Ventra pass at any CTA station. Information about CTA fairs can be found here
. If you’re staying in the city for a few days and plan on using the ‘L’ for a lot of site seeing, I’d recommend purchasing an unlimited ride pass. $10 24-hour passes can be purchased at each station, and 3 day and 10 day passes can be purchased at retailers throughout the city
If you’d rather take a cab from the airport to campus, I’ve found it easiest just to wait in the cab line at the airport instead of trying to book transportation ahead of time. Be sure to specify to your driver if you’re headed to the Lincoln Park (Fullerton and Sheffield) or Loop campus (Jackson and State). Depending on what airport you’re coming from and the time of day you arrive, the ride can be anywhere between 25 minutes and an hour.