So it's the last day of June and the summer travel season is in full swing. We all know what that can mean; crowded freeways, high gas prices and packed airport. However, there are ways to get around the non-sense and hassle of summer travel.
If you live in the GR area and are going to Chicago for the weekend, consider the alternative to driving: Amtrak! Yes, Amtrak runs a great service from GR right to the heart of the loop at central station. The trip lasts around four hours and if you plan and purchase ahead of time, can cost you as little as $25 each way sometimes.
If you must make the drive to Chicago, here are some tips and ideas to ease your stress level.
1. Gas is always more expensive in Chicago then in Western Michigan, so plan accordingly. Gas up before you enter the Chicagoland metro. If you must get petrol there, the closer into downtown you get the higher the prices. Try and fill up as far out as you can.
2. If you do drive, park your car your stay. Chicago has all kinds of amazing transit options, the EL, Metra train if you need to get to the suburbs, a huge bus system, endless miles of running and biking trails, and of course cabs galore. You could use the excercise of walking and we just mentioned the price of gas (plus traffic congestion). Also when you drive, see what you can do to drive at "off-peak" times. If you can drive into the city on Friday in the middle of the day you'd be better off than around the evening rush.
3. If you're flying out of Chicago (domestically) for any reason, do what you can to avoid O'hare. Try Midway instead, they are a hub for Southwest Airlines and it's far less crowded and scattered.
I'll have more as we go along. As always, buckle up and drive safe.