Let's face it- we love college but nothing warms the heart like a visit home. How to get there from Chicago? Well, with the right knowledge, creativity, and networking, finding your way home from DePaul can be fast and cheap enough to leave you with some extra Christmas cash.
I’ve never lasted an entire summer, winter, or even spring break without visiting my home in Cleveland. Now a senior, I’ve gathered a worthy sample of ways to get home for DePaul’s breaks.
1. Megabus. Bus tickets for $1. Not even joking.
Unless you have recently learned how to apparate, Megabus is unmatched in price and convenience. Departing from Chicago’s Union Station (a mere 30-minutes’ journey when you take the El from DePaul’s Lincoln Park Campus), Megabus will take you to over 40 cities in the US- as close as South Bend or as far as Birmingham. Take out your calendars now, though, because ticket prices vary between $1 and $100 depending on availability.
2. Facebook. More than just a procrastination tool!
Chances are you have a Facebook page. Chances are you spend more time on Facebook than you should. So why not put your social networking to good use? Send out the word that you’re looking to share a ride home. Chances are one of your DePaul classmates is headed in the same direction. Save money by splitting gas, tolls, and other travel costs.
So that no one sues me, please use common sense when sharing a ride home. Make sure it’s with someone you know well and trust!
3. Greyhound. The bus service that understands broke, procrastinating college students.
If you’re looking for a last-minute ride because you’ve been procrastinating on Facebook, Greyhound might be your best option. While Megabus tickets increase with time, Greyhound offers flat-rate tickets that vary by destination. Chicago to Cleveland, for instance, costs about $40. Additionally, student discounts of 20% are available for some tickets. Personally, I find Megabus rides more comfortable and direct, but Greyhound is certainly a viable option.
Don’t. Save yourself time, trouble, and money by avoiding Amtrak. True, they offer 15% student discounts. True, plenty of DePaul students take Amtrak home. However, in my personal experience, trains depart and arrive at extremely odd hours (so you’ll need extremely loving parents to pick you up at 1AM), travel time exceeds a bus ride by a couple hours, and tickets can cost nearly as much as a direct flight. But if you’re in a bind, Amtrak does indeed depart daily from Chicago’s Union Station.
5. Fly. Because Muggles can’t apparate.
Sometimes, as I have in the past, you just need to get home fast. Sometimes, as some of my fellow music students, you’re from Malaysia. Whether convenience or practical purposes attract you to flights, remember that Chicago is a hub for flights to and from pretty much anywhere via Midway and O’Hare International Airports.
An ISIC (International Student Identity Card) comes in handy when booking flights, as do sites such as Student Universe and STA Travel. Real thrill seekers can scavenge risky (but possible) flight deals through programs such as Airtran U, which offers $69 stand-by tickets on certain dates.
Moving to Chicago to attend DePaul has been one of my most exciting and enlightening experiences, but I’ll never deny the comfort of being home for the holidays. I hope everyone finds their way home, and enjoys a well-deserved rest this winter. See you in 2013!