Planes, trains and automobiles to get you home for the holidays

    If you stay at the dorm by yourself, burglars will come and terrorize you. It’s science. Photo by Trond Viggo Håpnes on flickr, licensed under the Creative Commons.

    Blame your ruby red slippers: They just don’t work like they used to when clicked together, and while there’s no place like home, that’s exactly where you’re not.

    Instead, your stuck in your dorm, and whether your break plans fell through, or you forgot to buy a ticket until the last minute, you need to find a way home for winter break without breaking the bank.

    Hitchhiking is always an option, of course, but with Chicago just south of us, there’s a wide array of better options to get home for the holidays. Whether you’re looking for the fastest, most comfortable or cheapest way to travel, we’re here to get your ass out of Hinman House.


    Yes, planes are the quickest way home, but they’re usually the most expensive as well. Fortunately, you might be able to find a cheap seat through Student Traveling Agency (STA). Located in the Norris bookstore, the STA desk can get students discount tickets from any major airline at any airport.

    For under $200, you can fly from O’Hare to Denver, New Orleans, Memphis, Phoenix, Milwaukee, Oklahoma City, Houston, Newark, Miami, Dallas/Ft. Worth and St. Louis if you book with STA.

    Seats may have sold out for heavy travel days, but flying on off days may help you save even more. “Plan as early as you can for traveling,” Norris STA agent Laura Gomel says. “If you travel on the actual day of the holiday, it’s even easier to save.”

    This holiday season won’t have the usual budget-crunching costs of last year. Because airlines predict a slower travel season, ticket prices have actually gone down. Airline tickets have dropped 13 percent from the average of $135 since July, according to The New York Times. So while waiting until the last minute might make you miss your flight, it could save you hundreds of dollars. Feeling lucky?

    Getting to the aiport

    You can take your time on the El, take the 250 Pace from Davis to O’Hare or speed away with a taxi or shuttle. With a $2 CTA ticket, you can go from Noyes to O’Hare or Midway. But beware: leave early because the infamously slow El train can take up to two hours for O’Hare and an hour and 45 minutes for Midway.

    If you’re in a rush and willing to pay a little extra, take a Northwestern shuttle or a taxi recognized by the school. Reserve a spot with the Northwestern shuttle service for a $26 ride to O’Hare or a $48 ride to Midway. Shuttles leave twice an hour from different spots on campus, but make sure not to miss your pick-up time.

    To leave on your own time, call one of the taxi services encouraged by Northwestern. Call Norshore at (847) 860-7500 for a $33 flat-rate cab to O’Hare and $52 flat rate to Midway. American Taxi’s number is (847) 673-1000. They offer a $29 cab ride to O’Hare and a $49 ride to Midway. Rides take about 30-40 minutes for O’Hare and 45 minutes to an hour for Midway, depending on traffic.


    If you’re looking for comfort, trains provide the smoothest ride to anywhere in the U.S. Unfortunately, peace comes at a price of both money and speed. A train from Chicago to New York costs around $100 and takes about 20 hours.

    To see where else you can go and compare prices, look at Amtrak’s Web site.


    For the stingy or broke, buses make cheap trips doable. They may not be the fastest or most direct route home, but they go from point A to point B cheap. The Megabus can take you from point Chicago to most major cities in the Midwest: Minneapolis/St. Paul, Milwaukee, Kansas City, St. Louis, Memphis, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland, Ann Arbor and Detroit. Most tickets are less than $30 depending on the price and time of departure, but check the website for deals as low as $5.

    If you’re looking for a bus ride out of the Midwest, check Greyhound. With longer routes, you can go anywhere. If you have the time, of course.

    Hopefully, you can save some money this holiday season and spend the extra on presents for your loving family. Or for yourself, and get those finnicky red slippers fixed.

    [Clarification: The original article listed the incorrect location and number of the Pace bus to O'Hare. North by Northwestern regrets the error.]


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