For a recent graduate finally having some cash in their hands, there’s nothing more pleasing than seeing the numbers increase in your bank account. The possibilities and freedoms are endless, so let the splurging begin!
But I’m gonna stop the excitement right there. You begin to realize that in the long run splurging might not be the best idea. So even though you could have dropped an extra few bucks on some museum tours and taking Uber places instead of walking there, you think about the most economic way to travel.
One thing I will say before I jump into my weekend adventures is that this article includes a number of things I wish I knew ahead of time: locations to charge your phone, places to pray, halal places with awesome portions for a cheaper price, and things you should splurge your money on. I was treating my mom out on a mini-vacation so any and all my expenses were doubled for the weekend (not saying it as a bad thing but it provides context for people that also might be covering expenses for two).
Hotel and Transportation:
I had a unique situation in which that I was traveling to Chicago for work so a part of my stay was covered by the company. But I do know that this isn’t the case for everyone. Despite having my meeting in downtown Chicago I chose to stay at a hotel near O’hare airport called Aloft O’hare Chicago; bedding was excellent, enmities were absolutely wonderful. However I will say one thing, for a hotel that is a little on the pricier end, the hotel sure did have thin walls and the room doors were rather heavy which created really loud noises in the morning and at night. They provide free coffee and hot tea in the morning and access to a great gym and pool. My mom and I used the gym one night and we had it all to ourselves. We had hot showers and a wonderful night of sleep after a long tiring day. But I do think that Aloft might not be my choice for a hotel next time I get a chance to travel. Sleeping in or sleeping a little early wasn’t always that great when you were constantly being woken up by the other guests with their loud conversations or them entering and leaving their rooms. Aloft, work on your thin walls!
One thing I’ve learned is always to check into a hotel that provides a free shuttle service to a public transportation station/airport. If I knew what timings shuttles would run on I would have worked it into my schedule in the mornings and avoided the Uber cost. Luckily I was able to catch on quickly because of my mom (Thanks mom!) the other free transportation services that the hotel provided. Some of you might be thinking-yuck public transportation?! Well, it’d have to argue that if you’re traveling across the country to see another state, then why not put yourself in the local’s shoes and have the entire experience. You get a great sense of the city’s culture and living spaces.
Chicago’s Loop is probably more easier to understand than the BART. After traveling around in it once, I was confident enough to take my mother and I anywhere solely using the Loop.One of my favorite spots to pass on the “L” was California street, it reminded me of home. As well as the Chicago artwork we saw right after passing it. It got me excited to see the rest of the city and everything else it had to offer.
Great charging spots included the mini Target near Navy Pier which is a Target and Starbucks shared space. After walking around Navy Pier, my mother and I stopped by the Starbucks to sit down for a bit to keep my phone charged. Since I was using my phone to navigate everywhere, I was trying my best to keep my battery at least half full. (Target & Starbucks near Navy Pier 401 E Illinois St, Chicago, IL 60611)
Another great place to charge up your phone while walking around Millennium Park is the Starbucks across the street. It was a large enough space to relax for a bit before continuing outside to take more pictures and record experiences around the city. (Starbucks in Michigan Ave 8 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60602)
When we were walking around the Chicago Riverwalk another great station I was able to charge my phone was the Chipotle. It was kinda cold in there for us, but we were able to use a clean bathroom and charge our phone easily over there. Of course, later we got tempted and bought some nacho chips and guacamole. (Chipotle near Riverwalk 316 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60601)