Planes, trains and buses Tips for traveling on vacation


The holidays are fast approaching and the students may be looking to go home and see their families.

However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, trips may be different from the last time many students packed their bags and returned home.

With that in mind, The Phoenix has put together a few things to note before you jump in. No matter how you decide to come back in time for the vacation, the Phoenix has got you covered.

From planes to trains to buses, here’s the 101 on how to get home.

Go to transit centers.

Students who use public transportation will most likely need to pass through one of the four major transit hubs around Chicago: Union Station, Midway International Airport, O’Hare International Airport, and Greyhound Bus Station.

For students using the Amtrak and Metra lines out of town, Union Station (255 S Canal Street) is where you’ll need to go. Located just west above the Willis Tower River, there are a few options for getting there via public transportation. One option is to take the red line to Monroe, then take a bus from Adams & State to Adams & Canal.

Another option is to take the red line, take the brown line at Belmont, get off at Quincy and walk a few blocks to the station. Depending on the time of day, both routes will take students approximately an hour to get to Union Station from Loyola’s LakeShore Campus (LSC).

Of Chicago’s two airports, Midway is the older and smaller, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA). Built in 1927, Midway is located on the southwest side of town. It is relatively easy to get there by public transport. Jump on the red line, change to the orange line at Roosevelt and take it to the end of the line. Depending on the time of day, this route will take about an hour.

Chicago’s other airport, O’Hare, is a different story. Located on the northwest side of town, it is about 20 km west of Loyola and opened in 1955 according to the CDA. To get to O’Hare from Loyola, students have several options. One option is to get on the red line to Lake, get off and walk to Washington CTA station, and take the blue line to O’Hare.

Another option is to take the Red Line to Addison, take a bus to Addison Blue Line Station, and take the Blue Line to O’Hare.

A third option is to take the Redline North to Howard, take the Yellow Line, take it to Dempster-Skokie and take the Pace 250 bus to O’Hare. Pace is the bus service that serves suburban Chicago with connections to the CTA. Students can use their U-Pass on Pace buses, according to the CTA.

All options take about an hour and a half, depending on the time of day.

To get to Greyhound Station, students can take the Red Line to Lake, walk to Washington, and take the Blue Line to Clinton. This rout lasts about 50 minutes depending on the time of day.

Another option is to take the red line to Monroe, get on the number seven bus at Adams & State and take it to Harrison & Jefferson. This trip takes approximately 55 minutes depending on the time of day.

Ella Thompson, a second-year finance student, said she had already taken the train to O’Hare, but found the process too long and inconvenient.

“You have to take the red line, then downtown, then take the blue line to get to O’Hare,” Thompson said. “It’s just a really long process of changing trains and like, it’s very out of the way of how it takes you.”

Thompson said she now relied on Uber to get to the airport.

George Almaraz, a recent film and digital media graduate who lives in Rosemont, Ill., Said taking the Blue Line was very convenient for him as he only lives one stop away. Almaraz recommended if you are taking public transport to use the Transit Stop CTA Tracker app.

“I use it every day whenever I use the train,” Almaraz said. “Wherever you are, if you need to find a time, which train will be at which platform or at which station, this app will tell you exactly when and where.”

When to arrive.

Depending on the mode of transport, the time at which you must arrive at the chosen transit point will be determined.

The greyhounds start to embark 20 minutes before departure; However, if you stash a bag under the bus, Greyhound recommends giving yourself extra time, according to their website.

For trains, Amtrak recommends arriving at least 30 minutes before your train departs, earlier if you need to check your baggage.

Finally for air travel: Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Airlines and United Airlines all recommend arriving two hours before your flight’s scheduled departure.

Both Almaraz and Thomspon said they generally like to get to the airport around an hour and a half before their flight. Thompson also said it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the airport before you get there so you don’t get lost.

“Look at a map before and figure out where you’re going because there are a lot of different terminals and it can be stressful,” said Thompson. “There were definitely times when I called my dad in the middle of the airport like, ‘What am I doing? “”

Almaraz’s main tip was to give you plenty of time to get to the airport and get to your departure gate.

“I just think it’s very important to take your time when it comes to planning a trip,” Almaraz said. “Especially on the day of; when it comes to getting to the airport, going through security and then finally getting on your flight because no one wants to be late, especially for a flight.

Kaltak suggested arriving three hours before your flight.

It should be mentioned that airports and other transit hubs tend to get crowded during the holidays. According to data from the Transportation Safety Administration, the days before and after Christmas and Thanksgiving tend to see an increase in the number of passengers screened.

In 2019, the TSA screened an average of 2,359,751 travelers per day during the Thanksgiving holidays and 2,362,039 travelers per day during the Christmas holidays. This is an increase from the total daily average in 2019 of 2,308,749 TSA screened passengers.


Whether students are taking Greyhound, Amtrak, or flying, they will always need to wear face masks in the mode of transportation or in waiting areas.

It is recommended by the United States Centers for Disease Control that people with symptoms of COVID-19 or who are not feeling well refrain from travel.

The Chicago Department of Public Health has issued an orange travel advisory due to COVID-19 for 41 states and the U.S. territory of Guam. Those who are not vaccinated should, after their visit, be isolated for seven days and be tested 3-5 days after arriving in the city. Vaccinated persons are exempt from the recommendation.

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