When M and I decided to take the the trip to Chicago together, we started looking for ways to save money right away. We knew that we would need to cut some corners, to make this trip wonderful yet inexpensive at the same time. Not always easy to do.
First, we both signed up for the Shed newsletter. The admission to Shed is killer, $25 for adults at times, and $17 for kids. We hadn’t heard of any deals…until this past week. They sent out a buy-one-get-one free coupon that was good until next week. This cut the cost for each of us in half! That was great.
Next, parking. Parking is not cheap in Chicago. They have underground ramps, above group ramps but that is about it. It can cost up to $24 for 8+ hours of parking in downtown. We found a ramp that had 50% off if you got in before 9 am. Be sure you check to make sure that this rate applies on the weekends, ours didn’t and we didn’t know that. Shoot!
The hotel is here you can save the most amount of money. There are so many great sites out there that have amazing deals. M pre-booked and prepaid our hotel and saved 50% a night! We got a one bedroom double queen suite with a hide-a-way bed. We had a few amenities, and were a bit outside Chicago but it was worth it. We knew we wouldn’t be at the hotel much, so location was not as important as having a pool (which many downtown hotels don’t have!).
Food is another place to cut costs. We made sure we picked a hotel that had free breakfast, that saved us some, but our girls are not huge eaters in the morning. We did bring our own snacks, and packed our dinner for the drive down. We also brought all our own beverages, and have only purchased hot chocolate and a drink at Shed. This saves so much money, especially as I saw the price of things down there.
We also had a gift certificate from Table for Two that we were able to use with our dinner at Maggiano’s. Maggiano’s is EXPENSIVE for 5 people, and we ended up paying $16 each on a $85 tab (with tip). It was great to see that drop in price when they ran the gift certificate first!
There is one place that we were not able to save any money, and that was gas. We saved on our usage, but watching our speed and making sure that all the windows were shut tight, but the paying was still a lot. We did make sure we got gas before we crossed the border, gas was insane down there. We paid $.55 LESS in Wisconsin than we would have in Illinois.
There are tons of ways to save money on a trip. Shop the deals, look for coupons or even call the place a few weeks ahead of time and ask them if they will be having any specials, or if they will send you some coupons. Many popular places will surprise you!
Total, M and I paid about $200 each for this trip to Chicago. There are ways we could have cut costs a bit more, but we are happy with how we did right now!