Traveling for Move-In Day – GradPlan

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Traveling for Move-In Day

What to consider when deciding how to get yourself (and your stuff) to campus.

It is one thing to get accepted into a college. It’s another thing to actually get there, on time, with everything you need for day one.
Consider these tips for handling transportation when you are in college.

Take a bus!

With multiple bus stations in Chicago and bus routes all over the country, you may find cheap bus fares to wherever you need to go on a Greyhound bus. They allow 3 bags to be stored under the bus, plus your carry-on. Use their trip planner to see the best times and prices for your move.

Megabus has been a favorite of college students – especially those coming from Michigan or Wisconsin to Chicago – due to its low fares and regular schedules from pick-up and drop-off locations near major campuses.

Take a train!

You may be able to catch an Amtrak train from Union Station in downtown Chicago to your campus. Amtrak stops at many college cities and towns in and outside Illinois. Check their baggage policy to find details on how many bags you can check, the cost for additional bags, and how to get baggage services once you arrive at the station.

Drive yourself!

If you have lots of boxes, renting a small moving truck from U-Haul or Budget Trucks could be a good option. Price will vary, depending upon how long you need the truck, and how far your trip. If your schedule is flexible, rates are lower on weekdays than during the weekend.

Most car rental companies also have pick-up truck, cargo van, or minivans available. Depending on the distance and size of your move, this may be a more cost effective option than a moving truck because there is no additional mileage fee on top of gas.

Fly in an Airplane!

Flights can be expensive, but may be necessary or the best option in certain circumstances. There are several options to find the best price on airfare. Use a low-fare search engine like Kayak or Google Flights to find the cheapest flights to and from Chicago. If your travel date is flexible, try searching for flights a day earlier or later. You can also try an app like Hopper, which predicts when to buy your ticket in order to get the best deal. Southwest Airlines flies out of both Midway and O’Hare airports, and offers the first 2 suitcases and 2 carry ons for free!

A Note about Boxes and Baggage

However you choose to travel to campus, you may find yourself with more boxes and bags than allowed. Peer-to-peer shipping could be a great solution. If you have a couple of large boxes (more than two but less than 10), there are sites like Roadie and uShip which are like ride share services for your stuff. You fill out a request and the site matches you with someone who is going in the same direction and has room in their car for your boxes. Peer shipping costs will vary and are often negotiable but the average cost for a large box is $1.50/mile.

Coming Home for Breaks

During short breaks like Thanksgiving or longer breaks between Fall and Winter quarter, you may want to (or have to) come home when dorms are closed. How do you get the cheapest tickets? Plan ahead! You won’t be the only college student trying to get back to Chicago during the breaks or on the weekends, so it is a good idea to make your travel plans as early as you can (even at the start of the semester) and book your bus, train, plane or car ride in advance. The fares are often cheaper if you book more than 30 days in advance, and you will have more schedule selection. Discount sites like Priceline and Hotwire also offer tickets at deep discounts, but are often non-refundable.

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Transitioning to College

"Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today."

Malcolm X, human rights activist