The city can be expensive. Before you plan your next adventure, consider implementing some of our money saving tips that helped us save over $800 on our latest weekend trip to Chicago.
Our family loves to visit Chicago. It takes us about four hours to drive there, but it is always worth the trip. From deep dish pizza to some of the best museums and attractions in the country, its one of our favorite cities.
But when we travel, we always look for ways to save as much money as we can. This trip alone would have easily cost over $800, but we were able to save that and catch many of the best attractions for free on our weekend trip.
We thought these tips may come in handy for others looking to visit Chicago for the weekend.
Utilize credit card reward points to score free hotel stays. Aaron and I are IHG reward members and we use our IGH Chase credit card on everyday purchases like groceries and gas to redeem points. These points can, in turn, be used to redeem free hotel stays. Members also receive a free hotel stay each year they are members.
We advise that you consider a rewards credit card only if your everyday expenses are consistent and you can pay the card off each month to avoid fees. There have been times in our past when we wouldn’t have trusted ourselves with a credit card for points. It can be tempting to carry a balance forward at the end of the month. But we’ve been diligent to pay the card down to zero at every paycheck and treat every charge as if it were coming from our checking account.
Pack snacks and breakfast items in case your hotel doesn’t have free breakfast. Ideally, we try to choose hotels that offer a free breakfast to maximize our savings; however, that isn’t always an option. For example, the Intercontinental Hotel we stayed at on the Magnificent Mile did not offer a complimentary breakfast, so we packed our own and combined it with some of our leftovers from dinner the night before.
Pro tip: If you have an IHG membership like us, the Holiday Inn Express always offers a complimentary breakfast, while a traditional Holiday Inn often does not.
Take advantage of reciprocal memberships. If you’ve ever wanted to explore the museums or zoos in a city you visit, consider purchasing a membership at your local museum or zoo first. We purchased a family membership to the Aldon B. Dow Museum of Science & Art in Midland, MI, which not only gets us into this museum, but into many museums across the country at no additional cost or at a reduced rate.
In Chicago, our reciprocal membership got us into the Field Museum and the Museum of Science & Industry for free! Check with the membership desk at your local zoo or museum for details.
Be willing to walk. Parking can be expensive in the city, so if you are able to walk you can save quite a bit of money. We often find that if we’re willing to travel a few extra blocks from wherever we are trying to go, the price of parking is often lower.
Use a Parking App to find cheaper rates. Another great way to save money in the city? Use a parking app that pinpoints parking fees so you can choose the lowest rate as close to your destination as you can. The app we use is called BestParking, but depending on where you are traveling, some apps may work better than others. Garages use the app to attract drivers for remaining spots. You can often pay a fraction of the rate listed on the building.
Do you love to travel? What are some of your favorite ways to save money while visiting destinations across the globe?