Escape Artists offers up a global discourse ranging from great finds close to home to adventures far afield. You'll find weekly travel deals here, too. Share your road wisdom, rave about great finds and rant about roadblocks that get in the way of a great trip.
Contributor: Travel editor Kerri Westenberg.
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Megabus.com, the express bus service made famous by its bargain-basement fares, doubled the number of trips between the Twin Cities and Milwaukee, Madison and Chicago today. The company now offers eight daily trips between Minneapolis and Chicago, four trips between Minneapolis and Madison and four trips between Minneapolis and Milwaukee.
Megabus.com one-way ticket prices begin at $1; that fare requires traveling midweek and booking online and well in advance of travel. The company's ticket prices fluctuate according to demand, so booking earlier, when fewer seats have been sold, garners the best deals. Typical one-way fares range from $10 to $30. There is a $3 service fee for tickets purchased by phone; most travelers book online at Megabus.com. The buses offer reclining seats and lavatories.
All trips depart Minneapolis from the megabus.com bus stop located in the parking lot on the east side of Chicago Ave. between South 3rd St. and S. Washington Ave, near the Downtown East / Metrodome Light Rail Metro Transit Station. Buses arrive in Chicago on a street adjacent to Union Station.
Through April 30, the Kimpton’s Palomar Chicago is offering a 15 percent off the best available rate Thursday through Sunday for residents of the Midwest, Minnesotans included. Regular weekend rates start at $199. The Palomar is a boutique hotel with a rooftop indoor swimming pool, candy in the lobby and a revolving art gallery with paintings from local artists. Book at www.hotelpalomar-chicago.com or call 877-731-0505 and mention rate code MDWEST.
Heading to the Windy City? Stay two nights and get 20 percent off at Swissotel Chicago, near the Navy Pier, the Chicago River and Miracle Mile. Book here or call 1-888-727-9477. The deal is good through September 10; a first-night deposit is required at the time of booking and is non-refundable.
Q. I have a 12-hour layover in Chicago before an overseas trip and want to see the sights downtown between flights. Is there any place I can stow my large suitcase so that I don’t have to drag it with me into the city?
A Citing security concerns, O’Hare International Airport doesn’t provide any luggage storage at the airport, and its spokesperson, Karen Pride, said that she’s not aware of any options for travelers in your situation. Are you able to check your luggage through to your next destination? Travelers on various message boards have asked the same question and some responses suggested asking a hotel bell hop if they can stow the luggage while you sight-see. Escape Artists checked with the O’Hare Hilton, the only hotel in the airport, and they told us that you must be a guest to store your luggage. You might also consider whether it makes sense to rent a hotel room either near the airport or downtown where you can freshen up before the next leg of your journey; some hotels are offering unbeatable deals – especially if you’re willing to take the cheapest room they have. It just might be worth a relaxing day in the Windy City.
Any suggestion from road warriors out there who've had layover in Chicago or beyond?
It's a week for a number of online deals for Twin Cities travelers.
For last-minute getaways this weekend, United is offering a truckload of last-minute destination roundtrip deals from Chicago ($112) to El Paso ($190) to Syracuse, NY ($214).
United is also offering additional deals for next weekend to more than a dozen more cities, ranging from $88-$434.
The usual fine print applies to these deals: Purchase by Friday and travel departs the Saturday with a return flight the following Monday or Tuesday.
Details can be found here:
American Airlines is also offering a last-minute deal this weekend to Chicago for $120 as part of their NetsAAver promotion. Details here: http://www.aa.com/netsaaver/
Thursday is the final day for the $39 one-way airfare sale out of Minneapolis, at least as far as AirTran is concerned. The most recent e-mail I'm receiving is from Hotwire's Travel Ticker touting flights out of the Midwest for as low as $44 one-way.
Personally I'm not a fan of generic sale-fare claims, but feel free to check it out all the same. The link can be found here:
But, if you go directly to AirTran, you can find specific fares listed, such as Orlando for $64-$124; Dallas for $74-$124; Philadelphia for $64 - $176 and more.
Here's the link:
Tickets must be purchased by midnight Thursday and travel must be completed by Dec. 16. Sale fares are not valid for travel on Fridays or Sundays and there are some blackout dates -- basically the bookends to Thanksgiving.
That said, decent fares can be found for the flexible.
(Likewise, Southwest was touting sale fares this week through Thursday for as low as $59 one-way, though in my few searches of destinations, the lowest fare I could find was $80. Here's the link: http://travel.southwest.com/)
Elsewhere on the web, Travelzoo this week is touting sale fare prices from Minneapolis to Tampa for as low as $199, including tax, through much of November and December. Granted, it's Tampa. But it's a pretty cheap flight, relatively speaking, and just this week on Hotwire I priced December rental cars for under $30 a day.
That airfare deal can be found here:
And then, of course, there are the charter deals, which are starting to heat up this week as the weather continues to drizzle.
Low price specials that I spotted this week:
Funjet Vacations' 3 nights air+hotel to the Luxor Las Vegas, for $300 a person.
Otherwise, over at worryfreevacations.com, the best deals seemed to be airfare-only deals to Caribbean and Mexico, hovering in the $300 range.
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