So I'm planning a trip from Toledo to Chicago in April. It'll be a five night thing. Wanted to see if anyone has done a trip like this and what kind of transportation they used. There are 10 of us going, 7 adults and 3 children. We were thinking of doing the Amtrak train which runs at about $40 roundtrip using AAA. Somone mentioned Megabus. I priced it and it's looking to be the same, $40. Now the question is, which is better? Comfort wise? Amenity wise? Also, what hotels have you guys done? Needing 3 rooms we want to keep it affordable. We found the Hampton Inn and Suites in the center of Downtown near their firestation. Let me know what you guys think. Thanks!
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My vote goes to Amtrak - better comfort and a little better scenery. Union Station is kinda cool. Just don't be in a hurry there or return.
That's a good deal ($40 round trip via AAA). The usual price is closer to $150, IIRC. I love traveling by train!
We stayed at the Homestead suites a few weeks ago - not affordable per se, but they did offer a "free" full line breakfast and dinner - so we took that cost into the factor! We chose to only eat out 1 day.
If you have anyone that is with the government, you can stay at the Hard Rock for $150 a night, with the proper ID.
As much as I like trains (and generally dislike busses), I rode the Megabus several times to/from Chicago over the spring & summer and liked it a lot.
Honestly, it depends on which downside you can live with between the two:
Amtrak: may run late/stop in mid-route. Last time I rode Amtrak, the door to my car was stuck open, letting in the chilly March air. Bracing, to say the least. Have also ridden in some dirty cars before.
Megabus: You'll be getting on at a route "mid-point" (between Cleveland & Chicago) if traveling from Toledo--may hinder all 10 of you from sitting together. Unlike the train, nowhere to really walk around on the bus (but they do stop about 90 minutes into the trip at a rest stop for 25-30 minutes)--might have trouble keeping kids settled in a seat for that long. Can be a little cramped because the busses do tend to run full.
That being said, you'll get to the same place--Megabus drops you off across the street from Union Station.
No matter which you choose, beware of freaks, pickpockets, and other miscreants that hang around Chicago Union Station. That would crimp your trip in a hurry. Nothing too dangerous, just petty criminals and bums looking for a handout. Watch your kids.
If anyone needs a quicker trip... American is running fares at $60 one way and $120 round trip to Chicago out of Toledo Express right now.
If I were to have to chose between the two, I would go with the train. Then again, I would fork out the extra $$ and fly. =)
I would go with Amtrak because of the kids. There is a lot more freedom to move around on the train - you can walk with the kids up & down the length of the whole train, look out the doors into people's backyards, visit the snack car, enjoy the sounds & rhythm of the rails. I still remember my first train trip (I was 6!) and how wonderfully different it was.
I'm a big fan of Megabus, too, but if the cost is about the same, train travel offers more comforts. In Chicago, at the Megabus spot on the sidewalk, there is no information posted and no facilities. The only employee shows up about 15 minutes before each bus. It's a bare-bones operation for sure! You have to be 100% comfortable with locating the bus stop and waiting around outdoors (though you can always walk into Union Station down the block).
Toledo to Chicago Trip-Amtrak or Megabus?
Neither. Drive two cars, park in an area a little further out and either take the L or Metra into the Loop. Can't speak to the Megabus, but I took Amtrak back and forth between Chicago and Toledo a few times when I used to live there. First time, no problem. Second time, SEVEN HOUR DELAY. Supposed to get in at 11pm, got in at 6am. Not worth taking the chance, especially with a large group.
If you take two cars, gas and tolls can't be more than the $400 you are proposing to spend on bus or train.
I would recommend Amtrak over Megabus. The train station in Ann Arbor is nice and has more reasonable leave times than the one in Toledo. I know someone that took the Megabus and they were seperated because the bus was half full when it got here.
Suggestions for places to stay: 1. Priceline - name your price. Have always had good luck with 4 star hotels. 2. Corporatehousingbyowner.com - can rent a condo for a week. Have even seen houses in Lincoln Park for rent - is a very good deal and more like home. Our family rented a condo by Grant Park on the Lake with a pool on the roof and had a great time. 3. Same thing with vacationrentalbyowner.com.
yah, if yer not locked in by time limits, train. If you are, Megabus and deal with possibly being separated. The bus runs closer to on-time than the train so would be a shorter trip for the kids. Be prepared for delays no matter what. I've ridden both and they were both ok for the trip I was taking, as everyone else has said. Cool ideas for lodging, have to discuss this with the Hub, want to take him to Chi when the weather is better. depending on how much you want to spend, the Silversmith Hotel downtown is a blast from the past! thanks!
Amtrak - Went all the way to the west coat on Amtrak and came back on the Canadian train. Loved the whole thing. Contemplating repeating the trip we enjoyed it so much. (The sleeper cars with shower are a hoot. Meals were excellent.)
My only caveat is that we experienced frequent delays. Amtak's schedule is at best an estimate. We sat for three/four hours a couple of times due to track delays.
I went to Chicago on a day trip on Megabus and it was great. Left early in the am, came back late at night. Kids were okay on the bus, especially when we snagged that upper back row seat so the youngest two could lay down and sleep on the way home. Megabus opens up dates about three months at a time (from what I have figured out); if you snag tickets right away they are cheaper. If you wait too long, you will pay more especially with such a big group. We paid $180 iirc for six roundtrip tickets.
I've never done the train but was very comfortable safety-wise on Megabus which is a top priority for me.
Planning a trip for 4 to Philly via Megabus in the spring. Saves major $ on gas and tolls.
I would say from an economical standpoint, taking a couple vehicles would be the best option. I make this trip occasionally, and I usually take Amtrak, but I'm also never in a hurry and my comfort is my only priority. I made the Chicago trip from Toledo, round trip back in April for right around 100 dollars. I still would've spent at least 70 or 80 on gas in my car so the extra 20 was worth it to me, especially travelling alone. Its great being able to walk around, move to the lounge car, or the snack car, etc. You do lose time when it stops at stations though. If times not an issue nor money, the trains more enjoyable, IMO, and if youre snagging tickets for 40 round trip, that's a great deal.
What are the hours like for departure? I tried once to get tickets for my mom/grandma to come in from the Pittsburgh terminal and the only time they left was midnight which defeated the purpose of wanting to take a ride and see the country side en route.
don't do the 15 passenger van. It may seem more economical, but they're a pain to drive, even if you're used to larger vehicles, and can be downright dangerous in inclement weather on the toll road.
My vote is for Amtrak, especially if any unexpected delays won't totally throw off your schedule. When I lived in NYC, I traveled back and forth on Amtrak quite a bit to see my folks in Indiana. Never had an issue other than the occassional delay and/or annoying passenger.
Happy New Year! I would take the Megabus.....though I have never been on it. We took Amtrak from Ann Arbor to Chicago in July.....it is a slow trip and Amtrak is nor forthright about how long it takes. All of our tickets, plus the schedule online said 4.5 hours or so. The reality was 8 hours going there and 7.5 coming home. We were told there might be delays around Kalamazoo because of construction. There is no construction on the line. On the return leg of the trip, the conductor admitted that the trip is slow because Norfolk/Southern owns most of the tracks between Kalamazoo and Chicago which means the train travels at 30 mph most of the trip. Lots of excuses going about the delay like shift changes, breaks, new crew had to be called in etc. We were not in a rush but there were many people going to Chicago on our train trying to get there for a rehearsal dinner. It was ugly.
I would take Amtrak,, You can two (2) trains to Choose from The Capitol Limited or the Lake Shore Limited. One leaves Toledo About 5:30 AM and the Other about 7:00 AM.
Yes, the Railroads do own the track that AMTRAK Runs over, except for the Northeast Corridor between Washington DC and Boston, A Section of Track in Michigan (Between Detroit and Chicago). The section of track YOU were riding on is under Construction BY AMTRAK to increase train speeds to 100 MPH. The Two (2) trains out of TOLEDO DO NOT USE THAT SECTION OF TRACKAGE. So the Ride should be quicker. But there is always the possibly of delay's no matter what form of transportation YOU Choose.
For the price and and location of arrival in Chicago AMTRAK is the way to GO.
MY wife and I have ridden AMTRAK Numerous times and have only experience a delay one (1)time and that was due to a train derailment of a train by the owner of the track (CSX Corp.) not AMTRAK. We have travel cross county by AMTRAK and enjoy it, WE always arrive relaxed and ready for our vacation. We have Meet a lot of people traveling by train and have always found things to do while traveling in the lounge car.
WE always recommenced traveling by Train whenever possible!! Give it a try.
Can you bring booze and food on the train with you?
HG, nobody checks what you bring on teh train and the conductors pretty much leave you alone unless there's a problem. If you're not obvious about it, I doubt they'll care. They have booze and food on teh train, tho, it's awesome to go to Chi on a Saturday am and be azlready glowing when you get there, lol. The one thing people forget about the trains is that CSX owns the track and freights have the right of way! When AMTRAK was created, it was supposed to have the r-o-w but that went away quickly. The passenger train has to pull onto a siding for freight trains and if the passenger train cannot get to the next siding before th next freight is scheduled thru, the passenger train has to sit until it has a clear run to the next pull-off. THIS is what causes most delays, not construction, not anything else, except maybe weather. AMTRAK does not have the right of way! still, love the experience. :)
Nana, the line from Toledo to Chicago is actually owned by Norfolk Southern. I think they got it when CSX and NS each got a part of Conrail.
I haven't had the pleasure to ride Amtrak yet, but i can't wait to do so, I'm just not sure if i want to go West to Chicago or east to Pennsylvania.
Thanks for all the input guys. I'm thinking we are going to do Amtrak. We aren't going to take the cars because at $40 a night/a car, it'll be crazy considering everything is going to be in walking distance.
Bumping this thread since I am going to Chicago in a few weeks. I normally fly but airfare is crazy from Detroit and I hate driving and parking is absurd in the loop.
I have taken Mega before but parked at the old Kmart lot and walked over. Now that Kmart is closed where are people parking? Or should I take a cab? As far as AmTrak goes, I did take that once and had a crazy delay but willing to give them another shot, but when I took Amtrak last time in 2010 the parking lot was torn up. Is the parking lot now repaired?
A friend of mine just took the Megabus to Chicago over Memorial Day. On the way back, the AC was not working on the bus. And that was on Monday. That would have been brutal!
Word is Amtrak Lake Shore Limited's on-time performance has been pretty good as of late.
Would really love HSR to Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, and Columbus out of Toledo.
As far as I'm concerned, the only detraction Amtrak has is the time table. Since we're basically the middle of the New York - Chicago line, the times can be a little inconvenient. But if you can work around that, it's great. It's a comfy ride, you can just relax and look at the scenery, and there's something about not being on a highway jammed with cars that really puts you at ease. And I second AC's vote: Toledo would be a great hub for HSR between the major cities in the Great Lakes section of the Midwest.