Arts & Culture / Mosaic / February 24, 2016

Spring break on a budget


Potentially the trickiest part of a good spring break is finding the right place to stay – safe, clean and affordable. Luckily there are options even for last-minute travelers, from right here in Galesburg to anywhere else on earth. (Sorry, no space-travel advice just yet.)

HI Chicago Hostel

Located downtown and with easy access to mass transit, one of the coolest things about HI Chicago is that they provide free WiFi and continental breakfast as part of the baseline $34/night fee. You’ve got to be comfortable staying in a shared dorm room, but since you’re already familiar with that as a college student, it’s all the comforts of Knox but in the city. If you surf their website a little, you’ll find guides for creating a Chicago adventure on almost any budget.


This website operates a little like Craigslist: After you create an account, you can choose location, living style and price preferences and search away. Because it operates on a rating system, you can also factor other guests’ experiences into your decision on where to stay. For graduating seniors, making reservations through Airbnb can also help you decide what type of an apartment you might want in the city you’re planning to live in after Knox, because you’ll have the opportunity to try it out.


Choosing a means of transportation is often dictated by cost, but sometimes the decision is based on what kind of experience you hope to have – is it the journey or the destination? Fortunately, whatever your parameters are, there’s always a way to get you to where you want to go.


As residents of Galesburg, we don’t have to think about driving all that often because most of what we need is right here on campus. But if you wind up in Chicago, New York or Los Angeles over break, you might find yourself in need of more than a pair of shoes or an “L” pass. Download the Uber app to find out how far you are from a driver and find out the rate for your journey. Unlike with a cab, you can not only predict how much you’re going to spend, but who will be taking you to your destination.


We all know that the Amtrak station is only three blocks from campus, but far fewer students take advantage of the company’s myriad discount rates. International students are eligible for special memberships and discounts. AAA members also receive discounts, and becoming a member of Amtrak’s Guest Rewards program can sometimes get you free rides. If you’re willing to pay $20, you can also get a Student Advantage card which takes 10 percent off each ticket you buy. Riding the rails may not be as quick as flying, but it’s far more scenic and, often, more budget-friendly.


This website works a lot like Expedia and Travelocity, but one of the best distinctive features is a series of categories for travel: They even have an option specifically for students, which finds special discounts. Four things are crucial when booking air travel. One: Two one-way tickets often cost a different amount than a round-trip ticket. Two: Deleting your browsing history can help you keep costs a little lower if you check fares on multiple days. Three: Being flexible about which airport you fly in and out of can have an enormous impact on cost. And four: Certain airlines (like Southwest) are not represented by third-party sites, but have different financial incentives for different types of travelers, such as free carry-ons.

Discount tickets

Museums to explore

Spring break is the perfect time to utilize opportunities not readily available on campus. While Galesburg isn’t exactly known for its wildlife, Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium allows visitors to step into the vibrant world of aquatic life. Open daily with extended spring break hours, the Shedd offers $5 student tickets to three major exhibits: the Caribbean Reef, Waters of the World and Amazon Rising. Although lounging on the beach may not be in your travel plans this year, a trip to the Shedd is an affordable alternative to get your tropical fix.

If you’re looking to find some creative inspiration before heading back to campus, try wandering the galleries of Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art. Only a short walk from the shopping of Michigan Avenue, the MCA has a $7 admission charge for students and is free on Tuesdays for Illinois residents. Free with admission, on Mar. 15 from 6-7 p.m. you can attend MCA Talk: Organize Your Own, a presentation surrounding the organization of artists in various ethnic and cultural networks. If you’re in need of a good dose of cultural stimuli, a trip to the MCA is a great way to fuel your creative drive.

Affordable trips to the theatre

Although theatre productions are routinely performed on the stages of Studio Theatre and Harbach, scheduling time out of the busy ten week term to see a show in Chicago is not always easy. However, spring break is the perfect time to hop on the train and take advantage of one of the many student discounts available through local theatres. For example, the Steppenwolf in Lincoln Park sells discounted tickets for $15 with a valid student ID. At this price, students can purchase tickets to “Domesticated,” “The Flick” and “Journey.”

If $15 for world-class theatre didn’t already have you calling the box office, the Goodman Theatre often has $10 tickets available for students both in advance and the day of. While some of these tickets are only available at the Goodman’s box office, tickets to Owen Theatre productions can be purchased online using the discount code $10TIX. Even if you can only make it to the city for a day or two, these discounts are a great resource to take advantage of.

Where to eat

Johnnie’s Beef

7500 West North Avenue

Elmwood Park

Johnnie’s Beef does the Chicago original – the Italian Beef sandwich. The small sandwich and hot dog shack is cash only, and draws huge crowds, even during the week. They also have house-made Italian ice, perfect for a warm spring afternoon. This place gets rave reviews online, and from Chicago-native Knox students.


702 W. Fulton Market

Near West Side, West Loop

This restaurant has a diverse selection of offerings, with foods from Spain, South America and the Caribbean. Though this restaurant is a little pricey, the TripAdvisor reviews say it is well worth it. Carnivale has an extensive bar and a lively ambiance, making Carnivale perfect for a night out with friends.

The Chicago Diner

Logan Square & Halstead locations

This meat-free diner has been serving both vegetarian and vegan creations since 1983. One of their most popular items is the vegan milkshakes, which come in a variety of flavors. They are also famous for their “Radical Reuben” sandwich, crafted with seitan, veggies, vegan thousand-island dressing and cheese.

Yuzu Sushi & Robata Grill

1715 W Chicago Ave

In the center of the Ukrainian Village neighborhood, Yuzu Sushi serves a variety of Japanese favorites with a modern twist, from Chicken Teriyaki to Udon soup, and sushi rolls with names like “Boy Meets World” and “#thuglife2.” This restaurant is also BYOB, so you can bring your own adult beverage (if you’re over 21, of course) and experience some really incredible sushi.


Tags:  chicago discounts food museums restaurants spring break theatre

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