Safety Considerations When Traveling to Chicago in 2021

You may be wondering if it’s safe to visit Chicago right now, how’s the new normal life in Chicago or what are the travel requirements.

Chicago Travel Orders

In response to COVID-19 transmission across the United States, and to support Chicago’s efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19, the city has issued a travel order applicable to anyone coming into the city of Chicago from designated states.

Those who are traveling from states on the orange list are directed to obtain a negative COVID-19 test result no more than 72 hours prior to arrival in Chicago, or quarantine for a 10-day period for the duration of their time in Chicago, whichever is shorter.

This order applies to returning Chicago residents and out-of-state visitors arriving in Chicago. It is also recommended you bring a copy of your COVID-19 vaccination record while traveling. The official website is where you can find more updates.

Is It Really Safe To Visit Chicago Right Now?

Since Chicago has received attention in the media thanks to the spike in violent crime in 2016, many have regarded it as one of the most dangerous cities in America. However, Chicago is a city of two halves. One is the vibrant metro, with its museums, parks, and amazing dining scene, and the other has more poverty and is affected by crimes and gangs. As a tourist visiting Chicago you won’t be going to the neighborhoods with the higher crime rates.

Chicago Weather

The weather is also on the list of concerns. Chicago gets freezing cold from December to March, and it can snow. This can be fun for those who enjoy sledding and other winter activities, but it can affect travel. Driving in the snow is tricky at times and possibly dangerous if you don’t have the experience, so know when to visit and plan accordingly.

Safety Protocols When Traveling or Visiting Chicago

Chicago hotels follow health and safety protocols to keep guests and staff safe. As of October 1st, 2020, Chicago is in the process of reopening businesses in a staggered approach. Face masks are still required in hotels and public spaces, and you’ll need to stand at least six feet/one meter apart. Daily housekeeping, increased sanitation, and cleaning guidelines have been implemented.

Chicago has always been a clean, pristine city. I’ve traveled to other places like L.A. and New York and they don’t compare to the cleanliness we practice on a daily basis here in Chicago. It is a city that’s very well taken care of.

Restaurants and bars are open but with limited capacity, and you’ll most likely need to make reservation ahead of time, but not always, so definitely call in advance. Valet parking for many hotels is currently unavailable.

You’ll notice an increase in signage encouraging guests to wear masks, stay six-feet apart and wash and sanitize their hands. Hotels, offices, restaurants and bars are taking temperatures on a regular basis and they monitor the health of their employees. You’ll find that hand sanitizing stations have been placed in high traffic areas, especially hotels, bars and shopping precincts.

What To Pack For Your Travel To Chicago

Make sure you pack masks and wear one when you’re indoors. If you’re feeling extra cautious about dining in hotels, bring along some travel food packs so that you can make something in your room. I like the hummus and pretzels to go, you can make shakes, or grab some fruit. Bring along a reusable water bottle. I prefer a hydro flask because my kids have got me on the trend, but really any water bottle would work.

Make sure to wear clothing you can move around freely in, but will also keep you warm and comfortable when you’re outside. Chicago weather can be unpredictable, especially from March till May.

Personal Hygiene

For your own safety, bring along your own hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol, so you have it handy in case proper hand washing soap isn’t available. Whether you’re touching public transport, handrails, doorknobs, or buildings surfaces, you should have your own supply handy just in case you want to keep your hands clean.

Chicago Food Options

Since you have an idea about the new Chicago norm, let’s dig a little bit deeper and discuss the safety of our stomachs.

As you may know, Chicago is famous when it comes to deep dish pizza, which you can find on every corner but there’s so much more to Chicago’s food options than pizza. Starting from Indian food and old school steakhouses to Vietnamese and Thai cuisine, Chicago has a lot to offer that makes the big city your home for specialties.

Here are some pointers on how to eat your way around the city like a pro, and without upsetting your stomach in the process.  Restaurants may seem like an inviting option, but street food in Chicago can be amazing. Make sure to check if these places are practicing good food hygiene, like wearing gloves and hair nets. The best way to hunt down a good street food truck or cart is to use Google, and look for a large number of four-star reviews and up.

There are some well-established places to eat in Chicago, from fine dining to some bistro type restaurants that have been in business for years, and research is key if you want to hone in on the city’s specialties.

West Loop in Fulton Market area is a hot spot for local eats. Many top chefs are setting up shop in these former warehouses and they’re making the area a haven for foodies. Logan Square is another good spot to explore.

Remember, it’s so important to wash your hands before you eat. While this may seem like a basic tip, but when you’ve been exploring a city all day, jumping on and off public transit, and walking up and down stairs, your hands will get dirty, which is easily transferred to food, especially food you pick up with your bare hands.

Chicago Water Supply

Another huge question on everyone’s minds, is how is the water in Chicago?

Is it safe to drink service water from restaurants, especially for sensitive stomachs? The answer is yes. The tap water is 100% safe to drink in Chicago, and you should be drinking it if you want to save the environment from this crazy plastic water bottle epidemic.

I grew up on Lake Michigan water, and I’ve lived in numerous states and other areas in Illinois where they didn’t have great tasting water, and let me tell you I appreciate Chicago water so much I miss it when I don’t have it. It tastes fresh, it’s clean, the quality is like no other. When I drive down south to my mom’s in the city, I fill up gallons of water just to bring home. Even when you shower, the water makes your skin feel better.

The Safety of Your Money

Do you always bring cash with you when you’re traveling? Here are six tips to keep your money safe while you’re on vacation, and not just in Chicago.

  1. Use A Credit Card and Limit Your Cash
    Using cash makes it easy to keep to a specific budget, but cash is not replaceable if you drop your wallet or someone steals your money. It’s better to do cashless transactions whenever you’re traveling.
  2. Keep Your Cash in Different Spots
    If you need to have cash, keep it in various different spots, so in the event you get pickpocketed, you won’t lose all of your money.
  3. Save Your Bank Info & Contacts
    Save your account number and customer service numbers for your bank institutions for any emergencies, and always be ready for worst case scenarios. Make sure you have all copies on front and back of your cards but keep this information a safe location. Having special email that only you have access to is helpful but make sure it’s 100% secure.
  4. Use a Money Belt
    This is one of the famous ways to keep your cash and cards safe.
  5. Protect Your Devices with Passwords
    To ensure your safety, make sure to password protect all your devices. Don’t give anyone the opportunity to access your financial apps and other personal income.
  6. Buy a Travel Wallet
    This may sound cliché, but it’s better to have a wallet for travel purposes only. Leave your everyday wallet back home. My travel wallet consists of my state ID and a credit card. I leave my driver’s license and all my charge cards at home as I don’t need them when I’m on vacation. If my regular wallet got taken and all my cards were compromised, I would die! It would take me days to even contact all those companies.

Is It Really Safe to Visit Chicago, Right Now?

Definitely yes!

All you need to do is make sure to adhere to all the safety protocols and bring all the requirements you need. We have great food, high-quality water, and all the additional safety precautions in place.  

If you’re considering relocating to Chicago, we’re here to help. Make sure to give us a call, text or send us an email days, nights, and weekends.

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