I honestly don’t know how some people make it in this city. Between the weather extremes to the dive-bombing pigeons to the constant ENERGY that seems to be pumping through everyone’s veins (or maybe that’s just Starbucks)…I feel dizzy in the rush most days. But I do have to say I’ve learned a few tricks since moving to Chicago. So here we go:

ALICIA’S SURVIVAL GUIDE TO CHICAGO

  1. Get a good pair of walking shoes: I have proudly been the queen of the high heel, but when I average five miles of walking a day, heels just aren’t going to cut it. So you have two options. Option #1 involves leaving room in your purse for the cute shoes while you wear the practical shoes to the office and anywhere you go outside of the office during the day. Option #2 involves finding the right balance of cute and comfort in shoes you can wear throughout the day. I vacillate between both, but if you like my second idea, I can highly recommend two brands: Chaco’s for the summer, Bob’s for the fall. Both can be pricey, but that’s why DSW exists, right? And when it comes to winter in Chicago? Boots and good socks – you’ll need both. I promise, you’ll thank me later.
  2. The built-in microphone: If you’re not up for spending $60 or more on some sort of Bluetooth device to pair with your phone, why not spend $20 on a good pair of headphones with a microphone built in? This has allowed me to make important phone calls to and from work on the train, or even catch up with an old friend during my hour-long commute home every day. I really enjoy the Skullcandy brand, but you can find a good variety for this kind of product in any well-stocked electronics section.
  3. Take the Dora plunge: I know I talked up book-sized bags in another post, but I want to emphasize that an actual backpack can hold so much more than your latest read. On a daily basis, my big kid backpack carries a raincoat, lunchbox, external battery for my phone, cute impractical shoes for the office, my journal, sunglasses…and that’s just the beginning of the list. I’ve had really good results with the Timbuk2 brand, but if you don’t like that look, just make sure you read the customer reviews. Ideally, you want something that’s high in water resistance and comfortable for carrying long distances.
  4. Invest in a Fitbit: I want to tell you why I really value my Fitbit Alta. Since moving to Chicago, my energy levels are more often empty than full. The incentive of my Fitbit throwing me a little party on my wrist once I hit my step count keeps me going some days. It encourages me to leave my desk during lunch and wander, or even to take regular stretch breaks to fill up my water bottle and say hi to a coworker. My Fitbit allows me to keep track of my friends’ steps throughout the week, and there’s always a small competition to see who ends up on the leaderboard at the end of the day. You don’t have to agree with me, but I love my lil Fitbit. Also, I am not a watch wearer (too bulky), so I love the Alta’s small size.
  5. Ventra is your new BFF: Sorry Courtney, but you’ve been replaced. For $100 a month, your Ventra pass will allow you unlimited access to all the buses, trains, and subways throughout Chicago. So when your feet get tired from being on the move (and you don’t want to lose that perfect parking spot right by your apartment), let the drivers of public transportation deal with the stress of Chicago traffic. That way, you can just enjoy the ride, AND you won’t have to pay for downtown parking.

As much as I feel a little overwhelmed every day, I honestly can’t wait to show off my new city to family and friends when they come to visit. Here’s hoping you can make it to Chicago yourself sometime soon!

 

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