Chicago to Minneapolis, available hostels
January 14, 2012 7:46 PM   Subscribe

Traveling from Chicago to Minneapolis to be with a loved one, staying for a week-- cheaply?

My uncle was recently diagnosed with cancer, and he will be treated in the University of Minnesota hospital facilities in the near future. He has had some chemo, but as it didn't eliminate all of the cancer, he most likely will require surgery. It is looking like he will be hospitalized at UMinn for a week, from January 30th to February 4th.

My mom and aunt are driving him from northern Minnesota to UMinn on the 30th. My mom will be staying with him for the week by herself. I currently go to school in Chicago and I'd like to travel there and be with her and my uncle for as much of the week as possible. I'll be taking the Megabus to Minneapolis. I really have three questions:

1) What is the best option for getting from the Megabus stop to UMinn hospital? I've taken the Megabus to the Minneapolis stop before but was picked up by car. Will there be a safe/simple way to take public transportation?

2) My mom doesn't have a lot of available income and we don't know anyone in the Cities, so where we will stay is an issue. My mom's plan was to be at the hospital as much as possible and drive back and forth home (a 3.5 hour drive) because she can't afford a hotel. This would be difficult, but is (from her perspective) out of necessity. Is there some kind of cheap (but clean) hostel or other facility that would make traveling to and from the hospital much more convenient? My mom doesn't know much about hostels and is unfamiliar with cities, so I am doing as much research as possible to find an affordable place we could stay.

3) Basically any logistical info would be really helpful-- for instance, how we might manage public transportation back and forth from an available hostel to the hospital. I'm used to taking the bus/train in the Chicago area but I've never traveled Minneapolis without a car.

Any help will be very appreciated. I'll try to book housing as early as possible, but due to changing plans I might have to wait until closer to the date. Even staying for a few nights would be more beneficial than driving back and forth.

Thanks, everyone.
posted by stoneandstar to Travel & Transportation around Minneapolis, MN (12 answers total)
I don't know where the Megabus stop is, but if it's in downtown Mpls, it should be easy to get a city bus from there to the U of M campus. They are adjacent, really.

I found a couple of lodging resources for families of U of M patients: here and here.
posted by lakeroon at 8:31 PM on January 14, 2012

Second link didn't come through, sorry.

The Metro Transit website has a trip planner so you can see what it would take to get from where you're thinking of staying to the hospital.
posted by lakeroon at 8:34 PM on January 14, 2012

The Megabus stop in Minneapolis is at Washington and Chicago or thereabouts, not precisely downtown but easy enough to get to a bus that will get you to UofM.

I don't know the exact address of the hospital you're heading for, but you can go here and plug it in, and just put "megabus" in the "from" field (I tried it with my own address and it works!).
posted by padraigin at 8:45 PM on January 14, 2012

Sorry, "here" means here.
posted by padraigin at 8:45 PM on January 14, 2012

I find Google Maps to be a bit better than Metro Transit for planning public transit trips.

For housing, you might find something good and affordable on CouchSurfing or AirBNB, if you don't mind being a guest in someone's apartment.
posted by SemiSophos at 8:59 PM on January 14, 2012

2nding CouchSurfing. My parents laughed at me when I first told them about it - now they won't travel any other way, they love CouchSurfing so much. If your mom has an adventurous spirit at all and likes making new friends, CS all the way. It's not only cheap, it's free! (Plus, you can often find a real bed to sleep in, not just a couch)
posted by treehorn+bunny at 9:51 PM on January 14, 2012

From the Megabus, walk one block south (towards the light rail and Metrodome--everyone not being met will go this way), cross the street and catch the 3, 16 or 50 (all towards St Paul). There are actually two hospitals, one on each side of the river, so you will need to check where to go, but you either get off the bus at Anderson Hall (west bank) or Jones Hall (first stop after the river). In either case, you'll have to walk across campus to get there.

This seems to be the sole hostel in Minneapolis and it gets pretty mediocre reviews. Decent bus access to campus, though, either on the 2 or via downtown (17 or 18, then change to the 3, 16 or 50). How much will your mom end up spending on gas driving back and forth, plus parking? (I don't drive, so I have little idea, but it seems you might hit Travelodge type prices pretty easily. I think HostelWorld shows a Travelodge in Burnsville, but that's quite a way from the hospital and parking at the hospital isn't free.) Otherwise, CouchSurfing might be your best bet. I was tempted to say you could crash at on my sofa/floor, but that'll be one of my worst weeks of grad school ever, so not such a good idea.
posted by hoyland at 10:26 PM on January 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Have you given a shot? We used them for a trip to Chicago and NC and were delighted both times. Saved us a bundle, too.

(Good luck to your family and your uncle. Hope it all turns out well.)
posted by youandiandaflame at 5:50 AM on January 15, 2012

First, sorry to hear of your Dad's illness! Logistical baloney doesn't help with the stress of that.
Some recommendations for lodging.

1. AirBNB for minneapolis stays are cheap.
2. (and it is near the U)
3. There are plenty of us here in Mpls who are of the hosting type, especially when it comes to illness. Not all of us are on couchsurfing.
4. Megabus to the U is easy.
5. Compared to Chicago, Mpls transit is much worse on the whole, but the U is one of the areas that is well-served from almost everywhere!
posted by gregglind at 9:26 AM on January 15, 2012

The Marcy-Holmes neighborhood is across campus from the U of M hospitals, and maintains a list of places to stay, most of which are within walking distance of the U of M. I particularly recommend Wales House if they have a room available. The owner is a friend.

I live about a mile north of campus and have lived in the area for almost 30 years. Feel free to MeMail me if you have questions about specific places, bus routes, whatever. As hoyland said, the 3, 16 and 50 are the buses to get you from the Megabus stop to the U of M area.
posted by DaveP at 12:09 PM on January 15, 2012

Joe's House has a listing of places that offer affordable lodging for families who are visiting for cancer treatment, and their list actually shows the discounts and distance to the specific hospital (Fairview-University of Minnesota Medical Center).

MN Cancer Resources has a big list of hotels that offer discounted rates to patients who are in town undergoing cancer treatment and their families. The list is for all of MN, but I see several on there that are in Minneapolis. You'd have to call the hotels and find out what kind of rate discount they could offer.

Do find out which section of the hospital he'll be at, before you make any plans for bus routes or "this hotel is within walking distance!" The U of M hospital has buildings spread over (at least) 2 campuses that are close driving-wise, but fairly far apart for walking.
posted by vytae at 12:11 PM on January 15, 2012

I was going to suggest that you call the hospital and ask to talk to someone (a social worker, perhaps) about this. You can't be the first: SO MANY people come a long ways to get there for treatment, and shopping around for lodging isn't at the top of anyone's list at a time like that.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:19 PM on January 18, 2012

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