Please note that I wanted to write this article as soon as I came back from RSNA, but due to my wrist fracture, it took longer. I tried my best to get the right information to the first-time visitors to RSNA, and how to make a low-budget planning for upcoming RSNA, however, if you notice any information that is not correct or needs improvement, please leave a comment at the end of the article.
The next RSNA annual meeting is few months away and this is the time to plan it well if you really want to make it an economical trip this year. Radiological Society of North America or what’s more famous as RSNA meeting takes place every year at McCormick Place in Chicago, headquarter of Oprah Show and the city of President Obama. The RSNA meeting takes place in freezing weather during the last week of November every year, that means carrying a plenty of warm cloths.
I like budget travel (like most of us do) and before I attended my first ever RSNA meeting last year (2010), I tried to make it as comfortable and as cost-effective as possible. However, I was in for a surprise as I planned it quite late. As a first time visitor, I had the opportunity to explore RSNA my own way and had a close look at how it can be better managed next year before it’s too late. Here are few tips on how to attend RSNA on a low budget based on my personal experience.
Hotels for RSNA/Plan it well ahead of time: Usually hotels in downtown are booked for RSNA visitors, months before the actual meeting. If you are certain about your travel to RSNA, it’s better that you act as soon as you are sure of it. You can enjoy early bird deals and can get good discount on pre-booking. Don’t forget to reserve your flight as early as possible as well to get a better deal and to avoid disappointment due to unavailability of seats at eleventh hour booking.
Understand Chicago: If you are not familiar with Chicago, then it’s better to understand the routes, the trains, subways, buses etc before you travel. It’s not only that I am against a cab because its expensive, but also it gets too slow and stuck in the rush that you would prefer to use underground most of the time. You can get a detailed map from RTA (Regional Transportation Authority), available on any underground station. The map is called “Visitor Transit Map”. You can even Google it or can get information by calling -836-7000 from any local area code from anywhere in downtown Chicago or the six-country region. If you don’t understand Chicago well, you can end up breaking a bone (like I fractured my wrist).
Transportation: There is normal transportation and there is special and seasonal routes that Chicago offers during the RSNA to help move those extra 60,000 people every day. What I believe is that things look deceiving on maps (at least to me). So for example I thought the whole LOOP thing where most of the trains cross each other was a really big square, but in reality, you can walk around it easily and manage your way to any direction you want to move. So actually if you don’t get good bargain in downtown, there are still good options for you. Go for any of those so many hotels near the airport. At this time of the year, most of the hotels near the airport have vacancies and they are selling cheap. Also, most of the hotels provide airport to-and-from pick round the clock. You need to have that, because you will need to ride CTA from the airport that takes you to the downtown or LOOP, from where you get Metra to the RSNA. The whole trip costs under 5$ and takes approximately an hour to reach from your hotel to the RSNA, which is excellent giving the fact that you are paying only under 100$ per night. Get yourself familiarized with CTA & METRA. There are many color lines in CTA.
What if you are already late? I still have lot of good news for lategoers (as opposed to latecomers). Here is a plan-B to attend RSNA on a low-budget if you are already late.
While you are there, on the first day of RSNA, try to leave your hotel around 7 am, go to the airport and take CTA Blue. Get off at Millennium Park station downtown and ask for Metra station, it’s just around the corner, you even can make it from inside Macy’s if it’s raining or too cold. It is very close to Borders.
and South wings, coffee shops, sitting areas, receptions etc. Here is what you need to do on the first day if you are new to the RSNA:
RSNA has two sides for information/technology exposure. One is the vendor side and the other is scientific side. There are different halls for vendors to showcase their products and for scientific presentations. You can find RSNA introduction brochure at the help desk to find out each company’s exact location alphabetically. It’s called Technical Exhibition Guide that includes exhibitor list and floor maps.
Some precautions and Misc. tips during your stay at RSNA:
Go to RSNA an hour earlier on the first day to avoid long lines and to find your way to different halls easily and get introductory information.
I hope you enjoyed this article, and I wish all of you a pleasant trip for the upcoming RSNA 2011. Please don’t hesitate to contact me back for any suggestions or feedback at: firstname.lastname@example.org