Monthly Archives: August, 2016

ParqEx: Labor Day Weekend Getaways from Chicago

Labor Day Weekend Getaways from Chicago

August 25th, 2016 Posted by Car, Chicago Travel Tips, Parking, ParqEx No Comment yet

Summer’s almost over, so it’s time to start thinking about planning one last getaway over Labor Day weekend. Whether you are looking for scenic destination close to Chicago, or one last dip in the ocean, we’ve got your Labor Day weekend getaway planning covered — from the food to the hotels to the airport parking.

ParqEx: Labor Day Weekend Getaways from Chicago

Close to Chicago

Starved Rock State Park

About 100 southwest of Chicago

At Starved Rock State Park flat Illinois is cleaved into canyons, cliffs and waterfalls.

To Do: Take a guided or independent hike into the 18 scenic canyons and relax at one of the 14 waterfalls. Keep a look out for the local wildlife including eagles, badgers, coyotes and many other species. If you are looking for other hiking options, check out the 5 miles of canyon trails at nearby Matthiessen State Park.

Stay: The Starved Rock Lodge was completed in the 1930s as a Civilian Conservation Core project. The CCC employed young men during the height of the Great Depression and put them to work on projects in parks across the country. The lodge maintains a rustic charm and lets you go from your room to the trail in a matter of seconds.

Eat: The Lodge has a legendary restaurant, so plan to have at least one meal there. For a breakfast or lunch, check out Nonie’s Bakery and Cafe. They bake their own bread, so you must try their famous french toast! If you are looking for a dinner with a little more kick, head to Cajun Connection for the best Louisiana cooking north of the Mason-Dixon.

Getaways Outside Illinois

Boston, MA and the New England Coast

Fly: Southwest has direct, round-trip flights (Depart Friday, September 2nd and Return Monday, September 5th) from Midway starting at $280.

Park: Skip the long-term parking at the airport and check out the Chicago parking start up ParqEx. ParqEx lets you easily find and plan parking where and when you need it at affordable rates. Download the app here to get started.

If you Stay in Boston

To Do: Maximize your time in Boston by walking the Freedom Trail. The Trail hits all the major points of interest including the Boston Common, the Old State House, the Old North Church, Bunker Hill and the USS Constitution. Boston is famous for being the birthplace of the craft beer movement and still has a vibrant beer scene. Check out where it all started by taking a free tour of the Sam Adams Brewery. The tour includes free samples of a number of their seasonal and specialty variety beers.

Stay: The Inn at St. Botolph is located in Boston’s historic South End and is just steps away from the Prudential Center T station. The Inn is an old brownstone mansion that’s been converted into a hip boutique hotel. Rooms start at $269 per night.

Eat: Island Creek Oyster Bar serves the freshest seafood in Boston. They have their own oyster bed in nearby Duxbury and offer a full selection of raw bar and dinner items. For breakfast, lunch, desert, or an anytime sweet, check out one of the three locations of Flour Bakery and Cafe.

If you Want to Hit the Coast

To Do: Head north of Boston to the beautiful, historic towns of the North Shore. Crane Beach in Ipswich, Massachusetts is a gorgeous, sandy stretch of shoreline on the historic Crane Estate. After you’ve gotten your fill of the waves, hike up to the breathtaking estate grounds. Weather not cooperating for a beach day? The picturesque nearby town of Essex is famous for its carefully curated antique shops.

Stay: The Ipswich Inn Bed and Breakfast offers elegant rooms and a tasty breakfast in a gorgeously restored 150-year old house in historic Ipswich, MA. Rooms start at $135 per night.

Eat: A visit to the Essex area isn’t complete without stopping by Woodman’s of Essex for their fried local oysters and fresh boiled lobster. Had your fill of seafood? Bunz Burgers are famous for not only their juicy burgers but stringer fries with a plethora of toppings.

Heading out somewhere else this Labor Day weekend? Need long-term parking while you are gone? Contact us about finding parking that fits your needs.

ParqEx: 5 Simple Ways to Monetize Your Home and Property

Five Simple Ways to Monetize Your Home And Property

August 18th, 2016 Posted by Chicago Travel Tips, Parking, ParqEx, sharing economy No Comment yet

The sharing economy has introduced the possibility that anything you own can be shared and monetized, including your home. Hospitality apps like Airbnb, coachsurfing.com and other home-sharing apps are commonplace. But, for those who are not quite ready to open up their home to strangers, there are ways to monetize your space without sacrificing your privacy or compromising your investments.

ParqEx: 5 Simple Ways to Monetize Your Home and Property

Holding Company

Many homeowners have extra space, whether it’s a spot in a basement, an attic or spare rooms. Conversely, many apartment dwellers have limited space. Honestly, what’s an apartment dweller to do with their snow tires during summer months? They can use apps like StowThat or Spacefinity to find someone who is willing to rent out extra space.

These apps connect those with space, to those without. You can rent out a section of your basement without having to move out, or share the bathroom, while at the same time helping an apartment dweller who had previously considered creating a decorative table out of Michelin tires. That’s a pretty simple solution to two problems.

Drive-In

If your home is located in an urban, or well-trafficked area, you can monetize your parking space by listing it on ParqEx. Take a picture of your spot, list it on the app and pretty soon someone in need of a place to leave their vehicle will fill your empty spot. You choose how much you want to charge and at what times the spot is available. It’s as easy as that.

Stealing Sunshine

Line your roof or property with sun panels and ease the financial burden of power bills, while potentially earning some extra cash. Although this method of monetizing your home isn’t entirely simple, it is a good investment in a long-term money-making solution that is also helpful to the environment. Companies like Understand Solar take care of setting up and maintaining a solar panel system on your roof or property. It’s not entirely simple, in that you will have to check with your municipality to determine if they will buy your surplus energy, but practically every state as well as the District of Columbia has a solar energy buy back program.

Sit in the sun, or power your AC, and get a return on an environmentally sound investment.

Urban Gardens

While we are on the topic of environmental awareness, there has been a bit of backlash regarding the American love of lawns. The concern is that our desire for verdant green pasture may not be the best use of space and resources. For those interested in saving time on lawn care, watering and fertilizer, going lawnless with xeriscaping is an option. Or, you could monetize your property by donating your lawn to a local urban farmer. You might not earn cash, but you will earn food. If you want to create your own edible front yard, you can sell or swap your produce with neighbors.

Minimalism

If you’ve recently adopted the Japanese philosophy of minimalist living but have no idea where to dispose of the objects that no longer bring you joy, you can sell items on eBay, or sell specific items on object-specific sites. Bookscouter is an app that helps you sell your used textbooks (and other joyless prose) directly to people who want it. Freeing up all that space will not only make you happy, but you can potentially turn that space into a profit-earning square foot.

Overall, homeowners have a variety of practical, and whimsical, options when it comes to monetizing their investment. Apps and technology have made the process of sharing your resources with others simple and easy. You don’t have to try every option, but it’s good to know what is available.

For more information on monetizing your home, or the property around it, please contact us.

ParqEx: A Week in the Sharing Economy

A Week in the Sharing Economy

August 11th, 2016 Posted by Parking, ParqEx, sharing economy No Comment yet

Cloud and mobile computing technology are creating something new called: “the sharing economy.” Innovative companies are acting as brokers between everyday people, in order to facilitate platforms where they can do business and help each other out. These cloud platforms give regular people the opportunity to make money, while also offering solutions for peoples’ everyday needs. In order to illustrate this further, let’s take a fictional look at a week in the sharing economy.

ParqEx: A Week in the Sharing Economy

Florida Couple Wants to Attend a Music Festival in Chicago’s Grant Park

The 3 day Chicago Blues Festival is being held in Chicago’s Grant Park, and Jim and Fran are excited to go to the largest free blues festival in the world. They plan on staying close by the downtown area for a week-long stay, and decide to fly there and back. They begin to formulate a strategy to carry out their week-long venture using the sharing economy.

Airbnb

The first issue they solve using the sharing economy is finding an affordable place to stay near the Chicago Loop; within a couple of miles from the festival. Airbnb gives them better options than the hotels in the area, which are so expensive and full at that time of the year, and they like the idea of staying in a place with Chicago personality.

Jim and Fran began to plan this venture months in advance, so finding the perfect place to stay within two miles of the festival was easy and fun through Airbnb. The place they found even had an indoor hot tub, a water-bed, and an espresso machine.

DogVacay

Another issue they had was finding someone to take care of their dog Ralph. Their usual dog sitters would be on vacation a the same time, so DogVacay helped them find a local dog sitter in their Florida community. This sharing economy solution gave Jim and Fran the ability to choose the right person to take care of Ralph and his special needs for a week.

Getaround

Jim and Fran were starting to like the idea of tapping into this sharing economy, so when they were thinking of transportation solutions, they found Getaround. They used Getaround to find a car to rent from a Chicago resident. This was more affordable and gave them more options than a traditional car rental. They only wanted to rent a car for a few days, in order to visit some attractions further out from downtown after the festival.

Uber

They were starting to get the hang of this sharing economy, so instead of using a taxi from the airport, they thought of trying Uber. This popular ride sharing service is how the couple would get from the airport to their Airbnb condo rental, how they’d get to their Getaround car rental, and how they’d get back to the airport.

Spinlister

The week-long vacation was beginning to take shape, as all the couple’s preparations began to find sharing economy solutions. There was only a couple more things they needed to consider. One was: how would they get to the downtown area and around their Airbnb neighborhood, which was 2 miles away from the Chicago Loop? The other issue was: where would they park their rented vehicle when they visited the attractions after the festival (a Chicago Cubs game was one attraction)?

They figured it would be best to get around their Airbnb neighborhood and to the festival with bicycles. This led them to Spinlister, which is a sharing economy service where people can rent bicycles. Jim and Fran found a Chicago resident within a mile from their Airbnb rental, who was renting two bicycles that would be perfect!

ParqEx

Jim and Fran started to feel like excellent planners, and this sharing economy seemed to solve every issue they came up with. The next issue was to find parking for their Getaround rental car when they visited the attractions after the festival. They didn’t know Chicago well and had heard of the scarcity of parking there.

They were excited to find a sharing economy solution for parking called ParqEx, where they could simply rent a private parking space in the area they needed for as long as they needed. They quickly rented a few spaces in advance in the exact areas they would visit in a few months.

Like the other sharing economy solutions, everything was facilitated through the cloud and mobile computing apps. This was a big relief for the couple, knowing they had an easily accessible and safe place to park in advance.

Summary

Jim and Fran felt like they’d already been on a fun adventure just planning their vacation, which was accomplished completely through the sharing economy. They weren’t particularly computer savvy people, but using the cloud and mobile computing apps was simple, and even easier than traditional services. Some of the solutions simply wouldn’t have been available through traditional methods, and overall their cost savings was significant.

The couple was looking forward to the Chicago Blues Festival, but also being able to really feel what it’s like to be a resident of Chicago for a week. Staying in a resident’s condo, driving a Chicago resident’s car, riding a resident’s bicycles, and parking in a resident’s parking space – all were bound to create an authentic feel of what it’s like to actually live in Chicago. Oh, and they wouldn’t have to worry about Ralph at home either!

This fictional story illustrates how amazing the sharing economy is becoming, offering solutions for nearly anything people can think of. Broker services are providing the platform for regular people to help other people, and all three parties benefit in the end. Not only are sharing economy apps useful and convenient, but also fun and interesting.

ParqEx is a technology company that connects owners of private parking spots to people looking for parking in urban areas. The ParqEx cloud and mobile computing app is available for people to find parking solutions in 7 different metropolitan cities, including: Boston, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia, and Chicago (where we’re based). Please contact us today to learn more.

3 Tips for a Better Commuting Adventure Around Chicago

August 4th, 2016 Posted by Chicago Travel Tips, Parking, ParqEx No Comment yet

With around 10 million residents in the Chicago Metro area and 50.2 million international and domestic visitors in a given year (2014), according to Wikipedia, commuting around the Windy City is a daily adventure. Hopefully, with the right strategy, tools, and plan, commuters will get to their destination in one piece and not be late. In an effort to facilitate this small miracle, here are 3 tips for a better commuting adventrure around Chicago.

better commuting USE

1. Know Your Options

Let’s start with the basics and explain the commuting options available. Here’s a list of the most common commuting methods:

    • CTA Rail/Bus (a.k.a the “EL” or “L”)
    • Metra Rail
    • Biking
    • Driving
    • Carpooling
    • Walking
    • Taxi (Car and Boat)

These are the common commuting methods (except taxi boat) people use in Chicago. Looking at the very helpful Chicago Commute Mode Map on the website transitized.com, we can see which commuting options are used the most according to the areas within Chicago.

Basically, commuting by driving solo dominates the suburbs — outside of the “Chicago Loop” (downtown area). Notably, the Near North Side all the way up to Uptown is dominated by commuters using the Metra Rail (mostly young professionals). Much of the area around the highly concentrated “Loop” is dominated by walking commuters. Driving alone is always a popular choice, but parking problems make this a difficult and expensive option.

2. Plan Ahead and Prepare

Knowing your commuting options is the first step, now preparing for the adventure is the next. In the third largest city in the U.S., commuters generally find a method that works for them and stick with it. Yet, everyone has to start from somewhere, and circumstances can change, requiring a new plotting and planning session to occur.

The optimal commute is somewhat a subjective choice; one person may prefer biking 10 miles, rather than taking a CTA bus. Maybe one person would rather take the Metra Rail, rather than drive alone, etc. There may even be someone who would rather take the CTA bus than any other option, but this is likely from their extreme adventure lifestyle. Either way, consider: what method is preferred, what method is cheapest, and what method is fastest?

With the preferred methods in mind, start mapping out the route from start to finish. This adventure will likely be a mixture of commuting methods, so each stage needs to be considered. Where will you park your car or bike, how much will the commute cost at each stage, how much does any parking and storage needs cost?

This planning may require some phone calls and web searches for specific stops and destinations along the way, in order to get the exact information needed for a smooth commute. How long will you have to wait at the intervals, and how long is each leg of the journey? In addition to knowing the main route for the journey, an alternative route should be considered just in case of an unexpected delay or issue.

Planning and preparing in some capacity needs to be done with every new adventure, even with “regular city folk.” For those who are new to Chicago, this will make the difference between a fun adventure and being part of a “lost in Chicago reality show.”

For instance, if you have to take the CTA rail or bus, make sure you have exact change, or do like regulars do and get a pass at Walgreens. Even those who are used to Chicago need to plan and prepare their commutes, when their work changes and/or they’re trying to commute somewhere different.

3. Driving Alone with Parking Options

Now that we’ve explained the options and process of successfully commuting in Chicago, let’s talk about something most people won’t admit. The preferred method of commuting for almost everyone is driving solo. This method gives people the most freedom, flexibility, comfort, and security out of all the other options. The only problem with this option is being able to find and afford parking at the final destination.

Some people have snazzy employers who provide parking, but what about the times when they’re not working? For everyone else, finding parking is difficult and then cost about around $15/day; and night parking for everyone can be unsafe and confusing. So what’s the solution?

The good news is the “driving solo commuting option” is now more possible and affordable than ever with ParqEx. This is because ParqEx helps people in Chicago (and 6 other major cities in the U.S.) find secure and affordable parking anywhere they need it!

For real, just download the ParqEx App on your smart phone, look up the neighborhood you need parking in, reserve the private parking spot you choose for the times needed, and then park there at the end of your commuting adventure. The only difference now is the adventure will be a lot smoother and less of a headache. Want to know more? Contact us today and we’ll be glad to help.

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