Is it Safe to Travel to Chicago?

Thinking of visiting Chicago? You’d be one of 57 million people who flock to the city each year. It’s a melting pot known for its iconic skyline, diverse locals, delicious food scene, and buzzworthy attractions. But is it safe? It can be if you take the right precautions. In this article, we’ll explore how to enjoy Chicago safely.  

Chicago Safe Travel Practices 

We’re all about safety here at AXA. Here are some insider tips to minimize your risk of danger while exploring the Windy City.  

Pay Close Attention to Your Surroundings  

When you’re in Chicago, you’re sure to be taken by the architecture, attractions, and people. In the moment, you might not think about the things that could go wrong. But paying close attention to your surroundings is always a good idea. Trouble doesn’t pass over you just because you’re on vacation. 

Keep your eyes open, and never shrug off your intuition. It very well could be right. If you see something that seems off, get to safety and contact someone who can help.   

Join STEP 

For an extra layer of protection, look into STEP, which stands for Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. It’s a free service provided by the U.S. Department of State to protect Americans traveling abroad. It allows you to sign up with your local consulate or embassy. You’ll receive local safety alerts to keep you on guard. When an emergency occurs, STEP will assist the embassy or consulate in contacting you and help your family and friends contact you. Sign up here

Don’t Draw Attention to Yourself 

Like any other big city, thieves and other criminals are on the hunt for victims. So, it’s crucial not to draw attention to yourself. Don’t show off your flashiest gold jewelry, especially on the South side. That’s like begging to be robbed. Riding around blasting loud music in any part of Chicago is also risky. Keep it chill, and people will usually leave you alone. 

Share Your Location and Plans 

Another great way to ensure your safety in Chicago is to share your location and plans. Send your itinerary to your loved ones and friends and keep them updated. You can do this via phone, text, or video call. Just be careful not to share too much information or disclose your location to the wrong person. Your friends and family will be better able to help you if they know your whereabouts. 

Get Informed 

Before you set out on your Chicago adventure, we urge you to get up to date on what’s happening there. Downtown riots and shootings are more common than you might think, and you don’t want to get in on that kind of action. Watching the news, reading news blogs, and browsing locals’ social media accounts can all be helpful.  


General Recommendations for Chicago Travel 

You don’t generally need to take special infectious disease precautions when traveling to Chicago. Go to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website for the latest infectious disease news. Measles is an ever-present global threat, and travelers regularly contract it and bring it back to their home country. You can prevent that by ensuring you are up to date on the standard vaccinations:  

  • Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine  
  • Polio vaccine 
  • Varicella (chickenpox) vaccine  
  • Diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine 
  • Seasonal flu shot 

COVID-19 - Specific Guidance  

COVID-19 is in an endemic status in Chicago, and infection rates are very low. Though this is the case, you can still take precautions to limit your infection risk. They include:  

  • Getting updated on your vaccinations.  
  • Wearing a mask in public.  
  • Staying at least six feet away from others.  
  • Take a COVID-19 test if you feel sick.  

Dangers, Threats, and Alerts 

Chicago is sometimes called Chiraq, a slang term alluding to war zones in Iraq. Interestingly enough, the city isn’t the warzone depicted on social media or the news. Most of the gun violence, theft, and other danger is concentrated on the South and West sides of the city.  

Even though this is the case, you could still experience safety issues in the more touristy areas. To ensure a safe trip, it pays to be on the lookout for local dangers and threats, some of which we’ll outline below.  

Beware of Pick Pocketers and Scammers 

Pickpocketers are a given in big cities like Chicago. To discourage them from selecting you as a target, always keep your belongings close to you and out of sight. It also helps to dress modestly, use pickpocket-proof bags, and keep your eyes peeled for anyone who looks suspicious.  

Ridesharing Safety Tips 

Ridesharing with Uber or Lyft is one of the most popular ways to get around Chicago. But before getting in the car, always check your ridesharing app for the make and model of the car, the license plate number, and the driver. Also, share your location with a loved one so they’ll know when you’ve safely reached your destination.  

Natural Disasters 

Chicago is no stranger to flooding, strong winds, severe thunderstorms, and snowstorms. Always check the local weather before and during your trip to be prepared. Just remember that natural disasters can and do strike at any time. So, always be on guard and read up on safety guidelines for natural disasters in Chicago.  

Places Not to Go in Chicago 

Chicago neighborhoods run the gamut from squeaky clean to crime-infested. It’s crucial to avoid certain areas to lower your danger risk.  

Some of the highest crime neighborhoods in Chicago are Englewood, Austin, South Chicago, West Garfield Park, Chatham, North Lawndale, and Washington Park. It’s best if you avoid these areas during your trip.  

There are many safe areas in Chicago, including:  

  • Lincoln Park 
  • Edison Park  
  • Forest Glen 
  • Lakeview 
  • Norwood Park 
  • West Lawn 
  • Westmont 

Political Demonstrations 

At any time, there could be several political demonstrations going on. If you see people marching, picketing, or rioting, go the other way and don’t go back. Even peaceful protests can very quickly turn into violent disasters.  

Now, you don’t have to ask yourself, “Is Chicago safe to visit?” Chicago, as a whole, is not inherently unsafe. However, there are some very real risks you’ll want to mitigate if you’re taking a trip there. We hope the Chicago safety guidelines and tips in this article are helpful to you. We wish you the best on your trip!  


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Destinations. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Latest data: COVID19. Latest Data | COVID19. (n.d.).  

U.S. Department of State. (n.d.). U.S. Department of State.

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