Illinois — Visas and Vaccinations
Travelers flying directly into Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport from abroad need to have their US travel visas in line before they arrive. Citizens of most nations are required to have a pre-approved travel visa to enter the US, even for a brief holiday. Check with your local American embassy or go online and browse the visa information on the US government’s immigration website: http://travel.state.gov/visa/.
Health and Safety
All visitors to Illinois and the US in general, are advised to have updated hepatitis A and B vaccinations. Hepatitis is the most common disease spread around the state, mainly through restaurants. Illinois gets extremely cold in the dead of winter, especially in and around Chicago. Cold snaps can see drops in temperature to well below freezing for days at a time so be sure and bring plenty of warm clothing, especially a wind and waterproof jacket for a winter visit.
The state of Illinois is generally considered to be very safe in terms of criminal activity, but Chicago has earned a reputation as a violent city. Fortunately, violent crime is rarely, if ever, directed at tourists. It is mainly gang and drug-related, but theft and muggings are a possibility for tourists after dark in neighborhoods such as Pilsen and Hyde Park where gang activity is common. Check with your hotel for advice on where to avoid.
At night, the well-lit areas around the Magnificent Mile, Lincoln Park, the Gold Coast, and River North are reliably safe and well-patrolled by police. The public transport train, the El, is also safe to use at night even though some stations may feel a bit desolate. Always use common sense and keep your wallet and pocketbooks out of eyesight.