Our first intern got the international license to drive. I'm not sure what it entails, but she was able to legally drive. When I asked my insurance company, they said that they would not have to add her to my insurance policy as long as she only drove a certain number of times in the time she was with us. She didn't want to drive, so it was not an issue. I had her drive me to the store once in order to try it out, and we thought it was good to have another adult around with the ability to drive if we ran into an emergency situation. The second intern did not have a license to drive here, and it did not appear that either intern really wanted to drive in America.
Most of the daily transportation was arranged. The bus picked up our intern along with the child attending the school. The bus company had not received all the correct information, so that was a small hassle, but nothing major. It was the after-school or weekend times that we needed to either provide for or help arrange transportation that sometimes got difficult. Our intern did not try to make life difficult, but the situations that arose created that feeling nonetheless: she needed to meet someone after school, she needed to get to school early to tutor, or she needed to go shopping after the kids were in bed.
Before we even got our first intern for the nine weeks, we were dealing with a major transportation issue. The kid she tutored for lived in Bay View. The parents are friends with the first host family, and were happy to pick the intern up from that house on the way to MGIS. However, even though it would have added about five minutes to the drive, they would not pick her up from our house. Therefore, either I had to add nearly a half hour to my commute once a week, or we needed to find another way. I used my internet spy skills to determine that Helena's teacher lived fairly close to us, and we gave him a call. Luckily, he agreed to help out, but now we felt we owed him. The city bus option would have been ridiculous (a half hour on the bus and a twenty-minute walk through the snow). We didn't have other resources available, like a host family taxi service or anything, so it was up to us to figure out. We have asked ourselves a few times why there isn't a taxi service available. Instead of hosting, some families could just volunteer to drive once in a while.
Our intern tried to avoid inconveniencing us. However, that led to other stresses. For example, would I let my own daughter take Milwaukee's city bus to and from a Water Street bar? Would I allow her to ride the bus alone at all? I've ridden the bus enough to realize people are generally harmless, but they're not entirely your everyday average representatives of high-society. Therefore, we worried, arranged any rides we could, and helped plan any bus rides to the T. Sometimes we'd get a call telling us she was going to stay with a friend or her former host family. Lisa never liked this option a lot because we were responsible for the well-being of the intern, but we also didn't want to pick her up from a bar at 2:30 AM.
The final transportation issue (or the first if you're hosting from the beginning of the semester) is the airport. Interns should really be told that Chicago is a last option for their flights. On a bad day, it's about the equivalent of telling your host family in London to come pick you up in Paris. Seriously, Chicago traffic and Midwest weather can combine to make the whole experience ridiculous. Our first intern arranged to stay with someone from Illinois the night before her flight so that we avoided this issue, but she had a 7 AM flight from Chicago on a day that included a snow storm (on my only day off from work). I guess the question is who's going to tell them how silly it is to take a Chicago flight to Florida, even if Chicago worked best for the international flight.
One tip for other transportation is that they may have an international travel card, and our intern saved ten dollars when she took the train to Chicago. Those cards could help at museums and other tourist attractions, too, so ask, especially if you're paying.
Overall, our interns really tried to make transportation convenient for us, but transportation in America is generally not convenient unless you own a car, so be prepared for driving if you decide to host.