When you plan a vacation, you probably don’t think too hard about airport parking. But did you know that you can save time and money by planning in advance? Plus, you won’t have any headaches on the day you leave.
Here are 10 tips to streamline the process.
1. Know the Available Options
If you’re not quite sure what will be available when you arrive, you should know that airports generally offer three different parking options:
- Meet and greet: A driver meets you at the terminal to park your car for you.
- On-airport: A parking lot on the airport grounds that everyone can access for a fee.
- Park and ride: An off-ground parking lot where you can catch a shuttle to the airport.
Remember that each one has ups and downs. A meet and greet offers complete convenience, but you’ll have to pay a steep price to have someone else find a spot for you.
Alternatively, on-airport parking tends to be the option most people pick, so you may not be able to find a spot so easily. Park and ride is cheaper, but you might find they take too much time. You’ll also need to consider other restrictions, as well.
2. Look at Off-Airport Services
There are other services you may want to check out, too. Throughout the country, you’ll find private lots where people can pay to park close to the airport. This concept differs from park and rides in that some have additional services, like garage parking and car washing.
3. Consider a Hotel Lot
Often, hotels near airports have special packages for guests, where they can leave their cars in the parking lot during their trips.
For instance, you’d stay in a room the night before you depart and park your car there for a week or two. This special offer typically includes a ride to the airport via a shuttle, as well.
4. Book a Spot in Advance
Many airports will let people book a parking spot in advance. This move can help you save money and time when your travel day arrives. Plus, you won’t have to worry about a full lot. Be sure to see whether such an option exists at your chosen airport.
Keep in mind that airports often have three different types of lots, including long-term, short-term, and economy. Each one will have varying rates and park times. Keep that in mind when you book your spot, so you pick the best one for your trip.
5. Try to Leave Early
While you don’t want to arrive several hours early at the airport, you also don’t want your flight to leave without you. Many recommend two hours in advance for domestic flights.
However, you may want to tack on an extra 30 minutes to give yourself enough time to park. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!
6. Get an Airport Map
Check out the airport’s website for a parking lot map before you leave. This way, you’ll be confident in your navigational skills upon your arrival. That’s particularly important when you’ve never been to a specific airport before.
Many airports, like Pittsburgh International Airport, also list how full the parking lots are so you know where to park.
7. Pack Belongings Smartly
There’s nothing more annoying than having to lug your bags from your car to the terminal, especially when you end up needing to park far away. If you have the option, you should use a few packing tips to make your experience more convenient, like ditching your duffle bag for a backpack.
These tricks should help you save time getting to your terminal, and while claiming your bags again once you reach your destination.
8. Take a Picture of the Spot
How are you supposed to remember where you parked after a week-long trip? It’s a smart idea to snap a photo you can reference when you get back. If you’re in an uncovered lot, you can simply include a picture of the lot and row number. If you’re in a parking garage, you may want to take a photo of the floor you’re on, too.
9. Call About Discounts
Consider calling up the airport to ask about discounts before your departure. Alternatively, you can search “airport parking discounts” online, where you can find various websites offering coupons and codes. It never hurts to see how you might be able to save.
10. Don’t Leave Valuables Behind
Most airport parking lots don’t have strict security. Therefore, you’ll want to remove all valuables from your car before you head to the terminal.
If you still want to store items in your vehicle when you’re away, you should hide them in the glove compartment or under the seats, which will keep them out of sight and out of mind.
Remember These Tips for Airport Parking During Your Next Trip
While airport parking probably isn’t the first to-do list item on your travel checklist, you should try to have a plan. If you don’t prepare in advance, you may end up spending too much time and money on finding the right spot. These suggestions will be a game-changer every time you fly.
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