As many of you gear up for the winter holidays, you may be considering your options for getting to and from the airport. Even in the busiest metropolitan areas, a few affordable long-term parking options exist at or near the airport. Or, for the creative-minded, you may be able to find a way to park your car nearby for a deeply discounted rate. Read on to find great strategies for the initial leg of your journey this holiday season.
Tom Lombardi, president of AirportParkingReservations.com and ParkSleepFly.com, recommends making your parking arrangements now (if you haven’t already done so). “[We’ve] already seen prices starting to ratchet up as you get closer to Christmas,” Lombardi says. “Some airports are showing a bit of overflow in parking already, and prices have begun to rise.”
He cites Boston, New York’s JFK and Newark, San Francisco, Ft. Lauderdale, Baltimore and Washington National, and Seattle as airports that typically tend to be busy. “Most expensive [are] definitely Seattle and Boston because it’s just supply and demand. They don’t have a lot of supply, so they can get the [high] price,” Lombardi says. For any of these airports, you’ll want to book your parking as early as possible.
In many cases, you’ll find long-term parking options offer a good value. Usually located just off-airport, long-term parking lots provide a safe place to keep your car, convenient shuttles to airport terminals, and options such as valet service, covered parking, indoor garages, and the like. Additionally, many stay open 24 hours, so even if your flights are at odd hours, you’ll be able to drop off and pick up your car with ease.
Oftentimes, you can find a better price by booking online in advance, rather than paying in person at the parking lot. You’ll also save headaches by guaranteeing your space before you arrive, and won’t have to worry if the lot is already full before you get there.
Using CheapAirportParking.org, I compared prices for airport parking at New York (JFK) and Los Angeles (LAX). This site, like Lombardi’s AirportParkingReservations.com, consolidates prices from a variety of local airport parking providers, so you only have to search one site to find a multitude of options. From a quick search over Christmas week (dropping off a car on December 20, picking it up December 26), I found prices from $12 per day in New York and $7 per day in Los Angeles; the online pre-booking prices undercut on-site parking rates by up to $5 per day. You can use these sites to find the latest parking rates for your upcoming trip, or type your airport name and long-term parking into your preferred search engine to see additional vendors.
You may also want to use online forums and communities to find a hidden value. TripAdvisor has a robust community, with active travelers and local experts answering a variety of questions. Post a question about cheap airport parking on this or another travel community forum, and see what the insiders can tell you about local parking deals.
Book a One-Night Airport Hotel Stay, Arrange to Leave Your Car
For those who don’t live close to the airport, bundling your parking with a one-night hotel stay can be a great cost-saving option. “Many hotel companies actually throw in the parking pretty much for free, they’re really just looking for the room [transaction],” says Lombardi. “And even if they don’t throw it in for free, it’s still a pretty inexpensive way to park.”
Travelers tend to choose a night’s stay at an off-airport hotel either at the beginning or end of their trip, and arrange to leave their car at that hotel for the duration of their vacation. In addition to the night’s stay and multi-day parking, hotels also offer shuttle service to and from the airport so travelers can get back and forth easily.
I checked packages including a one-night hotel stay and up to 14 days of parking at Chicago O’Hare and was quoted prices of $66 from ParkSleepFly.com and $74 from BuyReservations.com. You can also contact your preferred hotel brand to see if its airport hotel location offers any free or reduced-price parking packages with a one-night stay. Be sure to call the hotel directly, not a central reservations line, as they may have the most up-to-date information on the property’s parking packages and policies.
Take Advantage of Light Rail
You may be able to find a great rate by leaving your car at a long-term parking facility near a public transportation stop and taking light rail to the airport. For example, multi-day parking options can be found in Boston, Chicago, New York, and Washington, D.C., to name just a few. Leave your car at a designated parking area, take the subway or bus to the airport, and take the reverse route to retrieve your car once you’ve returned. While this may add an extra leg to your trip, you may find the per-day parking charges near the light rail station are a more economical option than off-airport or hotel-parking packages.
Do you know of a great parking deal at an airport near you? Or, do you have a foolproof strategy for saving on parking at the airport? If so, let us know! Share your tips by submitting a comment below.
(Editor’s Note: SmarterTravel.com is a member of the TripAdvisor Media Network, an operating company of Expedia, Inc.)