Nothing is more frustrating than circling an airport parking lot looking for space when you're already running late for a flight or paying an exorbitant amount for parking when you return from a trip. You can avoid these common predicaments by doing your homework before leaving to park your vehicle at the airport.
Know your Options
Most airports offer multiple parking lots at various rates (hourly, daily and economy). Some airports even offer costly, but convenient valet parking. Visit the airport website or call the airport to determine the location and rates for each type of parking garage or service.
During peak travel times, it's also prudent to check the short-term and long-term parking lot availability before leaving for the airport, so you can make other arrangements if lots are full. Parking in a daily garage (short-term parking) instead of an economy (long-term parking) lot for multiple days will burn a big hole in your wallet.
Consider Off-Site Parking
You'll find commercial off-site parking lots near most major airports. These parking lots are farther from the airport, but the distance is often compensated with lower prices, 24-hour security, car-to-terminal shuttle services and other perks like frequent parker programs. Aside from off-site commercial parking lots allow you to reserve a parking spot in advance, which can be a real timesaver during peak travel times. In addition, many airport hotels offer stay, park and fly deals in which you stay at the hotel the night before your flight and then you can park your car at the hotel for free or a low daily rate. Just make sure the hotel parking lot is secure as some aren't monitored around-the-clock like airport and commercial lots.
It's too easy to forget where you parked or where you put the parking ticket after an extended trip. Even if you're running late, take the time to note where you parked in your cell phone, PDA or on the parking ticket if you take it with you. Just make sure you don't lose the parking ticket, because most airports charge a hefty fee for missing tickets. For that reason, it may be safer to leave the ticket in your car.