Flying overseas or to another part of the country can be exciting and fun. It can also be quite stressful and unpredictable. Whether you are traveling for business or pleasure, it takes many legs of your journey to finally be sitting in your plane seat. It’s an adventure of its own just getting there.
You might be waiting for a taxi or a shuttle to pick you up. A friend might run late trying to do you this favor. Perhaps you have to drive, only to have a bus or subway take you to the airport. It’s so much easier if you can just drive to the airport yourself. But what about your car? Is it safe to leave it at the airport? Will it be there waiting for you when you return?
You have a couple of options to consider when leaving your car at the airport when you go on vacation.
Onsite Airport Parking
Airports have space dedicated to long term parking. These spaces are often in multi-level covered garages. You won’t have to worry about walking in the rain to get to the terminal or returning to a car covered in snow after your vacation.
The premises are patrolled by security personnel and will likely be under video surveillance. You can get off of your flight and walk directly to your vehicle. And if you happen to forget something, you can just run to your car and drive back home, assuming you have time. Save your ticket so that you aren’t touring all levels of the garage trying to find your car.
Have you ever eaten at an airport? Even the fast food places are markedly more expensive than you are expecting. The reason is that they are occupying limited airport space and serving a consumer who only has other expensive options.
The same will apply to parking onsite at an airport. You will pay quite a bit for the convenience of leaving your car there. Rates vary widely based on location and specific parking spots but expect to pay $20 to $30 per day or some weekly equivalent.
Another convenient, less expensive option is offsite airport parking. These businesses have vast parking areas which are not part of the airport but are just a short drive away. Oftentimes they are connected to hotels and are incorporated into their services.
One benefit over airline parking is you can reserve your spot ahead of time. But you don’t have to. You park in their lot and are picked up immediately by a shuttle driver who is in communication with the employee working the entrance.
Your driver gives you a ticket with your space number written down. Even if you aren’t sure which terminal you need to go to, your driver is. Your driver will assist you with your luggage on and off the shuttle. Offsite parking typically offers gated areas which are patrolled and monitored by security and cameras. Your vehicle will most likely not be covered so be sure you have a snow scraper if applicable.
When you return from your trip, you go to the spot you were dropped off and look for your particular shuttle service. They will usually be colorful buses with catchy names with “Park” attached to them. They bring you back to your car, and you are on your way back home. It’s a simple, safe and affordable option. Expect to pay around $10 to $12 per day with weekly discounted rates. These companies usually compete with others like them and are eager to get your business. Look for coupons online or ask about them when you make your arrangements.
Some Safety Tips
No matter which option you choose, your car is probably going to be fine. There are no guarantees, but both the airport and any offsite parking business are going to do everything they can to ensure the safety of your vehicle.
Help them help you by taking these simple precautions when parking your car.
- Lock your car
- Don’t leave your keys in your car
- Don’t leave any valued possessions in your car
- Make sure your lights are off
- If you will be gone more than a week, disconnect your battery
- Make sure your tires are properly inflated
- Always know where you parked
These are good ideas wherever you park. You want to make it harder for thieves to rob you. In the winter months, tire pressure can be an issue. If you have even a slow leak, you might come back to a flat tire. Disconnecting your vehicle’s battery will keep it from draining as much and ensure your car starts even on the coldest of days.
Flying, and airports in general, can be stressful enough as it is. Park your car and enjoy your trip. Feel confident that when your trip is over, it will be there for the last leg of your journey home.
Scott Huntington is a writer and car fanatic from Harrisburg, PA.