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When you travel one cost that is hard to avoid is paying for airport parking. We can use miles for our plane ticket. And hotel points can help you stay for free. But you still have to open the wallet and pay for parking when you go on vacation. With that in mind, we have some great tips to show you how to save money on airport parking.
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How to save money on airport parking
Airport parking can be pretty expensive. Some airports charge $30 or more per day to park, and I doubt you can find an airport that doesn’t charge something for the privilege of parking your car.
Here are the best ways how to save money on airport parking. If you have any additional tricks, we’d love to hear about them in the comment section below.
Use Public Transportation
If you’re lucky enough to live in an area with good public transportation, this is an excellent way how to save money on airport parking. And, as an added bonus, you’ll be doing the environment a favor.
Many cities around the world offer bus, light rail, and subway line connectors to the airport. These city planners understand that they want people in and out quickly, without clogging the roads with too many unnecessary vehicles.
Even Los Angeles, a city that heavily favors (and identifies with) cars, is building a transportation center at LAX that will be connected to its Metrolink subway system.
And the best thing is that most public transportation tickets to the airport are less than $10 a person.
Although it seems counterintuitive to have even more cars driving in and out the airport, ridesharing is an effective way to reduce congestion (when done properly) because the cars that are dropping off one set of travelers is well-positioned to take another set of travelers out of the airport reducing the impact to the environment.
One thing to be cautious with ridesharing is that the prices can increase quite a bit during “surge” pricing (when demand is really high). And if you live far away from the airport, the trip cost could be pretty high.
Shared Ride Vans
When I was younger, I would use shared ride vans. This was before Uber and Lyft were around. You saved money, but you had to share the van with several other travelers.
God help you if you were the last one to be dropped off. A 30-minute ride from the airport could turn into a 2-hour “adventure” (just like nails on a blackboard is music).
Shared ride vans charge per person, so if you’re traveling with 4 or more people, the savings may not be that big after all. And that’s before you factor in the value of your time. In case you couldn’t tell, I’m not a big fan of shared ride vans as a way to save money on airport parking.
“Park and Fly” Hotel Stays
One of my favorite ways how to save money on airport parking is to book a hotel the night before. We use this trick every time when we have an early morning flight.
Hotels have jumped into the game to court travelers to increase room occupancy and fill unused parking spaces. The “park and fly” works like this: book a night at the hotel and then you can keep your car at the hotel for a specified number of days for one low price.
There are sites like ParkSleepFly.com that specifically cater to this market. However, many airport hotels offer this option directly on their site.
For a recent trip to Nashville, I compared the park and fly options from ParkSleepFly and Hilton.
ParkSleepFly was sold out at the Hilton Los Angeles Airport.
But they did offer rooms at the nearby Embassy Suites Los Angeles International Airport/South for $269 + taxes. This reservation offers free parking for up to 14 days.
If I booked directly through Hilton, the Hilton Los Angeles Airport was only $155 and the Embassy Suites was $146.
If I wanted to add up to 7 days of free parking to the Hilton Los Angeles Airport reservation, the price would have increased from $155 to $243.
In the end, I was creative and made my own promotion by combining 34,000 Hilton points for the stay…
…and $68 to park at The Parking Spot.
And The Parking Spot on Century Blvd is literally right next door to the Hilton Los Angeles Airport.
So it pays to be creative when booking your hotel and parking.
Park and fly hotel stays are also a great option when you have an early morning departure or late night arrival and don’t want to drive when you’re tired!
Parking Garage Loyalty Rewards
Part of my savings above was that I am a member of The Parking Spot’s loyalty program. I receive 20% off each time I use them for airport parking because of a program they offer for alumni of local colleges.
If you’re a college grad or belong to certain professional organizations, check to see what benefits they offer. For instance, my wife is a member of SHRM and they offer a 15-20% discount on parking at another airport parking garage near LAX.
The good thing about these airport parking loyalty programs is that you’ll save money during your current stay and will earn points towards free parking in the future. The concept is just like the miles and points travel rewards programs that we’re used to.
More and more parking apps are being released to help you find ways to save money on parking. I’ve used Parking Panda a couple of times to save money on airport parking. Use my referral code to save $5 off of your first reservation.
Just make sure you do a little research on the parking garage before you book.
You don’t want one that is too far away from the airport or that doesn’t offer a shuttle that runs on a regular schedule. Saving a couple of bucks isn’t worth waiting around for so long that you miss your flight, are rushed trying to get through security, or sitting in the cold after a long flight home wondering when the airport parking shuttle will finally arrive.
Rides from friends or family
I’m not usually a fan of this option, but it is an excellent way to save money on airport parking. When someone does you a favor like this (especially for early morning or late night flights), you may end up owing them big time… and who knows what favor they’ll ask for in return.
Beyond that, I think this ends up being a waste of time and gas for the person dropping you off because they’ll be making two trips to the airport (round-trip to drop you off and another round-trip to pick you up) for your vacation. Highly unproductive and wasteful.
The Bald Thoughts
One of the things I like best about saving money on airport parking with most of these ideas is that they reduce the need for parking garages, which will eventually allow airports and local businesses to repurpose that land to add more value to travelers.