Whether you're flying out for a quick one-day business meeting in another town or traveling to a faraway destination for vacation, airport parking fees can put a significant dent in your travel budget. But it doesn't have to be that way. With a little advance planning, you can choose parking options that are less expensive. Pat yourself on the back for keeping the money saved in your bank account, or use the extra bucks to indulge in a treat while you travel. But whichever way you choose to enjoy the savings, you'll find that airport parking doesn't have to be a pricey hassle when you pick the right place to leave your vehicle before you head into the terminal.
Long-Term Parking vs. Short-Term Parking
Don't let the phrase "long term" keep you from using this type of parking space even if you're only going to be gone for a day. Short-term spaces in parking garages and parking lots are designed to accommodate folks who are just going in to the airport for an hour or so to meet arrivals or accompany someone who is departing on a flight. These spaces are the closest to the terminal, so the higher fee is justified by the convenience of having a very short walk into the airport building.
Long-term parking is further away from the terminal. But the lower price you'll pay is worth the extra steps it takes to get to the airport building. At the country's largest airports, shuttle buses are available to take you from the farthest points of a massive long-term parking lot straight to the terminal doors. Even with this added benefit, the day rate for parking will end up much lower than the high hourly charges for short-term parking.
Private Airport Parking Lots
The biggest budget-saving solution you'll find is at the privately-owned-and-operated parking lots in close proximity to the nation's international airports and many of the larger regional airports. As privately run businesses, the parking lot owners strive to offer the most competitive deals available, so you'll benefit from the lower prices they charge to keep the lot full and profitable. In addition, many offer special deals during off-peak travel periods, discounts for frequent users, and free parking days if your car is there for an extended period of time.
Because the private parking lots are located fairly far away from the terminal, they operate vans or shuttle buses to quickly carry you to and from the terminal. Add extra time—usually an hour or a little less—to your travel schedule planning to accommodate for this transportation.