by Karen Smith
Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, with your family or solo, planning the details of your trip — from your hotel stay to the restaurants you want to try — makes the journey a lot less stressful. However, if you’re like me, one of the time-consuming and often-stressful travel details you regularly overlook is where to park once you arrive at the airport.
Most airports have the standard on-site hourly and daily parking lots, which usually charge an absurd rate for a space. A lot of travelers end up stashing their cars in one of these lots because they’re unaware of the other (cheaper) options or they’re late for their flight and desperate to find a space. There is an often-overlooked alternative to the high-priced, on-site airport lots. Many airports also have several off-site parking lots that can save you some money, time and stress if you plan ahead.
As an example, if you’re departing from Los Angeles Airport (LAX), there are more LAX parking options than there are beverage choices at StarbucksÂ — with 23 parking lots that range from $6 to $30 per day. If you think ahead and make a parking reservation through an online site, such as Airport Parking Reservations, you can check the rates, availability, location and the type of parking (garage, covered lot, outdoor, valet, etc.) at various off-site parking lots before you even leave the house. Some off-site airport parking locations even offer car wash services, so you can return from your trip to a clean and shiny car!
During busy travel seasons, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, on-site lots fill quickly which can leave you frantically searching for a spot. Pre-booking an off-airport parking space allows you to bypass this problem and save money. You can also save time with an off-site lot, which is extremely important if you’re running late for a flight! Many off-site parking lots are located close by, often less than a mile from the airport and, since most offer a free shuttle to the terminal and luggage assistance, you’ll often arrive at your gate earlier than you would with an on-site lot. This extra time means less stress for you and maybe even a chance to grab a cup of coffee.