Thursday, February 21, 2013

Free Airport Parking

I hate having to dish out extra $$ when flying. Parking your car at an airport can cost $7-$15 a day in the 'economy' parking. If you're out of town for a week or more you could be spending at least $100 to leave you car parked. You could have your friend drop you off and pick you up, but that is often a hassle and with gas prices so high, the extra trips to the airport can also cost you. What do you do then?

Here's what you do and what I've done many, many times:

  1. If you have family you are flying with, drop them and all the luggage off at the airport. 
  2. Park your car at the nearest hotel. 
  3. Take public transportation or the hotel shuttle back to the airport. 
I do this all the time and have never had a problem. It's not illegal as long as there are no signs in the parking lot that say you can't park there. There are some hotels that don't let you do this, but most work great. Here are some pointers to keep in mind:

  • Park your car at a nicer hotel (I've used Marriott, Hampton, etc.)...I wouldn't leave it at a run down Motel 6.  If you were to stay the night at the hotel and you feel you could leave your car in the parking lot, then that's a sign it's probably safe. 
  • I've used hotel shuttles and I always pay them a tip for driving (I don't tell them I'm not staying at their hotel), but I usually prefer to use public transportation. 
  • If you use public transportation you will want to look up the schedule and routes so you know how to get from the hotel to the airport. Google maps has a feature that shows you the public transportation directions that is very useful. 
  • Ask airport information desk to find where to go to get onto public transit so you can get back to your hotel
  • Make sure you lock your car and don't leave any valuables left in do this anyways right? 
  • I like to park my car close to other cars and in lighting...not off alone, hiding in a dark spot. 
  • Have some smaller bills or change on you to pay for public transit or pay a tip. 
How long can you leave it there? I've left mine for over 2 weeks with no problem. The first time you do it, you will probably be worried about your car the whole time. 

I've only needed to do this at the Salt Lake, Fresno, and Phoenix airports so my experience is limited, but it should work most places. Phoenix has a nice, close group of hotels that I feel safe leaving my car and the public transportation is Free to the airport from that location. 

Think I'm crazy? Maybe. Just sharing the idea though! Anyone have any experiences doing this? Share in the comments!

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  1. Great summary of how to travel on the cheap! I've done this many times and never had a problem. Christian knows his stuff! Thanks for all the good tips on how to save $$.

  2. the last time I traveled to Phoenix found a good and cheap parking near the airport.


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