In all of the vacation planning and budgeting, it’s easy to forget about parking.  However, parking at major US airports can easily run $20 per day or more.  If you don’t happen to have family or friends available to shuttle you and your group to the airport, that’s $140 extra for a week’s vacation. Don’t despair. Savvy travelers know there are many ways you can avoid paying top dollar at the airport-operated lots. Below are just a few ideas:

1.  Park offsite. In virtually all cases, you’ll pay more for the parking lots on the airport grounds. Sure, they are generally closer, but many times the shuttle buses from the off-site lots can get you to the terminal faster than the people-movers in the airport parking lots. Several franchises operate off-site parking facilities at major US airports. Among these are Park n Fly, Park Ride Fly and Airport Fast Park.

2. Use coupons. Many of these same airport lot franchises offer coupons for free days or similar offers to entice you to pick their lot over their competitor’s lot next door. Offers change frequently.  Look for printable coupons or coupon codes online, check the Sunday newspaper travel section or ask your travel agent for parking coupons. A common offer is one day’s parking free when you pay for six days.

3. Stay the night at an airport hotel. Often, hotels near airports will offer complimentary parking if you spend the night before your flight at the hotel. Not only is the hotel rate usually less than a week’s parking at the airport, you won’t have to worry about missing your early morning flight. You’ll be near the airport already. What’s more: hotel lots are usually  more secure than the airport lots, which can be deserted during off-time travel hours. A quick Google search will usually yield at least one hotel in your city with a free parking offer. If not, don’t be afraid to ask for free parking. This offer doesn’t cost the hotel any extra money and they just might be glad to have your hotel business.

4. Shop online. There are several Web sites designed to help you find the best parking rates at the airport of your choice. They do all of the research for you and make it easy to see at a glance who offers the best price for the time you’ll be traveling. Visit About Airport Parking, Airport Parking.com, and Parking Access.com.

How do you manage the high cost of airport parking? Share your tips.

Save Money on Airport Parking