Vacation time has almost arrived, and you’re just about finished with the planning process. As you finalize details for your flight, your accommodations, and your itinerary, don’t forget to make plans for getting to the airport. Your failure to plan for this crucial step could lead to major stress, huge parking fees, or even a missed flight. The sooner you determine how you’ll get to the airport, the better.
Depending on where you live and how much luggage you intend to pack, taxis or public transit may not be feasible options for arriving at the airport on time. This is particularly true if you intend to travel with friends or family members — and lots of luggage. In such cases, you’re better off loading your companions into your vehicle and driving to the airport (or an offsite parking location) on your own. Follow these simple tips to ensure a stress-free and affordable parking experience:
1. Determine the Parking Policy and Availability at Your Home Airport
Parking looks a little different at each airport. Some airports provide large parking ramps with plenty of space for the thousands of travelers who pass through every day — but at many, parking options are surprisingly limited. Don’t expect spots to be available when you arrive, particularly if your flight departs at peak travel hours.
Most airport websites provide detailed information about where and how you can park onsite. Determine whether you can access your specific terminal from available parking ramps or lots; some parking spaces are specifically dedicated for certain terminals.
Remember that information featured on the airport’s official website may not tell the full story. You may discover the total number of parking spaces or how much it costs to occupy one of them, but the website probably won’t tell you how quickly those spots fill up. Word of mouth can help, but it’s ultimately impossible to predict how busy airport parking will be until you arrive.
2. Book an Airport Shuttle
If the idea of navigating a crowded airport parking lot sends you into a panic, consider booking a shuttle instead. Park and ride services allow you to keep your car in an offsite facility, where it can be carefully monitored for the duration of your trip. While this is a popular option, shuttles are carefully scheduled to ensure that all customers can securely park their cars — and make it to the airport on time.
Not only do airport shuttles offer the convenience that onsite lots tend to lack, many provide an extra element of luxury. For example, your shuttle service may clean or detail your vehicle for an added fee. After driving a fresh, clean rental car on vacation, the last thing you want is to return to your stale, musty vehicle. Car care services ensure that your vehicle is a welcoming environment as you return home.
3. Prepare Your Car
No matter how secure your preferred parking facility may be, it is critical that you prepare your car for your absence. This process may differ depending on which make and model you drive and when you travel. If you live in a colder climate and plan on escaping during the winter months, you’ll want to winterize your car before you head for the airport. Fill up on gas before you park; sub-zero temperatures could cause condensation to form on the walls of your nearly empty gas tank, which, in turn, could prevent your car from starting when you return. Check your oil levels and schedule an oil change if necessary. Some park and ride services actually offer oil changes, so you don’t need to make an extra trip before your date of departure.
Once you arrive at the airport parking lot or your park and ride location, inspect your vehicle thoroughly to ensure that all electrical elements are turned off. It’s surprisingly easy to leave the trunk light or radio on, but this will quickly drain your battery — especially in cold weather.
4. Use Airport Limo Incentive Programs and Apps to Optimize Parking and Score Great Deals
Airport parking doesn’t have to cost a fortune. If you travel regularly, it behooves you to join an incentive program with a favorite shuttle service; this could lead to significant savings over time. Frequent parking programs allow you to accumulate points, which can later be redeemed for free parking or special services.
Frequent parking programs are just one of several opportunities for saving on airport parking and shuttles. Some limo services also offer significant discounts for AAA members, veterans, or corporate partners. Check with your preferred shuttle service to determine whether you can secure a discount. Even if you don’t join an incentive program or qualify for a special discount, you can save significantly if you opt for a weekly parking rate.
Once you’ve locked down your incentive program, be sure to download an app specifically designed to streamline your parking service. The right app can help you save on parking, but it’s so much more than a discount program. Following your return flight, your app could drastically reduce the time it takes to get home.
5. Arrive Early
Whether you choose to park onsite at the airport or take advantage of shuttle services, it is imperative that you arrive early. How early you arrive will depend on which approach you prefer. If you intend to park onsite, you should build in at least an extra half hour to account for circling around the parking lot, removing luggage from your car, and heading for security. Really, though, you’re better off arriving at least an hour earlier than seems necessary. You never know when airport traffic, limited parking availability, or other circumstances will get in the way.
If you book an airport shuttle, limo, or other park and go solution, you’ll enjoy a little more breathing room. It is your shuttle company’s responsibility to get you to the airport safely and on time. As long as you arrive in time for your shuttle, your driver can take care of the rest.
A little preparation can go a long way as you make travel arrangements. How and where you park can determine whether you make your flight with time to spare — and whether you’re able to get home quickly after your return flight. Choose a parking solution that meets your unique needs, and don’t forget to prep your car before you depart.
Park With the Best in CT
If you are traveling in or out of Bradley International Airport just outside of Hartford, CT and Springfield, MA book with the airport parking experts at Roncari Valet. We take care of your car as if it were one of our own, and even offer extra car care services including hand washes and interior cleans. Call or go on-line to book your reservation today. Discounts available!