I hate paying for parking anywhere and would hate to add up how much I’ve spent over the years leaving my car at airports. When you’re flying out for a week or two and it’s not convenient for someone to drop you off, you’ve either got to pay a taxi (if it’s from home) or to suck it up and pay to park. If you live far from the airport, or you’re in an area where it’s sometimes cheaper to go one city over, you’re really out of options.
Thankfully I don’t pay nearly as much as most other people do when this happens. Half or less most of the time.
See, I rarely park in the actual airport lot—even at economy one—because it’s usually dramatically less to leave my car in a private lot nearby. I’ve never paid more than $7.50 per day to park in Fort Lauderdale, for example, until recently when I had to park in the airport garage when running late for a flight. (Long story.) There it’s $15 per day. If you’re away for a week, that’s $105. In a major city, it can be even worse.
In Orlando a couple weeks ago, I paid $6 a night to leave my car in the lot of the Airport Marriott, where I caught an airport shuttle in a flash. That’s another advantage of these places: usually they have a more frequent shuttle schedule than the airport itself does. When I used to park off-site in Nashville (BNA), they would take you within 10 minutes even if nobody else needed a ride.
I usually use a site called Cheap Airport Parking because they’re on of my advertisers over at Perceptive Travel. Even if they weren’t they’re the second-largest consolidator of these off-site options, so it’s worth checking them out. Here are some sample rates available most days of the week.
MIA Embassy Suites – $5
LAX Premier Parking – $3.99
EWR (Newark) Premier Parking – $5.99
FLL (Ft. Lauderdale) Hilton – $6
TPA (Tampa) Memorial – $3.25
MCO (Orlando) – 3 parking lots are available under $3 per day.
They continuously ask customers to rate parking lots on 5 criteria: location, facility, wait times, shuttle experience and personnel attitude. Based on these ratings they calculate the overall quality score of a lot and sort parking lots based on this score to promote the best lots. Parking lots know about this algorithm and try to serve the customers better in order to be on top in the list and get more customers.
They don’t serve every market—nobody does—but you can usually Google “airport parking” or “off site parking” and the airport code/city to find the options if the market is not on the list of sites like this one. It doesn’t work everywhere, since some airports are too small or inconveniently placed, like the PIE one I have to use sometimes out of Clearwater/St. Pete, Florida.
Most of the small ones (not that one) have reasonably priced parking though. Where my father lives in Greenville/Spartanburg, South Carolina, the overnight charge is $4 and you can walk from the lot with your wheelie suitcase to the entrance.