Travelling to an airport can be stressful. For many people it involves driving and paying for parking for the duration of their trip.
If not planned properly, this can be an expensive addition to the overall cost of a holiday.
Here are some top tips for those planning to leave their car at an airport while they enjoy their time away, from Richard Gladman, IAM RoadSmart’s head of driving and riding standards:
Never just turn up and park if you can avoid it, the cost is greatly reduced by booking ahead. Even if you book 24 hours in advance you may see savings of up to 60 per cent compared with paying on arrival.
Make sure when you book you choose the right service for you – there are many different services available from long stay to premier meet-and-greet services where they even valet your car while it’s with them.
Careful who you choose – there are many genuine suppliers of parking places but there are also some professional looking websites that don’t offer the level of service you have paid for. All airports have their own parking offers available via their websites and with these you know your car is not going to be left in a muddy field or worse while you are away. Always check the airport parking company has appropriate security measures in place, giving you peace of mind while you are away. Look for ‘Park Mark Approved’ – the Safer Parking Scheme initiative by the police.
If you find a good offer from a third party website check it out. As the saying goes, if the offer is that good, it could be too good to be true. There are plenty of travel review sites to look on and see what other customers have to say before you book.
Consider choosing a parking option that offers a flexible and free cancellation policy and allows you to amend and cancel bookings up to 24 hours before your departure date. This could also save you money if you change your vehicle before you go.
Take a photograph of your mileage reading and your car showing the surroundings when you leave it. In the unfortunate circumstances of returning to you vehicle and it not being in the same condition as you left it, you have some evidence of how it was when you parked it.
Take a photograph of the ticket, whether it is a car park ticket or the ticket they give you when using meet and greet services – it can be very useful if you mislay the original and won’t delay you leaving the airport.
Allow extra time on top of your airport check-in time to drop your car off, especially if the car park is offsite and you need to catch a shuttle bus. Consider a hotel stay and park offer, sometimes these are just as cheap as parking alone and you get to add an extra night to your holiday, arriving at the check in desk feeling relaxed and refreshed.
On the flight home remember not to drink alcohol if you are planning to drive home – it’s very easy to stay in holiday mode and forget you are going to need to drive when you land.
Richard Gladman says: “I always think the holiday has started once you get your cases checked in and the boarding card in your hand. The parking prior to this can be fraught if not properly planned and may add to the stress of the day.
“Good organisation with comprehensive directions to your pre-booked parking will let the relaxation start early. Just turning up on the day may lead to delay. What was it they used to say? Book early.”