Holiday parking: How to get the cheapest and best

Holiday Parking

You’re unlikely to park this close to your plane… but there are ways of limiting the hassle (Picture © Mercedes-Benz)

Holiday parking is a reality for millions of drivers every year. Many car owners, who decide a driving holiday isn’t for them, decide to fly instead. They have to get to the airport somehow and for many, that means driving and then leaving the car while they jet off to (hopefully) sunnier climes.

However, it’s not quite as simple as that. The car is the second most valuable item in most of our lives. We need to know that wherever we leave it, it’s going to be in a secure compound and only driven if it’s absolutely necessary and by someone who’s insured. At some airports, parking can be almost as expensive as one person’s flights. Here’s how to get the most cost-effective holiday parking. 

Holiday parking: Book in advance

As with budget airlines and train tickets, the longer in advance you can book, the better price you’re likely to get.

Holiday parking: Do you need it?

This depends entirely on where you live and how far away it is from the airport you’re flying from. It could be well worth ringing up a couple of local cab firms and getting quotes from them. When you’re working out whether this is going to be cheaper than driving yourself and parking, don’t forget to factor in the cost of fuel and wear and tear on your car. When individuals claim for the use of their car from a company, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs recommends they charge 45p per mile. If the cost difference between parking and a cab is marginal, this could well tip the balance in favour of the taxi.
Tip: Book a taxi early and many will do a deal on the price

Holiday parking: How do you know it’s secure?

Quite simply, you have no idea how safe parking is. If you leave your car with some companies near the airport, they’ll move it to a compound for the length of your break before moving it back when you return. When you book the parking, look at the terms and conditions. See if the car is parked at a safe location while you’re away. The minimum you want is locked with CCTV.

Holiday parking: Who insures valet parking?

Frequently, comprehensive insurance policies don’t cover cars when they’re being parked by a ‘valet parking’ organisation. This is because insurers presume that the company will cover its employees for driving someone else’s car. However, they don’t always do this. It means if the car gets damaged, repairs are down to the owner. It’s also worth checking to see if anything left in the car is covered. It’s not unusual for sat navs to go missing and for drivers not to be insured.
Tip: Check valet parking companies’ terms and conditions very carefully. You need to know that your car, and anything you might have left in it, is covered while it’s in their hands

Holiday parking: Book a hotel

Many hotels that are near airports do deals where if you rent a room for a night, you get parking included for the duration of your holiday. It’s worth finding out whether there are any hotels that do this near the airport you’re flying from and whether it’s any cheaper than stand-alone parking. Those that are a short drive from the airport frequently run a shuttle service to transfer passengers.

Holiday parking: On or off airport?

Sometimes, parking that isn’t on airport land – called off-airport – is significantly cheaper than official ‘on-airport’ parking. But the journey from your car to the airport will be longer. And you’ll possibly have the aggravation of waiting for transfers that seem determined to keep you hanging on.
Tip: Research the company you’re thinking of using on a website such as TripAdvisor to see what kind of feedback they get

Holiday parking: On someone’s drive?

Over the past few years, the sharing economy is really starting to gather momentum. This is where people with space to spare offer their land to people looking for somewhere to park. Companies such as JustPark and ParkOnMyDrive.com are likely to have people with parking spaces close to airports. In some cases they can be significantly cheaper than regular parking and they’ll even provide free transfers to the airport for their customers.
Tip: Try to ensure that wherever you choose to park, it says the space is secure

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