Another creative way to save on airport parking is a strategy you may not have thought of before:
Two one-way car rentals.
Before you dismiss this unconventional idea, hear us out!
For particular types of travelers, this method works like a charm. It can definitely save you money and is often more convenient than other budget alternatives (like off-site airport parking lots or package deals from hotels with free parking).
More details follow below, but you should definitely consider two one-way car rentals as a way to save money on airport parking if any of these apply to you:
- You’re traveling for an extended period of time
- You live a good distance away from the airport
- You’re simply not comfortable leaving your personal vehicle in a parking lot long term
How does the two one-way car rental strategy work?
Rent a car in your hometown, drive it to the airport and return it to the car rental agency prior to your flight (all in the same day). When you return home, do the same thing in reverse. No shuttles, no buses, no cringe-worthy airport parking fees! And no worrying about your car while you’re gone. Clever, right?
You may think car rentals are too expensive for this method to make sense. But if you’re smart about how and where you book, you can find great discounts. For the best deals, we recommend RentalCars.com.
They work with all the major car rental companies and, because they’re part of the Priceline Group, are often able to negotiate lower prices.
Here's a simple way to find inexpensive car rentals to/from your airport
An example of how this method can save money on airport parking
Say you live in Waco, Texas, and you’ve booked a great deal on a flight out of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. It’s about a two-hour drive to DFW and you really don’t want to impose on a friend or family member to take you. And you're really not sure if you want to pay for onsite DFW airport parking rates because you’ll be gone for three weeks.
You could opt to drive your vehicle the 110 miles to DFW and park in the most remote long-term lot, which runs $10 per day max. Not bad, right? But for the three weeks you’ll be traveling, your total bill will come to $210 (yikes).
A quick search at RentalCars.com shows a weekday rental rate of $60 from Waco to DFW. Double that to factor in your return trip when you fly back in and you’re looking at about $120 total (for an economy-sized car with taxes and fees not yet included).
So if you choose the car rental option, you’ve already saved a fair amount of money and you haven’t even considered gas or wear and tear on your car.
Consider the peace of mind you’ll enjoy with this airport parking savings strategy
Even if you break even or pay a little more for two one-way car rentals, it still may be a better choice for you versus other airport parking alternatives. Consider these factors:
- Maybe it makes you uneasy to think about your personal vehicle being parked for an extended period of time – whether it be on airport grounds, at a private off-site lot or at a hotel that offers free parking when you book a room. What if the weather is bad? What if someone scrapes, dings or backs into your car?
- Perhaps you’re not keen on the long walk or shuttle ride from the economy lot. This is particularly noteworthy if you have mobility issues or if your flight comes in after dark and you’re concerned about safety. Many times, the rental car drop off/pickup is located directly adjacent to the airport terminal.
- With the car-rental option, there’s no worrying about whether you’ll find a parking space in the economy lot. They can fill up, especially during peak travel times. The last thing you want is to arrive at the airport, find the economy lot full and have no option but to park in the main parking garage where the daily fees are two or three times as much.
Cancellations are free and no credit card is required to reserve a car to/from your airport
Other tips to keep in mind when renting a car
- To realize the best savings, choose the most economical car that can accommodate you, your travel partners and your luggage.
- Be sure to book early to ensure you’ll be guaranteed a car for both legs of your trip.
- When you’re in a city, sometimes it’s more economical to rent a car for a day rather than using other forms of ground transportation. It also saves you from paying extra for a ride back to the airport.
- You can also use this site to find car rental deals for your destination city. Be sure to book in advance so you’ll be guaranteed a vehicle.
So is skipping airport parking altogether and opting for two one-way car rentals the best option for you? Click the yellow button above to get a fast quote and find out!
- Is the rental car strategy not right for you? Maybe using off-site parking lots near the airport works better for you.
- If your trip is not that long, but still leaves really early, you might consider a hotel with a free parking package instead.
- Another way to leave your car home and reduce your airport parking bill is to use a company that offers airport shuttle van service and other modes of ground transportation.
- Find the best way to shop for local parking deals being offered by daily deal sites (like Groupon).