Off vs On-Site Parking at the Airport: What’s Best for You?

An airport is busy, chaotic, and crowded. People are always rushing to reach their flight, making airport parking an excellent option for impromptu or long-term business travelers. However, on-site parking isn’t the only option. If you plan, off-site parking comes with many benefits.

On-site Airport Parking

On-site parking can offer most frequent travelers quite a few perks if you’re willing to pay for them. Here are a few reasons why you may choose on-site parking instead of off-site.

Convenience

Oftentimes, airport parking is divided into short-term, daily, and long-term. Short-term lots are located near an airport terminal. They’re expensive if you leave your car overnight, but they’re incredibly convenient because they’re near the drop-off location close to the front doors.

Daily and long-term parking is what most airport passengers will use for trips that last longer than a day. Daily and long-term parking lots or garages are located a short driving or walking distance to the airport terminal. Regardless of what you choose, rates can be pretty expensive.

Airport Add-Ons

Most airport parking lots come with add-ons, like valet parking. Small airports rarely have gated or covered lots. However, large airports should have 24/7 security surveillance, maintenance checks, and a car wash. Paying for these add-ons isn’t cheap, so prepare for a hefty bill.

The only way you’ll save on on-site airport parking is if you’re a frequent flyer or you find a coupon or another deal on the Internet. Still, airport parking is pretty customizable.

Off-site Airport Parking

If you’re unable to park your car directly at the airport, there are several off-site options to choose from. Here’s why off-site parking may be better for your needs.

Cost-Effective

Off-site airport parking is a great alternative to on-site. Many hotels and satellite parking lots will allow you to park your car for several weeks or months at a much lower price than at the airport.

For example, off-site RDU airport parking in North Carolina ranges from $4.25-$6.00 per day. Parking directly at RDU airport starts at $6 for economy and can be as high as $18 a day.

If you park at Cambria, which costs $4.95 per day, you’ll save $31.50 if you’re gone for a month. That’s on RDU’s cheapest option, as well. If you opt for the most expensive option, you’ll save $391.50. That means you could save enough money to take another vacation.

Similar Convenience

Most off-site airport parking offers the same security features, maintenance, and shuttle service as long-term on-site parking. Since most off-site parking lots are trying to compete with the airport, they’ll typically offer better or similar services at a lower cost.

Hotel parking lots don’t make you stay at the hotel to take advantage of their parking, meaning you can go directly to the airport the minute you check in online. Some hotels will offer you a very affordable package if you want to stay. Plus, you’re less likely to be late.

Customer Experience

During busy seasons it can be difficult to find on-site parking, but off-site parking is almost always available. Not because their parking lots are low quality; most people just don’t know about them. Still, it’s better to reserve in advance.

One big perk of off-site parking is their team of assistants. The moment you check-in at the hotel, a bellhop will ask if you need help with your bags. Most attendants will put your bags on the shuttle and assist you when you’re at the airport, which can save you a lot of time and effort.

Some off-site locations will go the extra mile and offer free valet parking. At that point, all you have to do is board the shuttle, which typically drives you when you’re ready.

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