I got a question this week that hit on a topic near and deal to my travel-addicted heart: How to save money on a travel expense that in no way enhances the actual travel experience. Read on:
Question: Hey Lisa, can you give any travel advice on cheaper alternatives to airport parking, other than getting a ride?
1. Check into hotels. Many, even those far from the airport, offer free parking plus shuttle service to the airport, for the price of aone-night stay. If you’re going to be a gone awhile or would just like to get a decent night’s sleep instead of driving to the airport in the wee hours, paying for an extra hotel night can be a deal. The catch: You have to actually check in — you generally can’t just book the room to park there. Also, ask about how the hotel shuttle works. Does it run frequently, 24/7? How long might you have to wait for it — and are you OK with that?
2. Use off-airport parking. This is my strategy of choice. Compare pricing and location fast through www.airportparkingreservations.com. You can check the daily price for ramp or surface parking at the off-airport lots, click for a map to check locations and see ratings from other users. Most of the commercial lots will match the website price, generally $10-$11 a night for outdoor parking. A reservation ensures there will be space when you arrive. The off-airport shuttles at MSP are professional and run constantly. The driver will pick you up and drop you off at your car and handle your bags. You should tip.
3. Take the airport’s deal: If you want to park at the airport, skip the handiest ramps and check out MSP Value Parking. The Value ramp is at the Humphrey Terminal light rail station, with a skyway to the secondary terminal or a fast train ride to Lindbergh. The maximum daily fee is $14.
4. Last resort: Lobby for extending Northstar to St. Cloud so you can leave your car at home.