aircraft_fly_sky_flyerThe last time you went to an airport, did you consider the costs of using airport parking? I think about it when I travel, but I have a suspicion that a lot of people don’t. That’s because I have seen how many people park at expensive airport lots.

For this post, I’m going to use Dulles airport as the example airport where these people can save money. This is just one example airport and you can follow this line of thought for your airport. What are those people paying for those expensive lots at Dulles? $17 per day for the garages! Think about taking a 7-day vacation. That lot is going to cost you $119!

But wait there is more! You’ve got to remember your cost to drive to and from the airport. Assume you live about 20 miles away from the airport and that you have a reasonable car that costs 25 cents per mile for gas and wear.

2 trips x 20 miles x $0.25 = $10

Now you’re up to $129 go to the airport and stay in that garage.

Here are some alternatives to those expensive lots with assigned costs (not including cost of time).

Get a ride from a friend or family

This is simple, easy and doesn’t need much explaining. It is probably the cheapest of any options available. Of course, if you live pretty far from the airport it is a bit more of an ask. Remember also that it will be more than twice the driving that you’d have to do if you’d parked, so it could make sense to drive and park if it is a short trip.  If you’re going to ask for this favor, be ready to return it!

Assuming you give and take an equal amount for rides to the airport – we’ll call their cost your cost. I’ll also say that like you, they live about 20 miles from the airport. Last assumption is that – like above – gas and wear will cost around 25 cents per mile.

4 trips x 20 miles x $0.25 = $20

Another nice thing to do is offer to buy them an inexpensive lunch, especially if it is unlikely that you’ll return the favor. It’s a good way to get a ride and catch up a bit!

Public transportation

A lot of airports may not have the best public transportation available, but for Dulles you can ride the silver line and then a bus. The bus will run you $5 each way and a typical metro ride might cost you about $5 each way during peak hours.

2 x ($5 bus + $5 metro) = $20

By the way, if you’re traveling with other people, don’t forget to multiply this by the number of people you’re traveling with!

Less expensive lots

With the economy lots at Dulles, you’ll pay $10/day. With the same 7-day trip and mileage considered, it’ll be around $80 total. This is still a good chunk of change in my opinion.

Instead of just using the airport economy lot, try finding other lots around Dulles. It isn’t hard to find parking at nearby hotels for $7/day and they’ll let you hop right onto their airport shuttle.

$10 mileage cost + 7 days x $7/day parking = $59

Uber or Lyft

Catching an Uber can makes things easy. It isn’t the cheapest option, but it is still cheaper than those expensive lots. If you live 20 miles away from Dulles and travel during a non-busy time (that could be hard), you’ll probably pay around $40 for a trip to the airport.

2 x $40 uber fare = $80

It is easy to see that the clear winner is to grab a ride with a friend or family member if it is relatively convenient. Depending on how many people are traveling and if public transportation is available, you’d probably want to use public transport or cheaper lots next. Your mileage will vary, but consider how much you can save yourself by changing the ways you park at and/or travel to the airport.

Since a lot of people won’t fly for a vacation more than 1-2 times per year, this probably isn’t going to save boatloads of money. However, things like this can add up. If you aren’t trying to easily save a little bit of money when you take trips to the airport, then there is a good chance you’re doing the same with other things too. Start making changes to your attitude about spending money on things like this and you’ll start to see that little changes can make a big difference to your savings!