Driving yourself is probably the easiest and most convenient choice. But you do have to worry about paying to park and dragging your bag from the parking lot to the terminal. Depending on the the airport, you'll probably have a few parking choices, varying in cost and convenience: Onsite, onsite remote and offsite. Of course, the longer your trip, the more parking will cost if you park your car at the airport. So you may want to consider another means of transportation.
Onsite remote and offsite parking are less expensive but can risk your safety. Because they are generally a greater distance from the terminal, you may find yourself alone and unprotected in a far-away parking lot at night. Check to see if the operators offer a shuttle bus to and from the terminal to alleviate security concerns. Consider the time of your scheduled return when deciding where to park as well.
I like to get into the airport as quickly and as painlessly as possible so I always park on the airport grounds, close to the terminal, even if it costs more. I'm willing to pay for piece of mind. Wherever you decide to park, make sure your car is in a well-lit area and if you're in a garage, as close to the elevator bank as possible.
Once your car is parked and you're about to leave the vehicle, check and make sure of the following:
- All valuables left in the car while you're away are stored in the trunk. Always put your valuables in the trunk before arriving at the airport lot. You never know who is watching. If you can leave your stuff at home, do so.
- Note where you parked your car and write the car's location on your ticket and be sure to bring it with you. If you forget where you parked, check with garage security. They may have it recorded.
When you're returning to your car after your trip, follow these tips to protect yourself:
- Have your keys out and ready before you get to the car. You do not want to have to put your bags down while trying to find your keys. Doing so not only takes your eyes off the car and surroundings, but it allows someone to sneak up behind you undetected. Don't give anyone that chance!
- When walking up to the car, look around to see if anything seems out of place. Before getting into the car, look into the front and back seats to make sure there's no one in them. If anything looks wrong, turn around and get to a secure, well-lit place as quickly as possible. Call security immediately and have them handle the situation.
- Ask for an escort to your car if you're the least bit uncomfortable. Some larger airports provide this service so don't feel silly or embarrassed about asking for help. Trust your judgement and intuition. I may feel like I can conquer anything on the road but I've also learned when to ask for help.
And one more thing, if you're running late and don't think you're going to catch your flight if you have to park your car - see if the airport offers valet parking. It may cost you extra but it will probably be worth it to avoid missing your flight.
See you on the road!