I don’t know about you, but when I started traveling with kids, I found it to be a challenge to park at the airport and get them and all of their gear to and from the terminal. We live more than an hour from the airport in an area where there is not much available in the way of public transportation, so we park at the airport almost every time we go somewhere if it’s not more than 2-3 weeks at a time. Before kids, we used to park in the economy section of our airport’s onsite parking. It was easy and a reasonable price. The only hard part is that you have to get to a shelter to get picked up by a bus. I continued to do that after having Little C. I would just keep driving around until I could find a spot right next to a shelter so I wouldn’t have to cart our gear too far. (Typically I travel at least one way by myself so I don’t always have a lot of help with our bags). For years, my mom has been telling me that she parks off site at her airport because it’s cheaper, and because they follow you to your car, help you load your bags, and then shuttle you straight to the terminal. I finally did a little research before our first trip with two kiddos, and she was absolutely right! Our airport has a couple of off site parking lots that are comparable in price to the airport’s economy parking lot, BUT they shuttle you to the terminal on a more personal level.
A typical trip to the off site airport parking lot would be for us to drive in, find a spot, and start unloading our bags, car seats, stroller, and whatever else we might need for the trip. A shuttle bus pulls up right behind our car and the driver gets out to help load everything into the shuttle. We go directly to our terminal. AND, at our airport, our the off site shuttle delivers us upstairs, which is much closer to check-in than where the airport’s economy shuttle drops us. When we land, we get our bags and call the parking lot’s shuttle number. Usually, by the time we walk across the street to the pickup point, a shuttle is a minute or two away. I don’t think I’ve ever even waited a full five minutes. Then they drop us directly at the trunk of our car and often help put the bags in the car. I admit, families, and especially parents traveling with kids by themselves, might get a little extra help, but I take what I can get! I make sure to tip the driver a dollar or two per piece of baggage.
My favorite tip for parking at the airport with kids is to use an off site parking lot with a shuttle service that picks you up and drops you back directly next to your car. It’s a huge stress relief for me to take the baggage hauling factor out of at least one part of the trip.