Travel

Parking fees at city hotels can send car rental costs soaring

You may be used to renting a car during your vacation, but you could save money – and parking hassles – by skipping the rental. Depending on your destination, and how much you’d be driving, it may make more sense to use an alternative form of transportation.

Many cities are easy to get around without a car, and if you are going to San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Washington, D.C., or New York, you can pay outrageous amounts for hotel parking.

For example, the daily parking rate at the Westin Copley Place Boston is $53, and the Hilton San Francisco Union Square is $54 for self-parking and $63 for valet parking. The Omni Berkshire Place in New York is $55 for self-parking and $65 for valet parking, with no in and out privileges. The Park Hyatt in Chicago is $69.

$69 Daily parking rate at the Park Hyatt in Chicago

Also factor in parking fees at destinations throughout the city you’ll be visiting. The amount you can save on parking, combined with good public transportation and access to taxis and car-sharing companies, can make it easy to skip renting a car.

Many travelers are turning to Uber and Lyft instead of paying for a rental car that will get little use. To use one of these services, you will need to have the app installed on your smartphone.

You can request a car through the app, get an estimate of the cost and locate nearby cars through a map. Payment is done through the app, so you can hop out of the vehicle at the end of the ride without having to fumble for your wallet. Another advantage is that you plug in your destination address so there won’t be confusion about directions.

If you will be visiting a city, check public transportation maps before you book a car rental. Most of these websites will allow you to plug in addresses to find out routes, times and fares for your trips. You may find that you can get around on public transportation so you won’t need a rental car, taxi or a car-sharing service.

If you want to do some sightseeing away from the city, rent a car for a day or two instead of the whole trip. You’ll save money on the rental car fee and parking fees when you rent for a shorter period.

Off-airport rental locations often have cheaper rates, and they don’t have some of the taxes and fees that are added onto cars from airport rental locations.

Off-airport rental locations often have cheaper rates, and they don’t have some of the taxes and fees that are added onto cars from airport rental locations. Even if you want a car for your whole trip, you may want to look at off-airport rental rates.

If you must have a car in a city with expensive hotel parking fees, there are ways to save money. Look for a hotel package that includes free parking in the rate, and compare it to the regular rate. Also, if you stay farther from the city center, the hotel’s parking may be free.

The next time you go on a trip, examine your transportation options and do a little math. You may find extra money in your budget if you can skip the car rental.

Tom Parsons is CEO of www.bestfares.com. Email him at media@bestfares.com.

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