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Lost in the Lot? Tips for Finding Your Car while Traveling

Experienced travelers have their tricks for finding the car when traveling. Here’s how you can implement their tips.

19 December 2011
Lost in the Lot? Tips for Finding Your Car while Traveling

If you travel for work, for family, even for fun, you may have experienced that moment of panic when you realize you have no idea how to find your car. Even experienced travelers, perhaps especially experienced travelers, know it’s easy to lose your car in the lot.

How to Find Your Car’s Location in a Crowded Parking Lot

If you travel for work, for family, even for fun, you may have experienced that moment of panic when you realize you have no idea how to find your car. Even experienced travelers, perhaps especially experienced travelers, know it’s easy to lose your car in the lot.

There are many reasons you may have trouble finding your vehicle:

  • You were sleepy, tired and/or distracted when you parked it.
  • You are parking in an unfamiliar place.
  • You are driving an unfamiliar vehicle – rented or borrowed.
  • You parked it at the airport many days or weeks ago.

Most travelers have a trick to find their car when they’ve parked it at their favorite grocery store or even in the lot where they work. When you’re traveling, the key is to stay aware and to remember to use the same useful techniques you employ at home. 

If you’re running late for a business meeting, or trying to catch your flight, it can be tough to remember those techniques. It gets even harder, the more luggage you’re carrying.

We’ve read about visitors to Disney World tying identifying objects to their cars, like helium-filled balloons, so they can find their rental car when they’re ready to leave. We’ve read about Christmas holiday shoppers who decorate their cars so they can locate them.

3 Tips for Safely Parking Your Car

Start by implementing good parking techniques:

  1. Park near an identifying landmark. Try to park near an identifying landmark such as a specific building or sign. Ideally, the landmark should be something that can be seen from far away.
  2. Park away from the crowds. Parking at the farther edges of the lot means fewer cars will park around your vehicle, making it easier to see. Parking at one end of the street will give you a cross street that will help you located it quicker too.
  3. Record your license plate number. You’d be surprised how many people can’t tell you their car’s license plate number. It’s harder if you’re driving a rental car or your sister’s car and you’ve parked it somewhere. When you rent or borrow a car, store the license plate number by writing yourself a note, sending yourself a text, or snapping a photo of it. You’ll see why in just a minute.

See also: how to avoid rental car break-ins and thefts.

How to Use a Smartphone to Record Where you Parked

Many smart phones have applications that can help you store where your car is parked so you can find it. We can’t go into all the apps or all the phones here, so you’ll have to read about those on your own.

Here are some very quick and easy-to-implement tricks you can use in airport and shopping center parking lots. These will also help when you park on a street in Luxembourg:

  1. After you’ve parked, snap a photo of the row or street where you parked with your digital camera or phone. That will get you close to your car. Once you’re close, you can press your remote’s panic button once in a while to help you locate it. (Try not to do this at night if you’re parked near residences or hotels where people may be sleeping, of course.)
  2. Better yet, send yourself a text with the exact row or street where you parked. That will get you much closer to where you parked. On a cold, dark, and snowy night, that can make a big difference.
  3. If you can’t find your vehicle, call for help. Many airport parking lots and shopping center lots know that people often forget where they parked, so they’ve implemented technology to help you find your vehicle. If you cannot find your vehicle, call the posted phone number and give them your license plate number.

How to Find Your Parked Car with Google Maps

The days of walking around the lot clicking the remote are over. Google officially rolled out a new feature with Google Maps that helps you find your parked car.

Here’s how to use Google maps to find your car:

  1. When you park the car, open Google Maps and tap the blue dot that shows your location.
  2. Tap the ‘save your parking’ option.
  3. Google maps will save the spot on the map and indicate you parked here.
  4. To further refine the info, tap the blue ‘parking location’ bar.
  5. Add a note to help you locate the level and spot in the parking garage.
  6. Even better, snap a photo of the location (especially if you’re parked by a row marker).

If you’re leaving the car to be picked up by someone else, you can share the location with them by tapping the share icon.

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Damian Tysdal
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DamianTysdal

Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and he believes travel insurance should be easier to understand. He started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.

Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and he believes travel insurance should be easier to understand. He started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.