Lost in the Lot? Tips for Locating Your Parked Car while Traveling

19 December 2011
lost in the 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 where you parked your car. There are many reasons a traveler may have trouble finding their vehicles:

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

Everyone has a trick for making it easier to find their car when they’ve parked it at their favorite grocery store or even in the lot where they work, but the key when you’re traveling is to stay aware and to remember to implement the same useful techniques you use 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 that work at home.

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 the park. We’ve read about Christmas holiday shoppers who decorate their cars so they can locate them as well.

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 – ideally from where you are headed.
  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. Know your license plate number. This is a little easier if you’ve parked your own car, but you’d be surprised how many people cannot 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.

Use on-hand technology 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. On the other hand, here are some very quick and easy to implement technology tricks you can use in airport and shopping center parking lots, but also 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 and 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.
Damian Tysdal

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.