How to remember where you parked

a parking garage with many carsMy mom and I recently got into a conversation about how we remember where we park our cars at the airport. I don’t actually usually have to remember, because I typically park at an off-site parking facility which handily writes down my space and hands me the paper. Then when I am ready to go back to my car, I had the slip of paper to the driver and he takes me right to it. However, on day trips I will park in the airport garage. I try to always park on row K (this is the first letter of Home Warrior’s name). This morning my usual row was not available, so I had to figure out how I would remember that I parked on row “M”. Here is what I came up with.

  • If you can, always park on the same row. My mom said she would park really far down on the row just to be on that same row. As I said above, I will always try to park on the same row as well.
  • If that row is not available, you can always try a mnemonic device, like (what I finally came up with for this morning): M for Marriage. (I thought about M for Mom, but I wasn’t sure that would work. My wedding anniversary is this month so hopefully I will remember this.)
  • If you’re really worried about your memory, write it down and stick it in your wallet like I do when I park at the off-site location.
  • If you lose your car, you can always try sounding the alarm or flashing the lights using your remote. One time after a particularly long and brutal day trip, I walked right past my car on the row. I was slightly hysterical (and more than slightly punch-drunk) by the time I thought to unlock my car, which made my lights flash, which showed me where my car was.

I hope this helps you! And thanks Mom for the good ideas.

(Pictured: Airport Parking at ATL)


  1. One of the best things I have done is use the valet service at the airport. It’s only normally $3-4 more than parking at the terminal and cuts a ton of time off of the commute. There is nothing better than hopping out of your car straight to security on Mondays and flying in on a Thursday night and just getting off the plane and walking outside and you’re on your way. The other important reason I do it is for safety. Those parking garages can become a bit scary late at night all by yourself.

  2. My parking strategy is just to remember odd or even numbers, and match those to the terminal, elevator, and floor where I parked. That is to say, if I am flying United out of ORD, that is Terminal 1. So I park near elevator 3, on the 5th level. When I’m returning from my trip, even if I land at a different terminal, I just remember 1-3-5, which is the order in which I have to walk back to the car… walk to T1, go to E3, and head up to level 5!

  3. If you have a camera phone, just snap a picture of the parking space number or row number.

  4. These are all great tips! I never would have thought about taking a pic with my iPhone. Clever!

  5. If you manage to complete lose your car and are unable to find it after wandering around the wrong parking lot for an hour (as I may have done once), security can help you locate it as they record every liscence plate (and the affiliated parking spot) in their lots on a daily basis. Amazing, a little scary, and very helpful after if you are wandering around in the dark with luggage in tow.

  6. I try to park as close to the terminal entrance as possible – to remember where I parked, I use that old-fashioned method of writing the into on the ticket…which I’ll need to exit the parking facility.

  7. This is handy even if you don’t travel much, because you’re not used to having to remember a parking assingment. Case in point–my mom picked me up from the airport on Sunday and didn’t remember which level of the terminal parking she parked on. Not a fun search at 11 at night.

  8. If your phone has a calendar (most do these days), go to the day your flight returns and add an appointment at your arrival time that has your lot/level/row/space info in it.

  9. I know I’m late to this party, but I have a standing “memo” in my blackberry — I always note my parking spot/row etc. there (just replace from the last trip). And I also write what shuttle stop – I always seem to worry that I’ll get off at the wrong one and that I’ll be wandering throughout the lot – this definitely helps.
    Love your blog, btw.

  10. Text the zone and color to your phone. You will see the sent text and the received text too. Works every time!

  11. I have used the take picture with my phone before and that works great but if you have an iPhone then there’s an app called “take me to my car” – it’s quite simple and free to use.

    It lets you save your current position with two taps (including starting the application) and lets you get directions to your parking location with just one tap!

    On top of it, it functions just like regular Maps application allowing you to browse and zoom in/out on the map. It’s pretty decent and it’s free, can’t go wrong with it.

    Hope this helps.

  12. iPhone users – you can also just type a note on your phone.. or if you Travel through American Airlines, now when you go and check-in through your mobile device..they have a parking reminder icon where you can simply take a picture of where you parked.

  13. I valet unless it’s short term parking. Otherwise, like scott, I add the location info on my Calendar.

  14. I put a calendar entry with my parking spot details [bus stop, parking area, and a description [by fence, under lamp post etc.] in my calendar for when I return. I get a reminder on my blackberry on the long term parking bus on my way back. Works if you have a PDA or paper calendar.

  15. I try to park in the same area every time and I snap a photo of the location # and I text my parking spot to my significant with an “I love you” note.

    When I return I can see the text and the location. Now two people know where I parked…

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