¨All human life can be found in an airport.
David Wallia

This blog was written before the COVID Pandemic. The COVID epidemics played havoc on the travel business. In 2022, Fifty Plus Nomad decided to focus on traveling and living in Mexico and language learning posts. We will only update these long-term travel-related posts on a time-permitting basis. We would appreciate your comments and updates on these posts.

Quick, Trouble-Free Tips for Getting to the Airport Easily

After a while, many Fifty Plus Nomads may find that they get tired of getting to and from airports. Here are eight simple getting to the airport tips to reduce your frustration: 

3 Tips for Getting Long-Term Parking at Faraway Airports

  • If you need to park your car at the airport for several days, consider renting a room for the night and asking the hotel if they will let you park your car until you come home. Usually, they will charge you more for the night’s accommodation than you would pay otherwise, but it still may be less than it costs to park your car at a lot near the airport. Parking a vehicle near the airport usually costs $15-30 a day for a lot next to the airport and $6-15 a day for a lot two to five miles away. (Note: you can make parking reservations online. You will be shuttled to the airport from the parking lots that are away from the airport.) A hotel room with parking usually costs $100-150 a night. Sometimes, however, the free parking is only available for a limited period (most commonly, one week). If you park for more time, you may have to pay extra (usually less than you would pay at an airport parking lot). Generally, inexpensive hotels charge less for parking and will allow you to park for a more extended time for no additional charge. (You can rarely park a car for more than two weeks without paying an extra fee). For more information on these parking/room specials, check out www.parksleepfly.com. 
  • If you are planning to travel for less than a couple of days, you may be able to park your car at a suburban train station or a park-and-ride lot for free (or low cost) and take the train or bus to the airport and, thus, save the high parking costs. Check websites or call the station for details. Be careful since this option is unavailable from every station/park and ride lot, and you could come home to a hefty ticket if it is prohibited. 
  • If you need to travel to an airport far from home to pick up a flight, you may want to consider renting a car and driving it to the airport rather than taking a shuttle. Usually, there is no drop-off fee (drop-off fees typically occur when you rent a car from one location and drop it off at another location) for bringing a vehicle to a major airport. Sometimes if you are leaving from a more off-the-beaten-path destination, the rental fees can be very reasonable. 

4 Ways to Get to and From the Airport Tips

  • You can travel by public transportation to the airport and bypass paying parking fees altogether. Yes, it may take several hours in many suburban and rural communities. However, almost no home in the US is completely inaccessible by public transport. You will eventually get to the airport even if you have to make many transfers. (Public transportation is available easily between the largest central city and the airport. Buses, for example, go from Union Station in downtown Los Angeles to Los Angeles (LAX) every thirty minutes and from Seattle’s airport (Sea-Tac) to downtown Seattle every 10-20 minutes. Subway trains serve San Francisco Airport (SFO), O’Hare in Chicago (ORD), Washington-National (DCA), Logan Airport in Boston (BOS), etc. 
  • Trains and buses also provide connections from downtown to most major airports in Europe and Asia. I had never had trouble getting to the airport in Europe and Asia by public transportation, even when I needed an early morning flight. 
  • After a long flight, I consider taking a taxi or Uber from the airport to wherever I am staying to be an incredible luxury. For many years, I tried to save money by using public transportation from the airport to somewhere near my hotel and walking or taxiing to my destination. Sure, I used to save $20 to $30 this way, and, as I told myself, I got right into the destination’s spirit. But, about eight years ago, I realized that all I did was arrive at my destination tired and frustrated. (Just buying a train ticket often felt like work after a long flight). Nowadays, I am more than happy to pay for a taxi. (For some reason, in about 75% of all cases, I spend around $40-$50 for the cab from the airport to my hotel). 
  • If you are going to Europe and want to get to the airport tips, consult Rick Steves’ guides for some excellent advice. (Here is a link to helpful information from Rick Steves about European airports)
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Make Sure You Know Your Correct Flight Terminal Before Getting to the Airport Tips

Before leaving for the airport, ensure you know the correct terminal and the airline check-in counter location.  

I learned this lesson hard on a flight from Barcelona to Montreal on Air Transat.  

I asked the cab driver to take me to the international terminal, which he did. However, when I got there, I discovered that it was the wrong terminal, and no one seemed to know where was the correct terminal. (Note: AirTransat only flies this route once a week).

I waited for a shuttle to another terminal in the rain. (Note: Some airports like Cancun have no scheduled shuttles between terminals, and many other airports, like Barcelona, lack adequate signage between terminals).

The shuttle was extremely crowded. When I got to what I thought was the correct terminal, I had to walk to another nearby terminal. 

I was soaked by the time I got to the correct check-in counter. Fortunately, I arrived at the airport early enough to make the flight; however, I wasted forty-five frustrating minutes just getting to the correct terminal.

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Additional Getting to the Airport Tips

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Additional Long-Term Travel Related Posts from Fifty-Plus Nomad

Paul Heller has been a lifelong avid traveler and language learner and teacher, Even as a child, he told Santa Claus that he wanted to visit all the children worldwide. At seven years old, Paul wanted to retire to Mexico. At eight, he memorized the name, capital, location, and some facts about every country worldwide. At twelve, he found a book "Lonely Planet: Southeast Asia on a Shoestring" and started developing his own itinerary for a future round-the-world trip. He remained obsessed with travel; after getting a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Southern California and working as an administrator, He spent his vacations going to different countries around the globe studying language, touring, and volunteering. In 1994, he quit his job and lived in Russia as a volunteer English instructor. He discovered that he loved teaching languages. In 2004, he decided to make a living out of his travels and founded a community of people who love to travel just like him. He developed 5 three-hour classes about living and traveling long-term worldwide which he taught in over 50 adult education programs throughout the US. After his parents passed, he realized his dream of traveling around the world; cruising and touring some of the most remote places like the North Atlantic, Patagonia, and Oceania; and learning new languages (he knows Spanish, Italian, French, and Russian). Paul encourages everyone to learn foreign languages. He knows that it can be frustrating and slow but that anyone can learn a language if they put in the work and, most importantly, learning a language is well worth the time and effort because it opens up a whole new set of people, ideas, and cultures. He is currently spending the next chapter of his life in Mérida, México. He is excited about using this blog and his classes and workshops to inspire and equip fellow Fifty Plus Nomads with the language, cultural, and psychological skills necessary to be successful and happy long-term travelers and expats over 50.

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