The most frustrating thing about traveling in a densely populated tourist area is finding a parking spot for your car. You may have faced one of these issues when you arrived at your destination in a vehicle:

  1. Finding a garage to park:
    1. None of the parking garages nearby have any more spots available.
    2. The ones that are open are charging an exorbitant fee for the time you want to park
  2. Finding street parking:
    1. You make circles around a block and drive into multiple side streets hoping to find an open spot.
    2. The street parking spot you find has a one/two hour limit to it, and you have to return in the middle of your planned program to extend your parking duration.
  3. In either of the above scenarios, you end up parking away from your location to save money but you eventually spend more time walking to your destination.

While I suggest not to drive in a busy city like New York or Chicago during your trip, I understand that sometimes it’s just not possible to ditch the vehicle. Well, if that’s the case, here is a list of parking apps that have made my travel very convenient by saving both time and money on my trips.


This is my go-to app for finding garage parking, both public and private, in crowded cities. All you need to do is enter an address and the hours, and it will list down the available options. You can then compare them based on price and distance to the entered address.

The app also provides additional info about the establishment such as if the parking is self-park or valet, covered or open, accessible or not, etc. It also lists any height restrictions, whether you can take your car out and park it back in, and easy to follow info on how to enter the gates. However, the only downside is that it does not allow filtering based on these parameters.

On average, It has saved about 20% to 50% over the listed prices for me and has guaranteed a reserved spot before arrival.

#TravelSmart Tip

If you want to save $7 on your first reservation on SpotHero, use this link to create an account and get started.


While ParkMobile does everything that SpotHero does, the parking options recommended for any given time and location are very less. Also, the prices aren’t discounted enough. Then why are we even discussing it? That’s because the app specializes in making street parking super duper convenient.

Imagine arriving at a street parking spot and following three simple steps. Scan a QR code on the display sign in front of you, enter the number of hours and minutes you want to park and pay directly through the app. That’s precisely what you do with this app. No more worrying about carrying quarters or dealing with the greasy pay booths.

The cherry on the cake is that if you wish to extend the duration, you can do that in the app from wherever you are without returning to the car. The only catch here is that they charge a convenience fee which ranges from 30 to 50 cents.

Another great feature is how the app allows users to search for parking near an event. Frequent event goers can tap on a venue and view scheduled events. For any event, you can then compare the nearby options in the same way as SpotHero.

Pro users can check the availability of a street parking spot in advance and pay reduced transaction fees. The pro membership costs 99 cents a month which isn’t bad at all.

#TravelSmart Tip

If you extend your reservation, you’ll be assessed the convenience fee again. Planning the parking duration in advance if possible will help in avoiding this fee.


As you probably already know, Groupon does a variety of coupons ranging from experiences to gift items. Sometimes the inventory might shock you.

But one thing I have repeatedly found the cheapest on Groupon is airport parking. And by that, I don’t mean discounts for parking at the airport garage. I mean discounted rates of parking lots that are very close to the airport.

These lots offer shuttle services that drop and pick you before and after your flights. Although this adds some extra time to the journey, the cost difference for long term parking (3 days or longer) compared to airport garage parking is steep, so it’s definitely worth it.

More and more apps are entering the market every year with a different spin on making parking easier for locals and travelers in busy cities. I’ll be updating this list as time goes with that next big parking app.

If this blog helps you travel and park smarter, subscribe with your email to more #TravelSmart posts and stay updated!