How to Take the Stress out of Parking in the City

Friday, 19 September 2014

Whether you're in town to finish some shopping, attend an important business meeting or meet up with friends, there's one thing every trip to the city has in common: the panicked search for parking spaces. But it doesn't have to be this way - instead, check out our quick guide to making your visit hassle-free.

Find parking spaces in advance

A survey conducted last year found that UK drivers typically spend a whopping 106 days of their life looking for a parking spot. But don't fret - you can easily cut down on the amount of time wasted with a little pre-trip research. A quick click on the website of the relevant local authority, one of the car park giants (NCP and RCP are among the biggest) or local shopping centres will usually provide plenty of options, allowing you to navigate that space much more quickly and easily.

Use a sat nav to direct you

Once you've got your eyes on the prize, don't undo all your good work by guiding yourself to a vague destination. Set up your sat nav to navigate you straight to the car park or parking space you're looking for. You might find this especially useful in cities with mind-boggling one-way systems.

Leave plenty of time to arrive

Sat navs love to tell you exactly how long your journey will take, with traffic reporting delivering to-the-minute arrival times. But don't take this as gospel. Traffic changes, we take wrong turns, and lorries drive slowly when you're in a rush. Avoid the stress of these encounters by allowing an extra 10% on top of your predicted journey time.

Have a backup plan in place

Parking spaces fill up quickly, particularly during peak hours: so don't be surprised if your first choice of parking spot is gone when you get there. Just make sure you have a Plan B in place. Innovative smartphone apps are useful in this regard. ParkMe is among the most widely used, and allows spaces to be registered in advance in some cases. Also popular are ParkMobile and RingGo.

Keep coins handy...

We might be moving toward a cashless society with touch payments and mobile bank transfers, but many parking meters still only accept loose change. Make sure to keep a few coins in your car in case you encounter one of these.

...and your phone charged

Of course, there are now also places where mobile payment is mandatory. A handy in-car charger will ensure you're not caught short here either.

Take your time

Forget the embarrassment of multiple attempts on a parking space - getting it right is more important than getting in quickly. One study found that last year alone over 10 million car owners suffered costs and car insurance claims in closely-packed car parks, 50% of which related to scuffs and scrapes on car doors. So it pays to park carefully and leave plenty of space for neighbouring cars.

Be doubly sure before closing the door

Whether you're in a car park or on the street, make sure you're parked within an allocated spot, and that your ticket is clearly displayed where required. Sometimes spaces are closed for maintenance, security or any number of reasons: so make sure you read all nearby signs and observe all road markings before locking the door and leaving your car behind.


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