how to remember where you parked your car
[ Travel Tips ]

Travel Tip #1: How to Remember Where You Parked

I’m a huge Seinfeld fan — like, maybe the biggest. It’s just SO relatable to my everyday life. I firmly believe that no matter what situation is going on, there’s an appropriate quote from Seinfeld to accompany it. I also use this tactic to gauge new acquaintances’ senses of humor — if I bust out a Seinfeld quote and they know what I’m talking about (or, better yet, shoot another quote right back to me), then clearly they are awesome and we’re destined to become BFFs.

Last night, I saw an old Seinfeld episode: The Parking Garage. Do you remember this one? Kramer can’t remember where he parked at the mall, so he, Jerry, George and Elaine end up wandering aimlessly through the garage trying to find their car. Hilarity ensues, as Elaine’s newly purchased goldfish die in their plastic bag and George and Jerry get “mall-cop arrested” for public urination. The entire 30-minute show takes place in the parking garage — and finally, at the end, they stumble across their vehicle. Hint: If only they knew my handy travel tip for how to remember where you parked, the episode never would have existed (so in a weird way, I’m kinda glad they didn’t know).

A Rookie Mistake

That Seinfeld episode reminds me of the time, many years ago, when I flew to Disney World with a guy I was dating. We were young and not very experienced travelers. But he was finally old enough to rent a car, so that gave us a newfound freedom. The second we landed in Orlando, we grabbed a rental car (insert joke from the Seinfeld episode The Alternate Side here) and drove straight to the theme park. We parked our car in one of several massive lots and had a day of Disney fun.

When the park closed that evening, we were exhausted. We’d walked many miles, waited in lines, been rained on, were nauseated from too many spinning rides, and had dodged crowds all day long. All I wanted to do was get in the car and rest my poor, aching feet.

As we were walking toward the parking lot, I started to go one direction, and my then-boyfriend turned the opposite way. Uh oh. He said, “We’re parked over here.” To which I replied, “I thought we parked over there.” Since neither of us was confident in our memories, so we both immediately conceded and switched directions (still facing opposite one another). Oh no.

So we chose one lot randomly and agreed to start there. As we walked up and down a few rows, I quickly felt discouraged and said to him, “There are too many blue Chevys in this lot.” He replied, “Yeah, but our car is a black.” Um, no it wasn’t. It was blue. I think.

Yep, we realized we didn’t even know the model OR color of the car, let alone where we had parked it. In fact, we only knew the make because of the key. Total nightmare. We continued to walk up and down rows, clicking our key fob relentlessly, hoping to hear the car unlock or a beep of some sort. This went on for more than an hour — a whole extra hour of walking several more miles. I was beyond miserable and damn-near ready to have a temper tantrum similar to one I’d witnessed earlier that day, when a kid who was half an inch too short to ride a ride had a complete meltdown.

Eventually, an employee in a golf cart came by and we flagged him down. He drove us to the other lot and up and down many rows, until we finally heard that blissful “beep” from our rental car. It was dark green.

How to Remember Where You Parked

This brings me to my travel tip on how to remember where you parked. Everyone has a smart phone these days, so all you have to do is use the camera:
1. Before you get into your rental car for the first time, take one picture of the license plate and a second picture of the trunk (where the make/model appears). Make sure you can also see the color. Now you know exactly what you’re driving.
2. Anytime you park in a large place (an arena, a theme park, airport, a big mall, etc.), take another picture of any stationary landmark that will be recognizable — sometimes there are signs for rows, colors or names, or you can also use nearby buildings or trees or lampposts to identify your surroundings.

Simple, right? Nine times out of 10, you can find your car again by using this ‘how to remember where you parked’ travel tip. And if you still have a parking fail, these pictures will provide all the answers you need when you seek help.