Guest Author - Christine Wilcox
When you are traveling solo, especially in a new city, and have a rental car to get through the ins and outs of your day, one of the biggest issues can be parking Ė everything from FINDING parking in and of itself to having to park in less-than-desirable neighborhoods.
Before you go, if you are meeting at an office building downtown or a restaurant, ask the local party for parking recommendations. Sometimes, they will have tips and tricks that help you create a parking plan before you even leave. Also make sure that you carry at least three or four dollars in coins for parking meters. While some cities have credit card readers for their parking meters, not every city does.
If you have an opportunity to valet park your car, I would recommend taking it. Yes, it is more expensive. Yes, you are handing the keys to a rental car that you donít own over to someone you donít know. And yes, it is usually something that you would consider a luxury. However, the benefits of valet parking outweigh the costs. You never have to remember where you parked, you never have to walk through a dark parking garage or lot by yourself, and you have the added benefit of someone else checking your parked car before you get in it.
However, if you have to park your car yourself, do yourself the favor of familiarizing yourself with the remote for the car. Know precisely where the panic button is, and if you have to walk through an area that makes your creep-out meter go to 10, keep your thumb on it. Trust me, you would rather feel like an idiot for hitting the car alarm than be digging for your keys in your purse if you are in a threatening situation.
Always go around your car and look in all the windows before you get in your vehicle, and if you see anything suspicious or that makes you uncomfortable, grab your cell phone and make a quick call to a friend. If someone is hanging around, they are less apt to approach you if they think that you are having a conversation with someone who can pinpoint any information about your current whereabouts (or hear you scream...). You can also use your cell phone to take a quick picture of the license plate for your car, your surroundings, or anything pertinent that may add to your safety.
Always plan ahead and your solo travel will be smooth!
And in the event that doesn't work... always try this: "Hail Mary, Full of Grace, Please Find Me a Parking Place." :)