Travel Tip – How to Find Your Car in a Crowded Parking Lot

airport parking lot

Okay, so raise your hand if you’ve ever parked your car and then went to find it and you couldn’t because you totally forgot where you parked? Um that would be me x 1000. If you know me in real life, then you know I have zero sense of direction. Which makes traveling with me really, really, fun.

parking lot signs

But one of the cool tricks I’ve learned along the way is to take a photo of where I parked with my phone. If I’m at the airport, I take a picture of the stall I parked in.

If I’m downtown and parked on the street, then I take a picture of the nearest cross street. I figure if I get lost, I can always ask someone for directions back to where I parked.

san francisco street signs

How about YOU? Do you have any clever tricks to help you remember where you parked? Or are you one of those cool cats with a big boquet of flowers tapped to your antenna?


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  1. Amanda says

    It is hard for me to read that Francisco sign without putting San in front of it! Anyway, yes, I take photos of where I’m parked when it’s in a parking garage, but when it’s on the street I’m usually fine.

  2. Lost says

    Any tips for finding in the parking lot of a big box store? The sea of anonymous, unmarked stalls always gets me. My kids are starting to think it’s normal to wander the lot looking for the car . . .

    • Mavis Butterfield says

      Perhaps a flower for your car’s antenna? LOL. I know I’m going to be one of those little old ladies that needs security to help them find their car.

      • mildred lane says

        I use my car key for the hazard lite flashing and car horn to sound to find my car plus it is recommended to keep your car keys at your bed side and if u have a break in at your home- do the hazard key thing to scare them off. love your blog, keep it up.

    • Maple Bergstrom says

      Walk straight up the lane you parked, and then count how many lanes to the entrance. The first one being directly across from the entrance. When you exit you simply count, one, two, three, four, and five. That’s the lane you walk up. Doing this also puts it in your memory that you’ve parked to the right of the entrance. Instead of thinking about what we’re going in there for, and all the other things we need to do. Which is why we can’t remember where we parked in the first place.

  3. Kate says

    Actually, they have apps for this now. You can lock in on where you park, then receive directions through the GPS on your phone to get back there.

  4. Nancy D says

    A couple of years ago my adult son and I met in Las Vegas. We parked in a huge multi-level parking structure and ate dinner and saw the Blue Man Group show. We then spent three hours trying to find our rental car hoping it would honk with the key fob. We had security on a bicycle looking also and finally gave up and took a taxi back to our hotel. The next morning we found it after someone suggested that we were looking in the wrong parking structure! I guess they kind of connect underneath the hotels! (Combined with the fact that I’m directionally challenged anyway!) I will use this idea and take a photo! What a great idea!

  5. carol says

    Ha! I feel validated! Thanks! After wandering for over an hour in a crowded mall parking lot during the Christmas season (really the worst timing) in the rain one year, I do similar things. Haven’t taken a picture, though. Good idea!

  6. Lynn says

    1) when I am with a small child, I as we are leaving the vehicle, I offer the child a dollar (or two) if they can find the car when we are ready to return. This has NEVER failed…
    2)re how to find it in big box store (assuming no child is with you, grin)….once inside store, take a pic of the inside of the door you entered through…

  7. Laura says

    I try to park in the same row every time I shop! That won’t work in a new place of course. Then I depend on beeping the key. I once saw an elderly man wandering around the mall parking lot. I asked if he needed help, and he was looking for his car. I spent a long time helping him, even beeping for it. I heard a far distant beep, and low and behold, his car was on the lower level of the garage, below us! He hugged me and was so happy! (I’m not so sure he ought to be out driving alone, or even driving at all…)

  8. Penelope says

    Since we got a couple of different cars recently, I’ve had a hard time remembering what car I drove… which inevitably leads to not finding my car in any parking lot.

    • Margery says

      That is me back when I used to have a 12 pass Chevy Express, spent an hour looking for it in the parking lot pushing my cart around. Even called the husband crying that I can’t find the van, someone must of stole it, it’s so big why can’t I find it. Then he interrupts me and reminds me I drove his car, which at the time was a very little four door car.

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