Toggle Navigation
How to Parallel Park: Tips & Tricks for Smooth Parking

Table of content

7 min read

How to Parallel Park: Tips & Tricks for Smooth Parking

We’ve all had that last minute mad dash to get to the airport. Rushing to catch your flight to go on your dream holiday or get to a super important business meeting is a common scenario. You arrive in the car park, and have to parallel park. Perhaps you have a sense of dread as you feel that the world is watching? Will you or won’t you park like a pro? Here we give you some top tips to help you do just that.

What is parallel parking?

Simply put, parallel parking is when you have to park parallel to the roadside. At airport car parks, the majority of parking spaces will allow you to drive straight into a space. But at busy airports like Faro, if you’re running late, the only spaces left may need you to parallel park.

Parallel parking commonly rates amongst the most detested of all driving necessities. However, a little practice goes a long way and will save your nerves time and time again. But where do you start?

Parallel Park sign

Let the parking begin

First, make sure your chosen space is big enough for your car. If there are cars parked in front and behind that space, make sure they’re properly within their spaces. Drive up parallel to the gap and move forward until the centre of your window lines up with the front of the car in front of your space. Now, check your mirrors and turn to check your blind spot! Airport car parks are busy places. Ensure that it’s safe to reverse before you start to back up slowly.

Check your mirrors again

As you slowly reverse back, keep looking through the rear windscreen and checking your mirrors. Line up your rear tyres with the rear bumper of the car alongside you and stop. Check your blind spot again.

Pass the bumper in front

Now comes the essential manoeuvre. If reversing into a space on your right-hand side, slowly and steadily turn the wheel one complete turn to the right. Use your wing mirror to check the kerb position and your rearview mirror to check the car behind.

Once your car has passed the back bumper of the car in front, stop. Now turn the wheel to the left. Use full lock to bring your car in towards the kerb. Remember here it is turn fast, but reverse slow! Finally, straighten your position by now turning the steering wheel to the right so that you’re reversing straight.

If you are parking on the left, just reverse the steering directions. So, turn left first, full lock right, then left to straighten.

Adjust and adjust some more

Either way, check your back mirror to see the distance between your car and the car behind. Don’t forget you’ve probably got a suitcase or two in the boot, so make sure you have left enough space to get those cases out! Adjusting your car’s position into the middle of the space is also courteous. Giving your parking neighbours a little extra room is always nice. We’ve all been squashed in and unable to open the boot, and it’s never pleasant.

Parallel Park inside

Mission accomplished (almost)

Now that you’ve got that parallel park out of the way, it’s time to get on with your onward journey. Perhaps you’ll be picking up a car rental when you fly in to some beautiful city such as Florence. Maybe your rental is parallel parked, and you’ll have to manoeuvre out. It’s always somewhat less daunting getting out of the spot than into it. Again, it’s all about checking those mirrors and moving slowly. Just reverse as close as you can to the car behind without hitting it, then full lock in the direction out. Keep checking your mirrors and blind spot throughout.

Skipping parallel parking altogether

OK, we get it. You still might not be convinced that you can master that perfect parallel park! Don’t worry. We’ve you covered. You’ll never have to parallel park if you choose our valet parking option. Simply book, drive to the designated handover spot and our valet will do the rest!

We offer some other pretty handy parking options, too. If you have a super early morning flight to catch, you can avoid that mad morning dash by booking one of our Park Sleep Fly options available at selected US airports.

Always plan your airport parking

By planning your airport parking in advance, you can take away the hassle. Using our car parking comparison site will take just a few minutes and can save you time and money. But, now, regardless of which option you choose, if you have to parallel park, it should be a breeze! And that’s a major win.

Still doubtful? Watch our video How does parallel parking work?