How to be a parking ninja

As we plotted out our 2016 summer adventure around Pennsylvania, there was only one day that had Jarrett and me sweating bullets: Our day trip into Philly. No, it wasn’t the traffic nor the crowds–although we do prefer our wide-open spaces! Our dilemma was where in the world were we going to find a guaranteed spot to park our 7.5-foot tall, and 18.5-foot long tow vehicle? Our van’s height (plus the added rack) prevented us from squeezing into any of the parking garages near our touring sites, which meant we were limited to finding a spot in an open-air lot or along a side street. That’s when we discovered the best-kept secret for parking big vehicles in the city!


The secret to solving our parking woes was the discovery of, a parking spot reservation service. Using the handy searchable map, we could compare prices and look for an open air lot in walking distance to Independence Hall. Each available reservation spot also provided more information about any restrictions or additional details about what to expect when parking in that lot.

City parking with a tow vehicle

We landed a spot with Patriot Parking on Arch Street, not far from the Betsy Ross house and a walkable distance to Independence Hall. Before arriving, I won’t deny that we were still a bit nervous about how this was all going to work. What if we showed up but they had neglected to save us a big enough spot–what then? But, thankfully, everything worked just as it was supposed to.

When we arrived Jarrett simply had to hand our printed reservation to the attendant and then pay the extra fee for our large vehicle. The attendant even allowed Jarrett to park in a spot that would allow us to easily pull forward when we were ready to leave. City parking with a tow vehicle

A couple things to note about using parking spot reservation services:

  • Read the restrictions carefully to make sure your vehicle will fit.
  • Keep in mind some sites will charge an additional fee for oversized vehicles.
  • Some sites are valet-assist, so you may have to leave your keys with the attendant.
  • Make sure you print off your reservation and bring it with you.
  • Also make sure you arrive within your reservation window or else you may be charged an additional fee, or worse, you might lose your spot. Additionally, be sure to leave the parking spot before the end of your reservation window.

City parking with a tow vehicle

The best part about using this parking spot reservation service? By reserving online we scored a parking spot (between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.) for our huge vehicle for only $9, and then we just had to pay an additional oversize vehicle fee of $10 onsite. That seemed like a deal to us!

So that’s how we conquered the issue of parking our huge tow vehicle and became parking ninjas. What strategies have you used?

2 thoughts on “How to be a parking ninja

  1. Gretchen

    Philadelphia is the only place we’ve had any trouble so far….we finally found on street parking, but it was with a 2 hour limit on the meter, which had us rushing to see everything. Next time I’ll have to remember to try Parking Panda! (and I love pandas, so even better ;))

    1. Kristin Post author

      We should form a support group for the challenges we face with parking our vans. 😉 When we first bought the Savana, we still lived in the city and the houses across the street didn’t have driveways, so everyone parked on the street. Thus, backing our behemoth out of our driveway was tricky depending on where the cars were all parked. Jarrett spent an hour with me that first weekend helping me practice pulling in and out of our driveway. I’m glad to say I now can back it up quite successfully in a variety of tight situations, but at the time I was not a happy camper. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *