We’ve all had that sinking feeling, looking around a crowded garage and not remembering where you parked.
Don’t beat yourself up. You’ve been running around all day and have a million things on your mind. Perhaps you were distracted while locking your car, talking on the phone and walking to a building’s front door without taking note of where to return across a vast parking lot.
Take a deep breath. Here are some ways, tech and not, to climb back behind the wheel of your very own vehicle. You can start on a few of these solutions before you need them.
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1. Make your car unique
White, black, gray and silver together make up nearly 4 of every 5 cars on the road this year, according to iSeeCars, an auto research company based in Woburn, Massachusetts. If yours is one of them, you need to find a way to make it stand out, similar to the principle of decorating your black suitcase so you can spot it quickly in an airport’s baggage claim area.
Not many vehicles have tall antennas any longer, but you can tie a large colorful ribbon around it if yours does. If not, stick a big magnet on the rear bumper; affix a see-through graphic to the rear window; or clip bunny ears, decorative flags or reindeer antlers to your side windows that will stick up when the windows are rolled up.
Some seasonal kits come complete with a fabric tail flowing out your back hatch to better showcase your vehicle whose rear end will likely be what you see first. You’ll want any option to be visible from far away.
Or for your next car, consider a more visible color. Fewer than 0.1 percent in the United States are yellow, such as BMW’s X3 or X4 M Series Sports Activity vehicles in São Paulo yellow; Chevrolet’s Blazer, Colorado, Spark or Trailblazer in nitro yellow; Jeep’s Gladiator and Wrangler models in high velocity yellow; Porsche’s 911 models in racing yellow; Subaru’s Crosstrek in plasma yellow pearl; and Toyota’s GR Supra in nitro yellow.
2. Park near an identifying landmark
A good way to remember where you parked is to leave your vehicle near an easily identifiable landmark, such as a specific sign, building or anything else that can be seen from far away. If you go someplace regularly, try to park in a similar location each time and note that.
Airports, shopping malls and theme park lots often have letters or numbers on a sign, perhaps mounted to a lamppost, so you can remember whether you’re in Lot G or Row 4. In Toronto, one huge underground garage has signs with animal silhouettes to help you recall the “rabbit” section.
3. Stay away from everyone else
Some drivers like to steer away from the crowds and park at the farthest fringes of a lot. More people try to get as close as they can to an entrance.
Sure, an empty section could fill up before you return to it. But those without mobility challenges will find some bonuses of parking far away.
• The longer walk to the door will help you get your 10,000 steps a day.
• Fewer vehicles at the edges of a parking lot reduce the odds of someone dinging your car’s door or bumper.
4. Snap a photo or shoot a video
When you exit your vehicle, pull out your smartphone and take a photo of it — perhaps with a sign or landmark in the same shot — so you can easily find it later. Or shoot a short video that will give you a you-are-here idea of where it is in a large parking lot.