Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My Hotel Parking Strategy

This is my strategy for parking at hotels.

First rule: check for security by driving around the lot once during the day, also take note of the security cameras. Most cameras are at the main entrance but some have lot cameras. If you see a security cart, I do not recommend parking there for more then one night as they have lists of registered cars. I have not had any problems with these places but I do not recommend staying.

Second Rule: Locate staff vehicles. The guests all park at the entrance or side doors while the staff have to park at the other end. Depending on what shift they are on they may end up leaving while you are sleeping and may recognize your vehicle if it is there repeatedly. The goal is to be on the other side of the worker traffic but out of the view of the cameras.

Third rule: Avoid the No Go zones. These are vast areas of empty parking spots, typically used only by very large trucks (moving trucks). These can be easily spotted during the day as they do not have the usual evidence of vehicle fluid spots and have pristine parking lines.

Fourth rule: Location is everything in determining a good night of sleep. Use buildings as sound barriers. The diagram below is of a hotel I frequently stay at, I have noted my parking preference in green. This fits all the rules above and also lets me put up the sun shade without looking suspicious because the sun will be coming in from the right side of the drawing (or south if you noticed the north arrow). Also has a nice view and cooler temperatures.

Fifth rule: Take note of all street/lot lighting. This may sound strange but, with tinted windows, you want to be parked underneath the lights rather then farther away. If you are far away the light is coming in at an angle and will help illuminate the interior (not desired). Park under the light and it passes straight down and away and it also makes the vehicle look less suspicious as long as there are other cars around it. If you do not have tinted windows then you must park as far away from light sources as possible.

Sixth rule: Notice where the neatly trimmed shrubs and short walls are, these are designed to conceal the air conditioners and dumpsters. Avoid for noise and smell reasons.

Seventh rule: Pay attention to the location of pet areas, you do not want to wake up and have people walking around in front of you waiting for their pets, it gives the people too much time to observe the surroundings and also your van.

Eighth rule: Always have traveler props scattered about the "viewable" areas, or driver seat area. Traveler props include maps, hotel bills, fast food wrappers and cups, glossy advertisements, business shirts/pants, snack food. For some of you these may already be strewn about but do add the business clothing. Make sure it is neat and not in a big pile, everything must be viewable but not obviously placed. Clothes on hangers can be angled across the interior to for a visual barrier between you and the "viewable" area.

Ninth rule: When you park at your final destination for the evening, do not jump out of the seat and head straight for the curtains and bed, sit in the driver seat and observe what is going on around you. Use the phone as a prop to mask your activities. Look for other people sitting in cars (usually on phone) or those walking the lot. Once clear of observers, begin the process of setting up window shades and other traveler props. When you wake up, the same process should be observed before leaving.

Tenth rule: Do all your cooking, cleaning, music listening, yoga, running and any other noisy/motion activities at a public place like the park.

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