How to Overcome Parking Anxiety

One in three drivers frequently experiences parking anxiety. Read our guide on how to tackle it.
Do you feel anxious when parking your car, or even when just THINKING about parking your car? You may suffer from Parking Anxiety. In this post, we walk through how to recognise, prevent and tackle it.

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What Are the Symptoms of Parking Anxiety?

Man Driving A Car

Even the most experienced drivers can experience feelings of anxiety when it comes to parking.

Triggers include:
  • struggling to find a space for your car
  • feeling pressured by other drivers on the road
  • anticipating a lack of parking spaces
  • being late for an appointment 
  • feeling embarrassed or stressed when trying to perform a manouvre
  • parking on an incline
  • parking in a tight spot

Experiencing parking anxiety doesn't mean you're scared of parking, or have forgotten how to park. It can happen to anyone, and it can come on suddenly, triggering what many describe as a knot in their stomach (or "fight or flight response").

Here are some of the symptoms you might experience, and some techniques to handle them in the moment
Symptom Solution
Elevated heart rate Consciously take deep breaths and release them slowly. Breath from your stomach, not your chest.
Trembling Alternate extending your fingers on each hand before settling them back on the steering wheel
Moist hands Wipe one hand at a time on your trousers or try holding the steering wheel with a relaxed grip
Muscle tightness Focus on the muscles in the back of your neck and consciouly relax them. Your other muscles will follow suit!
Feeling confined or trapped Open the car windows for fresh air
Dry mouth Take slow sips of water or chew gum
Dizziness Take deep breaths and focus on a stable object
Difficulty concentrating Put calming music on in the background

Now, you may find that these aren’t super effective. The best way to tackle parking anxiety is in fact to prevent it in the first place

How to Prevent Parking Anxiety

How to Prevent  Parking Anxiety Infographic

There are a number of easy and practical steps you can take to reduce the amount of parking stress you experience. Here are 7 ways to manage fear of parking:

1) Book or rent a parking space beforehand

Before you hit the road, book a parking space so that there's a spot waiting for you. This completely removes the anxious anticipation of not being able to find a parking space. Usually, parking spaces are cheaper than you would imagine - and much less costly than a parking ticket!

You can choose from thousands of parking spaces here, and book them for as little as 30 minutes, or several months at a time.


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2) Plan your trip based on traffic 

Waze is a super helpful website and app that allows you to see exactly how congested the roads are. Use it to check if the route you're taking, and the area you're planning to park in, is super busy.

3) Check congestion rules and charges

Lots of big cities have congestion rules and charges. This means you may be fined if you drive into the wrong area without paying a small fee beforehand. You can plan ahead and pay the London Congestion charge here.

4) Leave home a little earlier

If you’ve got somewhere to be and you know you will need to find a parking spot, the best way to relieve pressure on yourself is to start your trip a little earlier than needed. We always like to add a 15 minute buffer to our trips.


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5) Carry spare cash

Most modern pay and display parking ticket machines accept contactless and card payments. It's even becoming quite common to have the option to pay via an app like PaybyPhone. However, there are still many older machines which only accept cash. To be on the safe side, make sure to carry some spare cash with you, in both notes and coins.

6) Practise reverse and parallel parking

Nothing beats simply practising parking manoeuvres. Big open flat spaces with marked out parking spots on the ground are the best places to practise. Try school car parks on the weekend, or large retail parks during off-peak hours.


How to Parallel Park and Other Parking Tips

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7) Practise online

If you're not quite ready to practise reverse or parallel parking in real life yet, try practising by playing a parking game like this. It might seem silly to begin with, but it really helps to get used to the parking angles you'll experience in real life.

Woman Driving A Car

What to do if you get stuck 

Sometimes you simply cannot avoid getting caught in an incredibly stressful parking situation. If you do, remember: it happens to all of us!

If you're struggling to park or feel very pressured, don't be afraid to ask for help. Ask the person you're travelling with, or someone nearby if they can park the car for you. There is no shame in asking for help.

If you don't feel comfortable asking for help, then bring the car to a stop in a safe place, and give yourself a moment. Take a break, allow your heart rate to normalise, and don't rush yourself.

We hope we’ve helped you lessen your parking anxiety. If you ever need a parking spot, check out the thousands of spaces we have available to book instantly.

Find parking


Choose from thousands of local parking spaces

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Updated 18th Apr 2023

Written 31st Jan 2023