If you’re driving in Chile, you will need to know how to park your car.
Most street parking or ground level parking lots in crowded locations have parking attendants. Often these attendants are not officially representing the property owner. They are opportunists looking to make some money.
A parking attendant, often called an acomador will help guide you into your parking spot when you arrive and help you back up when you leave.
The unspoken agreement is that he will watch over your car in your absence in exchange for payment. Be sure to tip the attendant when you leave.
Parking in urban areas can be tricky. Look for small signs with a big letter “E”. These stand for estacionamiento or “parking” in Spanish. In Santiago or other larger cities in the country, large underground parking garages are only accessed via small street level entries.
When parking at a parking garage, make sure you get a ticket as you enter. Before you leave, stop and pay at the caja or cashier’s box. You will likely have to do this on foot, before you get in your car. So look around the garage to make sure you can find the caja. More modern garages will have an automated scanner as you leave that will open the gate. Older garages will have an attendant that checks your receipt and that you paid. It is no use paying this attendant so make sure you find the cashier in the caja.
Full Service Parking
Some parking lots have people ready to wash your car or clean your windows. Make sure you tell the attendant explicitly if you do or do not want this service.
Parking slots on a street with signs for estacionamiento controlado are metered parking. Instead of paying a machine, a parking attendant with a portable printer will leave a ticket on your windshield indicating when you arrived. When you return to your car, he or she will calculate the parking fee and collect your money.
Most home owners that park their cars overnight make sure to pull their car in next to the house behind a locked gate. This is done to prevent theft or burglary. You’d be wise to do likewise if you have space at the hostel or residence where you are staying.
Good luck in your Chilean parking adventures!