Need a car rental for your summer vacation? Good luck with that. –

If your vacation plans include a rental car, expect trouble if you haven’t booked one yet.
Rental car fleets aren’t as robust as they used to be.
When the COVID pandemic hit and travel sank, there was little demand for rental cars. That led to rental car companies selling off their inventories, as Hertz did in 2020 during bankruptcy proceedings.
The rental companies aren’t immune to the supply chain issues that have battered the new and used car markets for months.
If you do find a rental, it’s not going to be cheap, even before factoring in the skyrocketing price of gasoline.
Prices and demand for summer rentals are up 128% compared to 2019, before the COVID pandemic, travel site said. It’s up as much as 300% in some places, it said.
Over the past two weeks, the most expensive rentals were in Anchorage, Alaska at $209 per day and Bozeman, Montana at $200 per day, it said.
Demand is strong, said Lisa Martini, spokeswoman for Enterprise Holdings, which includes the National and Alamo brands.
She said a recent survey of its customers showed about 87% said they have domestic travel plans, matching last year’s pandemic-era highs. The company is seeing Florida, Hawaii, California, New York and Nevada as among the most popular U.S. destinations for travelers, she said.
“While we have seen significant improvement in our fleet availability year over year, a key challenge right now continues to be the global chip shortage and other supply chain constraints that are impacting all industries, including new car availability,” she said, noting the company is working to add more vehicles to its fleet.
Martini called making an early reservation for a rental “critical,” and said that people should check back if their initial date is booked because cars could become available as other travelers change their plans.
You should also consider searching for vehicles at rental agencies that are not right at the airport. It may cost you an Uber or taxi fare to pick up the car, but you’re going to have better availability and more options in less touristy locations.
Also, loyalty matters, said American Society of Travel Advisors. You can sign up to be a member of a rental company’s program, something that’s often overlooked by travelers and could help you with pricing in the future, it said.
If you can’t find a rental, you can go for a more unconventional option.
Look into services like Turo or GetAround, which hook up drivers with people who rent out their own cars.
If you’re desperate and Uber or Lyft won’t work for you, consider renting a small moving truck from a company like U-Haul. It may not be the fanciest set of wheels you’ve ever driven, but it will get you around.
Depending on where you’re traveling, public transportation might do the trick. You’ll be able to come and go without worrying about high gasoline costs or parking fees.
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Karin Price Mueller writes the Bamboozled column for NJ Advance Media and is the founder of Follow NJMoneyHelp on Twitter @NJMoneyHelp. Find NJMoneyHelp on Facebook. Sign up for’s weekly e-newsletter.
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