If you’re planning a long-awaited summer vacation, there could be a huge, unexpected hiccup in your plans, which could cost you a lot of money … or even turn your vacation upside down.
It was a long-awaited trip to see family in Durham, NC, with just one snag, as an I-Team producer recently experienced: the cost of renting a car. It was almost $ 100 a day.
It’s even worse in Florida. On a recent trip, another I-Team producer paid $ 250 to rent a car for the day. She was even lucky enough to find one, said car rental expert Jonathan Weinberg.
âWe first noticed the problem leading up to President’s Day Weekend,â Weinberg said. “When we saw 18 of Florida’s 20 airports completely sold out for President’s Day weekend.”
Weinberg runs AutoSlash, a website that helps you find the best deal on car rental. He said stocks were extremely low as car rental companies sold off most of their fleets when the pandemic hit.
âIt worked well in 2020,â Weinberg said. âBut as 2021 approached, people started getting vaccinated, which was great news, and people started to feel comfortable traveling again, and the demand came back. And the car rental companies were completely caught off guard.
And that means you will pay the price, that is, if you can even find a rental. The I-Team searched for cars for rent this summer at popular vacation spots and came up empty. The Big Island of Hawaii, Glacier National Park and Alaska – we couldn’t find cars. We found some for rent in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for $ 280 per day.
This could be the reason why reports have revealed that some desperate travelers are hiring U-Hauls to get around instead.
âWe’re now in a situation where the car rental companies have more demand than they know what to do, and they just can’t have enough cars to meet that,â Weinberg said.
Weinberg said car rental companies are trying to replenish their fleets, but are struggling to find new cars to buy, due to this semiconductor shortage that is slowing auto production. He doesn’t expect stocks and prices to return to normal until September.
âI think it’s going to get worse before it gets better,â Weinberg said.
So what does this mean for your summer trip? You might want to rethink the way you book it – secure your rental car before you book your flight and hotel. Because what good is a vacation if you don’t have wheels to get around?