Rental Car Shortage Trends: Here Are Vacation Travel Alternatives

Almost every day there is a new story of a supply chain issue affecting a product. Rental cars are one of many items impacted by the Perfect Storm caused by the pandemic and changing consumer demand. These factors have dramatically reduced the number of vehicles available for rental, which could also impact your vacation travel plans.

Travel plans for the holiday season last year were severely disrupted by COVID-19, with many families unable to come together to celebrate. This year, more and more people are delighted to reunite with their loved ones. With the rental car shortage in full swing, you need to be aware of the potential challenges that lie ahead and what you can do to avoid further delaying visits to friends and family.

Car rental companies are lost

Due to several factors, the availability of rental cars is currently low. When the pandemic first hit, many companies rushed to sell their inventory to cover lost revenue due to lack of travel. It was a quick fix to stop the hemorrhage of income as demand had abruptly stopped and no one could predict how long it would last. Another impact on the rental industry is caused by the same shortage of chips affecting the production of new cars, which reduces the number of vehicles that rental car companies have on their lots. When demand rebounded in 2021 (although not to pre-pandemic levels), there were few cars available to replenish diminished fleets.

Additionally, the car rental industry is facing a labor shortage similar to that experienced in many retail outlets today. With a shortage of workers, low stocks and increasing demand, it will likely be some time before significant relief is offered to consumers.

Alternatives to carpooling

The car rental crisis can last for months, but luckily there are other options for travelers. One of the biggest opportunities is using a carsharing service. If you are familiar with the concept of home sharing, for example through popular sites like Airbnb and VRBO, the same concept can apply to vehicles. Carsharing companies allow you to “rent” a vehicle for a short period of time and you only pay for your use. You log into a car-sharing service, find out which vehicles are available near you and book use through the app.

The table below highlights the pros and cons of some of the most popular carsharing options on the market, along with the estimated costs. In some cases, carsharing can be equivalent to renting a car through a traditional car rental company.

Carsharing company Advantages The inconvenients Estimated prices
Turo Reduced daily or monthly rates
Peer-to-peer car sharing
Wide choice of local vehicles
No registration or membership fees
Available in major cities and near airports
Delivery may be available
Must pay for your own fuel
Rates are not available for hourly use
May incur additional rental fees if you are under 25
Varies depending on host, location and make of vehicle and kilometers driven
Take advantage An Allstate company
Guaranteed reservations
Full coverage auto insurance included in the daily rate
No hidden costs and upfront prices in the app
No charge for drivers under 25
Add a second pilot for free
Currently limited to 15 major airports in 12 states
Must pick up airport shuttle lots
Daily rental rates start at $ 25 per day, but vary by vehicle type and location
Move Peer-to-peer car sharing
Offers hourly car rental rates
Available in 20 states plus Washington, DC
Includes comprehensive coverage in its insurance program
Installation Fee Required
200 mile daily limit
Must pay for your own gas
Hourly rates typically start between $ 5-10, but increase depending on location and vehicle
Zipcar Avis Car Rental Ownership
Available in many major metropolitan cities and college campuses
Rate coverage covers gasoline, insurance options, parking and maintenance costs
Can book by the hour or by the day
Membership fees are required
No delivery available, must be returned and picked up from certain locations
High fees if you come home late or don’t use the gascard to refuel
Membership is $ 7 per month or $ 70 per year, plus driving rates start at $ 10

Uber and Lyft are another alternative to traditional car rental companies and carsharing options. With these carpooling options, the best course of action during the holiday season is to plan ahead when possible or to book in advance to lock in the lowest prices, before the prices increase. vacation. The more you can lock down on your vacation vehicle needs, the more likely you are to ensure that you have transportation for your trips.

One point to consider when booking a rideshare service is to make sure you read the fine print of any agreement. There may be more to sharing a vehicle than you think. Reading the agreement carefully can help reduce surprises. Each company has slightly different rules, particularly with what is included in the cost per mile. Be sure to inquire about gasoline costs, insurance coverage, where pickup and drop-off takes place, and if the rate is available by the minute, hour, day or weekly. The more information you have in advance, the more likely you are to be able to comfortably manage the costs associated with carpooling.

Before booking a carsharing service, now is the perfect time to review your coverage with your auto insurance policy. You can have additional insurance coverage through your policy or you can select the additional insurance package offered when booking the rideshare service.

Winter Driving Safety Guide

Winter driving requires special attention on the road. Not only do you need to be more careful with dangerous conditions, but you also need to be fully prepared for an emergency. Before hitting the road in a rental car, personal vehicle, or one that you share, make sure your tires are properly inflated. You may also want to keep these and other safety items in your vehicle when traveling:

  • Fix-a-flat or other tire and air sealant
  • Quality ice scraper
  • Wool blanket and towels, for heat or other emergencies
  • Jump cables
  • Tool kit with screwdriver and bolts, knife and other items
  • First aid kit filled with bandages, gauze and other supplies

The likelihood of getting a rental car this holiday season may be a bit more difficult compared to previous years, but it doesn’t impact your opportunity to spend time with friends and family in other cities. You may find that rental prices have gone up, so it’s best to plan ahead as early as possible.

Another alternative is a ride-sharing service, like Uber and Lyft, or ride-sharing services, like Turo and Zipcar. Carsharing services offer a convenient alternative to renting and may even end up costing less than a traditional car rental service.


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Sylvia F. Hernandez