Rental car shortage: Why the vacation must-have may be hard to find

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DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — As the travel industry starts to bounce back from the pandemic, agencies are reporting a shortage in rental cars along with higher prices.

AAA says you might not want to leave that car reservation as an afterthought when booking your summer vacation.


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“When we’re working with clients and members, we’re recommending let’s look at a car rental availability first. And you have to have flexibility,” says Micki Dudas, managing director of AAA Leisure Travel.

Demand is up, but supply is down. Last year, people were not renting cars, and agencies sold off a lot of their fleet. This year, there’s a shortage of semi-conductor chips that car manufacturers need. That’s created a domino effect.

“As we continue to see that increase in consumer demand, car rental agencies are really trying to ramp up their fleet. But it’s not there yet,” said Dudas.

In order to lock in a rental, AAA says advanced planning is key.

“Don’t arrive to an airport and walk over and think you’re going to get a car rental,” warns Dudas. “In popular destinations like Hawaii, the whole state is without rental availability until after the 4th of July.”

Typically people usually think about reserving a car two months out, but AAA says they’re actually helping people reserve a car as far as a year in advance.


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“Reconfirming is critical. It’s not a one-and-done. Once you have the reservation, reconfirm, and then a month or two before you’re traveling, reconfirm again,” advises Dudas.

Be prepared to shell out some more money for a rental with prices doubling on average.

“In some of these resort areas, we’ve seen quadruple prices.” said Dudas.

AAA says off-site locations can be affordable alternatives to airports.

“Sometimes there is a pricing advantage by going off site because the car rental location doesn’t have to pay some of those airport fees,” states Dudas.

AAA says keep in mind, COVID restrictions could still be in place in certain locations while you’re traveling.

For more tips on traveling, click here.

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