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So, buy a last-minute flight from Los Angeles (LAX) to Orlando (MCO) in late April to see an annual hang-gliding competition in Groveland, Florida — a trip to take with your paraglider pilot friends. Make plans that also fly – there was no trivial matter. What was unusual, however, was the rental car price Salmon found when she went to browse prices online for her three-night trip.
Cost To Rent A Uhaul Van
He immediately called a friend for advice on how to deal with the sniffles of the trip, but they came up short. A solution, however, came to her when she was out for a walk.
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Salamon told TPG he found a cargo van at a U-Haul pickup site near the Orlando airport for $19.95 a day, plus $10 in mileage charges during his trip.
The entire rental cost her less than $100 — and she saved a lot more because she could skip the hotel and sleep in the van during the event thanks to friends in Florida who had an air mattress and pillows. Salamon said they also bought him a magnetic screen from ACE Hardware to keep mosquitoes at bay.
A delayed flight meant Salamon landed at the Orlando airport late in the evening, so no one was working at the offsite U-Haul office when she arrived. Additionally, the U-Haul app was not working for him to pick up the van.
But even though she didn’t get access to the U-Haul until the next day, Salamon told TPG she still considered the experience a success.
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“It was clean and very comfortable,” he said of the van. “For less than $100, I had a hotel and a car for my trip.”
With the resurgence of travel to many domestic and even some international destinations, pinched car rental inventory and rising prices are making it difficult — and expensive — to find a rental car right now. Travelers everywhere have taken to calling the current situation Carmageddon (among other … more creative terms).
A late April search on Orbitz for car rentals in the Florida cities of Tampa and Key West showed prices around $500 per week for May dates. In Honolulu, car rentals were over $1,000 per week during the same dates. CNN recently reported that car rental rates in Maui total an obscene $722 per day.
While all parts of the country are dealing with this problem (for example, a car rental in Aspen, Colorado, for the same week on Orbitz in early May cost about $250 per week), travelers should be aware that currently Car rental. May come with sticker shock – even a vehicle if you are able to drive.
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Andrew Locke of the Travel Pro Show says he also defaulted on a U-Haul rental when he saw Las Vegas car rentals skyrocket for his mid-April trip from London. Locke, who rents a car once a month on his travels and usually books directly through Hertz, told TPG he has a pretty good handle on what the typical prices are for car rentals in Las Vegas. .
“It’s usually around $40 per day, but I was seeing rates around $150 per day, even on sites like AutoSlash and Costco,” he said, referring to aggregator sites known for good prices.
Faced with that high price tag, he turned to U-Haul in hopes that it would be cheaper. Locke did the math on how many miles he would need to drive around Las Vegas during his five-day work trip (about 100 miles) and also splurged on U-Haul’s $40 insurance. He told TPG it was a no-brainer to rent a U-Haul instead of a traditional rental car.
“For what it would cost me a day’s rental, I got a U-Haul for the whole time.
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He chose a cargo van, a smaller rental option from U-Haul. According to Locke, the U-Haulvan was comparable to driving a large SUV – including parking. But Locke cautioned fellow travelers to confirm what you’re getting with U-Haul when you book so you don’t risk upgrading to something bigger without inventory.
Toro — a car-sharing service that’s been referred to as the “AirBnB of rental cars” — is another alternative to traditional rental car companies that has become popular in light of recent car rental problems.
With inventory in every US market as well as in Canada and the UK, the Toro app serves as an online marketplace where car owners can rent out their personal cars to people who need them. Prices are often the cheapest you’ll find through a rental car company – a recent search showed prices as low as $23 per day for a Fiat in Los Angeles and $30 per day for a Prius in Maui, Hawaii.
Toro is also susceptible to inventory shortages, however, which is what happened to Cindy Rich from Orem, Utah, during her April trip to Orlando.
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She and her husband changed their flights at the last minute to arrive a day early. They went to rebook the car reservation they had made weeks ago with Thrifty, but there was no availability. They turned to Toro as their backup plan, but Rich said there aren’t any cars available through the app, either.
“My husband had the brilliant idea to rent a Home Depot truck,” Rich said, adding that he had done it on an earlier trip to Colorado. He hailed the couple a ride to a nearby Home Depot and the last rental truck in stock — a Ford 250 flatbed utility truck — for $130 a day.
“But I can’t imagine what we would have done if my little daughter was with us.” Home Depot trucks are not car seat friendly.
Passengers were queuing up at MCO to rent a car. (Photo courtesy of Cindy Rich for The Points Guy)
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If you’re planning an upcoming trip that requires a rental car and find the prices too high for your budget, here are some tips and tricks to help you find alternatives:
1. Home improvement companies such as Home Depot and Lowe’s often rent pickup trucks which can be a cheaper option than rental cars in some markets. Keep in mind, however, that these trucks may not be family-friendly if you’re traveling with small children who need car seats.
2. If you’re seeing higher prices for specific rental dates, try extending your booking window to a longer trip to see if that lowers the daily price, suggests Locke. Often, car rental companies will allow you to return a car that you have booked without penalty – and in some cases, they may even return it for an indefinite number of days.
3. Be sure to check car rental prices closer to your trip as well, as they may drop closer to your actual travel dates.
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4. For trips between Florida and the Washington, DC area, look into Amtrak’s Auto Train to see if it might be a better deal to bring your own vehicle with you. Daily service travels approximately 900 miles (17.5 hours) along the East Coast between the Washington, DC and Orlando areas.
5. Check out car dealers such as Nissan and Toyota that offer “try before you buy” weekend or rental car deals. This is another option that can now be cheaper than traditional rental companies.
6. Finally, check out collections like Costco and AutoSlash for deals. Be sure to tap your AAA and AARP memberships, too.
Terry Ward is a Florida-based freelance writer who travels the world with his two young children while contributing to The Points Guy Family, among many other outlets. She has lived in France and New Zealand and has a particular passion for Norway. terry-ward.com
How Far Will U Haul’s Base Rate Really Get You?
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Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author, not of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Haul vans and trucks is a number — $19.95 — that just begins to tell how much you’ll end up paying for the rental. In the small text below the numbers, $19.95 is actually just an “in-town” base rate offered only to those who return.
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