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

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

If your vacation plans are a rental car, expect problems if you haven’t booked one yet.

Rental car fleets are not so robust as they were.

When the COVID pandemic hit and travel slumped, there was little demand for rental cars. That led car rental companies to sell their inventories, as Hertz did in 2020 during bankruptcy proceedings.

The rental companies are not immune to the supply chain problems that have plagued the new and used car markets for months.

If you find a rental property, it won’t be cheap, even before you consider the skyrocketing gasoline price.

Prices and demand for summer rentals are up 128% compared to 2019, before the COVID pandemic, travel site Kayak.com said. It has risen to 300% in some places, it said.

In the past two weeks, the most expensive rental properties in Anchorage, Alaska were at $209 per day and Bozeman, Montana at $200 per day, it said.

Demand is strong, said Lisa Martini, spokeswoman for Enterprise Holdings, which also includes the National and Alamo brands.

She said a recent survey of her customers found that about 87% said they have domestic travel plans, which is in line with last year’s pandemic-era peaks. The company considers Florida, Hawaii, California, New York and Nevada among the most popular American destinations for travelers, she said.

“While we have seen significant improvement in the availability of our fleet year over year, a key challenge at the moment remains the global chip shortage and other supply chain constraints affecting all industries, including the availability of new cars,” she said, noting the company. is working on adding more vehicles to his fleet.

Martini called making an early reservation for a rental car “critical” and said people should check that their original date is booked, as cars may become available if other travelers change their plans.

Also consider looking for vehicles from rental companies that are not located at the airport. It may cost you an Uber or taxi fare to pick up the car, but you will have better availability and more options in less touristy locations.

Loyalty is also important, said American Society of Travel Advisors. You can apply to join a rental company’s program, something often overlooked by travelers and could help you with pricing in the future, it said.

If you can’t find a rental property, you can opt for a more unconventional option.

Look at services like Turo or get by, linking drivers to people who rent their own cars.

If you’re desperate and Uber or Lyft won’t work for you, consider getting a small moving van from a company like U-Haul. It may not be the fanciest set of wheels you’ve ever ridden, but you’ll get away with it.

Depending on where you are traveling to, public transport can offer a solution. You can come and go without worrying about high gas costs or parking fees.

Mail your questions to [email protected]

Karin Price Mueller writes the Bamboozled column for NJ Advance Media and is the founder of NJMoneyHelp.com. Follow NJMoneyHelp on Twitter @NJMoneyHelp. Find NJMoneyHelp on Facebook. Sign up for NJMoneyHelp.com‘s weekly e-newsletter.