What to Do if You Can’t Find a Rental Car During the Shortage

Traveling can be fun, but it can also be relatively stressful. Getting a rental car gives us some ability to navigate while we travel without having to worry about rideshare services and public transit. But, with recent events in the past year, there has been a striking shortage of rental cars. If you’re looking to travel and worried about the availability of vehicles where you are going, there is no reason to worry quite yet, as there are many tricks and alternatives to finding a reliable rental car.

Get a rental car from a neighborhood location

One major tip that Consumer Reports has to offer is to rent a car from a local neighborhood location rather than the rental car offices attached to the airport. That doesn’t necessarily mean having to go with a local brand that you aren’t familiar with, either, as many national rental car companies have several locations that aren’t attached to an airport or travel center.

Because it requires a bit more effort to get to, not as many people are looking to rent a vehicle from these off-site locations, meaning you might have some better options if you’re willing to take a ride share or taxi from the airport to pick up a rental car.

Car rental AVIS parking lot
Car rental AVIS parking lot | Lev Radin, Pacific Press, LightRocket, Getty Images

Rent a car from a small company or individual

If you’re traveling to more remote areas, or sometimes even larger cities, you may have luck with smaller companies or even renting a cool car from an individual. Some locations may have large rental car companies as well as smaller, locally-owned options, and even if they aren’t attached to the airport directly, many of them are usually located nearby for the convenience of travelers.

Interested in renting something a bit more interesting? There are several apps, such as Turo, that allow you to connect with individuals who are willing to rent out their vehicles. Depending on the location you are traveling to, there can be a wide range of exciting cars to pick from, and drop of arrangements can typically be made with each vehicle owner.

An overhead view of a parking lot full of car-sharing vehicles
Carsharing vehicles | Mikhail Japaridze, TASS, Getty Images

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Skip renting a car altogether

Of course, another option is to just skip renting a car altogether, though that isn’t always ideal for every situation or traveler. In some cases, like major cities, using public transportation ends up being a more financially reasonable decision anyways, even if it isn’t always as convenient.

With rideshare services like Uber and Lyft rising in popularity and putting measures in place to protect drivers and passengers, they aren’t a bad option, either.

Avis car rental | Noam Galai, Getty Images

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Only time will tell how the rental car companies will recover from the past year of stagnant travel, but until shortages of rental cars are resolved, many travelers may be looking for alternative options.