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June 28, 2021— As travel surges amid updated CDC guidance, vaccine availability, and state re-openings, AAA travel advisors are seeing significant interest in bookings for car rentals throughout the summer travel season. However, travelers eager to hit the road may encounter high costs and limited availability due to pandemic-related disruptions.
A slowdown in auto sales during the pandemic and now a shortage of semi-conductor chips has led to a domino effect with auto manufacturing delays and rental car company inventory shortages as demand for domestic road travel grows.
AAA travel advisors have also noted another trend where the demand for local car rentals is increasing as people do not feel their vehicles are road-trip ready. Rentals in popular tourist destinations where Oklahomans are headed may be most greatly impacted.
According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, average daily car rental rates have doubled with prices topping out at $134 a day. But even as the national average has doubled, some destinations are getting hit much harder with daily prices ranging from $250 to $600 or more reported at some airport rental locations across the country.
“Road trips are the biggest drivers of travel recovery this summer,” says Sheila Nielsen, AAA Oklahoma Travel Advisor. "With interest surging for great American road trip experiences, AAA encourages travelers to plan to ensure lower costs and availability for their trips."
AAA expects a significant rebound in travel this summer, as evidenced by the results of an exclusive survey of Oklahomans that reveals 56% of respondents are considering or planning to take a trip this summer.* Oklahomans were divided evenly among those planning not to travel, those planning a quick getaway, those taking a longer, more extravagant trip and those with a “wait and see” approach before the end of the year.
AAA Members enjoy exclusive rental car benefits and savings
AAA members can enjoy discounts up to 20% when booking with Hertz, Dollar, or Thrifty. Members can take advantage of more discounts such as an additional qualified AAA driver for free (savings of $13.50 per day per driver), free use of one child seat (savings of $13.50 per day), 10% discount on prepaid fuel at any Hertz counter and a young renter fee waived for ages 20-24 (savings of $29 per day).
AAA offers the following tips on how travelers can plan:
• Book early. Lock in any rental car reservations when booking flights, hotels, and other initial travel arrangements.
• Work with a travel advisor. They can help find discounts and look into bundled travel options that might make your rental less expensive when paired with other travel costs.
• Consider off-airport locations, which are often less expensive than renting at the airport. Be sure to ask about the location’s hours relative to your flight and factor in the cost of transportation between the rental location and airport.
• If possible, remain flexible with your travel dates. Weekly rentals may be less expensive than weekend rates on a per-day basis. Some rental companies may offer you a refund for unused days if you return the vehicle early.
• Use AAA’s free COVID-19 Travel Restrictions Map and TripTik for the latest information to help plan your trip.
• Need road trip ideas? AAA has compiled our favorite Great American Road Trip planning resources, backed by more than 100 years of road-tested experience and expertise, into a website, AAA.com/RoadTrip. This free resource will help travelers find inspiration, explore destinations, plan the perfect route and get their vehicle road-trip ready.
• Prepare your vehicle. If you cannot rent a car and need to use your vehicle for the trip, take it to a trusted repair facility with Approved Auto Repair (AAR) facilities or by visiting one of AAA’s Car Care Centers for a FREE vehicle maintenance checkup until July 30.
*The AAA survey of 605 residents in Oklahoma was conducted April 22-23, 2021 by Public Policy Polling. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 4%.