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U-Hauls Suddenly Popular in Hawaii. Not Why You Think

Rental cars are super expensive these days, but moving trucks are not
By Liz MacGahan,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 26, 2021 1:15 PM CDT
Updated May 1, 2021 4:45 PM CDT

(Newser) – What do U-Hauls in Hawaii and the semiconductor chip shortage have in common? A pandemic. Now that Americans are getting vaccinated, they’re ready to travel again, and there just aren’t enough rental cars to go around, Hawaii News Now reports. With car rental prices rising as a result, enterprising island tourists are renting U-Haul pickups, vans, and box trucks instead. “They don’t have any box trucks today because I wanted to rent one," says a resident of Kihei. "So, I guess they’re all out with tourists." Rental car companies saw demand cut nearly in half by stay-home orders, and they sold off part of their fleets to stay afloat, the New York Times reports. Now that states are opening up, the chip shortage—and its effect on car production—might make it harder to restock.

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How high are the rental prices? Forget about two-digit deals. A tourist on Maui lucky enough to find a rental could expect to pay about $200 per day, Car and Driver reports, though it notes the case of a Toyota Camry that rented for $700 per day in March. Meanwhile, the U-Haul lot a few blocks from the airport lists pickup trucks for $20 per day, plus mileage. Travelers shouldn’t give up hope, though—just shop around. Tourists with flexible schedules can find deals by reversing the typical order of finding a flight, then a car. Shop well in advance for a rental, Hertz advises. Or check prices a little farther from the airport. Demand is highest near airports in resort areas—like Hawaii. (Read more pandemic stories.)

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