Save On Car Rental Fees With This Genius U-Haul Trick

After pandemic travel restrictions had been lifted, the car rental industry bounced back at almost an exponential rate. Travelers who were itching to get out of their houses wasted no time satiating their wanderlust, hopping on planes and renting cars to travel far away. The result? Higher airfare, higher car rental rates, and a shortage of vehicles altogether.

"It's still tough out there," Greg Scott, spokesman for the American Car Rental Association, told The Washington Post during the peak of the "rental car apocalypse," or so it's called. "The supply chain problems have not resolved themselves. There are some instances where the supply of new cars has improved, but it's not back where it needs to be and it won't be for a long time." 

People who did manage to find available cars were asked to cough up double or even triple the amount of what they had been used to paying, making traveling much more expensive than it needed to be. So, many had to be resourceful in searching for ways to still make their respective trips happen.

According to Lauren Luster, a spokeswoman for Hertz, the secret to securing a car rental in your budget is booking early. She told The New York Times that travelers need to "book as early as possible and at the same time they're making other travel arrangements." If you're out of luck, though, don't fret. There's a way around it — all you have to do is book a U-Haul.

Renting a U-Haul instead of a car can help you save money

Desperate times call for desperate (see also: creative) measures. During seasons when cars are either sold out or are too expensive to rent, some travelers resort to an ingenious workaround and book U-Haul vans or trucks instead. Sure, they're no cozy Honda, but at least those trucks can take you where you need to be, even if it means maneuvering a giant U-Haul to the beach.

Several travelers who tried this hack took to social media to share their experiences reserving a U-Haul instead of a rental car. "Rental cars were crazy expensive in Florida this weekend, so we scooped a U-Haul for $19.95/day (plus mileage)," one user on Facebook wrote. "It saved money and was a total blast to kick around Fort Myers Beach in." 

Even U-Haul itself is privy to this hack, with Jeff Lockridge, a spokesman for U-Haul International, saying that the company has "been renting the vast majority — if not all — of our vehicles in Hawaii on a daily basis."

It's a clever workaround, that's for sure, but if you were to do it, just be wary about the distance you're driving. U-Haul typically charges per mile on top of the flat fee for the vehicle rental. If you're only driving short distances, then by all means, have a happy vacation!