Tourists Are Renting U-Hauls in Hawaii to Avoid Extremely High Rental Car Costs

As travelers flock back to Hawaii, the supply and demand of rental vehicles in the state has driven up car costs to as high as $1,000 a day, since many companies sold off parts of their fleets when bookings were low during the pandemic.

But now, some savvy travelers have found a new way to ensure they're able to cruise around the Aloha State on wheels — by renting a U-Haul.

"We have seen a considerable uptick in U-Haul rentals from customers who are visiting the islands now," Kaleo Alau of Hawaii's U-Haul Company in Hawaii told Insider last week. "We realize this demand is occurring when tourists are unable to secure a rental car, or they learn that our rental fleet options are more affordable."

The moving truck company says that most of the requests have been for their smaller vehicles. Currently on its site, both an eight-foot pickup truck and a nine-foot cargo van are listed for $19.95 a day (plus $0.89/mile) in Honolulu this week.

Of course, the fallout from the phenomenon is that it's leading to a shortage of the company's intended purpose for locals. "We are working every day with our primary customer base — the islands' residential movers — to ensure we can still meet their transportation needs," Alau told the outlet.

And it turns out, the ability to get a lower-cost vehicle might not be the only reason that U-Hauls have risen in popularity. Most rental car companies require drivers to be 25 years old and up, though many do offer vehicles to renters as young as 20 for an additional fee, called a young renter fee or underage driver fee. However, a travel hack spreading across TikTok points out that U-Haul rentals are available to those ages 18 and older.

Hawaii isn't the only place experiencing what has been dubbed "car rental apocalypse." Other places — in particular, warm-weather spring break favorites like Florida, Arizona, and Puerto Rico — have all faced shortages, too, with prices being about five to 10 times the average, AutoSlash CEO and founder Jonathan Weinberg told Insider.

While rental car companies are working to meet the demand, both Hertz and Enterprise told the outlet that they expect the excess demand to continue through the near future.

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