Plan ahead for holiday travel AAA warns

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ/Press Release) — As travel optimism continues to grow amid updated CDC guidance, vaccine availability, and state re-openings, AAA travel advisors are seeing significant interest in bookings for car rentals heading into the summer travel season.

However, travelers eager to hit the road may encounter high costs and limited availability due to pandemic-related disruptions.

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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. As a result, rentals in Central Kentucky may also be 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 will be the biggest drivers of travel recovery heading into summer,” says Lori Weaver Hawkins, public and government affairs manager, AAA Blue Grass. “With interests growing for a great American road trip experience, AAA encourages travelers to plan ahead to ensure lower costs and availability for their trip.”

AAA expects a significant rebound in travel this summer, as evidenced by the results of an exclusive AAA survey of Kentuckians that reveals 62% of respondents are considering or planning to take a trip this summer.

Additionally, the survey found that 33% of Kentuckians are planning a quick getaway, while 24% are planning a longer, more extravagant trip.

AAA offers the following tips on how travelers can plan ahead for their trip:

  • 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.
  • Plan ahead. Use AAA’s free COVID-19 Travel Restrictions Map and TripTik for the latest information to help plan your trip.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 AAA-approved auto repair facility for a vehicle maintenance checkup.