This is one way to address the rental car shortage

(NerdWallet) – When Terika Haynes landed in Mexico, she left the rental car – and she left the taxi, too. Haynes, who works as a professional travel planner, did the math and determined that a limo was the cheapest option for getting him and his friends from the airport to their resort.

She calculated the cost of insurance, refilling the gas tank, and recourse to parking prices, not to mention the inconvenience of standing in line at the rental car counter. In short, it wasn’t hard to justify a limo for her 2018 trip.

Fast-forward to the summer of 2021, when most travel experts agree we are in the midst of a rental car apocalypse. Rental car prices are on the rise, and some of the most popular tourist destinations are sold off rental cars on busy weekends.

In this age of COVID-19 travel, limo rentals may not be easy to justify – they can actually be cheaper than car rentals and taxis. In 2021, there are many instances where hiring a limo is a smart move.

what’s going on

Several factors are contributing to the current rental car shortage. Because many travelers are still hesitant to hop on a plane, road trips are hot this year. Some rental car companies adjusted their supplies to reflect lower 2020 travel rates – but travel has resumed faster than some expected.

Throw in a global semiconductor shortage that is slowing car manufacturing, and finding a rental car in 2021 may be harder than finding toilet paper in 2020.

Schedule in advance to secure a deal

Finding a deal on a limo isn’t difficult, especially in tourism-dependent cities that are still reeling from the shock of COVID-19.

Unlike rideshare services, where prices can fluctuate at any time, you can easily search for limo deals at your destination before you arrive. Airport transportation specials or other promos may be offered, so you can often get a reasonable rate if you reserve in advance. In addition, you may be able to negotiate a rate by contacting the company directly.

For example, in Las Vegas, stretch limos can be found for around $65 per hour. Luxury sedans can be rented for even less, at just $45 an hour. It’s about no more than the $45-$50 it would take to hail an Uber from the airport to downtown Las Vegas. And it’s about $50-$65 cheaper to use Uber Premier, the luxury service in the car.

Even if you’re going to be on the Strip, a rideshare from the airport to a mid-Strip location, such as Caesars Palace, can be upwards of $30 for a short ride, as opposed to a full hour. Limo is available for rent. And if you can find a rental car in Las Vegas, be prepared to pay $200 – or even more – for the weekend rental only.

And it’s not exclusive to Las Vegas. Tourist-heavy cities offer several limo options that are likely to be competitively priced.

Benefits of Limo vs. Rental Cars or Taxis

Even if the price tag is higher than that of a rental car or taxi, there are more benefits to having a limo beyond feeling like a VIP.

you will be able to make multiple stops

Paying for individual cabs to take you between tourist destinations is not only expensive but also involves the inconvenience of taking a cab every time. A limo will drop you off and wait for you when you are ready to proceed.

Such was the case of real estate entrepreneur Mattias Magnusson. He was living just outside San Francisco on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge, and his family immigrated from Europe. The group of six wanted to hit all the tourist spots like Lombard Street and Chinatown in one evening, plus they wanted to spend a night at the famous Fairmont Hotel at the top of Nob Hill.

“Saturday night prices and the availability of taxis, Uber rides and ferries were not a fun option,” he said. “When we compared prices, timing and flexibility, it soon became clear that booking the limo was going to be worth our time.”

Along the way, they could also be bubbly – something you probably can’t do in a taxi.

“With a fixed fare, a vehicle that arrived on time, multiple stops, a luxury experience and six out-of-towners who were more than impressed, it was worth every penny,” he says.

You can use your limo to load up on travel supplies

And while you may stop at tourist spots, you may also find yourself using your limo to make more practical stops.

This played into Haynes’ decision to rent a limo for her trip to Mexico, which was planned primarily so that she could host an event for her luxury travel company, Dynamite Travel. Upon landing, she needed to pick up supplies, decorations, and refreshments. Given the number of stops required for errands, a limo was cheaper than hiring a cab, which typically charges a base fare, as well as a metered rate based on time and distance.

Even if you’re not putting on an event, you might want to refill the sunscreen and toothpaste that you couldn’t pack in your carry-on, instead heading into the hotel convenience market. to pay the prices. Plus, you might consider saving money by stopping at the grocery store to load up on snacks, alcohol, and easy-to-make meals (room service cereal is expensive). If you’re living in a condo or rental home, you’ll definitely need to stock up on food and drink.

It’s not every day that you see a limo being pulled up to the grocery store, but it’s understandable.

You can also have a built-in tour guide

For Karen Arrington, who works as an entrepreneur, philanthropist and founder of the Miss Black USA pageant, a limo was a lifesaver during a trip to Italy.

“My driver not only took me wherever I wanted to eat, he acted as my personal tour guide and assistant,” she said. “He took me to the best coffee shops to find Italian coffee, chatted with vendors for me because I don’t speak Italian and took my bags.”

Who Should Consider Limos?

For an individual or small group that needs a car for a long period of time, most days of travel, a rental car may be preferable. But there are situations where a limo makes sense.

large group

Considering that Haynes had a small pose with him on his trip to Mexico, a limo also proved to be a money saver. Larger groups will need to rent a larger van or SUV, or split people up into multiple sedans or taxis. Consolidating all in one stretch limo can not only cut costs but also cut down on the chaos with fragmented groups.

Visitors to cities that are walkable or offer extensive public transportation

Bruce Rosenberg, president of HotelPlanner.com, a website specializing in hotel bookings, says, “You really don’t need a rental car in Las Vegas, New York City, or most major cities, unless you’re outside the city more widely. Don’t plan on looking.” for groups.

With hotel parking fees in many major cities exceeding $50 a night, it’s probably not worth dealing with your own rental car. In Las Vegas, you’ll probably find yourself walking up and down the Strip, which is part of the fun. And in New York City, you may find that the subway is faster anyway.

travelers staying in resorts

If you’re staying at a resort, you probably won’t use the car much, if at all. Many of the larger resorts are designed so that you never need to leave – they have all the pools, restaurants, entertainment and activities you want to experience on your vacation. Even if you want to leave the resort, it is possible that your hotel offers shuttle service to major tourist destinations. Or the concierge can assist you with booking tours, including transportation.

And there’s an unexpected benefit: Haynes said he found himself driving more than a normal day during his vacation to Mexico because he didn’t have a car. Without a car, you may get more steps than before and your health will appreciate it.

If you’re having trouble finding a rental car

If you don’t need to rely on a car for most of your trip, it makes sense to skip the rental car and head out on a limo. In some cases, the cost will be a wash; In others, you can come even further.

Be sure to take into account all the costs associated with renting a car: the basic rental amount, gas, parking fees, and even tolls in some cities.

“Compare the price and include your transportation cost in all of your travel costs,” says Rosenberg. “Look for hotels that have a free shuttle service to the airport, downtown, and popular local destinations. Save money.” It’s the best way.”

And for the time it’s seldom in town, a limo rental can be both the most glamorous — and cheapest — way to do so.

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Sally French writes for NerdWallet. Email: sfrench@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @SAFmedia.

The article Hire a Limo and Sidestep the Rental-Car Shortage in Style originally appeared on NerdWallet.

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