Summer 2021 Car Rental Experience: Lihue, Hawaii (Kauai)

Summer travel is in full swing and car rentals are difficult to find. Between high prices and limited availability it’s the worst I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. Car rentals were typically the last item to book after locking in your flight and hotel, but check availability before you plan a trip. I made my bookings with National and Hertz back in April for a trip to Kauai last month (June). Fortunately, there were still some vehicles available to book. I reserved a Full Size SUV with National ($310/week + taxes) and a Minivan with Hertz ($285/week + taxes). Given the long waits (1.5hr) with flights arriving later in the day, I grabbed both vehicles for my group as my flight from SJC to LIH was the first flight of the day to arrive from the mainland on Kauai.

National Car Rental reservations were being handled by Alamo due to COVID so I jumped on the shuttle bus to grab the SUV. Upon arrival, the parking lot was full of cars & SUV’s. I had no issue getting a Chevy Tahoe once my reservation pickup time was close to the actual time. Hertz is located next to Alamo at Lihue so I walked over to their lot while waiting for Alamo to allocate a SUV for me. Plenty of vans, cars & SUV’s @ Hertz too. Hertz was very well organized where I only need to show my Hawaii Safe Travels QR code and my drivers license to get my pre-printed paperwork. It only took 5 minutes in line, then I was off to the stall # on the paperwork which ended up being a Dodge Grand Caravan GT. After parking the Minivan at the airport parking lot, I hopped back on the Alamo shuttle to grab a Chevy Tahoe.

The horror stories you’ve heard on the news do exist of no availability and extreme prices (up to $700/day), but avoid it by using these tips below…


  • Book well in advance and have a confirmed reservation
  • Use a Corporate Rate Code, AAA or similar to lock in a much lower rate. Avoid Avis as they will validate your eligibility
  • Use Car Rental Status such as Executive Elite (National) or President’s Circle (Hertz) to secure a car >24hrs in advance if showing soldout elsewhere. Log into your account prior to searching
  • Don’t count on an upgrade, book what you need
  • Use alternative options such as Turo or Silvercar by Audi

Enjoy the summer! Aloha 🙂

P.S. Alaska is very hard to find a rental too. Book a vehicle now if you plan to travel anywhere this year!

Empty National Lot @ SJC

Empty National Lot @ SJC

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