Every spring, the major rental car companies need to spread their cars from warm-weather cities, where vacationers tend to go in the winter, to locations across the country where the vehicles can be rented for the summer.
This year, the need to shift inventory will fall exactly when lockdowns are tentatively being eased.
Though not impossible, a 2020 road trip will take more effort than in previous years. And as in each spring that Frommer's announces them, the big renters' "drive-out" rates will make road trips much less expensive.
These special rates are much better than normal rates because they do not require high drop-off fees. Usually, if you want to rent a car in one city and return it somewhere far away, the rental companies slap you with a high penalty to discourage you from moving inventory to other regions. The fantastic "drive-out" rates, though, omit that fee. It's a one-way rental with none of the pain.
Florida drive-outs require you to drop off the car in the eastern half of the country. Hertz is renting cars out of Florida until June 30 for $20 a day. You must pick up in Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Miami, Orlando, Sarasota, Tampa, or West Palm Beach and drop off in Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Houston, Memphis, Minneapolis, Nashville, New York City, San Antonio, or Washington, D.C.
This year, the deals also include Western region drive-outs from Arizona. For those, Hertz is renting from $30 a day for Economy through Full-size rentals from now through June 3. The offer is valid from most locations in Arizona to most locations in California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington State, Salt Lake City, Denver, Texas, Santa Fe, and Albuquerque. Enterprise's similar $30-a-day Arizona deal and Alamo's $30-a-day deal must be activated by May 17.
For all the deals, you'll be allowed to take up to two weeks for your trip.
The burden of expense may be lifted by a cheap drive-out rental, but not the burden of sensible social distancing.
If you'll be taking a road trip, carry lots of hand sanitizer for use after visiting fuel pumps, steer clear of other people at your stops, and try to plan your accommodations ahead of time because not every hotel will be open or accepting casual tourists.
For more on how hotels have changed to navigate the pandemic, click here.