Nfld. & Labrador

These sisters couldn't find a rental car, so they're driving around Newfoundland in a U-Haul

Gail Bridgeman and Karen Burke had their trip to the province booked for over six months before arriving, but a mix-up with Expedia left them without a rental car.

Rental cars have been hard to come by, so Gail Bridgeman and Karen Burke went a different route

Two women stand in front of a U-Haul moving van.
Gail Bridgeman, left, and Karen Burke couldn't find a rental car for their trip to Newfoundland, so they decided to rent a U-Haul moving van. (Jane Adey/CBC)

Two sisters visiting Newfoundland unable to find a rental car have decided to go for the next best thing: renting a U-Haul moving van to tour the island.

Gail Bridgeman, who lives in Australia, and Karen Burke of Ontario had their trip to Newfoundland booked for over six months before arriving. However, a mix-up with their rental car provider left them without a vehicle.

"I thought everything was fine, then I got back some information saying our car was available months ahead of the expected date," Bridgeman said Friday.

Bridgeman and Burke aren't the only travellers who have faced difficulties getting a rental car in the province.

The uncertainty of travel at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic prompted some rental agencies to drastically reduce their fleets, leading to demand exceeding supply across Newfoundland and Labrador and other provinces.

Tourism Minister Steve Crocker said in February travellers should book cars months in advance to make sure a vehicle is reserved for them ahead of Newfoundland and Labrador's Come Home Year festivities.

The sisters decided to rent a U-Haul in order to secure a vehicle for their trek across the Avalon Peninsula — although they didn't get what they were expecting once they got here.

A woman closes the back of a U-Haul moving van. The van is parked next to a gas pump.
The nice thing about travelling in a U-Haul? Lots of trunk space, as Burke illustrates. (Jane Adey/CBC)

"They promised us a small vehicle. And when we arrived to pick up the vehicle they told us the only one that was available was … actually 30 feet in length," Bridgeman said.

Rental cars for the time the pair are in the province cost over $1,100 per week, according to Expedia, while a 20-foot U-Haul van costs about $320 plus 89 cents per kilometre.

The sisters took the van to stays in St. John's, Bonavista and Clarenville, where they were able to upgrade to a 20-foot van that made for a slightly smoother ride.

"We feel like we're almost in a Maserati at this point," Bridgeman said with a laugh.

But while their mode of transportation may have been unconventional, Burke says it didn't hold them back from enjoying Newfoundland to the fullest.

"We love … your province. We've just met really beautiful people. It's all been wonderful," she said.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Jane Adey

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