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Car rental agencies were caught out this year, as spring and summer travel sprang back suddenly in response to rising COVID-19 vaccination rates and caused a surge in demand that companies couldn’t meet, having sold off large portions of their fleets when the pandemic hit. This, of course, drove rental prices sky high, especially in destinations where travelers were flocking en masse, such as Hawaii.

“You are certain you can drive a stick shift?” asked Aldo as we sat on the veranda outside the lobby of my hotel in Mykonos. A tall, mustachioed Albanian who clearly understood cars, Aldo gave me the keys to a tiny Fiat Panda in fire-engine red. He stared at me as if he had instead handed over a revolver and asked if I knew how to engage the safety.

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