Everyone loves a good road trip. After all, it’s one of the best ways to see all the United States has to offer. No matter where you plan on visiting, or how long you plan on traveling, a lot of planning goes into trips like these, especially if you or your loved one use a wheelchair.
Whether you’ll be traveling in a wheelchair van from Wheelchair Getaways, or using your own wheelchair-accessible vehicle, the following tips can help you make sure you and your vehicle are prepared and ready to hit the road.
Do your research.
Once you have your destination in mind, it’s time to hop on the computer and find out more about the place you’re visiting. Finding wheelchair-accessible activities and attractions in any given city can be challenging, but with some investigating it is possible.
National parks, large attractions, restaurants, and hotel chains are your best bets for finding accommodating wheelchair access. Using Priceline, Hotels.com or Expedia.com will turn up results that you can check as accommodating.
One consideration often overlooked is to research how accessible the streets are in terms of sidewalks, pathways, etc. Our clients tell us Las Vegas, Orlando, and Charleston are very accessible, just to name a few. If you have spots that you have found to be wheelchair-friendly, let us know in the comments.
Plan your route.
Once you figure out which roads you’ll be taking to get to your destination, you’ll want to research stops along the way. Not every gas station has wheelchair-accessible bathrooms, so you’ll need to search for ones that will suit your needs. Many rest stops, however, do have accessible accommodations, so those are almost always a safe bet.
In general, it’s a good idea to locate a restroom/gas option at least every 60 miles along your route. That way you’ll never be far from a suitable place to stop in case you need it.
Find accessible accommodations.
Like gas stations, not every hotel will have the accommodations you need in order to have a comfortable stay. Fortunately, most hotel booking sites allow you to filter results based on whether the hotel has wheelchair-accessible rooms available. You may also be able to find homes on Airbnb that suit your needs.
Additionally, you should also make sure that wherever you stay has appropriate parking for your wheelchair van. If not, you could find yourself struggling to deploy the ramp and enter and exit safely.
Download your GPS maps beforehand.
You never know when you may find yourself without cell phone service. Since getting lost in an unfamiliar place is a sure-fire way to ruin a road trip, use your maps app to download your route in advance. Google maps provides a feature where you can download sections of a map so that they’re always available to you, whether or not you have internet access.
Don’t forget the snacks.
In addition to making sure you pack clothes, medications, and any other necessities, remember that food and drinks are important as well! Packing snacks in advance can save money and help reduce the number of stops you may need to make. We recommend a small cooler with an ice block and two or three of your favorite snacks along with plenty of water.
Leave plenty of time.
The worst thing about traveling is feeling like you’re in a rush. To prevent this, make sure you leave extra time whenever you’re planning any activity. You should also add time to however long your GPS says the drive will take you. For example, if you’re going to be on the road for 5 hours, you may want to plan for a couple of extra hours for stops and meals.
Make sure your vehicle is in great shape.
Nobody wants to deal with a broken-down car on a road trip. Before you plan on leaving, make sure to schedule a quick checkup with your mechanic. This should include things like changing your oil, checking all fluids, topping up your tires, and making sure your brakes are in good shape. Additionally, for wheelchair vans, your local mobility dealer can provide a conversion preventative maintenance that checks the doors, ramp, securements, etc. to make sure everything is working properly and it’s rusty or on the verge of breaking.
Of course, if you are renting a wheelchair-accessible vehicle from Wheelchair Getaways, you can rest easy knowing that all of this will be done in advance for you. Our late-model vehicles are inspected in between each rental to ensure everything is safe and in good working order.
Find a local wheelchair van dealer in your area.
Things happen, and you may end up in a situation where you need help from a mobility dealer. When you choose your destination, make sure you identify the closest dealer/mechanic near you so you have a place to go if you need any help with your wheelchair van.