We don’t know about you but for us, as soon as summer hits we’re ready to hit the open road. And, one of our favorite things to do is travel across the country in one of our newly converted wheelchair vans. That said, we know that traveling with a wheelchair can take a bit more planning than just jumping in the car and picking a direction.
One question we get asked by our customers a lot is what they need to know about traveling with their wheelchair van or how they should go about preparing for a road trip. While the answer can vary from person to person, based on their unique situation and where they plan to travel, we always have a few key pointers that can be used to prepare for any trip. Here’s what you need to know about traveling with your wheelchair van.
Research. Research. Research.
After you’ve narrowed down your travel destination, or destinations if you plan to do a fair bit of stopping along the way, it’s time to decide what you want to do. While this sounds easy, unfortunately there are still many cities where the number of accessible attractions leave much to be desired. So, it’s time to settle in for some research.
You will want to look up not only what attractions are accessible, but which restaurants are accessible, where the nearest accessible parking spots are to where you want to go or eat, and of course which hotels have the best wheelchair accessible accommodations. For example, if you’re planning to visit Illinois, we put together a handy list of the best accessible attractions, which you can find here. And, a lot of the city’s hotels have accessibility information right on their website, but it’s always best to call the hotel directly to ask any questions you may have.
In the end, you will want to look up as much information as you can about the city and places you want to visit, so there are no surprises once you’ve reached your travel destination. Besides, it’s better to have too much information and not need to use it than not enough!
Plan for Along the Way
Even in this day and age, not every public restroom is accessible and not every hotel is built with accessible accommodations. So, on the off chance that you need to stop or a delay were to become necessary, we recommend doing some planning for along the way. What does this mean exactly? It means that you should look up accessible restrooms or rest stops that reside along the route you’re planning to take. This doesn’t need to include every possible option at every single exit, but marking down one possible location every 20 to 30 miles would be ideal.
It will also help to research accessible hotels along your route. This narrows down possible locations for last minute overnight accommodations should you or your travel companions get tired or decide to make a pit stop to see an unplanned roadside attraction. Or, worse yet, if you were to get sick or have vehicle trouble.
Speaking of getting sick, we also recommend knowing which nearby clinics or hospitals will accept your insurance. In the event of an emergency, it’s always best to be prepared and have as much information as possible before you go.
Get a Tune Up
One of the most important things you can do before hitting the open road is making sure your wheelchair van is up to the task. What we mean by this is getting a bit of routine maintenance done to ensure your vehicle will make it safely from point A to point B. For general maintenance this means routine items like getting an oil change, having the tires inspected, balanced and rotated, and topping off all your necessary fluids, like washer fluid and your gas tank.
For wheelchair van maintenance, you will want to check the door and door track to make sure it’s clear of debris or anything that could make the door stop working. You will also want to make sure the ramp or lift is in working order and grease the hinge. Additionally, you will want to have your kneeling chain, hand controls and securements inspected to ensure they are working properly and are not in need of repairs that could hinder your travel plans.
It’s also helpful to have the contact information for any service technicians that may be in the area you’re traveling to, in case anything ends up needing repair while you’re out on the road.
Last but certainly not least, it’s time to pack for your big (or small) vacation. First and foremost you will want to pack all your travel necessities. This includes your map, clothing, toiletries, any medications you may need, your cell phone and cell phone charger, and any confirmation or reservation numbers for your hotel(s) and activities.
Additionally, you will want to fill any spare space in your van with in case of emergency items. This could include items like food and beverages, extra clothing for unexpected weather conditions, anything you may need for minor wheelchair repair, and also your spare tire in case of a flat.
Much like when you were in the planning stage, it’s best to have more packed and not end up needing some of it, than regretting that one forgotten item and needing to find a convenience store or have something shipped by a friend or family member to your destination.
Enjoy the Ride
Don’t forget the most important tip of all – to enjoy. Make sure that you take your time, have some fun along the way and enjoy the ride. After all, that’s what traveling is all about, isn’t it?
And, don’t forget, your friends here at Rollx Vans are always here to service your wheelchair van needs. Should you find that your vehicle needs to be serviced while you’re away from home, give us a call. We’re happy to provide recommendations and even send one of our service technicians to the rescue in the event of an emergency.