Accessible Road Trips Begin with a Road Trip Checklist
I love summer – probably a holdover from younger days when it meant a long vacation and fun road trips every year. But even as an adult, getting into your vehicle and taking a break from the normal routine, experiencing new places and people, is motivating and invigorating. For sure, there are lots of unexpected little complications that can come up during any trip, but the rewards and experience more than make up for it! I think the key to enjoying road trips, whether they’re meticulously structured or just centered around a location with no particular schedule, are planning for your most important needs with a road trip checklist- trying to ensure that the things that REALLY can’t go wrong probably won’t – and enjoying the different experiences the trip brings without being too worried about smaller things. That’s what the normal routine is for – vacations should help you relax and remind you of the other important things in life. This idea of “planning for big things, going with the flow for small things” applies to anyone who wants to enjoy their travels- but we all know that when you use a wheelchair or scooter and your mode of transportation is a mobility van or a van with a wheelchair or scooter lift, planning for the “big things” really is extremely important to ensure that your trip is both safe and fun for everyone along.
There are several significant considerations to take into account before you embark on your accessible road trip.
Your road trip checklist should include:
- Ensure that your mobility van itself is in good mechanical condition, and that all equipment such as van ramps & wheelchair or scooter lifts are well-maintained. In addition to checking these things while you’re still at home, it’s important that service will be available along the way just in case you have any vehicle problems. Luckily, if you have a BraunAbility wheelchair van, wheelchair lift, or other BraunAbility product, you can locate a dealer from our large nationwide network near wherever you are to assist in diagnosing and repairing any problems quickly and efficiently.
- What will you do if your wheelchair van unexpectedly has a problem while you’re on the road? Back in the day, I got stuck with a dead battery in my VW camper in Joshua Tree park in California, and I’m telling you it was not a good feeling. The only thing that made it tolerable was knowing that AAA was on the way, quickly, to give me a jump start and get me back on the road. When you use a wheelchair or scooter, it’s important to find a roadside assistance organization that can transport both your vehicle AND you- either in wheelchair-accessible tow trucks or by providing transportation with a wheelchair or scooter lift, van ramp, or other means of accessibility. ADA Nationwide Roadside Assistance is one such organization and can help ensure your peace of mind and safety while you’re traveling within the US or Canada. In this vein, make sure you bring along your cell phone and vehicle charger in case you have an emergency and need to call for assistance – it’s just a good idea for anyone on a road trip.
- Bring along extra supplies of any medications- if you misplace your supply or your trip ends up being longer than originally anticipated, it can be extremely difficult to get refills or replacements while on the road.
- Since you’ll probably have at the least some idea of your destination or general route, prepare by identifying hotel, restaurant, and gas station chains on your route that generally offer accessible lodging, restrooms, and other necessities. If you have a specific destination in mind, do some research beforehand on sites that list accessible rental and hotel properties and their features in many vacation destinations. Some ideas for nationwide travel include looking for Microtel hotels, which have standardized accessibility features, and newer fast food restaurants and gas stations, which are more likely to have easily accessible restrooms. If you check out the Barrier Free Travels website, you can find more information about preparing for wheelchair travel of all kinds as well as links to other useful travel accessibility sites.
Spending a bit of time before your trip to ensure that these important considerations are checked off your road trip checklist can save you a lot of trouble on the road and make your vacation more enjoyable. How about you – do you know of any other important things to take care of before embarking on a trip in your mobility van? If you’d like to share some real-world tips and tricks with our readers, please leave a comment below!