Vacationing In A Wheelchair Van

Vacationing in a Wheelchair Van – Family Adventures

As an engineer at BraunAbility, I usually blog about technical things.  You know, stuff like ground clearance, ramp angle, crash testing, safety, etc.  Well, this time I’d like to share a story about a recent family vacation in a wheelchair van. Each summer we take a trip to Northern Michigan with my wife’s family. If you’ve read my previous blogs you know my father-in-law is a wheelchair user, so they make the seven-hour trip each summer in their Entervan. Without that vehicle, we wouldn’t be able to share our family vacations with them. And our kids wouldn’t get nearly as many popsicles without a grandma to manipulate! It was a great vacation. We spent a week on Lake Michigan in an accessible beach house with fantastic views and an awesome sandy beach for building sandcastles and playing football.

Aside from a brief cold snap, the weather – and the entire vacation – was perfect. That is, until it was time to go home. The suitcases were packed, the snack bags for the trip home were full. We were just about ready to load up the van when we discovered the Entervan’s keys were missing.

Vacationing in a wheelchair van
Here we are frantically searching for the keys on the beach!

No need to panic, right? If we can’t find the key, we’ll just have to use the spare one. But the spare was inconveniently sitting in the garage back home. We looked through every suitcase, every purse, and every sand bucket. Twice. Three times. Nothing. Any family needs to plan for the unexpected on vacation, but it’s particularly important if that family includes a wheelchair user.

Most people could have piled into our vehicle for the return trip, or worst-case scenario, rented a car to drive home. My father-in-law’s Entervan, however, would have been towed somewhere (with him in the van), and they’d just have to hope that a dealership would be willing to offer some help on a Sunday (of course).

Long story short, the keys were eventually found (three hours later) in a side pocket of my brother-in-law’s suitcase. He claims he’s never even opened that pocket, and our 15-month-old toddler has since received most of the blame. Personally, I think my brother-in-law just wanted to extend the vacation one more day.

What really happened with the keys is still a mystery. But what isn’t a mystery is the importance of the Entervan. Our vacations wouldn’t be the same without my in-laws to share it with us. I hope our customers across the world are able to share the same experiences and make the same memories with their friends and families as a result of their wheelchair van. No matter how great our vans may be, one thing is for sure – an Entervan is only as good as the key that starts it. The first thing my in-laws did when they got home was to make sure the spare was a little more accessible the next time this happens.

I hope you’ll take my advice and do the same for yours. Also, does anyone have suggestions for good handicap accessible vacation destinations in the Midwest?