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Vacation Tips: Traveling with your Wheelchair Accessible Van

Traveling, whether you have a disability or not, can be an incredible experience, or it can be an absolute nightmare. That’s why it’s always best to have a plan in place before you go, so you can prepare for and hopefully avoid any big catastrophes along the way. However, you’ll want to leave some flexibility in your planning as well, so you’re not rushed along the way.

Here are a few vacation tips for traveling with wheelchair accessible van, so you’re all set for your next road trip.

Know before you go

When traveling with a handicap van, you want to make sure you know all the best accessible destinations and hotel accommodations in advance so you’re ready to plan your trip. We suggest researching accessible tourist attractions and call ahead to make sure they have plenty of handicap parking available for when you plan to arrive.

When you call, you may want to consider asking what the attractions peak and slow times during the day are, as you’re more likely to have an easier time with parking during a slow time than when it’s busiest.

When making your hotel accommodations, we suggest booking early to ensure they’ll have an accessible room available for your visit. It’s also a good idea to call a few days prior to your trip to make sure the room you’ll be receiving is wheelchair accessible and has all the necessities you’ll need during your stay. That way, if the hotel doesn’t have the proper room, you will still have time to make other arrangements.

Talk to a Travel Agent

Travel agents can be an incredible resource when planning a trip. They can assist you in finding an accessible destination if you don’t already have one in mind, they will map out your entire trip for you, and they can map out accessible rest stops along the way. Plus, travel agents will usually guarantee any bookings you make through them. So, if your nighttime accommodations get lost, they will help you fix the problem or find you another place to stay.

Accessible Rest Stops

Many rest stop locations throughout the United States have handicap accessibility, but there are still some out there that don’t. Making sure you plan ahead on this one is an absolute must. Mark down all the accessible rest areas along your route on your map and you won’t be stuck in a situation where you need to stop and can’t find one.

Van Maintenance

As with any vehicle, regular maintenance is important especially before a long road trip, as to prevent any maintenance-related issues from popping up. Standard “check-up” procedures such as getting your oil changed, checking the tire pressure, and making sure your spare tire is filled and your emergency kit is stocked are highly recommended.

In addition, there are special handicapped van upkeep procedures that are recommended before you take off on your road trip.

These include the following:

  1. Make sure your lower door tracks are free of debris by using a vacuum along the tracks and ensuring any extra road trip supplies won’t be able to fall onto the track.
  2. Spray your van’s ramp with a silicon or teflon based lubricant to make sure it slides with ease. If you use an in-the-floor ramp there’s one hinge, but if you have a fold-down ramp make sure to spray both the upper and lower hinges.
  3. You will also want to lightly lubricate the kneeling chain and the hand controls, if applicable to your van. Your handicap van’s manual should explain how to do this maintenance.
  4. Check your tie downs and securements to make sure there are no rips and they’re clear of debris.
  5. Tighten your 6-way power seat and make sure it’s clear of debris, if applicable to your van.

Take Your Time

Remember that it’s important to take your time throughout your trip. You don’t want to push yourself past your limits and get sick while on vacation. It’s better to add in extra time for relaxing, so you don’t have to cancel anything that was on your to-do list.

About the Author
This article was contributed by Elise Schwartz, a staff writer for Rollx Vans. Rollx Vans is a mini and full-size van manufacturer selling new and used wheelchair vans direct to the consumer.



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Guest Post

Written on October 9, 2013 by:

  • Grif Griffey

    When is Travel & Leisure going

    to really start serving the needs of handicapped travelers?

    Is this title a surprise to you? Did you think the ADA act took care of this? I wish that were true.

    To the airlines…A wheelchair is a direct extension of the body. Would you ask an amputee to store his prosthesis in the cargo compartment? You damage far too many wheelchairs to the extent that it ruins vacations for the handicapped and their family. Provide a wheelchair space in the passenger compartment.

    To the airports…Do you provide a special place for handicapped transportation vehicles? Not just a space with a handicapped sign on it. Remember many handicapped also have emotional development issues and big buses and other noises could scare them.

    To rental car companies…Do you meet and help your handicapped clients in a quiet and convenient place on arrival & departure? Do you guide your client through the many obstacles airports present?

    To hotels & resorts…You do the best job in this group, but do you have a pool lift easily available.

    To vacation home renters…Many of you think that Wheelchair Accessible means a chair can get through the front door.

    To the Public…Some of you see a wheelchair like a yellow traffic light and run to get in front of a wheelchair for a crowded elevator.

    I am a part of this myself and experience this with my handicapped clients everyday. I am a wheelchair accessible van rental company. I strive to do my part at http://myredhats.com Let’s all work together and encourage each other to do better for handicapped travelers.

  • Gayle Twine

    I travel with an accessible van and my van doesn’t have a “handicap” and neither do I. Folks who write about people with disabilities should at least get the terminology correct. Handicapped is a derogatory term used many years ago to describe beggars – hence “cap in hand”- who when disabled had to rely on handouts to survive.

    As far as traveling goes its hit and miss – sure the ADA is out there but the number one issue for those of us who drive them is PARKING! When are some of the van companies going to stick up for us and change the law that excludes all other disabled drivers from being able to park in van spaces? Something needs to be done as it’s the most frustrating experience ever.

    So if you find a place to park at a hotel where you can actually unload your “stuff” then you run into the usual hotel problems of bed height, toilet height etc. Frankly it’s sometimes less of a hassle to just stay home and leave the traveling to others…

    Fly? No way, too many destroyed wheelchairs to even fight that battle again!

    Rent a Vacation home? Ha Ha Ha – those folks need to police their homes to be certain that the renter is lying about accessible – the last one I rented had 4 flights of stairs BUT – if you could roll down a dirt cliff on the side of a mountain in CO then one floor (kitchen, living, bed, bath) was “accessible”… geez really?

    So do I sound frustrated? You BET… traveling with a wheelchair and an accessible van is not for the faint of heart!

  • Kate

    I work for Marriott, at the reservation call center. Here are a few hints for disabled travelers (this also applies to Hilton and Wyndam). First, please realize that NONE of the reservation agents are on site. We may tell you about the hotel, we may be incredibly familiar with the hotel, we may have stayed there at the hotel. But we are not there at the moment. All we know about it is what is on our computer screen. Second, ALWAYS call to make accessible reservations! Don’t do it online!! We have a procedure where we can transfer your call (after you make your reservation with us!) to GUARANTEE an accessible room if we are not able to do so during the normal call. The procedure involves a specialized agent speaking directly with the manager on duty to ensure the type of accessible room you require will be what you recieve! Now, we are not allowed to call this desk the ADA desk, we will just tell you during the reservation process that we will need to transfer you to ensure your room type availability. If we don’t tell you during the call that we need to transfer you, then we should be able to guarantee an accessible room for you without any issues. Third, always check your email confirmation! If it says ‘accessible room type REQUESTED’ and not ‘accessible room type GUARANTEED’ call us back IMMEDIATELY. Your room type is not guaranteed and there is a chance you will not get an accessible room. When you call back, you will get a different agent. Have them pull up your reservation and get it changed to guaranteed. They may have to transfer you. Never settle for just a REQUEST. That means all the accessible rooms are sold out and you can only get one if someone cancels. So if you have to make a reservation without a guarantee, keep calling back until it can be guaranteed. Good Luck and Happy Travels!

    • Margaret Cridlebaugh

      Thanks, Kate, for taking the time to write all of the information. For us disabled people, it really helps.

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