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4 Important Tips for Taking a Road Trip with a Wheelchair


A road trip with you or someone else in a wheelchair requires a bit more planning than usual. Here are 4 tips for taking a road trip with a wheelchair.

Road trips aren’t just for the summer! Some of your favorite destinations will look even more stunning if you choose to see them during a different time of year.

If you’re up for it, take a trip in the fall or winter—just make sure your vehicle is in the right condition for the weather. No matter when you choose to take a trip to some of your favorite spots, though, what matters more is who you take with you for the ride. Don’t let your friends who are wheelchair-bound (or yourself!) miss out on the experience.

father and daughter traveling with mother in wheelchair
Taken by S. Intintoli via unsplash.com. [Public Domain].

Here are some important tips for taking a road trip with a wheelchair:

1. Decide on Your Transportation

Before you even think about the route you’ll take, you need to decide on your mode of transportation. If you’re on the East Coast, an Amtrak train is always a wonderful option, but if you’re in the western portion of the United States, then a car may be better for your trip.

Most people decide to take the vehicle option, but if you will travel with a wheelchair, you can’t just rent any vehicle. SUVs tend to offer a very reliable option if you will only travel with two or three people, and most’ll have space for a wheelchair and your luggage. Before you leave the rental place, make sure you test how it drives. You don’t want a car that makes a lot of internal noise or rattles when you go over bumps.

2. Be Particular About Your Route

You may be tempted to follow a lot of the popular road trip itineraries out there on the Internet; however, the majority of them don’t account for wheelchair accessibility. You can find a few out there, but you want to make sure you personalize the trip to fit your handicapped loved one’s needs. You shouldn’t have long stretches with no breaks, and you should stop more often than you might think. If you plan to stay in hotels when taking a road trip with a wheelchair, make sure you call ahead and ensure that you’ll have a handicap accessible room.

Once you have your route sorted out a bit more, you need to look and see what places are truly accessible. Call businesses, restaurants, and other places of interest to see what kind of accessibility options they offer. The more you plan now, the less stress you and your road trip partners will have to deal with.

3. Pack Smart When Taking a Road Trip with a Wheelchair

This delves into more than just making sure everyone has the right amount of pants and shirts—this deals with how you pack your vehicle. Make certain that snacks and water are in reaching distance and everyone can easily access them. You’ll also want to ensure that the wheelchair is right in the back and ready to grab; you don’t want them to wait longer than necessary.

Try to separate your items into different bags by category or frequency of use. For example, ice packs and comfortable cushions to ease spine stress should be easy to reach. For more on packing smart, read our articles on why you should pack light and how to pack light for a trip.

4. Put Safety First

The most important tip we can give you for road tripping with a wheelchair is about safety, as fun comes second to safety. Nobody expects to be put in a bad position while on a road trip, but nonetheless, it’s something that you need to prepare for. Disabled parking roadside assistance is something you must have, as the coverage will help you in various situations; this includes typical towing assistance, battery service, and wheelchair lift and ramp services. You should also think about purchasing a GPS locator, as they offer life-saving lines of communication when you travel outside of cell service.

Happy road tripping!

Becca Polk
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Becca Polk
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