How to Take a Road Trip in a Wheelchair

People who use wheelchairs are no longer limited to their immediate surroundings, thanks to the evolution of folding type wheelchairs and increased accessibility of land vehicles. Road trips are more doable and comfortable now than ever before. However, there are still many challenges present for those who use a wheelchair. But with the right planning, you can minimize or even eliminate these challenges and make the best road trip ever.

Here are some suggestions to help you plan your wheelchair-friendly road trip:

Allot extra time

Many things can cause delays during a road trip, and most of them are not even related to being in a wheelchair. These things include traffic, inclement weather, and one-too-many rest stops, to name a few. Furthermore, traveling in a wheelchair requires more time to get into and out of the car, take restroom breaks, go into establishments (some of which might not be wheelchair-friendly), and many other tasks.

With this in mind, it is necessary to allow extra time for your road trip. For example, if the journey to your destination usually takes 10 to 12 hours, plan for at least 14 hours to accommodate the extra time you need.

Book accommodations in advance

Chances are, your route will largely be determined by the availability of wheelchair-friendly accommodations along the way, which is why you need to book your hotels in advance. When you have an end destination in mind, start looking for hotels on your route that have accommodations for wheelchair-bound people.

Plan rest stops strategically

Rest stops are your opportunity to give your body a break and answer nature’s call. However, you have to consider the availability of wheelchair-friendly restrooms on your route, depending on where you are traveling. Taking back roads is out of the question, so when you’re traveling on toll roads, start looking for designated rest stops up ahead even if you don’t have to go to the bathroom yet. Most rest stops on toll roads have wheelchair-accessible bathrooms. Also, large chain restaurants or coffee shops might also have bathrooms that are big enough to accommodate you.

Bring plenty of food and water

Bringing your own snacks, meals, and beverages eliminates the need to spend extra time at rest stops buying food, which will help you stay on schedule while on the road. Moreover, not having to buy food gives you plenty of time to go to the bathroom or rest before you have to get in the car again.

Choose suitable travel companions

Regardless if you are unable to travel by yourself or want to have company on your road trip, choosing the right people is paramount since you will be spending hours or even days trapped in a car with them. This is especially true if you are not used to spending extended amounts of time with other people and don’t need anyone to take care of you.

When choosing travel companions for your road trip, find people who can align with you in terms of personality, travel style, and the places you want to see. If you are laid-back when it comes to travel schedule, select people that are cool with that. If there are places you want to see along the way, ensure that they are on board with it. Remember, a road trip is only fun if you get along with the people you’re traveling with!

Get your wheelchair ready

Before taking your next big adventure, consider having your wheelchair checked out by a service center first. Few things are worse than having your wheelchair fail on you in the middle of a road trip, so make sure that your chair is in good shape before you go on your road trip. Furthermore, you might also want to buy a basic repair kit and download a bunch of repair tutorials if your wheelchair fails on you.

Prepare for the unexpected

interior of a car

Getting lost, having your car break down, and getting injured are just bad things that can happen on your road trip. While some of these incidences are unavoidable, it helps to be prepared for them by:

  • Packing a first aid kit
  • Having your car checked by a mechanic before hitting the road
  • Downloading offline maps
  • Bringing a GPS device
  • Having a portable charger in the car
  • Sending location updates to a friend or family member

Taking a road trip is fun, inexpensive, and liberating, especially after spending weeks cooped up in the house. And if you think that a wheelchair will hinder you from making the most out of your road trip, then you thought wrong. With the right planning and preparation, you can make your road trip as comfortable, safe, and enjoyable as possible.

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