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AAA World | Travel
Road-Trip Tips for Travelers with a Wheelchair

5 TIPS TO HELP MAKE YOUR NEXT ROAD TRIP MORE ACCESSIBLE AND ENJOYABLE

Road trips are fuel for the soul, helping you escape your routine, find adventures and meet new people. While filling up the gas tank and hitting the road may seem simple, road trips require thorough planning. And travelers who use a wheelchair face extra challenges that should be taken into consideration. Follow these tips so that everyone in your party has a comfortable and enjoyable journey.

1. GET MAINTENANCE ON YOUR VAN
Before any lengthy road trip, be sure your vehicle is in top operating condition because wheelchair-friendly alternate transportation may be difficult to find. Make sure the ramp, hand controls and any other specialized equipment, in addition to the overall van, are in proper working order to prevent unexpected delays.

2. DO YOUR RESEARCH
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 has improved accessibility in our country, but there are still many places that are grandfathered in or not compliant. As you plot out your road trip, look at photos online, and call ahead to speak to someone at your destination. Check that the facilities, including the restrooms, in all the places you plan to stop meet the needs of everyone in your party.

man on wheelchair checking phone while it is raining outside

3. WATCH FOR INCLEMENT WEATHER
Along with planning an alternate route in the event of heavy snow or rain, make sure your power wheelchair can properly operate should you need to travel outside in the snow. Confirm that the wheelchair’s battery is fully charged and that you have a backup battery. Also, make sure the tires are in good shape, and purchase a cover to keep the joystick dry.

4. BUILD IN EXTRA TIME
Rest stops are especially important for those who use wheelchairs. Take enough time to stretch and move around to avoid discomfort from being in one position for too long. Budget for additional time at each destination to find an accessible entrance and to unload a van so that a wheelchair user can get in and out.

5. REMEMBER YOUR ACCESSIBLE PLACARD
This placard allows those with a disability to park close to an entrance and near a safe pathway, but there may be additional benefits. Many states have free parking for those with accessibility needs, for example, or allow people with disabilities to park in spaces that are otherwise restricted. Any vacation can come with unanticipated detours; keeping an open mind can foster a fun and safe adventure.