Tips for long road trips in a wheelchair
For many, summer road trips are a fun and inexpensive way to embark on an adventure, and the same can also be true for those confined to a wheelchair. Road travel and small trips away can help to break that daily grind, taking you out of your routine and into a new place, often helping to take our mind off our worries and live more in the moment.
Travelling with a wheelchair can present challenges, at times it can all seem very difficult preparing the family and vehicle for a stint away. With this in mind, we’d like to share some helpful tips and advice we have gathered over our years of working with people like you; either people living with a disability, or their families, carers or therapists.
1. Don’t try to be a hero
Even if you like to be independent, being away from home in an unknown area can sometimes be overwhelming. Transporting wheelchairs along with other mobility and health equipment can be a challenge to handle alone. By travelling with a family member, carer or a close friend, they can assist with opening doors or manoeuvring your wheelchair into new places. Add to this other day-to-day difficulties that may be different when travelling; such as getting into a new bed, assisting with unpacking and repacking your luggage, and loading it into your vehicle.
2. Know before you go
When going on long road trips, it’s likely you’ll want to see some sites or attractions. Whilst a lot of museums, galleries, restaurants, hotels and buildings are accessible, there are a lot of places that aren’t yet adapted for wheelchair use.
Try making a rough itinerary of places you want to visit before you leave, and do some research ahead of time or call them to get an idea of how accessible they are.
You’ll also need to consider having the correct travel insurance in case of an emergency. Remember: plan, plan, plan… then have a backup plan. It could prevent a lot of heartache once you’re on the road!
3. Stay connected
Things can always go wrong when travelling. Be prepared and take a fully charged mobile phone and a portable charger, in the case of an emergency, especially if you’re travelling in remote areas.
4. Remember: you’re not a camel
Particularly in the height of summer, it’s vital that you drink enough water to keep you hydrated and cool. Whether you’re travelling in a wheelchair or not, ensure you take plenty of water with you on your trip or a bottle that you can refill on the way. We recommend drinking at least 2-3 litres every day, and more if needed, or if travelling in hotter weather.
5. Prepare your chair
Something going wrong with your wheelchair while you’re on a trip can be a HUGE inconvenience, and a real time-waster if it can’t be fixed quickly, with you stranded in the meantime. On top of that, finding an appropriate servicing or repair store isn’t always easy when travelling. We recommend getting your wheelchair serviced before you go away, and even consider investing in at least a basic repair kit from the manufacturer or a disability supplier.
It may also be worth thinking about any additions you want to make to your wheelchair before you leave, such as a bag to store water, snacks and things you might like to buy along the way.
6. Check over your vehicle well before leaving
The last thing anyone wants on a road trip is to break down in the middle of nowhere, or in an unfamiliar area where help is not immediately at hand.
To avoid this, make sure your vehicle is in good mechanical condition and has been serviced recently before you go, along with checking your wheelchair ramps and lifts.
In addition to reviewing these items before you leave, it’s a good idea to check them intermittently while you’re on the road, keeping an eye out in case you any problems arise.
If you have an Automobility vehicle, we offer 24 hour and emergency phone support on 03 8761 0111. If you don’t and would like to enquire about a vehicle, you can contact us here.
Alternatively, if you don’t have available transport, getting to and from places can be made easier with wheelchair car hire such as Hertz car rentals, taxis or shuttle buses. Take a look at the local area’s tourist information website and see if they have accessible shuttle buses to make travelling on your trip easier.
If you enjoyed this blog, you may like to read about how we gave Christine her independence back to help her travel with her granddaughter.