According to Tom Scott, United Spinal Staff editor, accessible vans are
the key for many people with disabilities to unlocking their
independence on the road. UnitedSpinal.org offers a broad variety of information to assist your special mobility needs.
As more and more wheelchair-users take to the road in pursuit of adventure, many prefer the peace of mind that comes with being behind the controls of a vehicle modified to fit their needs and equipped for the long haul-- wherever the destination may be. Let's face it, the last thing most of us want to deal with on vacation is public transportation, especially if you're planning your own itinerary and would like to visit attractions and tourist spots at your own leisure. Renting an accessible van is a smart choice for many travelers in search of this type of freedom while they're spending a little time away from home.
There are a few important tips you should keep in mind when renting a van. You should make sure that the van meets your specific requirements in terms of equipment, features, and functionality. This will depend upon the type of wheelchair you will be using on your trip (manual/ electric), your level of injury, and your personal preferences.
Before contacting a
rental company you should also have all your measurements at the ready
(width of wheelchair, your height seated in your chair) as well as your
driver's license and insurance and credit card information.
Below are some important questions you'll probably want to ask the dealer:
- * What are the rental rates and do they charge for mileage?
- * Do they offer delivery and pick up services?
- * Do they offer adaptive equipment, such as hand controls, 4-point tie downs, raised roof or lowered floor, lifts or ramps, 6-way power seats, power doors etc?
- * Can you drive the van out of the specific state you're renting it in?
- * Can you have more than one driver listed on the rental contract?
- * Do they offer 24-hour roadside assistance? Some other questions you need to think about are: How many people will be occupying the van--any other wheelchair users? Are you driving (if so, make sure the van is equipped with hand controls) or is a family member or caregiver? If you're not driving, where would you like to be located while traveling in the van--front passenger area, middle or back of van, etc.?
Don't be afraid to address your specific concerns with the rental company. After all, you want to travel comfortably and not have to worry about hitting your head on the roof or bumping into things left and right. It's also extremely important that you request a demonstration of the van's mechanics upon receiving it. You may already be familiar with the type equipment, but on the side of caution, spend a little time getting to know the van, including the operation of ramps, lifts, tie- downs, and so forth. Traveling 65 mph on the freeway is not a good time to realize you're not secured properly or start to wonder what a certain button on the dash does.
As with any travel planning, book your rental as early as possible and make sure to confirm everything a few weeks in advance and reconfirm everything a few days in advance of your trip. If you have your doubts about anything, let the rental company know. It never hurts to cover all your bases. Being persistent and thorough will work toward your benefit when it counts most--on the road. Depending on the rental agency you choose and your travel destination, the availability of accessible vans can sometimes be limited, so the earlier you start planning the better.
For more information about van rentals for vacation, or about any other accessible travel needs, visit United Spinal's www.ABLEtoTravel.org or call them toll free at 888-211-3635. Find out more about United Spinal at www.unitedspinal.org/motorability