Is there a road trip in your near future? Says Candy Harrington, author of 22 Accessible Road Trips; Driving Vacations for Wheelers and Slow Walkers, “Advance planning is a must, but there are lots of things you can do to make sure you have a fun and safe road trip. Although some tips apply to everyone, many of these are especially important to wheelchair-users and slow walkers.”
With that in mind, here’s Candy’s top 10 essential road trip tips.
- Start out slow and plan a short shake down road trip, before you hit the road for several weeks or months. That way you can work out some of the bugs, and fall into your own road trip routine before you embark on the big trip.
- Emergency road service is essential, but very few towing companies have wheelchair-accessible tow trucks. To avoid being stranded, check out ADA Nationwide Roadside Assistance, (800-720-3132, www.americandriversalliance.com) which provides lift-equipped transportation to garages.
- Pack along a can of Fix-A-Flat tire inflator. It’s a quick and easy way to repair a flat, and it beats waiting for the tow truck.
- If you have an adapted van, carry along the phone number of your van conversion facility, in case you have any problems with the electronics or the lift. Although they probably can’t fix the problem over the phone, odds are they can recommend a qualified repair facility near you.
- Look to newer fast food restaurants for the best accessible restrooms. Most fast food restaurants are consistent in their restroom design; so find a chain that has the access features you need, and stick with it.
- If your hotel bathroom wasn’t as accessible as expected, stop by a Pilot — Flying J truck stop (www.pilotflyingj.com). Most have accessible shower rooms with roll-in showers; and although there is a charge for using them, it’s a good alternative in a pinch.
- Get your America the Beautiful Pass (www.nps.gov/findapark/passes.htm), as it’s good for free admission to national parks and monuments across America. The Access Pass is free to people with a disability, while the Senior Pass is just $10 for people over 62. And if you don’t qualify for either one, a yearly pass is available for just $80.
- Pack smart and leave your big suitcase in the car. Just roll up an entire set of clothes for each day when you pack; then simply remove one set at each stop. Couple that with a small overnight bag with your toiletries and you’re good to go.
- Don’t forget to take your accessible parking placard with you, as it’s valid throughout the US, except in New York City. Additionally, it’s a good idea to consult the FIA World Parking Guide (www.fiadisabledtravellers.com/en/home/) for disabled parking regulations in different states.
- Finally, don’t forget to pack your sense of humor when you leave home. Be flexible and don’t stress out if things don’t go exactly the way you planned them. After all, travel is all about experiencing new things.
22 Accessible Road Trips; Driving Vacations for Wheelers and Slow Walkers, is the world’s first inclusive road trip book; with detailed access information about sights, lodging options, restaurants and roadside attractions on 22 driving routes across America. Available from your favorite bookstore or at www.22AccessibleRoadTrips.com, it’s a good choice for Baby Boomers, couples, families or anybody who wants to hit the road — disabled or able-bodied — as it boasts a wealth of information about fun routes and essential stops along the way.
Candy also blogs regularly about accessible travel issues at BarrierFreeTravels.com.