It’s a question every wheelchair, scooter or mobility user has to ask at some point: what are my options for transporting my wheelchair and which one will work best for me? Storing your device in a vehicle, using a lift platform, investing in a wheelchair or scooter carrier – it can all seem pretty overwhelming.
In this article, I will present a variety of transport options for mobility devices, the pros and cons of each option and some travel tips. Armed with this information, you will be able to consider your options more easily and decide which method is likely to work best for you.
Storing in a Vehicle
This option involves simply folding up or disassembling your wheelchair and storing it in the back of your van or the trunk of your car. Once stored in the vehicle, the wheelchair is completely out of sight.
If you decide to store your wheelchair in your car or van, you might want to invest in a wheelchair travel bag. It resembles a suitcase, and you can store the parts of your wheelchair in it to keep them safe during car or air travel. There are a variety of styles and sizes, so there is a good chance you will find one that works with your wheelchair. And if not, you can always custom order one.
Storing your wheelchair or scooter in your vehicle has a number of benefits. No special equipment is required, the wheelchair takes up less space, and it can be stored out of sight. The main downside to this method is the inconvenience of having to keep disassembling and reassembling your mobility device. It also requires you to get in and out of your wheelchair more often.
Wheelchair/Scooter Carrier for Car
There are special car carriers that can be used for transferring manual wheelchairs, electric wheelchairs, and scooters. The carrier can be attached to the top of your car or van, in the luggage compartment, or on the back of your car.
Carriers have a few different advantages: they are generally quite simple to mount to your vehicle, they can be installed quickly, and they are very easy to use. Just load the wheelchair or scooter on the carrier and close the connected gate.
On the downside, it does need to be installed, which can take a little time, and it also takes up more space in your vehicle than if you simply folded or disassembled the mobility device. You are also likely to need assistance loading the wheelchair or scooter on the carrier.
Lift Platform for Vans and Trucks
There are a variety of different types of lift platforms that can be used with an SUV or truck. Some types can be hidden in the cargo area of the SUV, while others are external lifts that need to be attached to the back of the vehicle. It is also possible to get a modified minivan with an automatic ramp, which allows the door to be opened and the ramp to be lowered using a key fob. The wheelchair or scooter user can then enter the vehicle without transferring.
Make sure to find out which version will work best with your van and is most compatible with your lifestyle. For example, would a folding ramp or lift model work better for you? As there are a variety of models, do some research online to find out more about the array of available options.
One of the major pros of using a lift platform is you can enter the vehicle without transferring. There are also many versions available, so you should be able to find something to work with your vehicle. And with a lift platform, you don’t need to worry about disassembling your wheelchair.
The downside of lift platforms is they are more expensive, especially if you need to use them with a modified van. They can also take up a lot of space and be quite conspicuous, though this depends on the model.
There are also a number of mobility scooters and electric wheelchairs that can be folded up or taken apart, which makes transporting them so much easier. A few great options are the Pride Go-Go Sport, WHILL Model Ci2, and the Pride Go-Go Folding Scooter, all of which either disassemble or collapse for easy storage.
The Go-Go Sport is Scootaround’s most popular model, and can be rented in cities and cruise ports across the country. I also recommend checking out the Model Ci2 if you’re looking for something more high-tech. It can be purchased on Scootaround’s online store or rented in select locations across the country. The Model Ci2 disassembles into three pieces, which can simply fit in your car or van, eliminating the need for a ramp or lift. It’s a good option if you are looking for a chair that provides a great deal of mobility along with easy transportation.
If you think a manual wheelchair would be a better fit for you than a scooter, check out our wide range of highly-portable lightweight wheelchairs.
Tips for Traveling with a Mobility Device on Public Transit
As a frequent traveler and wheelchair user, I have discovered some tips for traveling with a mobility device on public transit. Here are helpful hints to keep in mind.
If you are traveling by airplane, make sure to let the airline know you are traveling by wheelchair in advance. You’ll also want to reconfirm your flight with your airline 24 to 48 hours before departure, and request maximum assistance at the terminals.
When you arrive at the airport, reiterate your request for maximum assistance at the ticket counter and ask them to gate check your wheelchair. This will allow you to roll your wheelchair to the plane’s door where you transfer to an aisle chair.
Also, make sure you remove the leg supports and cushions and bring them onto the plane with you, as they sometimes get lost in transit. A lightweight nylon sports bag can be helpful for storing these during the flight.
When it comes to rail travel, you’ll want to choose the carrier that offers the most accommodations for your needs. Some trains offer boarding assistance and accessible sleeper cars with showers, while others have minimal accommodations. Make sure to research thoroughly and ask questions to ensure your needs can be met.
It is also good to confirm that your train car has restrooms large enough and doorways wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair. Also ask if the departure and arrival stations have level platforms and wheelchair lifts, which will make boarding and exiting much easier.
It’s also important to carefully review your ticket and itinerary so you are aware of any stopovers. This is especially important if you are traveling outside of the United States.
Bus travel with a wheelchair can be challenging, especially for long-distance routes. However, more and more scooter and wheelchair accessible buses are coming into use, which is definitely a step in the right direction. Depending on where you are located, the availability of accessible buses can vary greatly.
The first thing you will need to do before you travel is research the bus company and the route you want to use. Make sure they operate accessible buses that have ramps or are able to lower themselves. You should also find out if they have a wheelchair space available on board, or at least storage space for one.
If you use a wheelchair, scooter, or other mobility device, it can be challenging to figure out the best way to transport your device. In this article, I have broken down many popular options to give you an idea of what may suit you best.
The good news is that there are a wide variety of options for transporting mobility devices and public transit continues to become more accessible. With a bit of research, I am sure you will be able to discover an option that works for you.
Cory Lee is a wheelchair user, travel addict, and accessible travel writer.
On his blog, Curb Free with Cory Lee, he hopes to inspire others to roll out of their comfort zones and see all the beauty our world has to offer.
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