Although the availability of accessible ground transportation has greatly improved over the past 10 years, sometimes it’s just more practical to drive your own vehicle. This is especially true if you’re planning a vacation that includes a visit to a national park, a road trip to a rural part of a country or a journey which includes stops in several cities. And since driving your own van isn’t always a possibility, wheelchair van rentals are the perfect option for folks who want a little independence in their travels, yet still require comfortable and safe adapted transportation.
Finding Wheelchair Van Rentals
The two largest US franchises are Wheelchair Getaways (www.wheelchairgetaways.com) and Accessible Vans of America (www.accessiblevans.com). Both companies have been in business for over 10 years and have franchises or can deliver vans to most states. Their average rental rate is $100/day, although weekly and monthly discounts may be available.
Some van conversion companies also offer rentals; and because of their inventory turnover they may also boast lower prices. Contact the Center for Independent Living in your destination city to get referrals to these. And last but not least, ask the major car rental companies if they have any referrals. Although none of them rent adapted vans, some do at least have resources to share with their customers.
Questions to Ask
After you locate a rental franchise or dealer in your destination city, it’s important to ask a few questions; as policies, equipment and rental procedures vary from company to company. Here are some things you should find out before you make your reservation.
- How many seats are in the van? You want to make sure there is ample seating for your party. Many companies will remove the bench seats if you do not need them. Ask about this option.
- Does the van have a raised roof or a lowered floor? This is important it you are tall or have a high profile wheelchair.
- Ask if the van has a lift or a ramp. If it’s lift-equipped, ask about the weight limit if you have a larger wheelchair or scooter?
- Does the van come equipped with hand controls, or is it only set up for wheelchair-users to be passengers?
- Do they offer airport pick-up and delivery?
- Do they sell insurance for damage to the van? If so, is it primary or secondary coverage? Many companies require that you carry your own insurance; while some require that you purchase their policy.
- What happens if something breaks? Do they have a 24-hour hotline or offer any type of emergency towing or assistance service?
Wheelchair Van Rentals Overseas
Looking for a wheelchair-accessible van rental outside the US? Here are a few resources.
Angel Vehicle Hire (United Kingdom)
Freedom Mobility (New Zealand)
Of course this isn’t a comprehensive list, as new companies are always popping up. To find more options, just google “wheelchair rental vans.”