Holidaying via road trip can be a truly memorable and joyful experience. The wind in your hair, the beauty of the world rolling by, the sounds and smells of a totally new town… all equipment and essentials in their place and easily accessed…
OK, so being organised may not be a particularly sexy part of road tripping but it can make your holiday a whole lot easier. Let’s talk mobility equipment storage for driving holidays.
You’ve likely scoured a number of the millions of guides out there for your destination of choice and are potentially considering hiring a vehicle suited to your needs.
Another key consideration is storage. Road holiday life is easier to manage when you’re across useful car storage hacks for your mobility equipment and other travel goods.
When planning how much storage space you need, you should of course think about necessary equipment like your mobility scooter and wheelchair. You should also be taking into account any emergency and backup supplies you need to bring and potentially be able to access quickly.
What about the smaller mobility aids and other equipment you need to take when exploring the new sights?
And what assistive items will you need for within your accommodation? Items that help you breathe and sleep easier, have a shower, go to the toilet, make your meals and more.
Then there’s the usual luggage, hobby gear and so on.
Whether heavy or relatively light, all this will need to be properly secured to prevent them becoming hazards. Much of it will need to be readily accessible too.
So, in planning your driving holiday are you sure you have what’s needed to store everything carefully and still be able to travel well? Write an initial list and add to it over the ensuing days as more comes to mind. Then you can determine the best ways to store these items.
Obviously, your car choice will go a long way to ensuring you have room to store everything. Station wagons and minivans have more storage space than smaller cars, but if your stuff is particularly bulky you might consider a full-sized van.
As someone living with disability, or caring for someone who does, you’re likely right across the vehicle modifications, anchor points and so on you need inside a vehicle. The ones that make driving and passenger-ing a relatively simple home-away-from-home experience.
Below are interior and exterior storage options that go beyond this to help ease the potential pain – and increase the pleasure – of a road trip.
The exterior – mobility equipment storage for driving holidays
The most common external vehicle modifications that make life easier on the road are:
- Tow bar mounted wheelchair and scooter carriers – come in a variety of designs depending on the mobility aid size and weight. Foldable manual wheelchairs can be mounted on a rack similar to a standard bike rack, while larger aids like scooters can sit on a tray with extendable ramp. Tow bar mounted carriers don’t have their own wheels, so the entire weight of all this rests on the tow bar. It might add up to a significant unsupported weight, which can affect road handling and increase space required for parking. Check the vehicle manufacturer’s rated allowable down force and think carefully about what your journey entails.
- Roof racks – usually combined with car roof hoists, these store a wheelchair on the roof. They’re only suitable for use with foldable manual wheelchairs and come with or without weather protection covers. Note they raise the car’s overall height, so consider the spaces you’ll drive in and out of.
- Trailers – can be specially designed to carry mobility scooters or power wheelchairs. They carry the weight of the trailer and mobility device on the tow bar but have wheels to distribute the load more evenly. Trailers increase the parking space required, and drivers should make sure they’re comfortable reversing and parking with it attached. Check the manufacturer’s vertical load rating and include a fold-up ramp for easy loading and unloading.
- Storage boxes/roof pods – a great way to store mobility equipment, such as manual wheelchairs or walking frames, and other general luggage. Available in small to large sizes, they secure all your gear safely on the car roof and ensure they don’t become hazards in case of an accident.
Be aware that in some states/territories some vehicle modifications must be assessed for engineering safety and approved by a vehicle inspection officer. Also check in with your vehicle insurer before you make any purchases, to ensure your insurance policy covers it.
The interior – mobility equipment storage for driving holidays
With the need for safety and accessibility in mind – at your end destination and through your stops along the way – consider these interior mobility equipment storage options for your driving holiday:
- Seat storage – comes in all shapes and sizes for all types of luggage, including smaller mobility aids. There are headrest storage compartments that slip over front and back seats, boot storage compartments, under seat storage pockets, console organisers and side pocket add-ons… more storage extras than you can poke a walking stick at. Having your back-up battery, first aid kit, equipment tools, extra winter woollies and other must-haves readily available can make a sojourn much simpler.
- Cargo barrier – these can be put to good use within your car (especially station wagons) to help secure unoccupied wheelchairs and scooters, and their accessories, in the back. This is important in case of an accident but also more generally, so the driver and passengers aren’t caught unawares while on the road.
- Luggage nets – usually strung across boot spaces, luggage nets can hold all sorts of smaller, lighter equipment and separate different types of luggage for easy access. Choose from hammock style or pocket nets made from material of different strengths and attach a cargo bar to hang them from if you don’t want to attach to the boot’s side, floor or bulkhead.
- Umbrella stand – there are many different in-car umbrella stands, such as a self-adhesive hanger for the inside of your car door or clip hooks for the roof of your boot. Or, you might hook a waterproof umbrella storage bag to the back of your headrest. There’s even a ‘Doorbrella’ (created by three Sydney dads) that attaches to your car window with a robust clip and one-click suction pad
In many places you’ll take a road trip, the longer you travel the more likely you’ll be exposed to rainy, windy or otherwise unpleasant weather. Anything you can easily access before or soon after getting out of the car is a winner.
Another essential – insurance
Just as travel insurance is considered a necessity when you’re flying somewhere, insuring your vehicle and mobility equipment is crucial when road tripping (and for daily life too!).
Protecting the vehicle and mobility equipment that give you the freedom to travel will provide peace of mind that, should they get into an accident or break, you’ll be covered.
Choose your insurance provider wisely. It’s always worth considering a specialist insurer like Blue Badge Insurance that has years of experience working with the needs of people with disabilities. Here’s what Blue Badge offers:
- Car insurance – This comprehensive insurance has been designed specifically for people with disabilities. All disability parking permit (DPP) users are eligible and the policy covers family, friends, carers and support workers while they’re driving too. It also provides up to $5,000 cover for assistive technology (wheelchairs, mobility scooters etc.) in the car. Blue Badge offers discounted premiums, of up to 25% for all DPP users, including those with cars that have been converted to accommodate drivers and/or passengers with a disability. Converted cars are also provided a ‘new for old’ replacement option for all disability conversions, for (conversions up to five years old, from newly installed).
- Mobility equipment insurance – Blue Badge’s comprehensive wheelchair and mobility scooter insurance covers your equipment against accidental loss and damage, as well as third party liability for both personal injury and property. Additional benefits include overseas cover, personal items that are lost, stolen or damaged while using the device, and costs incurred to get the user and their device home after an accident (in Australia).
There’s enough to pay for on a holiday without having to worry about how you’ll afford to replace your trusty equipment or vehicle if something goes awry.
Before heading off
One last thing – if you’ve installed new storage equipment to make road tripping easier (whether large or small) test them out well in advance of your holiday. Then you’ll know if adjustments need to be made and can set off with confidence when the big day arrives.