While often times travel plans may center around a single theme park such as Disneyland, or a relatively localized tourist area like Key West, there are occasions when your itinerary requires that you drive from attraction to attraction. Public transportation may be a good solution to your transit needs, but for those who are seeking a little more freedom and independence, renting an accessible van can be the best option.

There are a handful of “national” accessible van rental companies, with more serving specific locales only. Most of these companies offer daily and weekly rates on a variety of wheelchair accessible, full-sized and mini-vans, with the latter usually in greater abundance.

Be sure to book your van early. Rental fleets are not huge and high demand can limit their availability. Rates will vary from company to company, but a range of $80-$95 per day or $75-$90 per day (at a weekly rate) is common. There may also be mileage constraints, usually 100 miles free per day with a small fee for each mile extra.

When reserving a van, in addition to price, you’ll want to ask specific questions about the equipment’s features. Make sure to ask that whomever you receive the van from will be able to demonstrate the operation of lifts, ramps, tie-downs, and the vehicle itself.

Mini-vans should come with an electric entry ramp, four point tie-downs, and a lowered floor or raised roof, so that there is enough interior height for you. Be sure to measure yourself so you know what kind of clearance will be necessary.

Some mini-vans can be set up with different configurations so that wheelchair or scooter users can ride on the front passenger side or in the middle of the van, with additional space for up to 4 ambulatory riders. The front passenger position provides the best sight lines for wheelchair riders to view the passing scenery. Be sure to reconfirm the configuration you requested a day or two before your trip. Personal experience has shown that without rechecking your reservation, you may end up with an unwanted car seat still present in the vehicle.

The rental companies have hand-control vehicles available as well, so if you plan to do the driving, let them know.

Full-sized vans usually cost the same as a mini-van rental, and can be a better choice for those with respirators or larger chairs. However, most rental companies keep fewer full-sized vans in their fleet so booking extra early is essential.

Instead of an electric ramp, these vans come equipped with power lifts. It is important to make certain that the lift is able to handle the weight of your chair with you sitting in it. Again, four point tie-downs are standard, and hand-controls, as well as 6-way power transfer seats are available upon request.

Many companies, for an extra fee, offer pickup and delivery to home, business, or airport (when you provide your flight information). 24-hour emergency assistance is also provided by several companies.

Rental companies generally require that you be 21 years of age, and will ask for the license number of whoever will be driving, proof of insurance, and a major credit card. The rental companies are careful to protect themselves by asking for all your information, so be sure to get as much information as you need from them.

“National” Accessible Van Rental Companies:

 

  • Accessible Vans of America (888) 282-8267
  • Wheelchair Getaways (800) 536-5518
  • Wheelers (800) 456-1371