Why worry about access on trains or planes when you have the perfect accessible vehicle sat on your driveway? You may just have small adaptations or be driving a fully formed Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV) but in any case it would be a waste not to take advantage of it and use it for your next vacation.
Not only will it be just the way you like it in terms of driving comfort but you’ll also have plenty of room for passengers and any amount of luggage you could take away with you – and what with prices at the fuel pumps being as low as at any other time recently, now might be a good time for planning your getaway.
Before you set off, here are our top tips for making the most of your trip:
Although your adapted vehicle will be perfectly suited to your driving needs it might have been some time since you gave it some love. A good clean out of all the accumulated rubbish and any items you don’t need but pointlessly carry around anyway can be rehoused in the garage. A tidy up will make it much more comfortable for you and your passengers on your long journey and you’ll have more space and ‘weight allowance’ for the sake of fuel economy and luggage.
A quick wash on the outside should definitely clean up lights, plates and include a refill of screen wash reservoirs.
You’ll definitely need to stop at some point along the way for life’s essentials but that doesn’t mean that you need to pay through the nose for the privilege. Besides, gone are the ‘glory days’ of proper breakfasts which have largely been replaced by generic burgers, croissants and coffee vendors – who really know how to charge.
Instead, take a few moments in your local supermarket before you set off to collect some of your favourite snacks or sandwich fillings and prepare yourself a buffet that you know you’ll enjoy. Of course, there’s no harm topping it up with a hot cup of ‘Wide-Awake’ before you set off again. (All service station car parks must provide free parking and use of facilities even if you aren’t a customer.)
Join the club
If you’re not certain where to go you could take a trip based on a hobby or interest. That might mean following the footsteps of a hero from history (National Trust or English Heritage) or a gathering of sci-fi fans or even following your local cricket, football or rugby team to an away fixture. (Be prepared for a very sorry long haul back if your side loses heavily.)
Plan your route
It is genuinely difficult to get truly lost. Most of us live on the big island and so if you reach the sea, you know you’ve either made it to the seaside holiday you were looking for or that you need to turn around.
Planning a route, either with a Sat Nav or a good old road atlas is a very sensible move. Firstly, you’re likely to pick a quicker or more scenic route depending on the purpose of your journey and secondly you’re less likely to get lost. Clearly, going astray will only add to your fuel bills. (Lots of Sat Navs show disabled facilities such as Blue Badge parking bays and accessible toilets etc.)
If you’re going on a road trip to remote areas be sure that you keep an eye on your fuel gauge and have an idea where the lasting filling station is.
On your way
As soon as you pull away from your driveway, you’re on holiday! The journey could be used to take in various places of leisure or interest as planned or to add a little spice or romance you can always change your mind on a whim and head for an entirely different adventure.
Disabled people tend not to use their cars as much as others do and so it’s high time to get some miles under your belt. It also means that your car is probably in really good shape and will likely as not let you down. Saying that, it’s best to run through a few basics (oil, water, tyres etc) and sort out any creaks before you get going.
Just in case, carry a few basic essentials such as screen wash or warning triangle etc. (If you choose to drive abroad, some of this stuff is a legal requirement – check before you go.)
Do your research
A simple online check will bring up results for towns, attractions and hotels whilst travel news from different areas will forewarn you of any delays where you might risk missing your next medication time or simply get cold and annoyed.
Know your limits
Tiredness kills. It’s a good idea to look at your route so that you have a good idea of where you’re going but also so you can start thinking about how long it might take you to get tired. It’s not just about distance, some roads can be difficult and require true concentration as does driving in the dark.
Prepare for delays
The best laid plans of ‘mice and men’ can end up the victim of unforeseen delays due to roadworks or accidents. Fortunately driving your own vehicle means you’ll have plenty of space to stow handy snacks and the like in case you face a long wait. It might also be a good idea to have items such as inhalers to hand if you aren’t going to reach your destination for quite a while.
Keep your phone on
Make sure, especially if you’re travelling alone, that somebody knows where you are going and when you might arrive. Keep your phone charged and switched on – and of course make sure that you only use ‘hands free’ devices whilst you are driving.
Going round in circles
This isn’t always a bad thing. You don’t always need to come back the way you came. If you build in points of interest along the way, the route home could certainly be a part of your vacation.
If you take your Motability vehicle overseas for less than 90 days your insurance and RAC breakdown cover will remain valid. You will, however need to ask RAC for form VE103 before you depart.
As soon as you pull away from your driveway, you’re on holiday!
Take the scenic route
Appreciate the beautiful countryside Britain has to offer from the comfort and warmth of four wheels with a series of driving routes designed to take in some of the country’s most scenic settings from The Rough Guide to Accessible Britain.
The guide features nine scenic drives through Britain’s stunning and varied countryside.
The Rough Guide to Accessible Britain has been developed in association with Motability Operations Ltd, the company that operates the Motability Car Scheme for disabled people. The website also features the Days Out Blog which has first-person experiences of accessible days out across the country, written by disability experts, tourism professionals and Rough Guide to Accessible Britain fans.
Here are a few suggestions for great road trips in the UK.
Glencoe has to be Scotland’s most famous Highland glen. The scenery is truly breath-taking and of course spiced by the intrigue of the area’s turbulent history.
The A82 is the usual route up from the south, rising to over 1,000 feet over the great wilderness of Rannoch before slowly descending through the glen itself. The impressive peak of Buachaille Etive Mor – The great heardsman of Etive can be seen from across the Rannoch Moor and is a wonderful introduction to this spellbinding region.
Given the historical importance of the glen and its natural beauty, it should be no surprise to learn that much of it is owned by the National Trust for Scotland. The nearby visitor centre explains the events leading up to the infamous massacre of 1692.
Glencoe is traditionally regarded as a gateway to the Highlands. Arguably you might be disappointed if you arrive when the mist is sitting low over the glen but there’s still an incredible atmosphere to soak up in any weather all the same.
Drive on to the village of Glencoe or to Oban, Fort William or Loch Ness.
So this is ‘God’s own country’ or so you’ll be old be any number of Yorkshire’s natives – and maybe they’re onto something. The Moors are an incredible tapestry of green spaces happily dissected by roads seemingly carved there to carry people looking to be astounded by ‘all things bright and beautiful’.
From just outside Harrogate the B6165 will carry you away to the north and then the west, to what many will consider to be the real Yorkshire. The meandering, hilly route will take you over ancient stone bridges crossing rivers and streams and past ﬁelds divided with stone walls. Passing through small villages such as Burnt Yates and Summerbridge will eventually bring you to Pateley Bridge, a small place on a steep hill above the River Nidd. The Nidderdale landscape is stunning as you press on to your next destination, Grassington.
The next leg on the B6160 takes you through rolling ﬁelds dotted with stone barns and alongside the River Wharfe past impressive towering cliffs jutting from the landscape.
Drive on to Wensleydale.
Starting at the strangely fantastic vision of a mock Italianate village, Portmeirion, drive over to pretty Porthmadog a few miles west, then follow signs through Tremadog before turning onto the winding B4410, through Rhyd. If you’re lucky you may even spot the Ffestiniog Railway steam engine running alongside the road. Enjoy the scenery as you approach Betws-y-Coed on the A5 (pausing for the view by the bridge at Ysbyty Ifan).
Pick up the A4086 to take in the view of the mighty Mount Snowdon in the distance next to the waters of Llynnau Mymbyr and from the Llanberis Pass before perhaps going onto finish in Caernarfon.
Drive on to Llandudno, Colwyn Bay or Bangor.