Accessible Travel

Driving Safely During the Pandemic

Driving Safely During the Pandemic

 

Our world is going through a tough time right now. This Coronavirus pandemic has levied restrictions as we have never anticipated. Although most of us are observing CDC and WHO guidelines, there are times that we have to leave our homes. Regardless of the reason for your travel is to pick up food or medicine or if you are an essential worker that has to commute to your workplace, driving during this time presents some new challenges.

1. Minimize Travel

Decide what errands are actually essential during the pandemic. And look at other ways to complete tasks that you would normally drive to.  For example, instead of going to the supermarket to purchase groceries, consider shopping online and picking up in the parking lot or having them delivered. And consider one-stop shopping. Maybe a supermarket that also can fill your prescription or one that offers postal service within the store. If you are an essential worker, do your errands on the way to or from work. If you must run an errand, call your neighbors and ask if they need anything picked up to avoid additional exposure.

2. Minimize Passengers

Buying groceries does not have to be a family affair. Fewer people equate to less exposure, as well as less distraction. If you must rideshare, take precautions to sanitize the vehicle before and after the riders get in and out.

3. Carefully Follow Traffic Laws

Just because there are fewer cars on the road, does not mean that you should relax your focus or ignore traffic laws. With first responders working harder than ever, a traffic accident would put additional strain on an already overloaded work force. Hospitals in many cities are full and it might be difficult to receive treatment. Make sure that you treat intersections with special attention, looking for vehicles, pedestrians, or wheelchair occupants.

4. Sanitize

Keep the sanitizing wipes and gel in the vehicle at all times.  It’s a great idea to wear gloves when you stop at a gas station or shop, but if you don’t take them off before getting back into your car, you are bringing any exposure with you. Clean all surfaces, including the dash, inside windows, and headrests. Keep a bag for gloves, tissues, etc. in your car and dispose of it each time you get out of the car. If you have passengers, ask that they use sanitizer and follow the same precautions that you do.

5. Know the State Laws

If it is necessary to travel between counties or states, do a little research before you leave home. Many counties and certainly many states, have their own orders and laws in the way they are handling transportation during the pandemic. There may be road closures, detours, or mandatory quarantine for someone coming from across state lines.

6. Limit Distractions

As previously mentioned, limiting passengers will cut down on the amount of distractions. In addition, limit the use of your phone, radio, or any video equipment while driving. Certainly, no texting!

7. Make a List

Or make several lists. By listing the errands you must run, you can optimize the time spent traveling in your car. By listing what essentials you need from the store, you can fulfill your list quickly and limit exposure.  And by planning a menu for the upcoming week, you can minimize the number of times you have to travel.

Learn More About Driving Safely During the Pandemic

Someday soon, our lives will get back to normal. Or maybe we will have a new normal.  Regardless of our future, planning, caution, and focus will continue to have us travel safely.

Venture out on Amazing Virtual Tours Without Leaving Home

Sometimes we’re stuck at home and we go a little stir crazy. For those with limited mobility issues, this is a common occurrence. Thanks to today’s modern technology, we’re able to venture out to places all over the world. In this light, here are some amazing virtual tours we can take right from the comfort of our couch.

Walk The Great Wall of China

We’ll begin our online VR tour at one of the seven wonders of the modern world by exploring The Great Wall of China. Stretching thousands of miles across several provinces of northern Asia, it’s one of the most impressive structures on our planet. Additionally, you won’t need a plane ticket or passport to virtually stroll one of China’s most popular tourist attractions.

Visit National Parks

The United States National Parks services and Google Arts & Culture platform have teamed up to offer at least five epic virtual adventures for tourists to enjoy from indoors. These virtual tours include exploring:

  • The glaciers and waterways of the Kenai Fjords in the Alaskan wilderness offer a lot. Indeed, it includes a kayak ride through these marine straits and a hike across the tundra
  • A fiery lava tube in a Hawaiian volcano along with a virtual flight over an island mountain
  • Go spelunking through a few of over 100 caves at the Carlsbad Caverns in the desert of southern New Mexico
  • The VR tour of Bryce Canyon in Utah centers around the beautiful red and orange desert landscape. Further, it begins on Sunset Point where virtual visitors enjoy a star-filled night sky
  • Lastly, dry Tortugas is a remote park located 70 miles from Key West. You won’t need to book a seaplane or boat to get there to visit Fort Jefferson

On the National Park Foundation website, virtual tourists will find even more of these grounds to experience via a screen including Crater Lake and live webcams in many popular locations. Some of these sites include the Washington Monument, Thomas Jefferson, and Martin Luther King, Jr. memorials.

Explore Yosemite

One of the most popular and visited National Parks, at Virtual Yosemite visitors are able to explore everything this location is famous for from Half Dome to Glacier Point and more. Explore over 200 locations within Yosemite and its surrounding areas during different seasons. The stunning 360° interactive and panoramic views present high-resolution photography and videos. Yosemite presents spectacular vistas from the top the cliffs and waterfalls with peaceful locations found along trails.

Visit a Multitude of Museums

The largest collection of artwork on the planet is found at The Louvre gallery in Paris, France and is accessible without a transatlantic trek. See ancient Egyptian antiquities. Then, explore the remains of the fortress’s underground moat from when this location was a fortress. Other monumental museums and locations to experience include:

  • The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation in New York City is another memorable and magnificent place to explore both indoors and out also available from the Google Arts & Culture platform
  • The largest collection of artwork from the world-renowned Dutch post-impressionist artist Vincent Van Gogh is found at his namesake museum in Amsterdam housing hundreds of his paintings and letters
  • Lastly, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History near our nation’s capital is home to many of our country’s national treasures. Indeed, virtual visitors are able to experience former, current, permanent exhibits, and much more

Dive Underwater

There are several virtual dives available from the National Marine Sanctuary website that are accessible 24/7 without the need for scuba equipment. Among the many underwater areas to explore include an immersive dive alongside sea lions in a VR video. Other presentations offer a 360° experience when scenic and aquatic photos are “stitched” together for panoramic views under the sea.

Find More Amazing Virtual Tours

When you’re in the market to buy or sell a handicapped-accessible van, AMS is America’s Superstore! We have hundreds of choices including side and rear entry models. Additionally, we have a selection of vans priced under $30K. Check out our inventory of new and used models for better mobility and reliability.

woman in a wheelchair being pushed in an airport

Tips for Airline Travel With a Wheelchair This Holiday Season

The holiday season is almost upon us – and for many, that means some holiday travel. If you or a loved one uses a wheelchair and plan on airline travel, it’s helpful to know what to expect. To make your experience easier and more enjoyable, keep these tips in mind.

Preparation and Packing Tips

Managing Luggage

While it’s important to be prepared, the least amount of luggage you’re able to travel with, the easier things will be – especially if you’re traveling independently. Suitcases with wheels can be pushed by a wheelchair user (similar to a shopping cart) or “towed” behind the chair with some sort of strap or bungee cord. A duffle bag can also be a good option when carried in the lap or secured to the front of the legs with a strap.

Pro Tip: You can bring all the medical supplies you need on your trip, which, unfortunately, can increase the amount of luggage you’ll need to bring along. If you’re forced to check a bag or bring an additional suitcase for medical supplies, be sure to let the agent know when you’re checking your bag. Some airlines will wave the bag fee!!

Come Prepared

Plan to bring a carry-on, such as a backpack, with essential items. Pack your carry-on with anything you may need for the flight, including snacks and drinks (which must be purchased in the airport, after going through security), medication, and entertainment. If you get cold easily, bringing a small blanket or wrap along can come in handy, as it can sometimes get chilly on the plane. Remember that you’ll be first to board and last to disembark, so books and phone games can help pass the time while you wait.

It’s easy to get dehydrated in flight, so be sure to hydrate in the days leading up to the trip. Also, keep in mind that using the restroom on the plane can be pretty challenging, so try to use the restroom before boarding.

mom in wheelchair and daughter with a suitcase inside van

Arrival and Boarding Tips

Arrive Early

Using a wheelchair can make your airport experience take a little longer than usual, so it’s best to plan ahead and arrive at least 1.5 to 2 hours early. This gives you time to find wheelchair accessible parking (which can be extremely limited), get through security, use the restroom, manage logistics, and arrive at your gate in time for early boarding. If you’re not familiar with the airport you’re flying out of, even more extra time is recommended.

The TSA gives some information about disability and security screening procedures here: https://www.tsa.gov/travel/special-procedures 

Request an Aisle Chair if Needed

It’s pretty rare for even a small wheelchair to fit down the aisles of the airplane, so if you aren’t able to walk on to the airplane, you’ll need to request a “transport chair” or an “aisle chair.” You’ll transfer to a narrow chair and airport agents will assist you on to the plane and into your seat. One of these is stored on the plane, too, in case the restroom is needed in flight.

Be sure to ask for the aisle chair when you check-in and get your tickets. Then, ask again at the gate if the chair is ready because sometimes the request can be overlooked. If the aisle chair and agents aren’t on hand to assist when preboarding starts, you’ll have to wait until last to board, which can be awkward with a plane full of passengers.

Prepare Your Chair

When you trasnfer to the aisle chair to board the plane, your personal wheelchair will be stowed under the plane with the luggage. Don’t forget to grab your seat cushion, armrests, bags, and any fragile or removable accessories so they aren’t broken or lost on the trip. Also, consider taking a photo of your wheelchair before they take it away to use as a reference in case there is damage done during the flight.

airplane being loaded with luggage

Throughout the Trip Tips

Communicate Your Needs

Every step of the way, be prepared to be vocal about your needs and comfort level. If at any time you aren’t able to do what an agent asks, you feel unsafe or uncomfortable, just say so in a clear and respectful manner. When going through security, for example, passengers that aren’t able to walk through the metal detector will have to have a physical pat-down by a TSA agent. They should offer you a private screening as well as avoid any sensitive areas on your body during the inspection, however, if they don’t offer those things, it’s perfectly within your rights to ask.

Have Your Airline’s Disability Number On-Hand

Just in case the airline staff aren’t prepared or don’t know how to help, call up the airline. Most airlines have a number dedicated to travelers with disabilities, so having this number on hand is very useful. Often the wait times for this number are much, much less than the general phone number. Also, if you have a bad experience with your airline, be sure to reach out to them after the trip to report the incident. Some airlines will compensate travelers with points or vouchers to keep their business.

Airline travel in a wheelchair may not always be easy, but it can be done. If you are prepared and know what to expect, the experience can be far more like an adventure then a hassle! Whether you’re traveling to the next state or across an ocean, your holiday airline travel can be made much smoother by keeping these tips in mind. Don’t miss out on all the awesome things this world has in store to see and do!

view from a person's seat on an airplane of passengers and flight attendant

Renting a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle for Your Holiday

Don’t forget about accessible ground transportation when you arrive at your destination! If you’re traveling by airplane, that means you left your wheelchair accessible vehicle at home. At AMS Vans, we offer short- and long-term wheelchair accessible vehicle rentals. Plus, if you happen to be in the market for a mobility vehicle, spending some time in a specific model can help you determine if it’s a good fit!

Learn more here or call 800-775-8267 to reserve.