To provide you with the best advice on renting a wheelchair while traveling, we asked eight professionals, including managing directors and general managers, for their top tips. From considering delivery and pickup options to documenting the wheelchair condition pre-rental, these experts share their invaluable insights to ensure a smooth and hassle-free experience.

  • Consider Delivery and Pickup Options
  • Pack a Spare Wheelchair
  • Pre-Book Your Wheelchair Rental
  • Carry Important Supplies Onboard
  • Thoroughly Verify Rental Terms
  • Arrange Direct Delivery and Pickup
  • Prioritize Comfort in Wheelchair Selection
  • Document the Wheelchair Condition Pre-Rental

Consider Delivery and Pickup Options

Consider the delivery and pickup options when renting a wheelchair during your travels. This is because some rental services offer to deliver the wheelchair directly to your accommodation, while others may require you to pick it up from their designated location. So, check both options and select one which suits your situation.

James McNally, Managing Director, SDVH [Self Drive Vehicle Hire]

Codi, enjoying an outing at a hot air balloon festival in her GRIT Freedom Chair.

Pack a Spare Wheelchair

Bring a spare wheelchair. As a backup, consider packing a portable, collapsible wheelchair. It is beneficial if you hire equipment that doesn’t fit your demands, or if your equipment breaks down unexpectedly. 

Having a spare wheelchair can ease your mind and offer a dependable backup in case of an emergency. In the event of equipment failure, it’s also a good idea to bring spare batteries and other necessary wheelchair parts with you. 

Before you travel, carefully review the airline’s rules on the transportation of a backup wheelchair and any limitations on the chair’s size and weight.

Axel Hernborg, Founder and CEO, Tripplo

For more information about flying with a wheelchair, click here.

Pre-Book Your Wheelchair Rental

Overseeing countless travel arrangements for clients has highlighted the importance of pre-booking for renting a wheelchair during travel. A specific instance comes to mind when a client is headed to a bustling European city. 

Assuming he could easily rent a wheelchair upon arrival, he was left stranded, as every rental place was fully booked. This stressful situation could’ve been avoided. 

From that day, the advice to travelers is to secure their wheelchair rentals well ahead of their journey. This makes the trip smoother and less stressful for everyone involved.

Derek Bruce, First Aid Training Director, Skills Training Group

If driving, consider a rack that mount to the back of your car to save space in the cabin.

Carry Important Supplies Onboard

Use a carry-on bag so your most important supplies are with you.

The major benefits of using a carry-on backpack for wheelchair travelers include:

  • Your medical supplies, repair kit, and snacks are always close by.
  • You can remove and store any parts of your wheelchair that easily come off before going into the cargo hold.
  • You can hold onto important travel documents.

Benjamin Beck, Director of Marketing, Tortuga Backpacks

Load up a cart (see above), sling a backpack over your seatback, or attach a smaller bag directly to the frame of your chair so you have everything you need.

Thoroughly Verify Rental Terms

I once helped a colleague organize a trip for a wheelchair-bound participant. One tip I cannot emphasize enough is to verify the rental terms thoroughly. On this trip, we assumed a certain rental period only to realize it was different upon reaching our destination. 

This led to both logistical hiccups and unexpected costs. It’s essential to clarify not just the rental duration, but also factors like drop-off locations, damage policies, and any potential hidden fees. This small step can save a lot of stress later on.

Hafsa Unnar, Executive Assistant, On-Site First Aid Training

Hiking Spain’s El Camino!

Arrange Direct Delivery and Pickup

One tip I’ve always emphasized when renting a wheelchair while traveling is to arrange for delivery and pickup directly at your accommodations or travel points. Once, during a business trip to San Diego, a colleague needed a wheelchair. 

Instead of renting from a far-off location and navigating the transport logistics, we had the wheelchair delivered right to our hotel. It not only saved us precious time but also reduced the hassle. Having it picked up from the same spot when we were done was equally convenient.

Haya Subhan, General Manager, First Aid at Work Course

Prioritize Comfort in Wheelchair Selection

I would advise anyone who is renting a wheelchair to prioritize ergonomics and cushioning for extended comfort. Test the wheelchair’s seat width, backrest, and overall design to ensure a comfortable experience. 

Doing this will let you explore your destination with ease and enjoy the journey to the fullest. After all, a comfortable wheelchair is like a trusty travel companion, making your adventure more enjoyable and allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the experience.

Guy Sharp, Relocation Manager, Andorra Guides

Waiting for a big fish! Photo taken on the Australian coastline.

Document the Wheelchair Condition Pre-Rental

When you return the wheelchair you’re renting, the charges you must pay include the rent and any damages to it. Since you are liable for any dents, scratches, or structural or functional damage caused during the rental period, you must know a few essential steps before picking up the wheelchair. 

The first thing to do is to arrive at the rental facility a little early so that you have enough time to choose the right wheelchair. Then, examine it thoroughly and check for existing damages, from minor cosmetic scratches to functional hiccups. Photograph or videotape these details, request an acknowledgment mentioning them, and then save and share copies. 

When you return the wheelchair, these steps will save you the trouble of explaining the old dents and scratches and give you the authority to counter any claims.

Riley Beam, Managing Attorney, Douglas R. Beam, P.A.