RVing with Disabilities: Things to Consider

Oxygen and Dialysis to Go, Support Groups, and More By Michele
People with disabilities haven’t let handicaps steal their lives when it comes
to RVing and camping. If you thought your disabilities would prevent your
from enjoying the adventures of RVing, you’re in for some very pleasant
surprises. People with disabilities have been RVing and traveling and
creating an entire RVing niche since at least the 1970s, and probably much
earlier than that. You’ll find lots of ideas and links here to help you get the
devices or modifications that will make RVing an exciting travel opportunity
for you.
Support Groups and Organizations
When it comes to RVing, support groups for people with disabilities goes
far beyond meetings where people socialize or encourage one another. As
beneficial as such groups are RVers support groups and organizations
offer real solutions for people to accommodate their disabilities and work
around their limitations. Some products eliminate barriers altogether.
Whether your solutions will involve oxygen, RV modifications, dialysis,
wheelchair modifications, finding help along the way or something else,
there is much more support for RVers with disabilities than in years past.
Two groups you might consider joining are the Handicapped Travel Club,
Inc. (HTC) and Travel Talk Network. Both groups have plenty of support
and networking assistance available to help RVers with disabilities as you
travel around the country.
The Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality (SATH) is another wellknown
organization dedicated to providing support, information, and
resources for travelers with disabilities and senior travelers. While not
dedicated to RVers specifically, much of their content is valuable to those
of us who take our accommodations with us when we travel.
Disability RV Forums
RV.NET forum has a section on RVing with Disabilities and General Health
Issues. Topics range from mobility scooters to kidney stones, and you’re
welcome to start your own thread. The RV.NET forum is associated with
Affinity Group, Inc. including the Good Sam Club, Woodalls, Trailer Life,
MotorHome, and dozens of reputable RV and camping businesses. Just a
head’s up: I joined three different times from different sites associated with
RV.NET before I realized I had multiple memberships.
Handicapped Accessible RVs and Disabilities Resource LInks
These pages have several useful links, and, unfortunately some outdated
ones. Still, they’re worth listing here for the resources that are still live.
Many are companies that modify RVs or vehicles. One lists handicap
accessible RVs for sale by owner. Some are organizations and others list
Social Security Disability tips, and much more. Though this list appears
short, each link provides a long list of other links related to traveling with
Disabilities and RVing
If you need a toy hauler that is handicap accessible Dune Sport is one
manufacturer to know about. This family owned and run business has
several floor plans online to choose from, or you can customize your own
to suit your needs.
Oxygen, CPAP and Medical Equipment
Portable oxygen concentrators have come a long way over the last few
years. Some are as small as a DVD player, and others are about the size
of a portable heater. The nicest feature of these are that they are battery
powered and can be taken just about anywhere.
CPAP machines are getting smaller as well, and easier to fit into the alltoo-
small RV bedside space. If you need either oxygen or CPAP or both,
there’s no reason why you should curtail your RVing plans as both can be
managed for travel.
Portable Dialysis Equipment
RVers who need dialysis may find a portable solution with units like
the NxStage System One home dialysis machine. Check with your dialysis
center to see if they rent or otherwise provide portable dialysis equipment.
Special Needs Travel Resources
Whether you have a disability, are a mature traveler, or have other special
needs that need adaptation to make travel accessible to you, there are a
growing number of resources available.
Every time I run an Internet search on “RV travel for handicapped”, “RVers
with disabilities”, “disabled RVers”, “handicapped RVers”, or any similar
wording, the search returns several new sites to investigate. One such
resource is Access-Able Travel Source where you can find several more
links and resources for worldwide travel including many good RV
destinations in the US and Canada.
Disabilities are no longer a reason to avoid RVing. In fact, with today’s
modifiable RVs compared to the costs of traditional housing, RVs may be
the ideal solution to many people who find themselves on limited incomes
and increasing physical restrictions. The cost of long-term stays in RV
parks is often far lower than even senior housing. The upside is that you
can move, with little expense or inconvenience, anytime the weather or
neighbors or even landlords become unpleasant, or whenever you are
ready for a different view out your window.
Liberating Gadgets
Cell phones, iPads, portable computers, WiFi, and USB Internet are a few
of the growing list of electronic gadgets to keep you connected. Friends,
family, medical providers, emergency care contacts are just a call or email
away. This connectivity makes traveling so much easier and safer for
persons with disabilities, senior travelers, and even women RVers, whose
only handicap may be the lack of physical strength to do an occasional RVnecessary
Ask for Help
We’ve had no trouble finding repair services with qualified people to come
out and help with RV problems, like when our refrigerator acted up. Most
services are reasonable but do be prepared for fees of $100-$125 per
hour. This can be steep if you’re on fixed income, but not every repair
service charges that much.
So do:
Ask if they charge a fee for coming out to your RV
Ask if that fee is part of their first hourly fee or if it’s separate
Ask for as accurate an estimate as possible before you commit to
having them do the work
Call as many services as you can before giving the job to anyone
Check with your park owner or manager first to get a reference
Check to see if someone on your park’s staff or living in the park
can help you out