Why I Loved RVing - A Guide to Accessible RV Options
RVing on the great American highway is something I’ve wanted to do for years, but I never imagined it would be possible because I use a motorized wheelchair. I’m unable to transfer to a regular seat in a vehicle and need to stay in my wheelchair, so RVing seemed out of reach for a while. However, thanks to more and more companies now making an effort to be inclusive, RVing has never been more wheelchair-friendly!
Recently, I had the chance to try out the brand-new Winnebago Inspire AE for an eight-day trip along the east coast of Florida. The Winnebago Inspire AE is part of the company’s “Accessibility Enhanced” line of RVs, which means that it came with accessible accommodations such as a lift and even a roll-in shower. The accessibility on the RV made my trip stress-free and one to remember. I was highly impressed with the Winnebago Inspire AE and would love to share some of its accessibility highlights with you below. Afterward, I’ll list and talk about some other accessible options for RVing.
Highlights of the Winnebago Inspire AE
Here are some of the accessible features that I loved on the Winnebago Inspire AE:
The BraunAbility Lift
For wheelchair users to get in and out of the RV, a BraunAbility lift comes installed. The lift is near the front of the RV and there is even an awning that can extend out over the lift in the event of rain. BraunAbility lifts are known for their durability, so wheelchair users can enter and exit the Winnebago Inspire AE with more peace of mind.
Being able to enter the Winnebago Inspire AE is great, but you shouldn’t expect to roll around the RV while on the road. Safety first! To secure a wheelchair while driving, tie-down spots are available behind the passenger seat area. I was able to comfortably remain in my wheelchair while on the road and I could still easily see out of the huge front window from where I sat.
When traveling and trying to find a hotel, getting a room with a roll-in shower is often very difficult. The Winnebago Inspire AE takes the stress of finding an accessible room with a roll-in shower away because there is a roll-in shower in the RV! The shower was spacious for me and had a smooth entry, and even a handheld shower wand. It worked perfectly for my needs.
Multiple Bed Options
One of the great things about this RV is the fact that there are multiple bed options; a queen-sized bed in the master bedroom plus a dinette bed and a sofa bed in the living area. There is enough space for a wheelchair to fit beside the queen bed in the bedroom, so if you can self-transfer this could be an option. The dinette table or sofa can also both convert into beds with just a few maneuvers, so one of the beds is sure to work for your needs, whatever they may be. The Winnebago Inspire AE can sleep up to four people.
As previously mentioned, the RV had many fantastic accessible features, but one of the best and most surprising things about it is how much space is inside. I was shocked when I entered the RV for the first time. I expected to barely be able to roll around the RV, but instead, I could easily maneuver my motorized wheelchair throughout the Inspire AE.
The five features above are some of my favorite accessibility highlights on the Winnebago Inspire AE, but they are certainly not the only nice aspects. The RV also comes with a full kitchen, a washer and dryer, and a huge awning, so that you can watch the outdoor TV while relaxing in the shade. It’s truly an upscale RV and surpassed every expectation that I had.
Other Accessible RV Options
I’m a big fan of the Winnebago Inspire AE, but there are several other accessible RV options on the market as well. As with anything, it’s important to actually see the RV that you are interested in purchasing in person to determine if it’ll work for your accessibility needs. Here are a few possible options, aside from the Winnebago Inspire AE:
Winnebago Adventurer AE
Another option from Winnebago is the Adventurer AE. This accessibility-enhanced RV has many of the same features as the Inspire, including a BraunAbility lift, a roll-in shower, and more. The notable difference is that the Adventurer is slightly shorter at 31 feet long (compared to the Inspire, which is 35’9” long) and has a slightly lower price point. If you’re looking for a fully accessible RV, this could certainly be an option worth considering.
Newmar Dutch Star 4311
The Dutch Star 4311 from Newmar is another one of the best-motorized units on the market. Like Winnebago’s accessibility-enhanced models, it comes with a BraunAbility lift, a roll-in shower, extra-wide aisleways, and plenty of space to maneuver with a wheelchair. Light switches, countertops, and drawers have also been lowered to allow easier reach from a wheelchair. Newmar’s Mobility Lineup has a variety of wheelchair-accessible Class A motor coaches that are worth checking out. See them all here.
Keystone Outback 342CG
Unlike the previous options, the Outback 342CG from Keystone is a toy hauler travel trailer, so it does require a truck to pull it. This could be a great option for manual wheelchair users that want a towable RV. The Outback 342CG has a ramp to enter instead of a lift. On the inside, it is quite spacious and can sleep up to eight people. It’s worth noting that it has a bathtub instead of a roll-in shower and access into the bedroom and bathroom can be tight, so it may require some adjustments upon purchasing, but this is certainly a beautiful and luxurious travel trailer option.
Antero Adventure Motorsports
Van life is all the rage these days and if you’re a manual wheelchair user that wants to try it out, look no further than Antero Adventure Motorsports. This company has installed numerous accessibility features on vans, including hand controls to allow for foot-less driving and a chair lift. With the chair lift, an extendable arm actually comes out of the van and lifts the manual chair inside. Doing this removes the need, and extra space, for a lift or ramp. Check it out!
The above are just a few of the wheelchair-accessible options that are currently on the market. The accessible travel industry is constantly expanding though, so within a few years, who knows what all there will be?! This is definitely an exciting time for wheelchair users that are looking to hit the road.