The Ultimate Accessible Road Trip Guide

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

If you're traveling with a disability, like I am, you know the ONE person to go to for advice: Candy Harrington. She's an extraordinary resource for this field, and someone I always go to for advice. On Wandering Educators, she's shared how to fly abroad with a CPAP and traveling with a mobility disability in Ireland and Scotland. We also interviewed her about one of her books, Barrier-Free Travel - she's an incredible author, able to dig into the facts that people with disabilities want to know.


When I heard of her latest book, 22 Accessible Road Trips: Driving
Vacations for Wheelers and Slow Walkers
, I was more than happy! I asked Candy for a review copy, and a chance to interview her about this important subject. For people with disabilities, traveling via road trips is often an easier journey than flying (you can take your own gear! on your own time!). And indeed, Candy mentions that in this book.


But what makes this book a true find are her detailed itineraries. She offers road trips in the Pacific States, Mountain States, Central States, and Eastern States. Each road trip has a detailed map, route information, things to see along the way, when to go, where to eat, a fly/drive option, ways to enter along the route, and extra things to see and do while you're there. All throughout, accessibility is considered foremost. In reading these itineraries, you'll soon be thinking, how soon can I do this? Rather than (if you're like me) travel planning, ugh.


It's that good.


We caught up with Candy to talk about her new book, the joys and challenges of researching the book, top tips, and more. Here's what she had to say...

WE: Please tell us about your book, 22 Accessible Road Trips: Driving
Vacations for Wheelers and Slow Walkers...

CH: The book features 22 driving routes across the United States with information about wheelchair-accessible sites, lodging options, trails, attractions and restaurants along the way. It’s also includes information about accessible rental vans in gateway cities (in case you want to do a fly-drive trip), ideas for shorter and longer getaways and lots of helpful road trip tips and resources. It’s a great read for anybody who wants to hit the road – disabled or able-bodied – as it captures the diversity of America with off-the-beaten-path finds and unique roadside attractions, as well must-see metropolitan sights in gateway cities.


WE: What inspired you to write this book?

CH: In the beginning I didn’t set out to write a road trip book, but as I took more and more of them I began to realize that they are a great option for anybody with mobility issues. You can take along as much equipment as you need, you don’t have to worry about the airlines damaging or losing your assistive device, and you can take your time and stop whenever you need to. What could be better?


WE: Researching this book must have been both fun and challenging! What
were the best parts?

CH: Well we put on well over 80,000 miles – maybe more – in the research process, but I have to say that my favorite part was visiting the national parks. I just love Yellowstone and Grand Teton and Big Bend National Park in southern Texas is a true hidden gem. And you just can’t miss with Bryce, Zion and the Grand Canyon. And although you technically can’t ramp Mother Nature, I found plenty of accessible trails and lodging options along the way.


WE: What was the most challenging part of researching this book?

CH: Well, going out and researching it was time consuming, but trying to figure out how to compile all of that research into a comprehensive volume was the biggest challenge. I toyed with that for well over a year before I came up with the format.

In the end I started with a short introduction and then I then detailed the route. After that I broke it down with sights to see at the major stops along the way.

Then I included information about the best time to drive the route, my favorite eats along the way, special don’t miss festivals and events, and details about accessible things to do in the gateway city.

Finally, I included information about fly-drive options, shorter day trips, and  alternate entry points, to make it more flexible. And of course Charles crafted a detailed map of every route.

Like I said, it took a lot of work, but we finally came up with what I think is a very usable format. After all, you can have all the information in the world, but if people can’t find it, it’s really of little use.


WE:  What are your top tips for road trip success?

CH: I’d say to plan for “what –ifs” along the way. For example, what if you had problems with your adapted van?  A good solution for that would be to carry along the phone number of your van conversion place, so you can call them if something goes wrong along the way.  They probably won’t be able to fix it over the phone, but they can direct you to a reputable repair facility nearby.


WE:  Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

CH: I’d encourage folks to visit the 22 Accessible Road Trips website as I plan to update things covered in the book as they change.  There’s also a form on the website for readers to send in anything they find that needs to be updated. Things change all the time, and this way folks will be on top of things when they hit the road. 


WE:  Thanks so very much, Candy! I highly recommend this detailed road trip guide to our Wandering Educators - it's a treasure!