Car hire can be a bit of a lottery when you book through a regular car hire company because they cannot guarantee the exact vehicle model you’ll receive. We also know that many of our readers need converted vehicles for travel. We reviewed Wheelies Van Rentals here so we could better understand the difference between the big brand car rental services and a specialised service. Understanding of the needs of the hirer with a wheelchair and service seemed to be what set Wheelies apart from the rest.
We don’t take BJ’s electric wheelchair travelling with us so we fit in a people mover van with his manual wheelchair and a huge pile of luggage. This would obviously be an issue with an electric wheelchair or a person unable to transfer up a step. We have used both Avis and Dollar rentals in the USA. Both worked well for us though the car Avis provided was a bit nicer. Both companies had a wheelchair accessible bus to get to the car depot at LA International airport.
MY TIP FOR CAR HIRE
with a wheelchair is to ensure that you get your travel consultant, or if you are booking on the internet yourself, ensure that the car hire company knows that you have a wheelchair and MUST have the car that you request. Generally car hire companies confirm your booking with the name of the car eg. Commodore wagon or similar. The ‘or similar’ is the bit to be concerned about. Companies do not absolutely guarantee you will get the car you request but if you put the reason that you need a particular model ie it fits wheelchair etc then they will do all possible to ensure this happens but still no guarantees. We travelled in a Chrysler Town and Country which is similar to a Grand Voyager. This fitted BJ’s wheelchair and all our luggage (and there was a lot of it!) in comfortably. BJ’s wheelchair doesn’t fold so it takes up one seat space.
Accessible Vans (formerly known as Wheelchair Getaways) is a company that was recommended by one of our Facebook families as being a good company to use if you needed a converted vehicle. You can read about their services in the US here
PARKING PERMITS/HANDICAPPED PLACARDS (AS THEY ARE KNOWN IN THE US)
We found out prior to our trips to the US that there are agreements in place that allowed us to use our Australian parking permit in the US as long as we printed out and displayed on our dashboard the agreement appropriate to where we were travelling. We used this system while we travelled throughout California and had no problem with it. We checked with a parking ranger in Santa Monica and he was familiar with it so we felt confident using it. Make sure you display your Australian parking permit near the rear view mirror, as this is where US residents display theirs. Also print out a couple of copies of the parking agreement to have in the car in case you lose one. The parking permit really benefited us while we were travelling. Read the information carefully and follow the local parking laws.
FIA Foundation have information about parking permit reciprocal agreements here.
Click on the map and choose the country you are visiting. When you are on that country’s reciprocal agreement page (assuming they have one) you’ll find information about the agreement and a print out button at the base. This is what you print out to put on your dashboard along with your Australian disabled parking permit.
You can see an example of the US agreement we printed here Print it out here
If you have used a good specialised van or car hire company that has converted vehicles for hire we’d love to know about it. Please comment below as this is such helpful information to fellow travellers.
helen noble says
Hello again. When we were in Orlando, we used “Wheelchair vans of America” for wheelchair accessible car hire. It was ENORMOUS and you had to be very brave to drive it, but they provided a very good service.
Hi Helen, Thank you so much for your tips. It is so useful for people to hear of first hand experiences. Julie
Wendy Heyn says
Have any of your readers had experience using a USA pasking placard in an EU country? Or specifically in Germany? And willing to share about it???
Hi Wendy, Did you check that this information is not included in the link in the blog post? If not I can ask on Facebook for you. Julie
Feruccio Perazza says
I used my disability parking permit in 2011 & 2013 in France ,Italy,Germany ,Austria ,Belgium,Luxembourg ,Monaco and did not have a problem ,never purchased any tickets all areas free just applied the same rules as I do in Australia. The only issue I ever had was in Hobart Tasmania September 2019. Got fined apparently had to pay for a 2 hour ticket then free all day after that. Appealed and had the fine suspended.
That’s good to hear you used your parking permit so successfully overseas. The rules are different around the world. We couldn’t use ours in New Zealand and we were told to apply for a specific NZ one.