Checklist: What To Look For in a Handicap-Accessible RV

RV Lifestyle


Taking an RV vacation is one of the best ways to explore the country, spend time with your friends and family, and enjoy all the wonderful sights nature has to offer. However, finding a handicap-accessible RV can be slightly tricky, as not every motorhome is designed with accessibility or wheelchair users in mind. As such, you’ll want to look for a number of features in handicap-accessible RVs. Below, you'll find a checklist of things to consider before renting or purchasing your RV.

What To Look For in Handicap-Accessible RVs

Choosing the right RV is an incredibly personal process — especially when you have to consider accessibility features. Here are the top things to pay attention to when searching for a handicap-accessible RV.

RV Size and Layout

One of the first elements you need to consider is an RV’s size and layout. Many RVs are designed to maximize the number of beds and living spaces, which often results in cramped and inaccessible vehicles. Consider the following to ensure that your RV is of adequate size and layout:

  • Entrance and exit points: Perhaps the most important consideration is whether you can enter and exit the RV. Standard RVs often have entrances with narrow staircases and tight turns by the copilot seat. Accessible RVs, on the other hand, have wide and straight entrance points, usually towards the back or middle of the vehicle.

  • Wheelchair ramp and lift: Some RVs are equipped with a platform wheelchair lift that can make entering and leaving the RV much easier, while others may simply offer a ramp. Consider your needs when finding the right RV for you. 

  • Bathroom accessibility: Look for an RV that offers not only an accessible bathroom but also a roll-in shower. Some RVs also have roll-under sinks, making them even more accessible for passengers in a wheelchair.

  • Spacious interiors: Standard RVs are designed as compact homes, which is why pathways can be extremely narrow in many models. Look for an RV with open floor plans for easier navigation.

Mobility Features

Once you’ve found an RV with the right sizing and layout for you, it’s time to check its mobility features. An accessible motorhome will have the following:

  • Floor and wall anchors: Road trips in an RV can sometimes be a bumpy ride. To prevent any injuries, you want your RV to offer floor and wall anchors to keep you safe on the road.

  • Wide entryways and hallways: RV doors can be as few as 14 inches wide, so avoid vehicles with doors that are too narrow to let you through. 

  • Adjustable bed and seating: An accessible RV will offer adjustable seating and beds to provide every passenger with the same level of comfort. Better yet, look for an RV with power-adjustable beds and seating for a seamless experience.

  • Storage and counter height: A wheelchair-accessible RV will have lower counter heights and storage space so that everyone can enjoy the kitchen area. 

  • Easy-to-reach controls and appliances: The bells and whistles of a luxury RV won’t be very helpful if not everyone can easily reach them. Wheelchair-friendly RVs place appliances, switches, and controls at a lower height to ensure everyone can access them, so be on the lookout for below-counter microwaves and refrigerators.

Safety and Comfort Features

An accessible RV comes with additional safety features that make it more secure and comfortable for all passengers. These include:

  • Slip-resistant floors: The best handicap-accessible RVs will be equipped with slip-resistant floors. Some may have stripes of slip-resistant vinyl flooring near doors and ramps, while others may have heavy-duty vinyl flooring throughout.

  • Grab bars and handrails: Having grab bars and handrails where they count can make all the difference in the enjoyment of your RV. Some key areas to look for grab bars include near doors, in the bathroom, and by the bed.

  • Adequate lighting: It’s important for accessible RVs to offer plenty of natural and artificial lighting. Poorly-lit environments can lead to accidents, which is the last thing you want on your RV summer vacation.

  • Temperature control systems: Most RVs offer air conditioning and heating for added comfort. However, you'll want to make sure that the temperature control system is located in a wheelchair-friendly location.

  • Alarm systems: An effective alarm system can be helpful for most travelers, but it’s especially so for those with accessibility requirements.

Outdoor Features

The RV experience isn’t confined to the four walls of your RV. That’s why you need to look for an RV that is as accessible on the outside as it is on the inside. Look for the following features:

  • Accessible outdoor space: Many RVs come with outdoor features like pull-out tables and outdoor lanterns. Make sure your RV comes with handicap-accessible features to create an inviting outdoor space. 

  • Outdoor ramp or lift: The indoor-outdoor experience offered by an RV is one of its biggest draws. As such, you want to make sure that your RV comes with a way to get you in and out of your vehicle in a matter of seconds. Consider whether an outdoor ramp is enough to meet your needs or if a wheelchair lift would be more helpful.

  • Awning or shelter: Camping at the beach or in the sunny desert can be fun and games — until the sun starts stinging. You'll find plenty of RVs with outdoor awning screens to protect you from the sun. A handicap-accessible RV will offer power-awnings for a simpler set-up.

  • Exterior storage: Many RVs offer exterior storage, particularly for large items. While traditional RVs may add extra storage on (or near) the roof, you'll want to look for an RV with exterior storage spaces well within reach.

Maintenance and Support

Finally, you need to know you can safely operate and maintain your RV after you’ve rented or purchased it. Look for the following maintenance and support accessibility features:

  • Warranties and service options: Check that your RV offers a warranty and service options for its accessibility features. A warranty of at least two years is expected, but some manufacturers will offer you as many as 10 years. 

  • Access to support and repairs: Is the RV manufacturer a reputable company with a significant presence across the country? If not, finding support or repairs may be difficult if something stops working as intended.

  • Availability of spare parts: A handicap-friendly manufacturer understands that a broken accessibility feature can be a massive problem. That’s why the best handicap-accessible RVs come with spare parts to prevent inconveniences from turning into headaches.

  • User manuals and instructions: An accessible RV includes manuals and instructions that can be understood by everyone, including those who are visually impaired. Ask the manufacturer about accessible options for the RV’s manuals and instructions.

Hit the Open Road With an RV Rental 

An unforgettable RV vacation is something everybody should get to experience, regardless of physical abilities. That’s why there are many handicap-accessible RVs out there designed to accommodate people with a wide range of health conditions or impairments. When looking for a handicap-accessible RV, make sure it has the right size and layout, includes a wide range of accessibility features, and offers accessible support.

At Cruise America, we strive to make sure everyone’s rental experience is as easy, safe, and stress-free as possible. The following products and services are available at all locations for our drivers and passengers with disabilities. Visually impaired passengers can travel worry-free — just make a reservation in advance, arrive with a licensed driver at least 21 years of age, and you’re on your way. 

We also offer hand controls that enable drivers to accelerate or brake using a hand-controlled device. Please specify left or right-hand operation when making your reservation. A steering wheel spinner or hand knob is not available. 

To ensure availability, products and services should be reserved thirty (30) days in advance by calling our reservation department at 800-671-8042.

If you’re ready to start looking for the ideal handicap-accessible RV for you, get in touch with us at Cruise America. We can help you find the perfect RV for your needs so you can take the trip of a lifetime — with the right accessibility features for you!