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Caravanning for the disabled and elderly

Caravanning is a wonderful way to tour the country; helping you uncover paradises you never knew existed on your home turf. Most caravan insurance customers have the ability to pack up the car and head to the sunset, caravan in tow, whenever the fancy takes them. But for those who are disabled or elderly, spontaneity is often stalled by the need for comprehensive planning.

A little time invested up front will pay dividends later down the line when wanderlust comes knocking.  Making considered purchasing decisions, necessary alterations to your caravan interior and researching a list (as long as you like) of campsites and attractions that are easily accessible for those with any level of impaired mobility will speed up any determined bid for freedom.

Shop sensibly for the right caravan

The first thing to do is make sure you have chosen the right caravan for your needs.  Most manufacturers consider mobility issues when designing caravan interiors and there are specialist firms who can adapt new or existing vehicles to suit individual requirements. Depending on the level of adaptation needed, most modern caravans can easily be fitted with ramps, grip handles or other mobility aids.

Consider a caravan where the bathroom consists of a WC and a shower in the same cubicle. This will enable the occupant to shower whilst seated. A caravan with a fixed bed will also make life easier as there is no need to move furniture and cushions around at night and in the morning. Converted bunks can also be lower than a fixed bed unit, which can cause problems for some. You can add memory foam to the standard bunk cushions for additional support and comfort.

Also think about the layout of the kitchen and living areas.  You can widen entrances and internal doors to make the caravan more accessible, and also remove fixed items of furniture to allow a wheelchair to turn a full circle within the caravan.  

Always seek a reputable company to carry out any adaptations to avoid the risk of invalidating your caravan warranty – seek advice from the dealer selling you the vehicle as it is very likely they will already work with a local company that they are happy to recommend.

Remember that some disabled caravanners, particularly wheelchair users, will be able to benefit from VAT exemption when buying their caravan.

Perfect hitch to perfect caravan pitch

The next step is to choose your towing vehicle.  Again, this can be a VAT free purchase if you are in receipt of Mobility Allowance or you can buy it through the Motability Scheme.  Make sure that your vehicle meets all the weight requirements for your caravan, and think about investing in an electric motor mover to operate the caravan by remote control without the car.  This can take the anxiety out of setting up camp if you find it more difficult to move around.  

When you feel comfortable with your choice of caravan and towing vehicle, it’s time to hit the road!  Many caravan sites have excellent facilities for disabled caravanners, although if you have suitable facilities within the caravan these might not be so important.  The Camping and Caravanning Club has an on-going programme of accessibility improvements across its sites and clearly publicises an accessibility rating on every Club site.

Take caravan insurance cover not chances

Regardless of how well equipped you think your caravan is, you’re never completely covered without proper caravan insurance.  A comprehensive insurance policy from Shield will take into consideration damage or theft of your caravan and its contents, which could include anything from ramps and walking sticks to wheelchairs – items some people simply cannot do without.

Make obtaining or updating your insurance cover a part of your essential holiday preparations and there is no reason why anyone with a mobility impairment shouldn’t carry on caravanning.

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