In News & Blog, Accessible Travel

Road trips can be a lot of fun, but for many people with SCI (or anyone for that matter) they’re not quite as simple as picking a destination and hopping in the car. Our SCI BC Peer Program Coordinator, paraplegic and intrepid outdoorsman Ryan Clarkson shares his top road trip tips and tricks for a successful drive.

Setting up for a night in the Jeep

Road trips can be epic fun, and the right planning and preparation will ensure your travels are as smooth as the open road ahead of you. From knowing how to keep a budget to always having a Plan B when it comes to medical supplies, these simple tips and tricks for road tripping will make your trip memorable for all the right reasons.

Always Have a Plan B

It is important to have a Plan B, especially for medical equipment and supplies. If you are driving from Vancouver to San Diego, you should have the contact information for at least two medical supply shops in Portland, San Francisco, LA, and your final destination of San Diego. Having these phone numbers and their store hours written down is a lot better than looking on your phone while you are already in a bad mood. Having a backup plan is not just for supplies. If you like to take scenic routes, you should expect one or two of them might have a road closure. Turning around and going back the way you came is heartbreaking. It is this reason you should have a ‘plan B’ route if any of your scenic routes are closed down for whatever reason.

Figuring out where to camp the following day

Don’t Store All Your Supplies in One Spot

You should have a day or two’s worth of supplies in a small bag or purse that you can bring with you when you go into a restaurant, gas station, hotel, etc. If someone breaks into your car and steals your supplies (or the car itself) then having a few supplies to tie you over for a night or two is one less worry.

Know How to Keep to a Budget

If you are on a budget, there are a few things you can do to help save some cash.

• Dollar stores are very cheap for snacks and fluids. Where else can you get two tall cans of coconut water and a bag of trail mix for $3.

• Know where to find wifi. If you are in an area of no reception and find yourself in a smaller town, look for free wifi to piggyback on. Town halls, libraries, and police stations often have free wifi available in their buildings. There is no need to go inside as parking in front is usually close enough to get a decent signal.

• Once you know what hotel you want to stay at, check any of the online hotel-booking sites like Trivago for the current cheapest price before checking in. Hotels will ALWAYS match the online price as all the money goes directly to them. This works even if you booked your hotel months ago. Always ask if any additional discounts are available such as BCAA (or AAA in the states). Remember to be nice from the start as it could help but them in a better mood to offer discounts. I always drop the line “Do you have any discounts for people with nice faces?” which will usually get a laugh. I have gotten random discounts and upgrades from just making the front desk clerk laugh or smile.

• Figure out what a good “average-to-superb” meal ratio is. Mine is 4-1. This means I will have four average dinners and then have an amazing one. This is a good tool if you are on a budget but want to have a fantastic dinner once in awhile. My average meals will usually be in small towns, and the amazing meal will be in a city or lodge. You won’t mind eating in a greasy spoon diner or purchasing pre-made grocery dinners knowing you will  have a nice wild boar schnitzel with a good glass of wine a couple days later.

Random setup

Have further questions or want any advice based on your specific needs? Contact Ryan at or at 604-714-4185. Plus, check out Ryan’s camping trips and travels on his flickr page.


Looking for another adventure? Good news: camping is still possible (and enjoyable) after SCI! Check out our Overnight Camping Tips.

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