Accessibility without PERMANENCY
In this post I will explain how I converted my Winnebago Travato 59g to a handicap wheelchair accessible unit without any permanent modifications. Having a handicap RV gave us freedom, comfort and enabled us to spend quality time together.
Let me start with a little background on how I came to discover this class B motorhome, then I will explain how I made it fit our needs.
Why a Class B rv?
Over the last 25 years we have owned every type of RV, from travel trailers to fifth wheels to motorhomes. Although I was familiar with the Class B, it was never considered a model that would meet our RV needs. Camping has always been our happy place and at the time of my husbands diagnosis we were using our truck and travel trailer regularly. Once he started to lose mobility, I could not get him in and out of the camper anymore. I considered installing a ramp, but it was too steep for a wheelchair. For more on our story click here. During this time, we were at the hospital frequently for a clinical trial program, spending 6-8 hours between all the appointments and the drive home. One day while looking through my YouTube feed, I came across the Go Small. Live Large! channel with a video titled MOST FLEXIBLE SPACE in a class B RV. I watched the video and instantly knew this would be perfect for us. It was small and agile enough to use as an everyday vehicle and it had enough room to store the wheelchair. It also gave us a place to rest at the hospital and the opportunity to go camping, our happy place!
RV Handicap accessible entry Lift
I ordered a Multi-Lift system from Access Unlimited that required no installation or permanent modification to the van. For more information on this company you can visit the website here.
The Multi-Lift arrived in a large but manageable box with everything I needed to turn my Winnebago Travato into a handicap accessible Class B RV. The customer service was amazing, and I was very happy to be supporting a made in the USA company.
The concept is really straightforward. A “Speedy-Bar” is custom made for your specific vehicle and placed in the door jamb. The battery operated, motorized lift is attached to that Speedy Bar, which enables you to elevate, secured in a sling. It sounds intimidating at first, but after a brief video training session with Access Unlimited, I was getting my husband in and out like a pro.
This video from the Access Unlimited team shows how the system works. Although this is demonstrated on a pickup truck, you can get the general idea of how it functions.
As shown in the video, I elevated my husband from the wheelchair directly into the passenger seat. When he was ready for a rest, I would make the dinette into a bed, rotate the passenger chair around and transfer my husband directly to the bed.
The wheelchair and all the Multi-Lift pieces were easily stored in the back area under the Murphy bed. I added a non-slip mat to the floor and locked the brakes on the wheelchair so things would stay put during our voyage.
Anyone who saw the Multi-Lift in action, at the hospital or campgrounds, commented on how wonderful it was. I will be forever grateful for how quick I was able to get this on the van compared to other accessible options. Time was of the essence for us and within a few weeks we were able to be independent and comfortable. I am so thankful I could take my husband to his “happy place”, make memories and spend time together.
Updates to the 2022 Winnebago Travato 59g!
Unfortunately, Winnebago has decided to change the layout of the 59G for the 2022 model. They will no longer have the “puzzle bed” option up front which eliminates the ability to transfer directly to a bed from the front seats. Having the extra bed up front and the jumpseat to make into a sofa/couch for a living room area was a must for me. The new layout will greatly reduce the flexibility of the space.
To me, this little campervan named Willow is priceless. Not only for the memories with my husband but for the journey I continue in his honor. I am dedicated to raising awareness and money for brain cancer by running 5k’s across America. While helping families fight this disease, I process my grief along the way. See more about my mission here. My next race is in South Carolina at the end of February. If you are interested in donating/sponsoring this race, you can find my participation link here. Thank you to everyone reading the blog and supporting me on this journey.