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Temps Down, Illness Up: How to Handle Getting Sick While RVing

| Updated Mar 15, 2014

It ain't pretty.

But it isn't as bad as I though it would be, either.

I knew something was wrong as soon as I got up that morning. I was queasy feeling and very chilled. Yet the sun was shining and it was already in the 70's outside. We had arrived in Naples, Forida the afternoon before. We ate dinner at a local restaurant and, 12 hours later, I could feel that dinner still sitting in my belly like a brick.

sickI'm not sure whether it was food poisoning or the stomach flu or if there is really a difference between the two. But for all of that day, I was ill.

You know that saying we love at Roadtreking – Small House, Big Yard? Let's just say that Jennifer spent as much of her time that day in the big yard.

I stayed curled up, covered up, shivering in the Roadtrek, grateful that the bathroom was two steps away in our small house.

It's not fun being sick. Ever. But this only lasted about 18 hours or so. I even drove Jennifer to a local shopping center and she did some shopping while I slept in the back of the Roadrek. When your home is your RV, your home is wherever you are…in a campground, a boondocking spot or a shopping center

It was cozy and comforting and despite feeling miserable, the day passed surprisingly fast, By the next day, I was back to normal.

If you travel enough in your RV, it's inevitable. You will get sick on the road. According to a recent survey commissioned by World Access, a travel-insurance and assistance company, more than 35 percent of business travelers said they or a colleague have become seriously sick or injured while away from home.

We carry a small first aid kit. Included in it is a thermometer. I had no fever, despite the chills. But if I had a fever, we would have gone to a local doctor or clinic. Usually, RV campgrounds  have a list of local doctors and emergency clinics that they can provide ill guests.

And because many illnesses are contagious, there is always the danger of your traveling companion coming down with whatever it is you have. So keep your distance as best as possible and  – everybody – wash your hands a lot when someone nearby is ill.

Fortunately, Jennifer never did get sick.

The biggest mistake we could have made was to carry on that day as if I was well. We took the setback in stride. We just put off our plans for a day. Jennifer relaxed outside, spent some time in a nearby gym and attended a water exercise class.

I cocooned and… got better.

How about you? Have you ever gotten sick in an RV trip? How did you cope? Any advice? Use comments below to share.

Mike Wendland

Published on 2014-03-15

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

16 Responses to “Temps Down, Illness Up: How to Handle Getting Sick While RVing”

September 09, 2014at1:29 pm, Gene B said:

Like Mike I have gotten some food poisoning while traveling. You feel miserable, but it is not a real problem.

What was a problem was when my wife fell in the bathroom and seriously injured herself. At 4:00 in the morning. I called 911, but then realized I didn’t know the name of the campground, or our site number.

I gave them the directions we followed to get to the campground from the interstate, and turned on my headlights so they could find us once they got there.

BIG LESSON LEARNED: Always know your location — in a way that can help responders (who are presumably local) find you quickly. At least know the name and address of the campground and your site number (if that is where you are). If not in a campground, know how someone can find you. You never know when you will need it.

September 08, 2014at8:16 pm, Stan said:

Had a similar experience, however my wife came down with it a few days later. It’s hard to practice social distancing in a Roadtrek unless ones spouse can take leave outside. It’s also a good reason to make sure you have a supply of disinfectant wipes in your supply stash.

September 08, 2014at8:45 am, Elaine said:

I got sick once, not bad sick, some kind of allergy attack, I think. I was so happy to have a comfy and private place to cuddle up while going through tissues like a hurricane. I bothered no one and no one bothered me. Two days, two big boxes of tissues, and I was back to normal. The true no muss, no fuss way to go.

March 17, 2014at12:45 pm, Maureen said:

Truly how scary for you Dody. What a wonderful niece you have. Take care and happy travels!

March 17, 2014at12:03 pm, Dody Dunning said:

I had a very scary episode last fall, when I lost awareness (if not consciousness) while setting up camp in West Memphis AR, across the river from Memphis TN. Dan Steele, a director of the Tom Sawyer campground was helping me to set up when I began acting oddly and was unresponsive. Another camper suggested an ambulance be called. It was and I ended up in the ER of a Memphis hospital. The big problem was my 3 large dogs, but Amy Steele knew the local humane society shelter and took them over there. Dan found my wallet and called my emergency number. My niece and the hum soc director got my dogs transferred to a boarding kennel, where they were safer. I ended up spending the next day in the hospital being observed and scanned. My niece flew to Memphis and drove me and the dogs back home in my RT, for I was not allowed to drive after the probable TIA. After much medical intervention I’m OK and allowed to drive again. Dan Steele at the Tom Sawyer Campground probably saved my life.

March 16, 2014at12:16 pm, Morning Star said:

……………..Alkaselzer…….Air borne………….small but together they work pretty well. Sounds like you did the right thing. Glad to hear you are better. /*

March 15, 2014at10:20 pm, John Lockhart said:

Being sick in your RV beats the heck out of being sick in a hotel! It’s happened to us before and will undoubtedly happen again, but as you say, we’ll take it in stride!

March 15, 2014at9:45 pm, Sylvia Eger said:

Glad your illness was short-lived!
Got sick last winter while visiting family. The RT was a great place–quiet and away from others– to rest and sleep for a day. Even with temps outside in the single digits, it was warm and comfortable. Apparently food poisoning this time but protected others from exposure if it would have been otherwise.
We carry a small make-up size pouch with basics like a thermometer, Tylenol, cough drops, “basics” as a complement to our first aid kit.

March 15, 2014at12:49 pm, Dean Upson said:

Glad you are feeling better, Mike. We are always sure to carry a list of medications and contact information of Doctors and Pharmacies that we use at home, and of course, insurance cards!

We have been lucky so far in our travels not to have had any major health problems. We have had to find a vet, though. Campgrounds can usually recommend a good Clinic for folks and a Vet for their pets.

March 15, 2014at11:52 am, John Benson said:

I always enjoy your posts about the RV life. It gives me some great insight into what we will experience after we get our RoadTrek.

You mentioned Jennifer going to a gym. I presume, due to your travels, it is a nation-wide gym organization. A thought crossed my mind – gyms have showers with lots of hot water. Instead of using the RV fresh water tank and filling up the grey water tank with a shower, a visit to the gym makes a lot more sense. Get some exercise, save on the RV water usage, fewer trips to dump the tank. Hmmm….

Does the gym provide towels so you don’t have to bring your own?

March 15, 2014at7:36 pm, Jennifer Wendland said:

The RV resort in Naples we were staying at had a nice workout room and a super nice shower. They didn’t provide towels. I actually forgot my towel the first day and I dried off with paper hand towels. I’m not sure I should make that confession. I know I’m not the first person to have forgotten to take a towel. Ask Mike 🙂

March 15, 2014at11:47 am, Maureen said:

So glad you were back on your feet quickly. Brought to my mind what First Aid items I would want in my RV and I rather like Sarah’s blog

I would add my BC Health Guide, Maalox, Polysporin, and a strap to attach to the tackle box for ease of carrying and to keep hands free.
We once had a serious skin abrasion on a camping trip and sanitary pads came to the rescue. My son impaled himself when he fell on a broken sapling and the pads came to the rescue again until I could get him to emergency. I also read that the membrane of an egg can close a wound until stiches can be applied….I have never tried this but sounded interesting. Perhaps someone else can answer this.

That ol’ Girl Guide motto “be prepared” is embedded in my brain.

March 15, 2014at11:43 am, Susan Adame said:

On my trip to Florida last winter I had a bad flu for two weeks and shortly after that I fell and broke and badly sprained my ankle. I was so glad to have the Roadtrek and not be in a hotel!! It was easy for me to be transported and the bathroom was never far away. Crutches in the Roadtrek were my biggest challenge. It’s been over a year since my fall and the doctors say that the injury was so bad that I now need to wear an ankle support for the rest of my life. On our next adventure I will be watching my steps very closely!

March 15, 2014at9:28 am, Dave Miller said:

We’re glad you’re better Mike! Our camper is our home when we travel and if I have to be sick there is nothing like being home, That is one of the reasons we travel with our camper. We’re home wherever we are!
Wish we could have been down South with you. The snow banks are still over 6′ on both sides of the driveway. Keep on Trekking, Bigfoot Dave

March 15, 2014at9:05 am, Gary Harrington said:

Looking for spaces….

March 15, 2014at8:58 am, Mike Floyd said:

Mac Floyd Randy Floyd

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