If you are or plan to be an RV fulltimer or frequent traveler, you need to figure out how RVers handle health care on the road.
I learned that lesson well as you can see in the photo above, taken when I ended up in the Mayo Clinic hospital in Rochester, MN a few years back to have emergency surgery to have a gallbladder removed while I was passing through the area on an RV trip. Everything went fine and we resumed the trip after a couple of days
The year before that, Jennifer ended up in a tiny hospital in Red Lodge, MT when she came down with bacterial pneumonia while we were on a hiking trip in the Beartooth Mountains. She, too, had excellent care on the road.
So, how do you handle a health care issue and you are far from home in your RV,
You can do as we did, read a lot of online forums and Facebook groups, talk to a lot of other RVers, and practice a little trial and error. You'll figure it out. Eventually.
Or you can just read this post and the other resources I share and save a lot of time.
We've been doing the RV Lifestyle now for nine years and worrying about what would happen if we got sick on trip or ran out of or prescription caused us way too much stress in those early days. Eventually, we did get sick. We did get injured. We did run out of a prescription. But those bumps in the road all quickly smoothed themselves out, giving us some campfire stories to tell and the knowledge and experience of how RVers handle health care on the road.
We just made a video that shows a little of the tips we now follow, as we headed to Jacksonville, FL this past week to have some checkups done by the world-renowned Mayon Clinic there.
Well, it has a great park to camp in (see the video below) and some terrific beaches where dogs are welcome and since Jennifer and I are both patients of the Mayo Clinic, we were able to schedule a few days of tests and combine a great RV getaway as we were poked and prodded and checked out.
Here's our video on how RVers handle health care on the road:
Why Mayo? Well, that leads me perfectly into what we think are the 7 best ways how RVers handle health care on the road.
Tip #1 how RVers handle health care on the road: Use a centralized provider that has all your health records
Whether a national hospital system like Mayo or affiliation of local hospitals, having your records centralized makes your health care much more accessible and accurate. Because they are routinely rated one of the best diagnostic and research centers in the world, Jennifer and I selected Mayo.
There are three Mayo Clinics…in Rochester, MN, Phoenix, AZ, and Jacksonville, FL.
Those areas – the Southwest, the upper Midwest and Florida – h=just happen to be our favorite regions of the country. So one of them is pretty much always a day's drive from us as we travel.
All our tests, prescriptions, physical exams, and treatment plans are coordinated through their system. No matter which hospital of theirs that we visit, it’s like being at home.
Other articles on ow RVers handle health care on the road that I have written about this:
- Read Tips for Managing Health Care while RVing, an article I wrote a while back on this topic with lots of detailed info from experts.
- Read my article on Sitting Disease, a real illness that RVers are particularly susceptible to
- Want to know how we came to know Mayo? Read Emergencies are just a Bump in the Road that describes my first encounter with Mayo. (See the photo up top)
Tip #2 how RVers handle health care on the road: Embrace electronic medical records
Pretty much every hospital and the vast majority of doctors now use electronic medical records. Get familiar with the online patient portals so you can schedule appointments, do telemedicine consultations and quickly access your health care records, which you can then share with health professionals as you travel.
Having all those records instantly available saves time. It allows other health care professionals who you may be seeing to quickly determine baselines for your health and be much more confident in how they treat you.
Your records mean you are not a stranger.
You can access them via computer, smartphone or tablet from anywhere.
Tip #3 how RVers handle health care on the road: Just in case, carry a hard copy
Patient portals are wonderful. But sometimes, it's just easier to look at a sheet of paper. So print out and carry with you your latest medical tests.
In case you need to quickly answer a question about previous tests or diagnoses while you're making an appointment or talking to a health professional on the phone, it's simply easier and more efficient to look at a print out then boot up a computer or fumble around to open an app on the smartphone.
Tip #4 how RVers handle health care on the road:
Get your prescriptions with national pharmacy chains like CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, and others. That way you can pick up refills from outlets of those chain pharmacies in pretty much whatever state or city you visit.
This doesn't go for controlled substance prescriptions from one state being refilled in another.
And there are way too many complications and red tape issues involved in having Canadians getting a prescription written by a Canadian doctor refilled in the U.S. (and vice versa).
But in general, having your regular, non-controlled substance prescriptions filled at a national chain will usually get you a refill on the road. We've done so several times in different parts of the country.
Want more info o this tip? Check this story on the topic from our friends at RVTravel.com that exhaustively covers the question of getting drug refills while traveling.
Tip #5 how RVers handle health care on the road
Get your prescriptions in 90-day quantities. That way you won't run out of an important medicine while traveling.
Getting your drugs in 90-day refills means you’re buying your meds in bulk—just like when you buy stapes at Costco or Sams Club instead of at your local grocery store. It saves you money.
We're talking regular medications you are pretty much on all the time, taken consistently at the same dose that typically treat chronic conditions
The big reason to get them written for 90-day refills is that instead of having to get refills 12 times a year with the standard 30-day supply of most maintenance medal, you oy have to be bothered with getting a refill four times a year.
Tip #6 how RVers handle health care on the road: Drink a lot – of water
Drink water all day long. You know this. But you need to be reminded.
Long hours driving and sitting in an RV can really dehydrate you. But there are many other reasons.
Water flushes toxins out of your system, It helps prevent the buildup of minerals that can cause kidney stones. Water increases energy and relieves fatigue. It maintains regularity. It promotes weight loss, Since your brain is mostly water, drinking it helps you think, focus and concentrate better and be more alert. It improves your skin complexion.
If you tend to get a lot of leg cramps, you may not be drinking enough water
I could go on. But I won't Sip water all day long.
Tip #7 how RVers handle health care on the road
Practice downtime, Chillout regularly. Every day for as long as you can. You will feel your soul drench this up. Find a quiet place, a favorite place like the mountains or a beach or a forest. And just sit and look. Listen to nature. Clear your mind. Appreciate God's creation. Breathe deeply.
The best way we've found to do this is to practice our 330 Rule: Don't drive more than 330 miles or stop by 3:30 PM local time. That way you'll get off the road, in camp, and maybe do a little exploring. Or sitting and looking at the scenery.
You are RVing because you want to decompress, right? So do it. Don't overdrive and chill out.
Here are some other resources:
What tips would you add or elaborate on? Use the comments below.
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