Sometimes we can get so wrapped up in making sure our RVs are in tip-top shape before hitting the road that we let our own health become less of a priority.
That is, until we’re far from home and it’s too late.
Alas, some of you will no doubt will run into a health issue while RVing. I know we sure have, including a couple of years ago when we had to make an emergency stop at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, so that I had to have my gallbladder removed.
But you shouldn’t let the possibility of these things happening slow you down. That’s why I thought it would be a good idea to remind you about what some experts have told us about health care while RVing in the past.
She said one of the most important things we can do about our health is to “stay organized.”
“Because you have to deal with the health care industry…and they’re not as organized as you would like,” Armstrong said. “You should make sure you keep a copy of all of your records.”
Armstrong recommends carrying copies of any tests you’ve had, in addition to any sort of scans you’ve had. Of course, we’re always concerned about storage and space in our RVs, but you just have to make this a priority.
“So when you walk into the office for the first time, you can give them all of this information,” she said.
Of course, before you get to that point, you first have to find a physician. Armstrong provided some advice in that regard, too.
“It’s best to try and find a halfway decent-sized metro area,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be a city, but it should be a town of at least 10,000 people.”
Once you determine your target region, Armstrong said the next step is to start researching who the actual health care providers online (the mother of all physician directories, of course, is WebMD, something you should bookmark and keep handy in your mobile device).
Most reputable physicians will gladly offer info online about their backgrounds, such as where they went to school, what country they’re from, and more.
Armstrong also recommends eating healthy while on the road.
This is a topic we’ve covered with others, as well, including Dr. Jason Olafsson of Custom Health Centers.
Olafsson, who is also an RVer, suggests a big shopping trip BEFORE getting on the road to stock up on fruits, vegetables, and other snacks.
“I can easily get sidetracked while on a road trip,” he said. “It’s easy to pull into a fast food restaurant. It’s easy to pull into the gas station and grab a bag of chips or a bag of candy of some kind and then just start munching away.”
Instead, Olafsson suggests looking ahead and saying to yourself “OK, if I’m on the road, what things do I like to eat?’”
Another eating tip that we’ve picked up along the way?
Sticking to a schedule whereby we regularly eat at the same time. In fact, just about any time we’ve had trouble with food has been due to getting off schedule for one reason or another.
Speaking of schedules, Armstrong said keeping a calendar while RVing can play a big role in managing your health care on the road.
“When you’re dealing with the health care industry, everything is about reporting on time,” she said. “Particularly if you are on Medicare, because there are a lot of restrictions and so you have make sure you keep track of whatever information Medicare is looking for.”
She said annual checkups should also be on the calendar.
“If you’re on the road full-time, it’s likely you’ll be seeing more than one physician,” Armstrong said. “So it’s good to have all of that organized on a calendar so you can make sure you hit all the high points.”
Armstrong also recommends having a travel-friendly health plan.
For her, that means springing for a full-body scan (yes, she acknowledges it can be pricey and isn’t going to be an option for many).
“It’s really worthwhile because you can find out all of the things that are not wrong with you,” she said. “So that when you do go to a physician for a physical problem, you know what it cannot be.”
And don't forget, there is at least one organization that provides on-call doctors for RVers in every state, doctors who can talk to you on the phone or via video, prescribe most drugs you’ll need for any sudden illness, even help you find a local specialist.
The service is called RV Health.
You can use RV Health for many of your medical issues instead of expensive and timely urgent care visits. For example you wake up one morning with sudden cold-like symptoms: stuffy nose, cough, congestion. You have trouble getting an appointment with an area doctor while traveling and you don’t want to miss time at work or going through the hassle of sitting in an urgent care or hospital waiting room. What to do?
RV Health has a special price for RV Lifestyle Fellow Travelers of $1 for the first month to try the program. Just go to: https://rvhealth.com/RVPODCAST
Of course, one huge concern for many will be with regard to medications.
National chains do make it easier these days. CVS, Walgreen’s, and so on have so many locations and it shouldn’t be a problem to have an unfamiliar location fill your order as needed.
Armstrong suggests another option could be having medications mailed to you while at an RV park — but only if the park has an established mail system.
Another tip is to always create two different packages of your medications. For example, Jennifer typically carries one packet in her purse and keeps another safely stored in our RV.
That’s just one of the things we’ve learned along the way. Here are some other things that we’re passing along for you to remember;
- Emergencies can and will happen. But they can be handled.
- Take things a step at a time. Count setbacks as part of the serendipitous nature of life. Stuff happens. You deal with it.
- Help is never that far away. Between the two of us over the years, we’ve been in hospitals across the country in our RV travels for such things as a broken bone, a bad case of pneumonia, and more. We’ve been to big city hospitals and small, rural 10-bed hospitals. Excellent medical care is always available.
- Life is an adventure. There’s something to be learned and appreciated from every experience.
- Worrying about what might happen is the silliest waste of time there is.