Nearly 8 million people own recreational vehicles (RVs), according to surveys from the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association. If you're thinking of joining them, be sure to consider your health. Experts say you should plan carefully about how you will manage your health care while on the road, from knowing where to go if you're sick, to getting a prescription filled long-distance, to paying for care out of state.
Before you go you need to secure a relationship with a primary care doctor at home base who you can call while on the road. If needed, this doctor can fax prescriptions to a pharmacy or answer a question for you. But don't expect every health care provider to be willing to take care of you long distance.
So it's a good idea to see this doctor for routine exams, screenings, and immunizations while at home. There is basic medical care you should receive at least once a year. Here are some tips for full-time RVers:
Find portable health insurance. Your policy should allow for treatment by health providers throughout the country. The wider your coverage, the easier it will be for you to receive medical care.
Carry copies of your medical records. If you are admitted to an emergency room, your doctors will be better able to help you if they can read your medical records.
Have your prescriptions filled at a pharmacy with nationwide locations. These pharmacies can refill your medicine by checking their computer system or calling the location at your home base.
Wear medical-alert jewelry to tell of important medical conditions such as diabetes, medication allergies, or treatment with drugs like blood thinners.
Carry power-of-attorney and living will documents.
Stock your RV with over-the-counter drugs you prefer, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or laxatives.
Pack a first-aid kit and special gear that will help in emergencies—for instance, kits for those allergic to bee stings.
If you have a chronic illness, plan trips that keep you near reputable medical facilities. Learn their locations in advance.
Ask your doctor about routine examinations. Are you up to date on vaccines, eye, ear, and physical exams?
If you leave home, take a healthy lifestyle with you. As a full-time RVer, you can stick to a healthy diet and proper exercise.
It's easy to become complacent in an RV, but there are ways to eat well and exercise on the road. Consider these tips for fulltime RVers who want to stay healthy through nutrition and exercise:
Plan ahead for exercise. Bring small weights or a jump rope for light exercise, and pack proper clothing and shoes.
Cook in your RV. Buy and prepare healthy foods in your RV kitchen just as you would in a kitchen in a house. Be sure your RV has a working smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector.
Join campsite activities like line dancing or tai chi. These are a great way to meet people and stay fit.
Avoid eating at campsite potluck dinners. If you want to go for the social benefits, eat beforehand and take a vegetable dish to snack on.
Walk. Many RVers follow the sun in their RVs, which means the weather is always right for a walk. But don't forget sunscreen, a hat, and water.
Here are some road safety tips:
Travel during the day.
Limit time on the road.
Don't drive if you're tired.
Have periodic eye exams.
Follow your vehicle's safety guidelines.
Obey all traffic laws.
Carry a cell phone.
Avoid back roads.
Be smart. Don't take chances.