Healthy Outdoor Living

Tips for Dealing with Medical Issues While Camping or RVing


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Being prepared is the best way to handle medical issues when you're on a camping road trip.

A medical emergency is something no one wants to have on a camping road trip. It's not just because it would seriously spoil a time that is supposed to be filled with fun and adventure. It's more like it can be difficult to get proper medical care when you're far away from home. And it's a situation that can become even more complicated if you wander all the time as a full-time RVer.

Thankfully, there are measures you can take that can make a worrisome, if not life-threatening, situation much easier to handle. All it takes is a little preparation before you go on your camping trip, as well as a little precaution while you're on the road. We've compiled here a few tips that will help you deal with medical issues while camping or RVing.

Contact Your Health Care Provider

The best way to prepare for medical issues on the road is to consult your health care provider and see if you're fit for travel. We all know that going on a road trip can be physically taxing, and you're putting yourself at risk if you go ahead with your travel plans knowing that your body can't take it. You may not get access to the kind of health care you need while you're traveling, so ask your doctor for their go signal before you take off.

If you don't have a family doctor, try to engage one. It's always good to have someone to call when you're caught up in a medical emergency on the road. However, not all physicians are willing to take on clients who frequently travel outside their area of practice. You need to be clear with your health care provider that you travel a lot before you hire them.

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Get Copies of Your Medical Records

Before you leave, ask your physician to provide you with a copy of your medical records. Having your medical records at hand will make it easier to find the health care you need wherever you go. The attending staff will not have to waste time figuring out what's going on in your body if they have your records readily available.

As much as possible, store your records in a portable medical records storage device. This device can be a USB flash drive or electronic key card that can hold copies of your medical documents. Some of these can also contain your living will and power of attorney. There are even apps that can help you store medical data in your phone or tablet. Having such a device will enable the attending staff at the health care facility you visit to upload your records to their system without too much fuss.

Update Your Health Insurance

You'll also need to update your medical or health insurance, if you have one, before you leave for your trip. It can be very frustrating - if not dangerous - to have to check into a health care facility only to find out that the facility can't serve you because your health insurance plan is not updated.

If you don't have health insurance, though, try to shop around for affordable health care coverage that caters to RVers. This may prove to be a daunting task because not all HMOs provide plans for full-time RVers. Those that do often charge exorbitant rates for their services. Shopping around for an affordable medical insurance plan for RVers will not just help you save money. It will also guarantee that you'll get the best health care coverage possible in case you need it on your road trip. Try eHealthInsurance.com to get an online quote. Another option is to join a RV or camping club such as Good Sam Club or Escapees RV Club who can help you find the best Health Insurance.

Let People Know Where You're Going

It's always a good idea to let other people know where you're headed before you actually go on your journey. Thus, provide a few friends and family members with copies of your itinerary so they'll know where to contact you and find you in case something happens to you on the road. Don't forget to furnish your health care provider with your itinerary as well so they'll be able to fax your prescription or provide long-distance medical assistance when necessary.

Get References from Your Doctor

Another good idea is to ask your family doctor to refer you to another physician who practices at the stop points on your road trip. It's comforting to know that there's a doctor you can turn to who is already familiar with your medical issues while you're far away from home. It will significantly reduce the stress and hassle you'll have to go through.

Locate the Medical Facilities Around Your Destination

You can also prepare for medical emergencies by listing the contact information of the hospitals and clinics located at your destinations, especially those that provide emergency care. You can even use Google Maps to map out these facilities so you won't have trouble driving there. It's always good to know where the nearest facility is just in case.

When you stop at a campground, ask the campground hosts for the contact information of as well as driving directions to medical facilities near the campground. If you can't ask the hosts, try the campground's long-term residents. Campers and RVers are typically a helpful lot, and most of them are willing to provide assistance to other RVers when they can.

Pack for Emergencies

You'll be more able to handle medical issues while you're on your road trip if you're well-stocked with emergency supplies. So, before you go, stock your RV with a first aid kit and other over-the-counter medication you may need, such as ibuprofen, paracetamol, laxatives. If you have allergies or if you're going to a place known for certain hazards like bees and snakes, pack your first aid kit with items that will help you deal with them.

Speaking of first aid kits, you should attend a class on administering first aid if you haven't yet. Knowing how to do CPR or the Heimlich maneuver may be helpful too.

Another thing you need to do before you go is to have your prescriptions filled at pharmacies with a nationwide network. When you do so, the pharmacy will have a record of your prescriptions in their network, and this record can be easily retrieved at any of their branch. This minimizes the need to call your health provider about your prescription.

Bring a cellphone with you as well and keep its battery fully charged. Mobile phones are handy when you need to make emergency phone calls.

Stay Fit and Be Cautious While on the Road

As the old adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Avoid putting yourself at risk whenever possible. Before you leave for your trip, try to find out what possible hazards you may encounter at your destination and prepare accordingly. Are mosquitoes common where you're going? Then pack bug spray and citronella candles. Are snakes common in the area? Get a snake bite kit.

You also need to be careful of what you eat and drink while on the road. As much as possible, cook your own food in your RV and minimize eating out. You'll have more control of what you eat if you make your own food. If you do have to eat out, choose healthy food off the menu. If you have to attend pot lucks and other gatherings that involve food, just sample the food and don't eat too much. Get a water filter to rid your drinking water of potential contaminants or buy bottled water.

Don't forget to exercise too. A lot of campgrounds out there provide gym facilities as well as fitness classes like yoga, aerobics and tai chi. Take advantage of those whenever they're available. And even if they don't, make it a point to exercise on your own. Even doing stretching exercises for 15 minutes every morning will help a lot.

Make sure you plan your drives so you don't have to spend most of the day driving. Take frequent stops on the road and alternate driving the RV with your travel companions. If you feel too tired or not well enough to drive, then listen to your body and just don't. Most of all, avoid driving at night.

Lastly, don't let yourself get stressed out as much as possible. Remember, you're going on a road trip to have fun. Just chill out. And if you're experiencing a medical emergency, don't be too proud to ask for help from other campers and RVers. As mentioned earlier, campers and RVers are a helpful lot. They're more than willing to give assistance to fellow road warriors whenever they can.

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