Do you have a medical travel plan?

I hope that every RV trip you take both you and your rig remain healthy.  As a physician and RV traveler,  I’ve found that most RV owners are diligent about checking tire pressure and fluid levels, but what about your own travel health?

(Above.  Phil and Bev Freedman keep healthy by taking their bikes along on their RV travels)

Start with your health care provider. It is valuable to have someone to call if you have a medical question.  You may be old enough to remember the days when your family physician would accept and respond to your phone calls.

If you are lucky enough to still have such a relationship, a pre-departure visit is a good time to mention you will be traveling and get your physician’s insight and also confirm that he or she will accept your incoming calls for advice.

Sadly, those days of such personalized healthcare are becoming a distant memory for most of us.  Our current healthcare system usually does not compensate physician’s for telephone consultation and many physicians simply insist on you being seen, because that is how they get paid.

If you do not have ready access to your physician’s practice from the road you might want to consider contacting a new breed of provider known as the Concierge Physician.  These folks contract with you directly, and are paid in advance, and often provide guidance with by phone or e-mail, once they have established a relationship with you.   Most have strict guidelines for this.  They don’t manage medical emergencies remotely.  They are limited in providing meds for ongoing problems such as chronic pain.  But, they will know of you and your medical conditions and can often give you advice as to what you might do for yourself or when you need to seek local medical help.

Concierge Physicians generally do not accept insurance.  Yet, it may still be worth the cost if it saves you time or an unnecessary office visit on the road.  They usually charge an annual fee, but might be willing to negotiate a price just for the time you are on the road.

Travel medicine and walk-in clinics.  The Internet is a good place to start to find lists of travel medicine clinics and local walk-in clinics (such as those found in national drug store chains).  Some offer consultation while you are on the road. Call in advance of an appointment and see if this is an option.

Documents. You should have a file with certain pertinent documents.  These can often be stored electronically on your smart phone so they will be with you most of the time. Paper documents can be scanned, but if you don’t have a scanner, you can use your smartphone camera to take a close-up picture of the document. I keep an extra copy of my health documents elsewhere in my coach in case I lose my cell phone.  A USB thumb drive is a convenient place to keep the data below.

– Drug prescriptions

– Eye glass prescription

– Health Insurance documentation

– Health Summary

  • List of Medications
  • List of Allergies
  • List of known Medical Issues
  • Copy of your most recent ECG

– Advanced Directives

– Durable Medical Power of Attorney, General Power of Attorney

Regular Medications. Plan to obtain at least what you will need, plus at least 2 weeks of meds.

Unforeseen things happen. You may have to ask your insurance company for a “vacation override” to get more than your usual 30 day supply.  If you cannot get this, make sure your physician gives you some additional prescriptions to take with you if you need more meds.

Eye Glasses. Keep a second pair available in addition to your lens correction script.

Health Insurance Coverage. You will want to be sure your health insurance coverage will work where you travel.  Most insurances work nationally.  But some insurances are not accepted in all  locations or you may find you are “out of network” and have a higher co-pay.

Crossing the border. Traveling outside the United States is another issue.  Most health insurances do not pay for foreign travel, even to Canada.  If you are leaving the US you might want to consider traiel Insurance.  This is usually a fairly inexpensive plan as it only covers the time you will be gone. Many travel insurance coverages also cover transport home.

Just like preventive maintenance on your RV, following these simple medical travel plan suggestions will send you on your way with the confidence that you’re well prepared to enjoy your trip.