<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> RVer Tips for Healthy Travel
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Subject: Healthy Travel -- A Wellness Model

Sue Wright, RN

This course deals with the whole person, an RVer on the road. More than just caring for your physical well being, you should also consider your intellectual, emotional, social, and spiritual wellness.

Intellectual wellness -- learn new things, read - keep up your interest areas. We continue to grow intellectually our whole lives. Staying young means continuing to pursue new ideas, as well as maintaining your current interests.

Emotional wellness -- work on relationships, but take time and space for yourself. This is especially true for RVers, who live together in a small space. Try not to let small details "get" to you. Maintain a positive attitude, and laugh! Accept the endings to some of your life stages and be willing to move on to new experiences.

Social wellness, never much of a problem for RVers, includes meeting your new neighbors, sharing meals, and also staying in touch with your family. These days, email has made it easier than ever to stay in touch with your family and old friends. Be willing to travel in a group at least once in your RVing career; you'll meet some wonderful new friends. Have a party. Play games.

Physical Wellness: Before you travel, get a physical. Get a medication review to be sure that everything you are taking works well with everything else. Take your current medication prescriptions on the road with you. Also make a list of these medications to take with you. Ask about immunization. Many adults are under-immunized. . Even if you are only going to travel within the continental US, flu vaccine, tetanus, and hepatitis A & B vaccinations should be up to date.

If you should need to refill a prescription while in Canada or Mexico, you will have to see a doctor first. Pharmacies are not legally allowed to fill prescriptions otherwise. In the US, each state has different laws about filling these, although some of the big chains, Wall Mart, Costco, etc. can call from state to state and get permission for refills.

Medical insurance. Medicare is primary insurance, but is no good out of the country. Before you leave on a trip, check with the benefits specialist of your insurance company. Get the time and date of your call as well as the name of the person you talk to. Ask this person what are your benefits, and any changes in your coverage. How do you access that coverage? Do you need pre-approval? Then give them the dates you will be gone and when you will return. That way you may save yourself problems later with insurance coverage.

Make a medical information form and put it in a prominent place in your RV. This should include a list of current medications, allergies, blood pressure. Also include advanced directive and power of attorney. This will be extremely helpful in case of medical emergency on the road.

A first aid kit for your motorhome and towed vehicle should be included, along with a first aid book. Place these in a bay on the passenger side of the RV, along with your fire extinguisher. If you need to access these, the passenger side will be out of the way of traffic.

One excellent and potentially lifesaving idea is to post a File of Life. This is a small plastic envelope with a magnetized top which can be attached to your refrigerator, microwave, etc. Inside, on specially prepared lists, is all your pertinent medical data. Your name, address and emergency contacts are listed here. Also included is your blood type, any communicable diseases you may have, any medications you may be taking, and any current medical conditions or allergies you may have. Further included is your medical insurance carrier's name and number, and any Medicare or Medicaid numbers. Emergency medical technicians have been trained to look for this information and they can treat any emergencies much better and more rapidly when it is available. these should be available from an EMT or your doctor.

"Doc in a Box". The medical walk in clinics found in many larger communities handle doctor visit needs. They are listed in the phone book. It can be a good idea to call ahead to find out how long a wait you may expect and what sort of insurance and medical history information they will need.

Since the RV lifestyle can be sedentary, it is a good idea to plan 30 minutes of exercise a day -- whether walking, biking or stretching. Walk briskly, do not stroll, for a predetermined distance, be it a half mile or two miles. If you don't use it, you'll lose it -- or gain it! Move around every two hours. If the weather is bad, consider walking around a nearby mall.

Eat light and healthy. Some ideas include: drink a glass of water just before a meal to help curb your appetite. Sit down, it's too easy to overeat when you eat "on the run". Slow down. Eat slowly enough that your body has time to tell your brain you've had enough. Think about food safety. Eating at home (in the RV) is often safer than eating out. If you are concerned about water in any given area, get bottled water. Water is better for you than canned sodas, and more thirst-quenching too.

You can exercise even when you are on the road. Consider lifting light weights as the passenger. Use Theraband (a yellow elastic available from most pharmacies) for stretching exercises. Exercise every day.

Sanitation. Be careful of your water supply. Never drink water from streams or rivers -- no matter how clear and sparkling. Use your own hose when filling your water tank at an RV park.Wear gloves when you connect to your water source as well as when you use the sewer hose. Clean off the outside faucet (baby wipes work great). Use an in-line water filter, and then run the water through the hose for a minute or two before connecting to flush the hose to reduce the amount of air in the system. use your sense of smell to determine if you want to use the water. Sometimes the water supply is rusty.To prevent infection, wash your hands, before, during and after cooking foods.

Physical safety. Often RVers are concerned about their locale; their neighbors, or the area. If the window next to the entry door on many RVs is left open, it is an easy matter to break the screen, reach in and open a locked door. Keep it closed, and pull the shade. Make a list of the serial numbers of your TV, microwave, etc., just as you would at home. Be aware of the location of your rig within a park, note the location of the restrooms and position of the lights in the park.. One safety precaution is to keep a card of the park where you are currently staying. This way, in case of emergency, a hospital or EMT will know where you are staying, and can contact your companion.

If you get any medical care done away from home, get a copy of the medical record to take home with you.

Spiritual wellness. Share your values, and count your blessings. Write down your blessings and also your troubles, but try to keep the list 10 to 1 blessings.

While the course focused on the physical, we were reminded at the end of the session to keeping all five "wellnesses" factors in balance, and thus to create a total healthy individual.