When you’re nowhere near your hometown and you live on the road, having an emergency can feel scary. Here are 6 things to think about.

1. Know where the Nearest Urgent Care is

When you get to a new campsite, find the nearest Urgent Care and Hospital on the map. A lot of campgrounds actually have it listed for you on the paperwork they give you at check-in, but if not – just pull up Google Maps and type in “Hospital Near Me”.

Pro Tip: If there are multiple options in the area, check the reviews on each so you can see where the best care can be provided.

2. Carry a Battery Pack and Charger

It may seem like overkill, but you will never be sorry that you carry a fully charged battery pack and extra charger when you actually end up needing it. Could be an extended emergency room visit or it could be after a long day hiking. No matter the situation, it’s never a bad idea.

When I ended up in the much-too-popular emergency room in Portland, OR, we waited for 7 hours to see a doctor. After 4 hours of waiting, the waiting room was too full and they had to ask all the non-patients to leave because they were at capacity. They said once we were called to the triage waiting area, we could have our loved ones come back to be with us. Problem was – we had been waiting for so long that my phone was drained down to just 2% when Beth was sent to wait in the truck.

We thought the easy answer was to have the emergency room Concierge Desk call Beth when I got moved to the triage waiting room but they told me they couldn’t dial out any non-Oregon number. With only 2% left on my phone, soon I would have no way of letting her know that I was actually called back to see a doctor. It was a mess. (If you’re wondering, I was called to triage within 15 mins of her leaving and she got to come back in with me…where we waited another 3 hours to see a doctor. Overall, it was a cool 8-hour trip to the ER.)

Easy answer – pack a portable battery pack and charger. We like this one.

3. Communicate that You Travel Full Time

When figuring out your treatment plan, it’s important that the doctors know right up front that you travel full-time. It doesn’t mean you can’t change your plans and stay in the area longer, but you may only want to do that if it’s absolutely necessary.Β 

Back to the story from above, we first went to an Urgent Care in Bend, OR. The doctor wanted to send us to the emergency room across the street to get the tests I needed. The problem was, we were supposed to be moving that day – and the reason we were moving was because there was no availability in the area and it was Memorial Day weekend.

So our follow-up question was, “Are we safe enough to make the 3-hour trip to Portland and go to the ER up there?”

Without saying it, so they had no liability, the doctors basically agreed we could hit the ER in Portland instead.Β 

Again, if you need to stay put – you can definitely figure out how to make it happen. But for us, the hard route was staying in Bend, trying to find availability nearby, and forfeiting the campground we paid 2 weeks to book.Β 

The easier route was…since we’ll be sitting in a waiting room one way or another, we might as well drive to Portland, drop the trailer, and head to the emergency room there.

It worked out well because I needed to wear a holter monitor for a week and since we were in Portland already, I could easily get the testing I needed.

Woman's legs in emergency room

4. Advocate

If you have a primary doctor that you’d like to follow-up with after your visit, advocate that your test results are sent to your own doctor so your follow-up visit can be with them. If you don’t have a primary doctor, you can ask if there’s a local doctor they’d recommend you see.

In our case, apparently all doctors in the area were booked too so the ER had a dedicated doctor who did follow-up appointments just for ER patients who didn’t have primary doctors.

5. Take Note of Campground Hours and Rules

This will probably be the furthest thing from your mind in an emergency, but if you do end up waiting in the lobby for any length of time, it may be a good idea to communicate with your campground if your emergency impacts your check-out time/day.

After all, they don’t know you’re in distress and they’re trying to run a business. For all they know, you just didn’t show up so they may book your site for someone else if they think you’re a no-show. Nothing’s worse than finally getting done with an ER visit to find out that you have nowhere to stay and need to book somewhere last minute.

If you just give the campground a quick call, they’re usually more than accommodating.

6. Not All Doctors Think Your Lifestyle is Cool

If you’re a full-time RVer, more times than not people hear what you do/how you live and say something like, “omg, you’re living my dream!” but doctors won’t necessarily feel the same when they’re trying to treat you or run tests and you’re hesitating or asking how it could possibly fit into your lifestyle.

For instance, in the Bend Urgent Care, they were saying I would have to wear a holter monitor – which wasn’t a problem, but I was asking questions like, “Am I able to mail the monitor back or turn it into a hospital in the same network in Portland?”

That didn’t make the Physician Assistant happy. She made it sound like a big hassle and a deal breaker. Well turns out, the Portland ER gave me a holter monitor that, when finished with monitor, I mailed back 😐

So the truth is, there are ways to get the care you need on the road – as long as your doctor is nice (like Portland ER doc) and not snotty (like Bend Physician Assistant). You are your own advocate and it’s important you advocate for yourself when speaking with a doctor in these situations.

Overall, this experience was a learning opportunity for us. We’ve been lucky to this point to have not needed care on the road except for the occasional ear infection or inhaler for a bout of COVID πŸ˜…

Now, we’re more prepared for what the process looks like and what our options are when we’re needing emergency care on the road. Remember, with all health care, you always have a choice even when doctors make you feel like you don’t. You can advocate and work with your doctor to find a care plan that works for you (within reason).

We hope you’ll never have to use this info, but if you do – we hope this post will help you feel more confident in an emergency situation as a full-time RVer. Looking for more tips as you jump into this lifestyle? Check out 5 Important Tips for New RVers!