Prepping yourself for a road trip can be a major project. Food, different types of clothing for different weather, road emergency supplies, and a laundry list of other personal items that you will need or want along the way, can take time and energy to assemble. But while you’re working on these items, don’t forget about the important things that you are leaving behind.
Vacationers, extended travelers, snowbirds, and full-time RVers all have certain things that they cannot necessarily take with them every time they venture out on the road. Be sure to pay as much attention to securing the things you won’t be able to take care of personally, as the things you are packing in your RV.
Plan for the long-term
Unlike the vacationer who may only leave home for a week at a time, fulltimers, extended travelers, and snowbirds can’t just put their lives on hold while they are gone. Playing catch up when you return would be a time consuming process that is bound to lead to things important items overlooked, and possibly events missed.
You will want to be sure you have a “home base??? in mind for your mobile operation. This could include bringing a laptop computer with you and making arrangements for mobile internet, researching which resorts or camp grounds have internet access available, finding post offices where you can receive mail, or ensuring where a cell phone will be able to be used while you are on the road. This will help insure that you can receive important mail, do your banking, pay your bills, communicate with loved ones, and even fulfill your medical needs while you are on the road.
Before you head out on the road, be sure to look over any routine medical appointments that you would have made while you were home. You will need to work with your doctor to figure out which appointments can be postponed until you return, and which will need to be scheduled while you are on the road.
If you are under the regular care of a physician, you should ask your doctor to write a letter summarizing your medical condition and the care you have recently received. This can save you time and unnecessary tests if you do have to visit a health-care center while you are on the road.
Contact your medical insurer to see if there are any differences in handling claims when you are outside of your regular provider’s area. They may give you tips on other cities that have doctors in their network, hospitals near where you are staying that are covered by your policy, and even information on any extra paperwork that will be needed.
Finally, only go to the hospital if it is a medical emergency. While an emergency room can seem like a convenient solution when you are unfamiliar with the surrounding area, often the campground operator will know of an urgent care facility or physician that you can see if it is not a true emergency. This can save you both time and money in the long run!
Pills and Prescriptions
Even though filling prescriptions can be done at most grocery stores around the country, these days, don’t take for granted that some planning may still be required!
The most important thing to check is that you prescription can be filled during the entire time you are on the road – don’t be stuck with an expired prescription, or run out of refills before you return! Don’t even cut it close! Be sure that your prescription will out-last your road trip, in case something unexpected leave you away from home a bit longer than planned.
Filling prescriptions on the road can also be a challenge if your insurance company limits the coverage based on the pharmacy that you used. Some options to look into include:
- Fill the initial prescription at a pharmacy located near someone who can forward mail to you. Ask this person if they would be willing to pick up the prescription and forward it to you with your mail. Also check with the pharmacy to be sure they will allow another person to pick up your prescription each time it needs to be refilled.
- Get your prescription filled at a nationwide chain, like Wal-Mark or Walgreens. You should be able to fill your prescription at any of their centers, even in several different states. They may also be able to tell you where the closest center is to your next stop.
- Look into mail-order pharmacies. Many insurance carriers work with phone or web-based companies that will send your refills to you direct as you travel. If your insurance company is flexible with the pharmacy you use, consider companies like Costco Prescriptions by Mail, CVS Pharmacies online ordering, and drugstore.com.
Getting the mail – Physically or Electronically
- Fulltimers typically use a professional mail forwarding service to get their mail. These companies provide you with a mailing address, since you do not have a permanent address, and forward your mail to the address you provide them. They will hold mail while you are traveling and send it to you when you call them with the next forwarding address.
- Snowbirds who take up a winter residence typically ask their local post office to forward the mail until they return to their permanent address.
- Extended travelers usually identify a friend, relative, or neighbor who is willing to get their mail from their home and forward it to them.
Keep in mind that even if you cannot receive mail at the park or camp ground you are staying at, the postal service will take care of you! The postal service will hold mail at the local post office for pick up if it is addressed to General Delivery, as follows:
Wilson and Paula Traveler
c/o General Delivery
City, State Zip Code
If you have a computer or laptop that you will be taking on your travels, you can arrange for electronic mail. Services that provide electronic mail will receive the mail at their office, open it for you, and scan it into an email. They will then send you a copy of all of the mail you have received. Typically, you can then let them know if there is anything that you will need them to forward on as an original copy, or if they can discard the items they have already sent you electronically. Be sure that before you take this approach, you are sure you will have internet access frequently enough to take care of all of your personal business via email.
Extra Security for Snowbirds and Extended Travelers
Because extended travelers and snowbirds retain their traditional residences, they should take extra measures for the security and maintenance of their homes while they are gone.
Some additional tips to help keep your home safe and in good shape while you are away:
- Arrange for a friend, neighbor, or relative to look after your home. Be sure they will be able to check on your house regularly and will be able to make arrangements for any emergency repairs that may be needed while you are on the road.
- Check the locks on gates and windows – not just doors!
- Consider installing an alarm system. It is a good idea to discuss this with your local police department first. Ask them what type of system would work best for your circumstances and in conjunction with their response policies.
- Make your house appear occupied at as many times of day as possible! Use timers on several indoor lights, and timers or sensors on outdoor lights. Have the timers turn lights on and off at the same times as you would if you were home.
- Cancel your newspaper or ask someone to pick it up for you. This can also include ads, flyers, and door hangers that companies may leave on your property. These items can really end up advertising your absence.
- Hire a gardening or mowing company, or a reliable teenager, to keep your yard looking neat. This can not only complete the perception that someone is home, but keep you from getting costly fines imposed by cities or homeowner’s association for having weeds or long grass.
Above all, remember that the planning may seem never-ending… but covering all of your bases before you head out will allow you to spend more time enjoying your trip, and less time worrying about what you may have missed.