I have traveled extensively throughout the US for many years and enjoy helping people to make the most of their RV vacations.
If you plan to take a recreational vehicle vacation, whether short or long, you should consider carrying documents with you that can be used in the event of problems to provide vital information that could, in some cases, save lives.
People tend to assume that because they are planning to have a fun time that nothing bad can happen, but the truth is that problems pop up all the time.
They can be as simple as getting a flat tire or as complicated as having a heart attack, but no matter the issue, if you are not prepared with proper documentation, you can make your problem much worse!
What follows is a perfect real life example of what can happen.
A Real Life Situation
The first big RV trip my husband and I took found us with a tow vehicle that died about 200 miles from home. We were able to hook it up to our motor home and tow it to the nearest dealership which was several hundred miles away. Once there, we discovered that it was going to cost too much to fix, so we traded it for another car.
However, we did not have our title with us. In addition, since we were not in our home state, we couldn't continue with our vacation. The state we were in only put a dealer's tag on the car, rather than a temporary license plate.
Therefore we had to spend four days waiting for license and registration transfers so that we would be legal to leave the state and continue our vacation.
The whole situation was upsetting, but it taught us the importance of taking critical documents with us when traveling. Things would have been faster and easier if we only had thought to take our vehicle titles with us!
To help you avoid similar problems, I’m providing information below that advises you with regards to papers you should keep on board when RVing and explains why you need them.
Please note that it will be important to take copies of this information when possible and keep the originals at home.
It is extremely important to take certain medical papers with you when you're traveling.
These would include information for each traveler about
- health insurance,
- current prescription medications,
- names and phone numbers of treating doctors,
- current health problems,
- hospitalization and surgical histories and
- legal papers that relate to medical care such as living wills, powers of attorney and health care surrogates.
Carrying doctor, medication and allergy info in your wallet is extremely important because in the event of an emergency, firefighters, paramedics, and police officers can find it quickly.
Doing this is especially important if you are unable to speak for yourself and doctors unknown to you are treating you. The information you provide can tell them whether you are diabetic, have implants, or are undergoing chemotherapy which can keep them from making mistakes that could damage your health.
Never assume that because you leave home feeling great and are driving good equipment that you won't have problems that will require medical care. Doing so can be a terrible mistake!
Another True Life Situation
To show you how quickly things can happen, I'm going to share an unbelievable but true story.
- An older couple was traveling in their motor home with their small dog. Both people were perfectly healthy.
- The wife decided to walk to the rear of the coach to get a sweater while the vehicle was in motion. She fell, and when she did, she landed on the little dog and killed it!
- Not knowing what to do and being in the middle of nowhere, the couple decided to wrap the dog in plastic and put him in the freezer.
- The next morning, the husband rose early and decided to let his wife sleep in because she had been so upset.
- After several hours, he realized that she hadn't awoken.
- He pulled over and went back to check on her. She had died in her sleep!
- He had no legal or medical papers with him, did not think to carry travel insurance and had one heck of a time dealing with his situation as a result.
Having documentation with him would not have brought his wife and dog back, but it would have made handling the legalities involved in taking care of and transporting their bodies much easier
You always should carry information that relates to
- real estate and
You should always carry
- insurance cards,
- license and registration information,
- roadside assistance information and
- and travel insurance cards
so that if you encounter vehicle problems or have accidents, you'll have all of the information you need to handle your situation.
You also keep information pertaining to your home with you such as
- homeowners and flood insurance cards,
- a copy of your deed,
- an inventory of all of your belongings with photos,
- phone numbers of neighbors who have keys to your home and
- mortgage and banking contact information
This way, if you’re traveling and a fire, tornado, flood or other hazard strikes your home while you’re gone, you’ll have what you need to be able to deal with serious issues that may occur in the event you cannot get home quickly.
I've noted above the items you need to have with you with regards to health related issues, so will not repeat them here other than to reinforce with you the importance of having good documentation with you while you're on the road.
Keeping a hard copy of people’s names and addresses can be very helpful while you’re away from home.
You never know when you might need to contact a neighbor to check your mail or a business to straighten out a billing problem, so it’s good to have this information with you.
If you have a smart phone you no doubt have email addresses already saved, but bear in mind that you might be somewhere that does not have a signal so if you need that info immediately for some reason you won’t be able to access it without having a hard copy.
If you travel with an animals, you must have their
- inoculation information,
- food lists,
- allergy lists,
- medication lists,
- medical histories and
- contact information for your family’s veterinarian.
Your pet is no different than you are when it comes to needing info about general so make sure to keep a health history sheet on him or her as well.
It is also vitally important to keep identification tags on his collar so that if he gets lost, it will be easier for people to contact you if they find him.
You should always carry copies of legal documents and information such as
- military separation papers,
- birth certificates,
- marriage licenses,
- divorce papers,
- powers of attorney,
- living wills and health care surrogate papers
- vehicle titles,
- attorney contact information,
- emergency contacts and
You should carry similar information as added protections for whatever may happen.
Most people don’t realize that it is legal for an immediate family member to transport a corpse across state lines if they have paperwork signed by the local coroner’s office.
However, to get those papers, they have to be able to prove who they are and what their relationship is to the deceased.
This piece of information can save people thousands of dollars in transport costs, but only if they have with them the documents that allow them to do it.
As noted in the video, you should keep these documents in a fireproof safe unless the papers you have with you are copies instead of originals.
You will also need to carry papers that include information about your
- virus protection program,
- computer brand, model and operating system,
- GPS system and
- cell phone
If you don't have this information with you, you may find it difficult to go online, handle your banking or get the help you need with technical problems.
RV Guides and Info
Be sure to include the manufacturer's manuals for your coach with you. This can be invaluable if you have mechanical problems while you're on the road.
You'll also need a good campground guide, such as The Good Sam Travel and Savings Guide which my husband and I always carry with us during RV vacations so that we can access information about campgrounds, repair shops, fishing licenses and other important information. We've been using this guide for 50 years, and it still has proven itself to be worth every penny.
Another book you should keep with you is The RVer's Friend. We started using this guide years ago when we were cross country truckers, but quickly learned that having it when RVing would let us know where every dump station in the country was and also how to reach all state and national parks if we needed to make reservations or get directions.
Finally, if you belong to a camping club, you'll want to keep their catalog with you so that you can easily find their affiliated parks.
Protect Yourself When RVing
It’s always a mistake to assume that bad things won’t happen to you and yours when RVing.
The truth is that problems occur often, and when they do, people need to be prepared to deal with them. Over the years, my husband and I personally have
- slammed fingers in doors,
- passed out and needed emergency care,
- fallen out of our RV,
- had tire blowouts that damaged and disabled our motor home,
- forgotten to bring medications with us, and
- had our engine blow up while driving on the interstate.
More than this has happened, but this gives you some idea of things anybody can be facing when traveling in a camper, travel trailer or motor home.
This is why you need to prepare for the worst while hoping it never happens.
The best way to do this is to take crucial documents with you every time you travel in your RV.
It's the only way to protect yourself and those who travel with you.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2018 Sondra Rochelle