How to Create an Emergency Plan for RV Road Trips

Guest Post by By Joe Laing
Seasoned RV travelers know you can’t anticipate every obstacle on the road to happy camping. A well-thought-out emergency plan, however, can make all the difference between cutting your RV vacation short and moving forward with your vacation plans. Here are four vital elements to include when crafting your family’s RV road trip emergency plan.

Planning for Weather Emergencies
One unknown with the potential to short-circuit your camping vacation is dangerous weather. Your road trip emergency plan should include three things when it comes to dealing with a weather emergency:

1. How will you stay up-to-date with changing weather conditions?
Before you can plan for bad weather, you need to know it is coming. Monitoring weather conditions all along your route can keep you out of the path of dangerous weather. Smartphone weather apps are great, if the signal is strong enough to carry data in a particular area. For another layer of protection, consider purchasing a weather radio that can be tuned to local NOAA broadcasts across the U.S.

2. Where can you find shelter in a weather emergency?
A good practice anytime you travel by RV is to always check with the campground hosts about where you can go for shelter in dangerous weather. Also, make it part of your plan to monitor local weather while on the road and seek shelter if things get dicey. Know the rules for sheltering during a tornado or other dangerous storm (hint: not under an overpass where you’re a target for other drivers with limited visibility.) Don’t wait until the tornado sirens sound to start looking for shelter.

3. Does everyone in your group know what to do?
It’s difficult to predict what a panicked person will do when bad weather strikes. Discuss ahead of time the importance of finding safe shelter in dangerous weather. Have a family discussion about listening to emergency responders and following their directions.
Pack an emergency kit. It should include contact information for someone back home, as well as an emergency supply of water, food and first aid supplies. Keep emergency medication and medical equipment and essential documents in an easy-to-access place and tell the people you’re traveling with where you keep them.

Planning for Medical Emergencies
This one’s essential for safe and happy RV travel. Even if you don’t currently have a chronic medical condition, knowing how to access medical care on the road can save time, save money and perhaps even save your life.

Before you go: Gather your insurance, medication and allergy information, and doctors’ names and numbers in an easily accessible place and make sure everyone in your group knows where it is. What is your insurance company’s policy on emergency, out of area care? Also, do you know how to replace essential medication should yours be lost while traveling? Do you carry a good, basic first aid kit on-the-road?

Who has the power to make medical decisions, should you be incapacitated? Being able to answer questions quickly for emergency responders, knowing how to get in touch with your health care providers and having quick access to replacement medication can make all the difference when dealing with a medical emergency while on vacation.

Planning for Mechanical Failure
We’ve all heard the horror stories of a much-anticipated RV trip being sidelined by a vehicle breakdown. Once again, some advance planning can keep a vehicle emergency from destroying your vacation plans (and budget!)

First of all, find out whether your RV insurance covers towing, lockout/battery start service, rental cars, emergency lodging and other basic on-the-road needs. If not, research roadside assistance services from companies such as AAA and GoodSam Roadside Assistance. Knowing that you can call for help, at least to get your recreational vehicle to the nearest service location, allows you to start your trip with confidence.

Tip: Add the 800 number and membership number for whichever roadside assistance plan you choose to your emergency plan. Make a copy of your policy and take it with you.

By the way, do you carry a small toolbox with you on RV trips? A set of emergency triangles, a high-powered flashlight, a basic set of wrenches and screwdrivers and a set of jumper cables can help keep you safe and maybe even get you moving again after a breakdown. It’s all part of planning ahead.

One more question to answer as you’re planning—do you have a source of emergency cash should a repair become necessary (credit card, emergency fund, etc.)? Do you know how to access it quickly? A vehicle breakdown may be frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be trip-ending, if you’ve planned ahead.

Planning for Financial EmergenciesSuppose you’re cruising Florida’s Space Coast by RV and your credit cards are stolen when you stop for gas. Do you know how to contact your credit card companies without having the cards in-hand?

Add a section to your emergency plan that details your credit card and bank emergency contact information. We suggest that you keep a list of your account numbers in a secure place, perhaps in a password-protected app on your smartphone (not in your wallet!)

Also, do you know how to access emergency cash should you need it? This is where a debit card can come in handy, whether you use one at home or not.

Good Planning Equals Good CampingThere you have it, the essentials for creating your own travel emergency plan. By taking the time to plan for weather, medical, mechanical and financial emergencies, you can help keep your RV camping adventures safe and memorable.

Use these tips to start creating your own RV road trip emergency plan before leaving on your next vacation.

Joe Laing is the Marketing Director for El Monte RV, a nationwide RV rental company. Joe has been on the road working within the travel industry for over 20 years, and greatly enjoys exploring the outdoors. Joe has been camping across the United States, from coast-to-coast, and makes a point to stop at national landmarks along the way. He is also actively involved in numerous campground associations, including RVIA's Go RV'ing committee, as well as travel industry associations.