Wingin' It!, Episode 61: Handling Family Emergencies From The Road
Over the past couple of years of our life as full-time RVers, we've had quite a few folks ask us questions about how we handle family issues while we are traveling. What do we do if our family suddenly needs us? How do we deal with family emergencies? We've learned a lot about this issue recently, so now seems like a good time to talk more about this topic.
A few weeks back, we published a video talking about our plans to stay in Texas for the rest of 2020. There are a lot of reasons for this decision, but one of them revolved around Tom's parents. While this year has been rough on everyone, it's been especially challenging for his folks. They have been separated from their family and friends due to Covid-19 restrictions, but more importantly, from each other due to his Mom's illness. We talked more about Tom's Mom's health challenges in a Wingin' It! episode back in March.
Some things seemed to be improving for her recently. She was smiling (she always smiled), happy, and in no pain. But one late July morning, we got the phone call no one ever wants to receive. Tom's Mom had passed away peacefully in her sleep. In that moment, all of our plans changed and our focus shifted 100% to family.
When we got the call, we were set up in a beautiful lakeside campsite at Lake Livingston State Park amongst the tall piney woods of East Texas. We had planned a day of hiking and scouting to see what we wanted to film for our park video. We had spent 3 nights at the park, with 5 more on our reservation. But with that phone call, we packed everything up and headed back to Houston.
Tips For Handling Family Emergencies While Traveling
Do Some Advanced Research:
Before you launch your full time RV life, or leave on an extended trip, think about the areas your family lives in. Do some research to see what RV park and campground options are in the area, and choose a few "go-to" favorites. Put the information for those parks in your phone contacts so you won't have to spend time looking them up when you really need them.
To make them easier to find in your phone, consider adding your loved one's name to the park name. (In other words, instead of naming the contact as Brazos Bend State Park, maybe give it the name Brazos Bend SP near Betty... replacing "Betty" with the name of your family member in that area.) That way if you can't remember the name of the park, you can search your family member's name and it will come up.
Keep In Touch: Communicating regularly can give you a heads up if something isn't quite right. And if assistance is needed, you might be able to provide some of it virtually and head off any major problems. Luckily, today's technology makes it easy to keep in touch from almost anywhere. And, if your family is anything like ours, they enjoy seeing and hearing about the places we visit through phone and facetime.
Consider Local Travel: If you know (or sense) that your family members might need some extra assistance or you may need to get to them, consider planning travels around their local area for a while. It's less stressful to travel shorter distances in the event something happens. Again, this is one of the reasons why we chose to stay in Texas this year, but specifically, we planned the first 2 months to be within 3 hours of Houston... just in case.
Don't Put Off Changing Reservations: Reservation cancellation policies are different for every type of park. Some private RV parks have a no-refund policy, but most public campgrounds and many private RV parks will refund at least part of your money if you have to cancel. Be sure to read the cancellation policies of the parks you are booking so you are aware of how they respond to requests. In our case, we stopped at the ranger station on our way out of Lake Livingston State Park to let them know that we were having to leave early due to a death in the family. They refunded our unused nights back to us.
We ended up cancelling several weeks worth of reservations in state parks and forest service parks. We received at least partial refunds for every cancellation. We waited too long to cancel one week and ended up with a smaller refund. If you know you will be changing your travel plans, set some time aside to make those changes early to maximize your refund.
And don't forget to go ahead and set other local reservations in their place so you don't find yourself scurrying to find somewhere to stay as you take care of your family business. It will be one less thing to worry about.
Embrace Flexibility: The RV lifestyle is all about flexibility. Embrace it! Plans change because of weather, changing interests, family matters or even global pandemics. You never know what each day will bring. But as RVers, we can just pack up and head to where we're needed or whatever adventure lies in store for us. Don't be afraid to be flexible. It will save you a lot of stress.
More About Tom's Mom
Before we go, we'd like to let you know a bit more about Tom's Mom. In the video at the top of this page, we talk about how she and his Dad influence us and our chosen lifestyle. If full-time RVing were a thing 69 years ago when they got married, we're sure they would have embraced the lifestyle. They traveled extensively and loved to share what they found in their travels with their friends and organizations they were members of through slideshows and presentations. They definitely chose to Experience Life, Not Just Live It!