Celebrating the RV Lifestyle by Mike and Jennifer Wendland. Tips, travel ideas, RV news and great interviews about the RV Lifestyle.
How to avoid outrageous fees for a Medical Emergency on an RV Trip
Most of us rely on insurance. But when you suffer a Medical Emergency on an RV Trip, that insurance may not be adequate, especially if you need a land or air ambulance.
In fact, many of those air and ambulance costs claims are rejected by the insurance companies, even if the transport was called by EMTs or the hospital. It's a giant loophole that is particularly important for RVers to know about because they often find themselves in remote locations where hospitals can be few and far apart.
In RV Podcast Episode 333, we learn the startling high percentage of ambulance runs that are rejected by insurance companies and the catastrophically high costs for emergency air ambulance that also go uncovered by insurers.
You can listen to the entire podcast episode in the player below, or go about 20 minutes in to hear the interview. Or scroll down and keep reading this post for a full transcript of the interview.
Our guest is Tim Gustafson, who runs an outfit called the Medical Air Service Association (MASA) which offers a special program to cover those 100% of those ambulance costs. I met Tim a couple of weeks ago and after hearing some of the horror stories that RVers have had because of uncovered ambulance fees, I thought his information would be of great interest to RVers.
Transcript: Interview about ambulance costs related to a Medical Emergency on an RV Trip
Joining us now to talk about these issues is Tim Gustafson. Tim is with a group called MASA, for Medical Air Services Association. I met Tim a week or so ago, and we were talking about some of the issues that RVers encounter when medical emergencies happen on the road. He had some pretty scary stories to relate to me that I in turn want to relate to you. So Tim, thank you for agreeing to come on the program and talk about some of this stuff.
Well Mike, thank you so much for having me.
So let's talk a little bit about a lot of us think that if something happens on the road, we're all covered with all the different insurances. Walk through some of the scenarios that we need to understand about ambulances, whether it's emergency air ambulances or even ground ambulances.
When an air or land ambulance is called during a Medical Emergency on an RV Trip
Yeah. I've been an insurance broker for 16 years or so now. What that means is that I work for my clients, but I represent about 90 different insurance companies.
One of the biggest gaps that I see is ambulance coverage, by ground or by air.
Statistically, there's roughly three and a half million ground ambulance runs per year, and one out of seven is just outright denied, because it's not up to you, it's not up to the EMT to determine whether it's medically necessary. They have some heartless dorks sitting behind a desk at a home office and an insurance company to decide if it's medically necessary or not. So 14%, roughly one out of seven get denied.
Most health insurance plans do not cover emergency transportation
The denials by air ambulances are far greater than that. Denial rates are through the roof really, because air ambulances are not considered a medical expense due to the Deregulation Act of 1978. They're actually classified as a common carrier so they can just charge whatever they want whenever they want.
The Department of Insurance, Medicare, Medicaid services, any insurance company, they have about as much influence over the pricing as they do over Southwest or Delta Airlines.
11 Crucial Emergency Winterization Tips for Campers Caught in Sudden Cold
We have emergency winterization tips for RVers and campers caught in sudden cold.
What a mess. Historic low temperatures, snow in places where it is all but unheard of. Power outages. Freezing water pipes.
All this has been the plight of thousands of RVers whose getaways to what they thought would be warm places turned out to be anything but!
Many of the campers caught in sudden cold were not ready!
The campers hit by the February 2021 cold snap have been for the most part totally unprepared. Areas, where snowbird RVers would normally expect temperatures to be in the 60s and 70s, have plunged to the single digits.
Heavy snow and ice have resulted in massive power outages.
And RVers, snowbound and stuck in sometimes powerless campgrounds, are finding their RVs getting uncomfortable cold, pipes freezing and propane needed for heating and gasoline needed for generators running low.
In Episode 332 of the RV Podcast, we hear from several of them. You can hear their firsthand reports in the player below, staring about 21:30 in.
Campers caught in sudden cold share their stories and emergency winterization tips
It's no fun for campers caught in sudden cold if unprepared!
That's what happened to many snowbirds who thought they were heading to nice warm southern weather.
A cold motorhome in Memphis
RV Lifestyle Facebook Group Member Laurie Sollas was camping in her 34-foot motorhome in Memphis, TN, when the cold and snow hit.
"We filled our propane tank on Sunday ahead of the snow," she said. "We are now below a half of a tank and hoping not to run out. Temps won’t be above freezing until Saturday and we have six inches of snow on the ground. We are expecting another 3 to 4 inches later this week. Our gray water tank froze. We finally managed to thaw and drain it. So, we are putting nothing in any of the tanks. We are using bottled water. This is no fun."
Waterless in Waco
Marlene Hacenfuss Wacek was at a Corps of Engineers campground in Waco, TX where the cold and unusual snow brought rolling power blackouts. "There is no water," she said. "The low last night was about 4 degrees and the high today was about 17. This is colder than home, which is the Buffalo, NY area!
Marlene and her family were in a popup camper with "a huge tarp thrown over the whole thing to help with the howling winds."
The good news is the propane furnace in the camper works great, she reported.
"We're keeping at the lowest setting so we don't burn through as much as fast, so we're about 60-65 degrees. Also have two ceramic heaters to help. Had the foresight to get water in gallon jugs before the spigots froze. There's no water anywhere in the campground or the bathroom and the stores are completely wiped out. This is nuts!
Frozen in Ft. Polk
Jennifer Romeyn was amping in Ft. Polk, LA, where the temperature dropped to 12 degrees at night.
"We knew it was coming, said Jennifer. "We emptied the black and gray tanks yesterday and added pink stuff (RV antifreeze) to them. We filled the freshwater tank and disconnected from city water. We woke up this morning and the supply line to the toilet was frozen. We put a heater on the floor and it thawed quickly. Other neighbors in the park are frozen and have no water."
Putting a skirt around the trailer in Alabama
Sharon Hamilton was camping in her trailer in Town Creek, AL when the freeze warnings were issued.
"I bought black plastic sheeting and gorilla tape," she said. "With those, I made make-shift skirting around the trailer. Unhooked the water. Using bottled water. I have all the faucets open.
RV Podcast #331: The Amazing Power of Family Camping
Family Camping, whether in a tent, pop-up camper, a towable trailer, motorhome, or any other type of RV, unites families through great memories!
That's what we talk about in this 331st episode of the RV Podcast.
And through our special podcast guest - a Mom and Grandma who has passed along a love for the outdoors and family camping to her children - and the remembering of Jennifer and me with own experience with our kids. We hope that this article and our podcast will inspire newcomers to try it out and cause others to rekindle a love affair of the great outdoor and family camping.
You can listen to the podcast in the player below or scroll down this page for shownotes and a transcript of the interview, plus links and resources about all the things we talk about.
There is great power in family camping
Jennifer and I have camped our entire married life.
I grew up in a family that hunted and fished but we never really camped. When Jennifer and I got married, one of the first things she insisted on was that we would be a camping family. She grew up camping and spent family vacations in tents and trailers along the shorelines of our Michigan Great Lakes.
The first big expense we made as a married couple was a 13-foot Shasta trailer. As we started having kids, we replaced it with a Coleman pop up camper.
And although we camped in state and county cames every time we could, our preferred style even way back then was boondocking - though no one called it that then. It was truly off the grid, with no hookups, down a rough two-track carved out of the woods in Ogemaw County and along the Rifle River.
This Coleman Popup was what we used for family camping back in the '70s. That's our favorite spot along the Rifle River in northern Michigan.
My sister and her family owned a bunch of raw acreage up there and even in this empty nest stage of our life, we take our RV to the exact same spot as often as we can.
Photo of the tent Jennifer and I used from the 80s through the 90s
Our three kids grew up camping and the memories we made around campfires, hiking deer trails, taking innertubes down the swift-moving river, and being together made memories that we all still laugh about today.
After our kids went to school and grew up, Jen and I sold the popup and turned to tent camping for many years. We've been in small Class B and Class C motorhomes since 2012.
Our daughter, Wendy camps in a tent with her family and has passed her love of family camping to her husband, Dan, and daughters, Elizabeth and Rachel. Son Jeff didn't have to work to convince his wide Aimee to camp, She, too, grew up in a camping family and they camp every chance they can in a travel trailer with their kids Jovie and Jax.
And all of us get out a couple of times a year for big family campouts. Our third child, Scott, along with his wife, Lauri, and grandsons Zachary, Nick, Matthew, and Jacob, lives in Nashville. And while he is not doing much camping these days because of work responsibilities, we expect him to do so.
Here's a video of one of those summer family campouts we do with our grown kids and grandkids, this one from Silver Lake along Lake Michigan.
That was from a couple of summers ago. Here's our latest family campout, this one taken just this fall, right around Halloween time.
The benefits of Family Camping
Here's a list of 7 camping benefits that Jennifer and I can quickly identify:
* Disconnecting from devices and connecting with one another
* Having quality one-on-one-time away from the daily routines of home, work and school
* Learning about God's creation, the natural world, wildlife,
Off the Beaten Path on the Ohio River Scenic Byway
Our friends Tom and Patty Burkett have this great Off the Beaten Path discovery about bygone life on Chilo, Ohio along the beautiful Ohio River Scenic Byway.
Lock up, lock down—these are phrases we’re all familiar with. Two or three generations ago they were familiar, too, but often meant something entirely different.
That was the time period when lots of people and goods moved across and around the eastern part of the USA on canals.
To listen to their report as delivered on the RV Podcast, click the player below. They appear about 44:10 in. Their written report appears below.
Life along the Locks - Canals and River Traffic
Most canals have one end higher than the other and though they may move imperceptibly slowly, they wouldn’t be navigable for two-way traffic were it not for locks. In addition to dealing with elevation changes, locks sometimes helped navigators conquer the occasional rapids or other difficult terrains.
How River Locks work
To understand how locks work, there’s no better place than the Cuyahoga National Park in northeastern Ohio, where there are detailed models in the visitor centers, and you can actually operate the real lock just outside the front door.
For a boatside view, paddle your canoe or kayak along the Erie Canal in New York and ask the keeper to lock you through one of the fifty-plus locks along the way. For a special treat, either to boat or to watch, stop in Lockport, New York where the original flight of five stepped locks still operates next to a more modern barge lock.
If you’ve been to the Soo Locks in Michigan or the Eisenhower Lock in New York, you may have seen huge oceangoing ships moving in and out of them, sometimes with just inches to spare along the sides.
Big inland rivers, like the Ohio, see mostly barge traffic, and though the barges aren’t as large as those big container ships, they’re still impressive. Most of the dangerous to operate wicket locks have been replaced, but you can watch a video of one being closed.
Lock keepers had an interesting life
They were tied, necessarily, to their locks, where a boat might come along at any time and ask for service. At the same time, they spent the long minutes (or hours) waiting for the lock to cycle in conversation with the ship captains who had lots of stories about far off exotic places.
Stan Rogers, the great Canadian songwriter, captured the dichotomy movingly in a song.
The lock at Chilo along the Ohio River Scenic Byway
When you travel the beautiful Ohio River Scenic Byway, you’ll pass through a little town called Chilo, It’s the only settlement in a fairly large geographic area with no big towns and no restaurants.
The church there has a pizza night a couple of times a month and folks travel from miles around for dinner out and a chance to socialize.
At any rate, Chilo was for many years home to Lock 34.
The lock, a wicket lock, had to be regularly serviced by divers who descended into the river wearing outfits that looked like something from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
The Chilo Lock 34 Museum
The old lock building is now a museum with three floors of nicely curated displays about river life and history.
Just outside the museum is a concrete stairway going down into the river, marked with depths along one side. It’s easy to imagine one of those suited divers descending into the river.
The confusion over masks in National Parks [NEW 2021 ORDER]
The White House has issued an order that some say requires wearing masks in national parks and BLM land when we are outside.
But does it really?
It is an understatement to say that there is a lot of confusion over the new COVID rules put in place by the Biden administration requiring the use of masks on federal land.
Does that mean we need to mask up while hiking in a national park or hanging out at our BLM campsite?
When we are outside?
That’s what we’re going to try and answer this week on episode 329 of the RV Podcast.
Plus we have lots more RV news, tips, your questions, an interview about a new service that promises to help RVers who have breakdowns on the road, and, of course, another great off-the-beaten-path report from the Burketts.
Do campers have to wear a mask when outside or hiking in National Parks or Federal land?
There is confusion about whether you need to wear masks in National Parks
Last week one of the first things the new Biden Administration did was issue an executive order requiring all people to wear masks on federal land - even when outside.
In order to stop the spread of COVID-19 the order states: "individuals in federal buildings and on federal lands should all wear masks" which, if taken literally, seems to imply everyone in a national park or camping on land owned by the federal government popular with boondockers would fall under this order.
I know, other RV writers and websites have been really stressing the literal application of the order but it’s been my experience that few things in life are to be taken literally and I would like to suggest we look more at the intent here than the most extreme application.
The fact is, right now many details are lacking. For example, it is not clear exactly when this order takes effect, how it will be enforced, or what the penalties are for violating it.
Actually, President Biden signed two orders. One requires that masks be worn at airports and on many planes, trains, ships, and intercity buses. That is pretty clear.
The Order About Wearing Masks on Federal Property
The second order requires masks on federal property.
Let me quote from it:
“Accordingly, to protect the Federal workforce and individuals interacting with the Federal workforce, and to ensure the continuity of Government services and activities, on-duty or on-site Federal employees, on-site Federal contractors, and other individuals in Federal buildings and on Federal lands should all wear masks, maintain physical distance, and adhere to other public health measures, as provided in CDC guidelines.
Who must wear masks in national parks?
So the intent of the order is to protect federal workers and those interacting with them. That could include rangers, campers, the folks who staff registration booths, concessionaires. Campground volunteers. Got it. that’s clear.
So the requirement is that masks and social distancing be required inside buildings. Understood.
What about masks "on federal lands?"
But besides buildings, it also says “and on Federal lands.” That is where the confusion comes.
Some sensational reporting in the RV media…maybe to get ore clicks… imply that means you now would have to always be wearing masks while anywhere in a National Park or BLM lands. That is NOT what the order says.
"Should" instead of "Must" regarding wearing masks in National Parks
Let me read what it says: It says “should all wear masks.” Not must. Big difference.
54 RVers Share the Most Important RV features they Expect in their Next RV
Listen up RV Industry! Here is what Real RVers say are the most important RV features they want when they buy their next RV.
We surveyed and heard from more than 300 of them and it's clear they know what they want.
And between the lines in their responses, it's equally clear that the RV Industry hasn't been delivering it.
You can listen to the podcast in the player below. And scroll down this page for shownotes, plus links and resources about all the things we talk about.
Results of our Survey: The Most Important RV Features wanted by Real RVers
We really hope the RV Industry gets ahold of this report because it's pretty clear to us that there seems to be a pretty big disconnect between what this industry is making and what real RVers want.
Earlier this week, we asked a simple question on our RV Lifestyle Social Media accounts: What features do you want in your next RV?
The response, from our RV Lifestyle Group, our RV Lifestyle Facebook Page, our RV Lifestyle YouTube community and our @rvlifestylemike Instagram followers was immediate, detailed, and well-informed.
We had nearly 300 responses to that question, and more are still coming in.
But from those responses we seen some clear trends.
Here are the 10 things RVers say are the most important RV features they want in their next RV:
* Four-season capabilities, with things like heated tanks
* Lithium batteries for coach power
* Solar panels
* Office space for remote workers
* Ducted air conditioners
* Comfortable beds
* Stand up dry showers
* More storage space
* Pet friendly amenities
* Quality workmanship
They said lots more, so much more we are going to share many of the messages we received on our voicemail line (586-372-6990) and we are going to print some selected text responses we received, too. From them all, we picked 54 responses that reflect on just about every single aspect of an RV.
Clearly, consumers today know what they want. And clearly, many think the industry doesn’t know what they want.
That’s why we think it so important for these voices from Real RVers be heard.
Let’s start with some of the audio messages we received:
Roger says local service and creature comforts count the most
"Hi Mike and Jennifer, this is Rodger Stambaugh in response to your request about what we look for most in a RV. Number one is local maintenance of the chassis in the RV build. We recently ordered a Wonder we may have to change to a Unity because the local Ford dealer need not maintain that chassis of the Wonder. Next is a large storage area and a full-time bed. So in the unit they would go with the island bed, which has almost the same storage as The Wonder of rear twin beds. Next would be a dry restroom with a separate shower, and ease of dried driving, so it'd be a van chassis."
Rod & Carla want a four-season camper
"This is Rod and Carla in Topeka Kansas. We recently bought our first travel trailer a couple of months ago. Haven't even been out yet because of COVID but getting ready, learning a lot, reading a lot and learned a lot from this site. One thing on the table we will look for when we upgrade would be a four-season camper. We didn't even know there was such a thing before now. I think we would have to have that for starters. Enjoy camping"
Reese wants an AWD Class C
"Hi, Mike and Jen. My name is Reese with my husband is Mike and we're calling from Chesterfield, Virginia. We watch your Ask Us Anything show every Sunday night and have watched probably all videos over and over. Our next RV is actually our first RV and we have spent months and months during the shutdown, or lockdown, studying all the different models.
Customer ReviewsSee All
A must listen!
If you enjoy the outdoors and traveling, this podcast is a MUST to subscribe to! Mike and Jennifer are so professional and informative while being entertaining, positive, and motivating to get out on the road. I don’t even own an RV, but enjoy dreaming along with them as they tell stories, give tips, and share their knowledgeable insite. They are trustworthy and you feel like you get to know them. Plus, they bring in excellent interviews and reports! Very enjoyable and a relaxing escape for the everyday life.
Great RV tips
Love listening to Mike And Jennifer’s news, tips, recommendations, and suggestions for RVers.
My only complaint is that the transition music/sound between segments is significantly louder than the segments and our ears get blasted each time. Wish they were modulated so we didn’t have to jump to turn the sound down each time they come up.
Enjoy your Podcast!
I was wondering if you have ever thought of going to Beaver Island Michigan?