“How long will you continue RVing?” Have you been asked this question? I have. More than once! I know the question comes from a genuine concern for my welfare, but I still take offense. (A little, anyway.) If you plan to keep RVing, there are important skills you need to maintain. Good news! There are easy ways to strengthen your skills.
When skills diminish
We purchased our first RV fifth wheel from an older guy whose wife observed: “He no longer enjoys driving the RV. He gets stressed out and so do I. It’s time to let this part of our life go.” I know I’m not ready to stop RVing, but I also realize that as I age my driving skills may begin to diminish. I love the RV lifestyle, but I also value safety—my own and that of others!
Skills to maintain to continue RVing
As we age, physical abilities can begin to diminish like vision, reaction time, strength and flexibility. Here are some ways to strengthen each ability and keep you safe—and on the road, longer.
- Have your eyes checked by a professional at least once a year.
- Wear sunglasses with ultraviolet protection. (The sun’s bright rays can increase the risk of cataracts.) Wear a wide brimmed hat, as well. Also use your RV’s windshield visors when driving in bright sun.
- Watch and limit your screen time (computer, TV, ipads, etc.). The 20-20-20 rule can be your guide. Every 20 minutes take a 20-second break and look at something about 20 feet away. This will help reduce eye strain.
- Eat foods rich in beta carotene, like sweet potatoes and carrots. These can help your night vision. Foods like salmon and oranges support all-around eye health. (Plus, they help your heart!)
- If driving your RV at night is difficult for you, don’t do it! Adjust your trip plans accordingly.
- If you experience eye strain or a headache (a symptom of eye strain) while driving, it’s time to stop for a while. Or ask your travel partner to drive. More on that here.
Reaction time (RT)
- Reaction time is critical when driving an RV. With a slow reaction time, it will be trickier to continue RVing. Take this online reaction time test. (It’s fun! And it just takes a couple of seconds.) Use the test to practice improving your RT.
- Know your medications and how they may affect you. Some meds cause drowsiness. Do yours?
- Try to get seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Never drive your RV (or any vehicle, for that matter) when you feel tired. When you begin to feel sleepy, safely pull over and rest.
- Work to reduce stress. It can negatively affect your reaction time. Try yoga, exercise, or deep breathing techniques to calm your nerves. This article may help you get started.
- Play video games or paddle ball-type games. (Really!)
- When driving, increase the space between you and the vehicle ahead of you.
- Plan your route ahead of time so you’ll know when to expect turns and lane changes.
- Minimize any distractions inside your vehicle (phones, pets, loud radio, and more).
- Plan your travel route to avoid city rush hours if you can.
- If your vehicle has safety equipment, use it! Rear and side cameras can help you anticipate the traffic around you.
Strength and flexibility
- First, check with your doctor to make sure it’s safe for you to exercise.
- The Centers for Disease Control advise that healthy adults get at least 2-5 hours of moderate-intensity exercise and at least 75 minutes of intensive exercise per week. Your exercise routine should include exercises for strength, range of motion, flexibility, and coordination.
- If you are not already exercising regularly, this video may be a good starting point.
Brain strength also plays a big part of staying safe while RVing. Many of us can increase our mental acuity by playing card games, learning new skills, and completing crossword and jigsaw puzzles. Strategy games like chess are also good for brain strengthening. Mental challenges can keep our brains flexible and young. Search online for “brain games” and you’ll find both free and subscription games. Give ‘em a try!
Take steps today to ensure you’ll still be on the road tomorrow!