Summer-Proofing Your RV Medication Storage
Summer is the prime travel season for a lot of RV enthusiasts. It’s the perfect time to visit the beach, enjoy wildflowers, and bask under the sun. Unfortunately, this season can cause issues if you travel with refrigerated medications.
Many medications require refrigeration to maintain their potency and stability. Refrigeration often helps to preserve the drug’s efficacy and to prevent degradation that can be caused by higher temperatures. The need for refrigeration can depend on the medication’s chemical structure, formulation, or intended use.
Common categories of medications that may require refrigeration include:
- Biologics: These are drugs derived from living organisms, and they often require cold storage. Examples include many insulin preparations and certain drugs used to treat autoimmune diseases.
- Certain antibiotics: Some liquid antibiotics, particularly those that are reconstituted (mixed with water before dispensing), may need refrigeration to ensure stability and potency.
- Some eye drops: Especially those used for glaucoma or certain infections.
- Compounded medications: Some specialty medications that are custom-made by a pharmacist (compounded) might need to be refrigerated.
- Recombinant protein drugs: These are drugs that have proteins and peptides as their active ingredients, like some fertility drugs.
- Certain hormone therapies: For example, some progesterone suppositories are stored in the fridge.
If a medication requires refrigeration, it’s essential to maintain the proper storage conditions. Failure to do so can affect the medication’s efficacy and, in some cases, might make it unsafe to use. Always refer to the medication’s label or package insert for storage instructions, and when in doubt, consult with a pharmacist.
Fortunately, there are several things you can do to keep your medication at the correct temperature, even if you’re away from home. RVs make camping with medication much easier. Check out the tips below to learn how you can better prepare for your next summer trip. Don’t let the heat ruin your plans!
Methods to keep medication cool
This first option will be the most convenient choice for RVers. Almost every camper on the market has a built-in refrigerator (and usually a freezer too). These can operate while the vehicle is in motion and when it’s parked.
You can easily store your temperature-sensitive medications in the refrigerator and go about your business as usual. Just be sure to secure them in place because things can sometimes slide around in these fridges.
Make sure the temperature is also set to the correct range for storage (usually between 36-46 degrees Fahrenheit). A refrigerator/freezer thermometer can help you ensure you’re in the proper temperature range.
Cooler (electric or traditional)
Next up, you can use a cooler to create a nice cold storage space for medications. This is a handy option for campers who prefer to rough it a bit more! If you don’t have access to a fridge, fill up a cooler with ice and nestle your items inside. Just be sure to use waterproof packaging in case the ice bag leaks.
If you have access to a power outlet, you can also use an electric cooler. These are like mini-fridges that you can take outside! They’re handy because you won’t have to keep refilling the ice as it melts. Although they have the potential to drain your RV power while it’s parked, so watch your battery carefully.
Insulated medical bag
For travelers who want to take their medications on their adventures, an insulated medical bag is the way to go. There are plenty of great bags that were designed for storing temperature-sensitive materials. Many of them have a freezable gel substance, while others have space for removable ice packs.
These bags are also handy because they’re portable. You can bring all the essentials with you, no matter where you go. The ALLCAMP Cooler Travel Case is a good option for RVers. It’s designed for insulin storage, but it’ll work well for any type of medication you need to protect.
If you don’t want to spend money on a fancy model, you could also use an insulated lunchbox, a backpack with a built-in cooler, or another portable option.
Sometimes you’ll want to add extra security within your RV to keep your medications secure. A safe is a good place to store anything dangerous or valuable. Although many safes are designed to be fireproof, they can still get hot inside after a while.
If you place your medications in one of the cooling options above and then store it, they will be totally secure. You could also install a lock on your RV refrigerator if you don’t want to worry about the ice melting. Prescription drugs may be stolen if you leave them out in the open, so it’s important to take precautions.
Helpful practices for traveling with medication
Keep medications in a cool place while parked
It’s no secret that cars and RVs can get pretty hot when you park them in the sun. Overheated interiors can be a real problem during the summer. A good cooler or insulated bag can help you maintain a steady temperature for a while, but even they have limits.
Sometimes, it’s safer to bring your medications outside once you park. Keep them in a cool, shady spot. When you’re going to travel somewhere that’s cooler than your RV (like an air-conditioned building), bring the bag with you.
Choose RV parks with electrical hookups
If you keep your medications inside your RV refrigerator, you need to ensure that you always have a steady source of power. Boondocking is fun, but you really have to watch your energy usage (even if you have solar panels). So if you’re concerned about medication, try to stay at RV parks that offer electrical hookups.
This ensures that you can run your refrigerator all day and all night. If you have a freezer or ice maker, it also helps you create a steady supply of ice for a cooler or travel bag.
Choose campgrounds with ice for sale
Speaking of ice, you never want to run out of the stuff if you’re relying on a cooler. Ice can only maintain its temperature for so long before melting into lukewarm water. You need a constant supply of fresh ice if this is your situation.
Luckily, a lot of campgrounds now sell ice. You can pick some up on-site without venturing too far from your campsite. Stock up and keep a spare ice pack or two at the ready, just in case. If you can’t find a place that sells ice anywhere close, you could also use bags of frozen vegetables in a pinch.
Opt for rentals or hotels with fridges
Full-time RVers sometimes need a break from the open road. If you decide to stay in a rental cabin or hotel, bring your meds inside and store them in the refrigerator. Nearly every hotel offers a mini-fridge these days, but it’s always a good idea to check before you stay there.
Label meds and place them in waterproof bags
It can be tough to keep track of all your different medications, especially if they’re packaged in similar bottles. If the labels are too small to read, place them in a waterproof bag and clearly label the outside of it. That way, you can tell what’s inside at a glance.
Keep the original packaging
Speaking of labels, you should never remove or cover the existing packaging of your medications. Even if it’s hard for you to read, the label contains vital information that a pharmacist or doctor could decipher.
Keeping your medications in their original packaging will also make it easier to keep things organized. If you need to pass through TSA or security checkpoints, you could also get into legal trouble if the drugs are unmarked.
Always have a backup plan
Finally, we all know that accidents happen, especially if you travel a lot. Sometimes your medication might spill, go above the recommended temperature, or get lost. When this happens, be sure you have a backup plan in place. Try to keep extra medication on hand for emergencies and stay close to trusted pharmacies so you can get a refill.
Get tips from other RVers
One of the best parts about RVing is engaging with the community of traveling enthusiasts. iRV2 forums allow folks to chat with other RVers online, and get other perspectives on everything RVing, including products, destinations, RV mods, and more.
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