3 Recovery Tools to Keep in Your RV
A professional athlete’s guide to recovering from a long day of adventure.
By: Abby Holcombe

Abby Holcombe is a professional kayaker who is currently traveling in a Winnebago Revel Van and Hike travel trailer combo with her parents, Peter and Kathy Holcombe.

As a professional kayaker with a history of multiple sports related injuries, I’ve learned that recovery is everything. Whether I’ve been paddling all day for a week straight with sore shoulders and arms, or I’ve driven across the U.S. in my Winnebago with stiff legs and a sore back, recovery is equally as important in both instances. 

Over the years, as both a kayaker and van lifer, I’ve found some tips and tricks that have helped me tremendously in preventing sore muscles and recuperating after a long day on the road.

3 Tools for Recovery in an RV of Any Size

1. Acupressure Mat

Acupressure mats are probably the simplest recovery tool, as all you really have to do is lie, sit, or stand on them anywhere from 5 to 45 minutes. Seems pretty simple, but how does it work? 

The acupressure mat has hundreds of spiky, plastic points covering the top of the mat. The spiky points don’t puncture the skin, making the acupressure mat less daunting and more convenient than traditional acupuncture treatments. 

The acupressure mat is especially convenient as most full-time travelers are unlikely to have a ‘local’ or trusted acupuncture treatment facility. Instead of puncturing the skin, the plastic spikes apply pressure to certain points helping relieve tension and inflammation. 

Personally, I like to lie on my back on the acupressure mat on the floor in my Winnebago, as I find that is the most effective position to relax my sore muscles from a long day driving. 

I have the Spoonk Acupressure Mat from Amazon, but any other brand works as well, some even come with pillows to help with neck pain.

2. Tennis Ball/Massage Ball

Abby uses the front of her Revel to work out her back after a long day 4x4ing across Arizona.

My other go-to is a tennis ball, or any other massage ball. This is another simple and affordable option that is even more versatile than the acupressure mat. I especially like this recovery tool, because it is so small and convenient that you can bring and use it anywhere - so it easily fits into your Winnebago! 

I personally like to use this on my upper back and hips, but this is a really versatile product to use wherever you need. A tennis ball is the easiest option as you can find it at any sporting goods store, but there are also more massage-focused products that can cool, heat, vibrate, and more, with a large range of different textures and sizes.

You can use it standing up against the outside of your Winnebago or, my favorite, lying down on the ground or inside the van. As a kayaker, and van lifer, I really struggle with posture and upper back pain, so I like to lie on my back with the ball in various positions around my shoulder blades. 

There are countless other ways to use a tennis or massage ball to help your aching muscles, so make sure to research some other safe positions to help you.

3. TENS Machine

My last go-to product for recovery is a TENS Machine. TENS stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. This is probably the most expensive and intimidating of the products that I travel with, but don’t let the name scare you off because it is equally as beneficial and important in my recovery routine. 

TENS units are generally small, battery-operated devices that deliver electrical impulses through electrodes placed on skin, generally in trigger points or places that are sore. There are a variety of TENS units on the market with varying features, so research and purchase one that will work best for you!

I use mine for my lower back, hips, and shoulders but you can place the electrodes just about anywhere for your specific needs. My personal TENS unit came with a booklet of placement recommendations for a variety of aches, pains, ailments, or conditions.

These are just a few tools that have helped me throughout the past eight years of continuous full-time travel in our Winnebago and have helped me tremendously through all of our lengthy and continuous drives across the U.S. and Europe and I hope they will help you too! Stay tuned for a part two, highlighting my favorite tools for strength training on the road!

And as always, make sure to consult with a medical professional before using any of these products.


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