Road ID: ID for Boaters Too

By Carolyn Shearlock © 2011 • all rights reserved

If you were sick or injured while ashore, would you have ID? And would that ID provide a way for first responders to contact someone on your boat? Or know what meds you take? Your medical conditions -- or drug allergies? Road ID provides all this and more!

Have you ever thought about what would happen if you had an accident, heart attack, stroke, broken bone or even just fainted when you’re ashore while cruising?

  • Would you have any ID on you?  If you’re swimming, hiking or exploring, chances are you won’t. Kids are particularly likely not to have ID, something to think about if they are old enough to be off the boat on their own.
  • If you do have ID, would it connect you to your boat? Would first responders or helpful bystanders know who to contact?  Your driver’s license or even your passport doesn’t really help with this.
  • If you’re unconscious, would medical personnel know of any pertinent medical history or what medications you take?
  • Perhaps even more importantly, would medical personnel know of any (potentially fatal) drug allergies?
  • If your significant other was with you or contacted, would they remember all the info — medical history, medications, allergies, insurance and more — in the stress of the moment?
  • Do you have kids or pets onboard that would have to be taken care of in an emergency?
  • And if a pet got separated, would it have any ID that would connect it to you on the boat?

I’m not trying to be gloom and doom here, but these were concerns that Dave and I had while cruising.  We all hope we never have an emergency, but they do happen.

And none of our regular ID — were we to be carrying it, which we often didn’t — connected us to the boat, to each other, to next of kin, to our medical histories or drug allergies.  And if we were both incapacitated, would anyone know to check on Paz?

Our first solution was to get dog tags engraved with our name, the name of the boat, our blood type, Dave’s brother’s phone number as our emergency contact (not only does he always have his cell phone with him, he’s a doctor) and for me, a “no penicillin” note.  Better than nothing, but still missing a lot.

Three years ago, we discovered a much better system:  RoadID.

RoadID is like a liferaft.  You hope you never use it for its intended purpose.  But if you should need it, you’d be really glad you had it.

RoadID was originally designed by and for elite cyclists (road racers that do things like the Tour de France) both during training rides and competitions.  Since then, it has spread to other sports and activities, such as hikers and overseas travelers. And originally, if offered 6 lines of text similar to our dog tags — although it offered it on wrist bands, ankle bands and shoe tags as well.

Road ID Interactive

The big improvement came with Road ID Interactive.  This is what Dave and I have and what I highly recommend.  As explained by RoadID:

Road ID Interactive allows you to build a fully updateable, secure Emergency Response Profile (ERP) that is available to first responders 24 hours a day 365 days a year. You can still customize the first 1-3 lines of an Interactive ID (depending on the model chosen). The last 4 lines, however, are reserved to provide instructions on how to access your ERP in an emergency situation.

The initial tag costs $15 to $30, depending on the style you choose, and includes the first year of membership in the ERP database.   Future years are $10 and you can opt for automatic renewal — helpful if you’re off cruising when it’s time to renew. Shipping is just $1.49 in the US and Canada and they offer worldwide shipping.  You can also buy one as a gift.

Here’s my wristband.  The blanked out line is Dave’s cell phone since we’re cruising in areas with cell coverage. And you can have more than one tag linked to the same data, if you want — say if you’re a part-year cruiser, you could have one with a cell number and one with a boat name. Dave has a “dog-tag” style one and there are several other styles. I wear mine 24/7 (except when “dressed up”) so I never have to remember to put it on.

If you were sick or injured while ashore, would you have ID? And would that ID provide a way for first responders to contact someone on your boat? Or know what meds you take? Your medical conditions -- or drug allergies? Road ID provides all this and more!

The plates are all stainless and they are laser engraved, with a lifetime guarantee.  The bands or neck chains may have to be replaced over time (mine is just over 3 years old and it’s almost time to replace the wrist band).  These will stand up to life aboard!

You can customize the first two lines to say anything you want, although they do give recommendations on the “Build Your ID” page.  They have several choices for the “For ID Information” line, plus you can create your own text if you are in a non-English speaking country (must use the English alphabet, though).  The phone number line has options for US toll-free, US regular (which can be called from anywhere in the world), Mexico, England, Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands. The serial number and PIN on the hidden side are what enable someone to get your information — either by phone or internet.

Your Emergency Response Profile contains all the info you might want someone to have in case of an emergency:

  • Vital Statistics: Name, date of birth, blood type and whether you’re an organ donor.
  • Photo: so they know it’s the right person!
  • Address: You can have multiple addresses, so you can have a “home” address, and even more than one “marina” address — be sure to include the boat name here!
  • ID info: There are spaces for insurance info, passport number and the like.
  • Emergency Contacts: You can list up to 5.
  • Physicians: Particularly helpful if you have any chronic conditions.
  • Medical Profile: Including allergies, prescription and over the counter medications, medical conditions and medical history.
  • Additional Info: There is a large space where you can add any info you wish about just about anything — we used it to provide info on overseas evacuation insurance, the dog (including instructions that if she has been injured, we’ll pay for vet care), and our living wills.

Admittedly it takes a bit of time to initially enter all the info — but you are in total control of what information is entered.  We make a point to review the info each year on our birthday to make sure that it’s up to date.

And now, Road ID offers tags for pets.  When we cruised, we simply had a standard dog tag made for Paz with “Yate Que Tal” instead of a phone number (she’ll have a “Barefoot Gal” tag when we’re on the new boat).  But if you want to provide more detailed info, this is an option.

To get your Road ID, you can click on any of the links on this page.  If you want to see a demo of the Road ID Interactive (unfortunately, it’s not available as a YouTube video that I can embed), click here or any link on this page, which will take you to Road ID’s home page.  Then click on “Products” on the left side of the screen.  In roughly the middle of the screen, you’ll see a box highlighting the Road ID Interactive with a blue button to “View a Demo of Road ID Interactive” — just click it.

If you don’t get Road ID, I hope you’ll at least think about the whole ID issue — and don’t just put it on a list to “get around to someday.”  Accidents and illnesses do happen.

Print Friendly
How to Copy

Do You Find The Boat Galley Useful?

You can support the site when you buy from Amazon by using the links on this site or clicking below. No extra cost to you!



  1. Candy on Facebook says:

    Another very useful posting-and I enjoy you non-galley posts just as much….so don’t ever hesitate to put them up too (I’m sure others enjoy/appreciate them as well).

    I had our boat name engraved on our dogs collar when we cruised on our old boat. that was pre cell phone days so I always worried about him getting separated from us in an accident situation but dumb me I never thought about how my husband and I needed a tag too!

    Thank you for sharing!

  2. Thank you for the information, we ordered ours yesterday.

  3. Super! Hope the info is never needed, but in case it is . . . makes me feel a lot better to know I’ve always got ID with me! -Carolyn

  4. I have several of these tags-

    Local set with several phone numbers of people to contact if I get run off the road when on my bike or hit by a car…

    Foreign Travel set with nationality and international phone numbers

    Cruising set with Ship’s name and phone number (yes ship has a phone!)

    All include my name, blood type and medications I am allergic to.

    I dont want to be a Jane Doe in a foreign hospital!

  5. Candy Ann Williams on Facebook says:

    Great idea!

  6. Ann Snider on Facebook says:

    The saddest thing that still hurts me is that a friend of ours was running and didn’t feel well at the end of our block. He laid down on the lawn there and died. It took hours before they knew who he was because he had no ID on him but if I had gone by the scene, I would have known immediately and been able to help. But I saw the police and was in a hurry so went the other way. 🙁 I will never go anywhere now without some form of ID.

  7. Nita Knighton on Facebook says:

    Sorry I did not get to meet you at the boat show, we were there until 3 pm. This is , I have to say one of the most important pieces of info. Next year we will start our cruising life and I am definitely ordering these for us ! Thank You

  8. How awful! We’ve seen several situations that made us decide that we needed to have ID on us at all times. I really like the Road ID since it provides all the necessary contact and medical info. And there’s plenty of space to add info about our dog who might need medical care or just to be looked after.

  9. Leigh Ann Bishop Long on Facebook says:

    Easy to forget about the things that connect us to our loved one’s if we cannot.

  10. I have just ordered a set of RoadID after finding about them from your post. Cheers for that.

  11. Mich Myrick James on Facebook says:

    such a great idea and gift choice to start our close friends and keep them close!

  12. I did this trip in 1975. You will love it. No bugs.

  13. Your timing is perfect. We are just 10 weeks away from casting off with the Caribbean 1500 Rally to begin our circumnavigation. I am looking for affordable emergency health insurance for when we are cruising. These IDs are a good start. Can any of your readers recommend a source for insurance? I recall someone talking about Divers´ Insurance, but don´t know how to find it. Thanks

  14. Santa brought us each one last Christmas… 🙂 Also like knowing that we can let first responders know the dog needs tending to if she is not with us!

  15. Good idea

  16. I never thought of this till I bought two for my grandgirls for a vacation we were taking. Then I thought, instead of carrying my info with me where it can get wet and destroyed, get my own RoadID bracelet, for sailing around. So I did and now I wear mine all the time. Considering the medical bracelet for a more detailed medical information

    • Both Dave and I have a fair amount of medical info to include, plus info on boat and a dog (if she were hurt in the same accident, we’d want someone to know we’d pay for vet care, and if she wasn’t hurt, someone to take care of her), so the one with the online info is perfect.

  17. I have been using the Road ID iPhone app for road trips and I think it would be great for bikers and trail riders riding horses. It will send “e-crumbs” to someone as a link and they can track where you are. Now my husband doesn’t have to text me constantly “Where are you now?” when I’m on the road. 🙂 He also can give me a head’s up when there is traffic ahead.

    But I believe we should ALWAYS have ID on us and I wish a friend of mine had this when he went running and died on the run. He died just around the corner from me and when I drove out of the neighborhood, I went the other way because I saw the police activity. I wish I had gone by because I would have known immediately who it was – and not had his family stress for hours before they found out he had passed away. 🙁 Now I make sure that I have my phone on with my contact info easily seen (and with the Road ID app, it makes a home screen with this same info if you wish which I do).

  18. I just have to say that you are amazing. Each post is more useful than the last. Thank you for all that you do for us.

  19. I have one also – good thing to have especially out of the country

  20. Michele Dunn says:

    This is a great post! Thank you so much for the info. My husband & I are planning our trip to the Bahamas this fall. We will definitely be adding this to our “must get” list. Absoluteły love your site!!!

Add Your Thoughts