VanLife Safety & Securityhelping VanLifers Stay Safe!
None of this information should deter you in any way from enjoying your adventures. It is only here for informational purposes, is extremely rare, and provided here so you could be prepared, in the unlikely event that anything ever happens while you are out there.
Safety is something I think about, all the time. Being a technology professional, I have always followed what kinds of technology can help with our safety, and have been surprised how nobody is mentioning much about these great solutions. I will include those here, and hopefully, you will find them very helpful too! There are some great videos from travelers on how they stay safe, but after hundreds of hours of watching YouTube videos, I have not found one that includes everything. Since I already spend way too much time online watching this stuff, I figured I would offer my help by combining everything I have learned into one place, and hopefully, you will share with anyone else that could use this information. Please be sure to share any of your own tips that you might have, so I can make this the most complete VanLife Safety resource available.
I believe that anyone who carries a smartphone should consider using the app called “Parachute”
Everyone has their own ideas, and comfort levels with how to deal with intruders, whether they be animals or humans. Here are some of the items suggested by other vanlifers, and I will include some of the better “VanLife Safety” videos that I have come across.
A couple of very unique solutions invented here
The video is a great explanation of most of the suggested methods but does not cover all the items listed below. I did use his suggestions to help create this list.
Activities.-Situational Awareness-Every safety class I ever went to always put situational awareness at the top of the list. Just doing some pre-park planning and observation, can help decide if it is a safe location. Trust your gut.
Phone signal-Check for cell signal, test internet if you need that for work. Make sure the cell phone is charged.
Avoid rowdy people/Locations-Mostly just ignore until they leave but in the case of someone trying to break in, just make noise so they know someone is in there. I saw a girl who used her phone to mimic having a conversation with a man that deterred some intruders!
Install “Anti-Smash Window Film” on windows. Not only just for smash and grab crimes!
Check for weather risks that could cause dead trees falling, flood risks, and other hazards.
Park before dark.
Pick out a place of safety or a fall-back spot.
Plan out a safety route/location should you need to bug out.
Are there any camping signs or parking restrictions?
If you get challenged? Don’t open windows if someone comes knocking unless it is the police, and they can be called to verify.
Plan maneuvering room-Parking without being blocked, don’t park where an out-of-control vehicle might hit you, don’t block anyone.
Be stealthy if possible-Depends on location. For example, if you are in the city or boondocking?
Sleep in one location and do your activities in another.
Prep for sleeping-Get everything ready for sleeping before you even arrive at the sleep location.
Car keys in the same place every time
Make sure the driver’s seat is clear and easy to access if needed and try it before you need it.
Scary Noises – this is one area where outside cameras and/or security lights can help tremendously.
Some folks have recommended not carrying a gun because, in their country, it shows premeditation. I don’t agree with this one, but even then, the circumstances must be extreme for this to be warranted.
When parking where other travelers like truckers park, be considerate and do not block their access
Driving off-Leave enough space behind your parking space, when reversing into your chosen space, so that you can backup and still get out if anything is blocking you.
Time to react-Follow a few of these before reacting.
Imposters? Some hoodlums simply want to annoy you and they should just be ignored, and if they keep it up, retire to your backup location.
Finding parking locations. Apps are the best for this and/or talking to locals.
Apps are a wealth of additional info and are covered in detail elsewhere
Find your own on Google, Apple, or Bing maps.
Don’t litter, don’t dump anything inappropriately, don’t outstay your welcome.
Is it safe – observe, Daylight vs night, look for pubs or other venues where rowdy people might be around Risk assessment – drugs, trash – indicators of bad activity?
Use a safety app such as “Parachute” reviewed here to help you in an emergency.
Weapon of some kind – could be everything from a sword to a gun.
Pepper Spray and/or Pepper Ball gun.
Leave men’s shoes outside for ladies, or items in the cab, so they don’t think you are alone.
GPS tracker device and/or app.
Security Cameras. This could include a strobing flashlight and/or outside security lights
Alarms, lights, whistles.