Megan Bryant is a passionate writer and traveler who has combined her two loves to help others fulfill their traveling dreams. When she isn’t writing, she’s usually curled up with her 3 Dachshunds and a good book or planning her next adventure—wherever that may be.
Traveling around America in a van or RV is one of the best ways to see the country. But even if you aren’t traveling alone, van and RV life can be dangerous, which is why it’s crucial to put the proper precautionary measures in place to ensure your—and your vans/RVs—safety.
For all the van lifers, RV livers, and even people heading off on a road trip, here are ways to stay safe while living on the road.
Install Door Locks
Most newer vans and RVs come with preinstalled door locks. But if your vehicle is an older model, you may need to install your own.
Locking your doors while you’re away from your vehicle and while you’re inside the vehicle prevents unwanted guests from entering your home on wheels. Make a habit of locking your doors and be sure to double-check the locks before going to bed.
Get an Alarm System
Similar to door locks, some RVs and vans come with preinstalled alarm systems. But if yours doesn’t, then it is fairly easy to install your own.
A van/RV alarm system works in the same way as a home alarm system, notifying you when someone trespasses on your motorhome. You can opt for a sound alarm, entry sensors, motion sensors, cameras, or night vision to keep your van safe from any intruders.
Install Blinds or Curtains
If you lived in a house, you wouldn’t leave your bedroom window open for passersby to look into. So why would you do it with an RV or van? When it comes to window curtains/blinds for your motorhome, there are two types you’ll want to invest in.
During the day, for example, you’ll want to have net or mesh curtains covering your windows. Net curtains still allow a fair amount of natural light into your living space. But they give you just the right amount of privacy.
Of a night time, however, you’ll want thick blackout curtains that cover the entire window. Not only will blackout curtains create a dark place for you to sleep, but they will also stop outsiders from looking into your home.
Keep Valuables Out of View
Leaving your phone, laptop, purse, or jewelry in plain sight of a window is just a robbery waiting to happen. Many RVers and van lifers invest in a safe that they then store in a disclosed area of their motorhome.
Safes are the best way to keep your valuables safe—the name kind of says it all. But if you have done the space or funds for one yet, then storing your valuables in a cupboard or under your mattress will be sufficient until you do invest in a better solution.
Always Tell a Loved One Where You’re Staying
One of the most important things you should do whenever you’re heading to a new destination is tell a loved one where you are. Send them a message containing the name of your destination and how long you expect the journey will take you. Then once you arrive, send them another message letting them know you got there safely and the exact location of your van/RV.
An extra precaution you can take is sharing your live location with a friend/family member so they can track your phone’s whereabouts at all times.
Carry a Self Defence Tool
Being out in the middle of nowhere can be scary—you never quite know who’s lurking around the corner. Carrying some form of self-defense tool, whether it’s a can of mace or a Taser, can give you peace of mind that you can fend off unwanted visitors if they happen to break into your home.
Park in Secure Areas
Sometimes secure parking areas aren’t available—especially if you’re in a remote location. But if you do have the option, try and park your vehicle near other vans/RVs, in well-lit areas, or in places where you know there are working security cameras.
Park Before It Gets Dark
Parking when it’s dark, is a huge mistake a lot of RVers and van lifers make. Granted, you can’t always control the time you arrive at your destination. But if you can, it’s best to arrive well before the sun sets so you can scope out the area and gather your surroundings.
Avoid Posting on Social Media
In this day and age, people are always posting their lives on social media. And I’m not saying you shouldn’t document your travels and share them with your loved ones. But only do it once you’ve left your current location.
For example, if you’re parked at Yosemite National Park, and you have some incredible photos of the waterfalls and valleys, don’t post them until you’ve reached your next stop.
If you posted the photos while you were still at Yosemite, then people on the internet—people you may not even know—can track you to the National Park and potentially cause harm to you. Sadly, not everyone in the world has a conscience.
Have Roadside Assistance Coverage
Breaking down is a worst-case scenario for many people living on the road. And unless you’re a highly trained mechanic who is carrying all the necessary tools to fix your van or RV, you’ll want to invest in full coverage roadside assistance.
Roadside assistance plans can help you with everything from fixing a flat tire to towing your car to a repair shop. And as you’re living in your vehicle, it’s definitely a must-have.
Don’t Drive at Night
There are two main reasons why driving at night is highly discouraged, and the first is poor driving visibility. Driving visibility at night is extremely limited—even with your full beams on—meaning you’ll have less time to react if something were to cross in front of your vehicle.
Additionally, you’re more likely to be tired at night, which can lead to you falling asleep at the wheel, putting yourself and those around you in danger.
Keep Your Phone Charged
Your phone is your lifeline while out on the road, so it is important to keep it charged at all times. Whether you need to call someone in the event of an emergency, tell your loved one you arrived safely at your destination, or just use the maps app to navigate where you need to go, keeping a charged phone is an essential part of van life/RV life.
Carry Break Down Essentials
Ideally, if you’re heading out on the road for long periods of time, then you want to know the basics of vehicle repair and have all the tools you’d need to get your motorhome back up and running.
Basic skills like changing a tire or jump-starting a battery can be extremely useful—especially if you’re parked up in a remote location.
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