Is Van Life Safe?
Is Van Life Safe?
Is van life safe? We hear it all the time. How dangerous it is to put ourselves “out there” for all of the world. To expose ourselves to the many different cultures and areas we know so little about.
So, is van life safe after all? Well, really, that all depends on what your personal idea of “safe” is and what precautions you take to make sure your idea of safety is achieved.
Van life is as safe as driving down to the local grocery store in the neighborhood you grew up in.
It is as safe as camping in your backyard as a kid with your cousins or neighbors.
Is van life safe? Yes, as long as you are smart and proactive to keep yourself and your valuables protected.
A Little Bit of Common Sense Goes A Long Way
I have known some of the smartest people with IQs as high as they go. Yet, I would not entrust them with my dog for an afternoon.
At the same time, some of my dearest friends, relatives, and acquaintances may not have the most polished education resume’, but I would entrust them with my life and all that I own.
Common sense is that intangible quality that separates the survivors from the victims. The backbone of a society is built upon the individuals who possess a common sense that allows them to survive, excel and keep going.
Mind you, there is a wide spectrum of degrees of common sense. It is natural and innate in some individuals and for many, it is a learned trait that can be honed. I will say though, that a natural or innate degree of common sense can not be rivaled by any level of learned common sense. For the most part, you either have it, or you don’t.
Understanding how people, society, and things in general work are the core foundation to possessing common sense.
Whenever we go to a restaurant, Don will always sit with his eyes facing the entrance to the restaurant.
Whenever we go into a store, theater, or building, we immediately look for an alternate exit.
While walking around in public, we are always keeping our eyes on other people, what is happening and if something goes sideways, we have a plan of action.
It’s not paranoia. Trust me, I have seen paranoia. It’s not a social anxiety disorder.
It’s common sense with situational awareness. Situational awareness, like common sense, can be learned and honed.
For most individuals who naturally exhibit this gift, it is more like an instinct. It is natural and flows through the cognitive process like water down a stream.
Trust Your Gut
Have you ever been in a situation or place where things just didn’t feel right? Have you ever met someone that just creeps you out?
It is your innate defense mechanism. Your third eye. Your “gut” is telling you, nay, it is warning you that you are not where you should be at that precise moment. I is simply your intuition trying to communicate to you. Sometimes our consciousness doesn’t link up with our unconscious.
Your intuition is a subconscious awareness of things your conscious mind may not comprehend or recognize.
We should all heed and listen to our “gut” feeling when it is trying to warn us.
Next time you get that “funny” feeling, listen to it and understand the ramifications if you were to ignore it.
Is Van Life Safe? Road Safety Essentials To Keep You Safe
Back to the basic and core purpose of this post. Is van life safe?
Besides your intuition, common sense, and situational awareness, there are some very simple and practical items that will keep you and your van safe in many if not most situations you might encounter while traveling.
Here is a blog post we wrote on 53 Van Life Essentials.
One of the most common trouble situations someone can get themselves into is directly linked to mechanical issues with their van. If you are stranded either in a city, on the highway, or a remote wilderness road, being able to correct your situation is imperative.
Vehicle Insurance, AAA or Good Sam Roadside Assistance
Having a roadside assistance insurance policy is a very good idea. For the average driver of a personal vehicle, 12,000 to 15,000 miles per year is considered normal use.
For an RV, skoolie, or van, those numbers mean nothing. It really depends on how long you prefer to sit still. Regardless of how many miles you are racking up in your van, eventually, something is likely to occur where you may need some assistance.
That roadside assistance can get you off the busy highway, out of the secluded forest, or busy suburban neighborhood.
Road flares are great to have when there is poor weather and your van is sitting on the side of the road or highway.
Whether it is at night, foggy weather, or raining, two to three road flares evenly spaced behind your van can warn surrounding traffic that your van is sitting still and that you need assistance.
Road triangles, like road flares, are a great tool to keep you safe while experiencing van life. While flares are great for inclement weather and nighttime use, triangles are also good for nighttime use, but perfect for daytime use as well.
Road triangles are good for other situations as well. Perhaps you are too tired to continue driving or are not feeling well and must pull over for your own safety.
Putting out a few road triangles to let traffic know you are sitting still and on the side of the road is good courtesy to other drivers. It could also mean the difference between someone seeing your vehicle and someone not paying attention and crashing into your vehicle.
Assuming the typical van lifer spends more time driving than the typical driver, it is safe to say that the potential for seeing and hitting wild animals is increased.
Deer whistles are a small device intended to warn deer and some other animals of your vehicle approaching.
If you have ever seen the damage a deer, elk or moose can do to a vehicle, you would not hesitate to install these $10 devices on the front of your bumper.
There are some arguments as to the effectiveness of deer whistles. We see it like this, if there is a chance it will warn an animal of our approach, then it is worth the few dollars.
How many times have you or someone you know left the headlights on after parking your or their vehicle? Getting in your van, turning the key to the “on” position only to hear the dreaded “click, click, click” is enough to make you wanna spit.
Having a dead battery in your van is the epitome of being stranded. Having a set of jumper cables at your disposal is at least half of the equation to get you up and running again.
All you have to do is find a good samaritan to give you a quick jump.
Besides having a dead or weak battery, running out of fuel is one of the most hopeless, embarrassing, and frustrating experiences a van lifer can imagine.
Having a “Jerry can” available to you will allow you at the very least to walk ahead or back to the nearest service station for a few gallons of fuel.
Why are they called “Jerry” cans? It is slang for Germans. They originated in WWII from the Germans who used them as additional fuel for long hauls during battle.
They have been adopted and modified and are now a mainstream item used by the public all over the world.
Flat Tire Repair Kit
Have you ever woken up and went to drive your vehicle only to find you had a flat tire? Perhaps your tire isn’t completely flat, but it is obviously losing air and going flat.
Chances are, you have run over and embedded a nail, screw, or some other kind of sharp object into your tire, and it is slowly leaking air.
Fear not! You may not have to replace the tire. Besides being expensive to replace, the time to get into a shop that can do it right away, you would be advised to replace the opposite side tire at the same time to ensure a smooth balanced drive going forward.
Who has time for that?
Introducing the tire repair kit. It is very efficient, practical, and easy to use.
Simply locate the nail or object embedded into your tire. Remove the object, but then quickly, replace the object with the sticky tire replacement plug.
Voila, you have a tire that is almost as good as new.
Know How To Change A Flat Tire
Perhaps your tire is beyond a quick and easy fix? You may need to change the tire with your spare tire.
Have you ever changed a tire on a vehicle?
Do you know where your spare tire is located?
Do you know where the tire changing kit/tools are located?
If you answered “No” to any of those questions, I would highly suggest that you spend a day, yes a day, practicing changing a tire on your van.
Do it a few times so you are comfortable with the process and procedure. Changing your van tire in the comfort and safety of your or a friend’s driveway is a world of difference from changing it on the side of a busy highway.
Imagine 18 wheelers driving past you at 70 – 80 miles per hour and only a few feet from you when they pass.
You want to be comfortable, confident, and quick with the tire-changing process. Practice makes perfect in this situation.
If you are anything like us, camping off-road in a remote section of BLM or dispersed camping land is your thing. The serenity and rawness of the landscape just take us back hundreds of years when the land and the area were innocent and unspoiled.
One of the safety hazards of camping off the beaten path is the potential for getting stuck in loose gravel, sand, dirt, or even worse…mud.
To save yourself from getting into trouble by cutting down a sapling to pry up under your tires, a good set of reusable traction boards is an invaluable item in this situation.
Cell Phone Booster
One of the toughest adjustments and frustration points for us when we first started traveling full time was having a good, reliable, and solid cell phone signal.
Even if you do not work while traveling full time and require a good solid data connection via cell signal, having a cell phone connection is definitely a safety requirement.
As long as there is a glimmer of signal available, having a cell signal booster is many splendid things! The ability to use your cell phone GPS, or make a phone call in the event of an emergency or unforeseen event could make the difference between a tragic event and just an unfortunate one.
Breaker breaker. I used to love to talk on the CB radio in my mom’s car when I was a kid. I loved it so much, she purchased a home-based CB radio for me.
My radio handle was The Blue Lamb. Really have no idea where that name came from in my brain, but I chose it and used it all the same.
Having a CB radio installed in your rig is a nice addition to a cell phone when you need information about an area or need assistance when you are in very remote areas.
Being able to talk to locals on a citizens band airwave can be very valuable to information.
Tire chains are one of those items you never think about until you are in a high elevation area and the unexpected snowstorm or blizzard drops down on you.
We were in Colorado last Fall going to visit a friend in Lake Granby when we found ourselves going up the mountain pass over to Winter Park. All of a sudden, we were in the middle of an October white-out snowstorm at 10,000 feet.
No chains for our skoolie, no chains for our Kia that Nat was driving behind the bus.
It was quite terrifying to say the least.
I had never driven the bus or anything that big and heavy in the snow before. Nat had never driven in the snow before…..period!
Besides the whiteout visibility, our conditions of the heavy wet snow falling and freezing up our windshield wipers, the drop on the side of the two-lane road was well over 500 feet.
The moral of the story here is if you are ever going to be in an area where it snows, regardless of the time of the year, get some snow/tire chains for your personal safety and peace of mind.
Yes, van life can be quite romantic at times. Especially at night after sharing a bottle of wine….or a bottle of peanut butter whiskey.
The candles for this specific reason however are not to help you get your freak on. The candles I am talking about here are for warmth and survival.
Let’s imagine you are stalled or stuck somewhere in very very cold weather and there is no way to reach anyone to be rescued for several hours.
You can’t run your engine for heat because the snow is now above your tailpipe and that would be a risk of carbon dioxide asphyxiation.
That Chinese diesel heater you never installed because you didn’t think you would be spending enough time in cold weather to make it worth it….well, you wish you had it now.
If you have a candle or two, light it up, place it in the middle of your van and bundle up. The heat generated from that small candle could mean the difference between hypothermia or not.
Emergency Thermal Blanket
This is not your grandma’s 12v heated blanket. This is a survival emergency thermal blanket. It is used for one-time emergency use. This, in addition to a candle, can help your body retain vital warmth.
It is small and inexpensive. Get a couple if you don’t already carry them with you.
Remember when we were talking about getting stuck in sand or mud a few minutes ago?
If you don’t have a set of traction boards, at the very least, have a portable shovel.
Use it to help dig your tires out of loose dirt, sand, or gravel. This could be the difference between stuck and abandoned or an expensive tow from a service provider.
Portable Air Compressor
This is a very smart and versatile tool to have in your van. The space it takes up is well worth it!
One thing to do when off-road is to deflate your tires a little. This will give you better traction in soft dirt, sand, or gravel. Of course, when you get back on the asphalt road, you would want your tires to be properly inflated again.
Having a portable air compressor will allow this and potentially keep you safe from getting stuck off-road.
Hatchet, Ax, or Portable Saw
Having something on hand to easily or at the least, effectively, cut wood can be a lifesaver….literally!
Being able to cut or chop some wood for a fire if stranded somewhere. Cut down a sapling to help your tires get traction on soft ground. Removing a downed tree across the road to keep you moving forward is sometimes essential to you.
Having an adequate and dependable toolset is another essential item you do not want to be without.
Want to know how to stay safe while living the van life? Have a good toolset with you that will address small or minor repairs as well as everyday tasks.
Being stranded on the side of the highway for something as simple as a loose battery connection can be embarrassing. It can also be expensive. Getting your vehicle towed to a shop only to have the mechanic repair you up in less than 10 minutes.
Keep in Touch With Your Engine and Maintenance (Know Your Van)
Knowing your vehicle’s engine rhythm, road frequency, and overall “feel” is as vital to having a safe van life experience as being in tune with your body and staying healthy.
You don’t have to be a certified mechanic to know when something isn’t quite right with your vehicle.
Tire vibration, the voltage output of your alternator, ease of acceleration rates, and how your brakes sound is all good indicators of how well maintained your vehicle is.
Don’t just rely on the lit-up icons on your dashboard to know how well your van is operating.
If something is off, get it checked out at the nearest certified and qualified mechanic before it turns into something more serious that could leave you stranded in a very remote location.
Now that would be unsafe!
Wrap up: Is Van Life Safe? Road Safety Essentials To Keep You Safe During Van Life
Keeping yourself safe while living van life is not difficult. As long as you have the right tools, the proper perspective, mindset, and your wits about you.
Never sacrifice quality and space for safety equipment that will ensure you have the right tools in any given situation that will make your van life safe and worry-free.
Van Safety – Is Van Life Safe?
Now that we have had a comprehensive discussion on van safety equipment, let’s discuss how to secure and keep your actual van safe from others who might want to take what belongs to you. Your home, your van, your adventure mobile!
According to Transpoco Automatics, the top three most stolen vans in 2019/2020 were:
- Mercedes Sprinter 313 CDI
- Mercedes Sprinter 314 CDI
- Ford Transit 350
It doesn’t matter how safe and secure you think an area is. There is someone everywhere who wants what you have. They most likely want it for a different reason than what you want it, but they want it. They will try to take it if given a reasonable chance of doing so.
We are going to talk about some simple and effective ways to keep your van safe from being stolen.
For several years I managed a group of claims investigators in Texas for Progressive and Nationwide Insurance. I have personally witnessed just about every possible scenario for a vehicle being stolen. This includes RVs, motorcycles, boats, commercial vehicles, and just about every year’s make and model of cars, trucks, and vans.
It is surprising how simple some people make it for thieves to take your stuff.
This is a great idea if you are prone to misplacing your keys or leaving them inside of your locked vehicle.
The biggest problem with hiding a key to your tiny house on wheels is that people who steal vehicles for a living, know-all and I do mean ALL of the hiding places for a hide-a-way key.
Not only does this give them direct access to all of your personal and valuable belongings, but, it allows them to take your home wherever they want to “chop” up and sell as parts on the vehicle black market.
Do yourself a favor and do not “hide” a key anywhere in your vehicle. Keep a spare set in your carry bag, fanny pack, wallet, purse, or somewhere else on your person.
Battery Block Switch
This is such a simple device to install on your vehicle that could save your vehicle from being stolen. A battery block switch is a simple device that is typically installed in your engine compartment or the front cab of your vehicle.
The most commonly stolen van in 2019/2020 according to Transpoco were:
- Mercedes Sprinter 313 CDI
- Mercedes Sprinter 314 CDI
- Ford Transit 3500
Having a battery block switch along with other theft deterrent systems in place will make even the seasoned auto thief move on to an easier target more times than not.
Steering Wheel Lock
No doubt you have seen one of these devices, especially if you watch television. The commercials for these devices were very popular in the 1990s and early 2000s.
It is a simple device that locks onto and through your steering wheel. It makes it virtually impossible to steer the vehicle.
Just seeing one of these on your steering wheel is usually enough of a deterrent to most auto thieves.
GPS Tracking Device
Let’s imagine, that regardless of the safety features and devices you have installed and incorporated into your van conversion, it is stolen anyway.
Usually, you might as well go ahead and report it to the police and immediately contact your insurance company.
If you have properly installed a GPS tracking device on your vehicle, you can pull it up on your mobile app or computer and see exactly where your vehicle is.
Contact the police, and let them recover your van for you.
Wrap Up: Is Van Life Safe? Van Safety
Regardless of how much money you have invested into your tiny home on wheels, it is prudent to take some proactive measures to protect your property.
You don’t have to spend lots of money, just be smart. Use some common sense when leaving your vehicle parked. Utilize some kind of device to discourage thieves from turning you into a victim.
Is Van Life Safe? Personal Safety
Referring back to the beginning of this article, keeping yourself and your family members safe is essential to a positive van life experience.
Most of the topics we will discuss in this section all steer right back to being Smart and using Common Sense in all situations.
It would be nice and great if all people were honest, had integrity, and put others before themselves in all situations. But alas, life is not just rainbows, butterflies, and unicorns.
There are some bad people in this world, and life experience has taught us that they are always all around us. You can’t tell a “bad” person from a “good” person by the way they look, talk, dress, or act.
Is Van Life Safe? Never Pick up Hitchhikers
It amazes me that this is even a topic of discussion in 2021. With the number of missing person reports growing every day, the degree of human trafficking, and the mental state of too many people around this world, it is a real gamble to either pick up a stranger on the side of the road or get into the car with someone you don’t know. (other than Lyft or Uber of course)
Most of us have been in a situation where we had no other alternative but to walk to get to our destination. Doesn’t matter if it is a mile or 1000 miles. Having to walk somewhere can be the pits!
It should not matter if it is a female or male. How attractive, well-dressed, innocent looking or whatever variable that might make you believe they are a harmless and “good” person.
Just don’t do it. It isn’t worth the risk. They likely have a cell phone and if they are in real need, they can call 911 or a friend or family member.
Is Van Life Safe? Stay Alert at Truck Stops and Rest Areas
We have spent our fair share of nights and mid-trip naps at truck stops and rest areas during our last two years of traveling.
Truck stops like Buc Ee’s, Loves, Pilot, Flying J, and many more are great places to stop for fuel, get a snack or a meal and even grab a power nap while on the road.
Keep your wits about you though. Truck stops are notorious for illegal businesses like prostitution, drug smuggling, human trafficking, and common thievery.
Many transient people congregate at truck stops because people are usually hyper-focused on using the bathroom, getting fuel and food, and preoccupied with their final destination.
Most people consider stopping at a truck stop no different than stopping at their local convenience store in their hometown.
Truck stops are worlds apart from the neighborhood convenience store. Criminal predators are constantly patrolling and lurking at large truck stops. Scoping and waiting to spot someone leaving their vehicle alone and unlocked.
They may not steal your vehicle altogether, but it only takes a minute or two for a seasoned veteran thief to take many valuable items out of your vehicle or even worse, stow themselves away inside of your vehicle while you are inside paying for your snacks, fuel or using the restroom.
When possible, try to pay at the pump. Use your own bathroom in your rig. Eat and drink the snacks you already have stored in your van.
If you are traveling with children, never let them out of your reach or eyesight.
Truck stops and rest areas are very popular for sex trafficking due to their remote locations. The fact that the entire customer base is moving on quickly makes it a prime location for opportunists.
There is no need to avoid truck stops or rest areas and no need to be paranoid about them. Just be smart and keep your wits about you.
Is Van Life Safe? Always Lock Your Doors
Regardless of how much of a badass you are, or think you are, there is always someone bigger, stronger, and more badass than you! When you are traveling, it is a very good idea to keep your doors locked.
This is especially true if you are stealth camping. The general public could easily and unassumingly walk up to your vehicle.
Having your car doors locked is the first and most reliable way to deter someone with bad intentions from trying to enter your vehicle without your permission.
Is Van Life Safe? Do Not Advertise Unnecessarily
We are guilty of it from time to time ourselves. Most of us are very proud of our van build, skoolie build, and even premanufactured RV. There is nothing wrong with having some genuine pride and wanting to show the world what an awesome tiny house on wheels you have.
The potential problem however is some people who might be listening to you may want what you have. Especially if you are traveling alone.
It’s always a good idea to not post on YouTube or social media channels where you are in real-time. If you do post videos and social media posts, think about doing so with a two-week lag.
In other words, if you are at Devil’s Tower, think twice about doing a live stream. Cut your video, but do not post it until you are a couple of weeks down the road somewhere.
If you are a single traveler, don’t let others know you are by yourself.
No donut you are more than capable to protect and defend yourself, but why advertise to so many people who may be looking for a weakness or opportunity to take advantage of your situation.
Is Van Life Safe? Stay As Stealthy As Possible
If you are trying to park somewhere overnight in “stealth mode”, then there is no reason to crank your favorite song up on Spotify or break out the awning and lawn chairs.
Stealth camping can be safe and unassuming to others nearby. You, however, must remain in stealth mode.
Remember, keep your bearings about you and have a high acuity of situational awareness. This is very useful when trying to stealth camp.
Check In with the local Law Enforcement
It may be a good idea in certain areas or circumstances to let the local law enforcement know that you are stealth camping. Of course, you would only want to do this in an area where stealth or overnight camping is legal.
This would or most likely would, eliminate the 3:00 in the morning knock on your window or door.
If the local law enforcement knows you are in the area stealth camping, it may eliminate a visit from them should someone report your vehicle as suspicious.
Also, on an even more positive note, the law enforcement officer may be more likely to “keep an eye out” for you while he is patrolling the area.
Have a fire/lock Safe
When you are a full-time nomadic traveler, you are likely carrying around everything, or mostly everything you own.
A few of those things would be critical documents such as a passport, social security card or information, birth certificate, vehicle title, etc…
Having these important documents protected from potential thieves or worse, a vehicle fire, could save you lots of time, money, and frustration in an unfortunate event.
If you travel with a firearm, please be sure to have it properly and safely secured and stored at all times.
Owning a firearm carried certain responsibilities. Never allowing it to get into the wrong hands. Being sure that it is stored unloaded and safe. Also, following state laws regarding possession and transportation of a firearm.
Having your gun or guns locked and stored in a safe and inconspicuous place is vital for your and others’ safety.
Jewelry or valuable items.
Perhaps you like to travel with a substantial amount of cash. Perhaps you travel with very nice jewelry. Having a safe or at least a very private location in your van would be a great and smart idea.
Carry a Weapon of Some Type
This is not legal advice. We are not suggesting that having a weapon on your body or available to you is a good decision for you. Always obey and adhere to local, state, and federal laws pertaining to any type of offensive or defensive weapon(s).
Having a weapon on your body or available to you could be the difference between you being a statistical victim or a survivor.
As we mentioned above, there are some bad people in this world and they do not give two flips about you and your happy life. If you have something they want, they will do whatever they can to get it.
I was talking to a fellow nomadic traveler on social media earlier today. She is a single female traveling and camping in a 5th wheel trailer. She was at a dispersed camping area when a fella drove up to her spot and parked. Didn’t get out of his vehicle or say anything, just trolled up on her and parked.
Well, with her gun at her side and her bear spray on her other hip, she approached and had a stern and assertive conversation with the man. The short version is, he left as he had no reason or explanation for parking where he did.
The point is, you never know when you wake up or go to bed what the next few hours may hold for you.
You never know what other people’s intentions or agendas are.
So, do yourself a favor, take whatever proactive steps you can to prevent yourself from being a victim to a bad person.
It doesn’t matter if you are traveling alone or with a caravan, always be alert and ready for the unexpected.
Now, this doesn’t mean you are nervous, paranoid, and have anxiety about what might happen. Not at all, relax, and enjoy your journey, just be smart and aware of your surroundings.
Never pull a weapon of any kind on another person unless you feel your life is in imminent danger. Even then, if you are able to retreat and escape, do so before standing your ground*
Keep Your Vans Interior Out of Sight
When at all possible, especially in the evening hours when it is dark outside, keep the inside lights hidden.
Whether you are dispersed, BLM, or stealth camping, keeping the inside of your van discreet and subdued with light will ensure no one or nothing from the outside will be attracted to the light or movements inside of your van.
There are many products you can purchase or make that will keep the inside lights of your van conversion hidden and invisible from the outside world.
Don’t Keep expensive or Desirable Items in Visible Eyesight to Others
Don’t keep electronic items you may use while driving up on your windshield for people to see. (radar detector, dash-cam, GPS, etc…)
If you use the front seat as an office, do not keep your computer, laptop, or tablet visible.
The more plain and simple your van appears to others, the less interesting and curious they will be about it.
Allow Your Dog to Bark!
If you travel with a four-legged friend, chances are, at one point or another, he or she will hear something that will trigger them to bark.
Even if it is a small and not intimidating dog at all, allowing them to bark alerts a potentially dangerous person that their presence has been detected, and they are likely to move on.
They are likely to move especially if your dog has a deep, menacing, and intimidating bark.
Light Up the Outside with Solar Motion Detecting Lights
Have a solar-powered motion detecting light on the outside of your van. If someone was to approach your van at night, then the light will automatically come on and likely to scare and deter the person from continuing their agenda with your van.
When camping in the forests, deserts, or other wild and remote places, there are certain preventive steps you can take to ensure you and your property stays safe.
When you are miles and miles away from the closest medical facility, being smart and proactive could mean the difference between life and death.
We don’t mean to be or sound so dramatic here, but, after all, you are living in the wilderness where animals and nature play by their own rules.
If you do not know and play by their rules, you could find yourself on the short end of the stick.
Carry Bear Spray
Depending on where you are camping, there could be black bears, grizzly bears, brown bears, or even polar bears if you are far enough north.
We’ve been around bears before. A majority of the time bears just want to eat, sleep and get from one place to another undisturbed and on their own.
Occasionally, a bear will become curious if you give them something to be curious about. They will investigate what it is you have left out in the open.
If a bear does approach you, and especially if a bear rises up on his hind legs while facing you, do not, I repeat, DO NOT turn and run. Even if the bear had no intention of harming you, by turning and running, the bear’s natural instinct to pursue will kick in. You have now become the hunted and the bear is your predator.
If the bear catches you, fall flat on the ground. Cover the back of your neck with your hands and arms.
If you have your can of Bear Spray, stand your ground firmly.
Be sure the bear spray is armed (the safety is not on).
Point at the bear’s head only when the bear starts to charge you.
Do not stop spraying until the bear has retreated!
The way to avoid a bear is never to leave food or dirty dishes near your campsite.
Bears have an extremely acute ability to smell.
When hiking, be sure to have a bell on your boots or body that will make a jingling sound. Sing a song or talk while hiking if you have a hiking partner.
Most negative bear encounters occur when someone “sneaks” intentionally or unintentionally, upon a bear and surprises it.
Bears do not like surprises!
Bears do not like to get “spooked”.
So, be smart and be proactive while camping or hiking in bear country.
Wolves, Coyotes, Cougars, Birds of Prey, and Venomous Snakes
When camping in the wilderness, you are going to be sharing space with animals that hunt other animals.
This is especially true if you have a small pet that you travel with.
Do a little research on the internet. Go by the local Ranger station for information on area predators and dangerous wildlife.
By doing your own homework, you will be better prepared to protect yourself and those you are traveling with.
If there is someone you regularly keep in touch with, a family member or close friend, always be sure they know where you are, how they can find you, and what your travel itinerary is.
Worst-case scenario: If you go missing for any reason at all, they would know where the last place you were and the next place you are supposed to be.
If you have small children or small pets, do not let them wander out of eyesight from you! Do not allow them to wander too far ahead or behind you when exploring or hiking.
You never know when a predator is stalking you until it is usually too late.
Always, if Possible, Let Someone Know Where You Are.
Have a Cell Phone Booster
When you are camping and spending time in very remote areas, cell phone signals are not always the best.
If you need to make an emergency phone call or get into some kind of trouble, having a reliable signal is paramount to a happy outcome.
There are many types of cell phone signal boosters available and are easy and simple to install.
Most require a minimal cell phone signal to operate. There are products that can pull a signal from the closest tower to you.
It is a device that is worth having if you plan on spending time in the backcountry.
Be Weary of Slopes, Creeks, and Dry Creek Beds
Whether you are camping in the mountains, prairie, or the desert, keep an eye on the weather patterns, if your campsite is next to or even close to a creek, dry creek bed (in the desert) or you are camping on the side of a large hill or mountain.
Flash floods are no joke. Mother Nature is beautiful but can be very unforgiving. Take the time to get to know her and respect her.
Do Not Reserve or “Claim” Your Campsite with Valuable Items
When you are camping, it is common to leave your campsite for a few hours occasionally.
Perhaps you have to go to the nearest town for supplies or just want to go for an excursion.
Leaving a few things around your campsite to show that it is “occupied” is a great idea. Just know and understand that there are people who will scout empty or unoccupied campsites for valuables.
Leaving an inexpensive tent on the property is a good idea. This lets others know that someone is currently camping at this spot and they will likely move on.
Leaving expensive camp chairs, expensive showers,s or screen tents just might be enough temptation for someone to convince themselves that you left these items on purpose and have abandoned them.
When you get back to camp and find them missing, do not be surprised if someone realized the value of those items.
Not everyone has the same scruples, morals, and integrity as us.
Recognize and Understand Your Skills and Limitations.
By knowing, understanding, and acknowledging your own skills and limitations, you will save yourself from a lot of mistakes, danger, and anxiety.
If you have the knowledge, physical ability, and equipment to hike a very steep mountain, then, by all means, go for it.
If you know how to build and maintain a campfire without setting the entire forest on fire, then have at it.
Just do not try to do things you have seen in movies, on Youtube, or any other place without having the proper skills and equipment to safely do so.
Be Smart! Be Aware. Have Fun. Push Yourself.
Being a nomadic traveler is the best life we have experienced so far!
The best way to enjoy van life, skoolie life, RV life, or a nomadic traveler, in general, is to do so with the understanding and knowledge that you are responsible for your own safety, happiness and story.
If you have questions about any of what we have discussed here, we would love to hear from you! Place a comment below and we will get back to you promptly, or reach out to us on IG Here.