11 SOLO FEMALE SAFETY TIPS WHILE TRAVELLING IN A VAN
To get started, travelling in a van is such an amazing venture, but no matter where we go, knowing these eleven safety tips are essential.
After going through a couple of situations with van life, I’m able to offer and show you some safety tips on how to avoid them for yourself!
However, I did want to mention; don’t allow the fear to take over, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Fun fact: Did you know that traveling is both spelled with one L and two Ls?
1. KEEP YOUR DOORS LOCKED
Getting started, this one can seem like a rather obvious one, but some of us can get a little too comfortable in places until something happens.
Let’s be preventative and keep our doors locked, yes, every single one of them! HA!
Let me give you a short reason why; Once, my sister was driving in a town and a woman ran at her vehicle while she was at a stoplight and tried to go for my nephew. Needless to say, she now locks her doors all the time! Can you imagine if they had tried to jump in the vehicle?! NOPE!
Lock the doors often, but also have a backup key and a road service available, as a plan, for when you get too good at locking the doors and even lock yourself in! HA!
2. USE AN ALARM
Let me start off by saying, this takes so much fear and anxiety away. For one thing, just knowing that there is an extra layer of protection on top of the walls of the van is an amazing feeling.
For my van, the alarm is so sensitive that if a heavy or loud vehicle drives past it goes off, I love that it’s that sensitive though.
The reason it’s great is that if someone tried to pull the handle to get in or even pops up my hood it goes off, knowing my van and I have an extra layer of defense is great!
3. HAVE WINDOW COVERS
In case of peeping toms or even nosey people, having window covers or privacy curtains is great.
This is especially great if you have lots of technology or valuables in your van as well. There’s nothing you want to prevent more than someone, with grabbing hands, that sees an opportunity.
Another great option is also getting windows tinted to have that extra layer of privacy, but each state has different laws on the allowed tinting level. So, just make sure to check the laws in the areas you reside in most.
4. HAVE A TOILET
This one may surprise you, but having a toilet in the van is actually great for emergencies. Allow me to give you some examples of why having a toilet while travelling in a van is great..
Firstly, an emergency may be getting out to pee in the middle of the night, while you’re lethargic and more vulnerable.
Secondly, avoiding those gas stations in the middle of nowhere that are just disgusting and unguarded can come with unknowing circumstances.
This one is a bit less pressing, but still worth mentioning.
Interested in knowing my toilet set up?
5. BE PREPARED TO PROTECT YOURSELF
In case of an attack of any kind, it’s always best to be ready. I’m not saying an attack is going to happen, but what if it does?
There are always unknown situations, but what if we are faced with those situations and nothing to protect ourselves?
Let’s not be in that position, and have everything ready, just in case!
Undoubtedly, some of the best options to have are:
- Mace / Bear Spray
I did want to warn to be careful with this o
These are amazing but have to be stored in their cases. The reason that I mention that is because if the prongs get misaligned over time, it won’t work. However, if stored properly, they do work well.
- Bat/Hammer/Cast Iron
So, have you ever watched Tangled? It’s a great Disney movie with a princess that protects herself from a robber, using a cast iron pan! How funny and smart is that?
Furthermore, a good knife could be anything from a sharp kitchen knife to a ridged tactical knife. There is no shortage of options here!
For one thing, a belt is great because this allows more distance between us and the attacker. Also, having a heavy-duty buckle will make more of an impact.
- Sharp Keys
Did you ever take the defensive driving course? Well, they teach us to hold a key between our fingers tightly on the way to our vehicle. Fortunately, sharp keys don’t require us to get a whole new object, but they do require a short-range to be able to make an impact.
6. TRUST YOUR INTUITION AND INSTINCTS
If something ever feels unsafe, never risk it. The best thing about travelling in a van is that we can drive away from a situation that makes us uncomfortable, or that we don’t like.
However, be aware of what is making you uncomfortable and pay attention to the red flags. Fortunately, we have gotten to learn them over our lifetime and
The amazing thing about us is that we can learn and gain insight overtime, fairly easily.
Some red flags to keep an eye out for are:
- Someone who asks too many personal questions
- Someone who seems nervous or paranoid
- People arguing, yelling, or cursing at each other
- A vehicle parked closely for long periods of time
- Vehicles that drive by slowly and often
It’s important to pay attention to your instincts, don’t ignore it. Best case, you were a little paranoid. Worst case, you were right, and you made the safest decision to leave.
Also remember, you can always go to a police station or fire station if you feel unsafe, or you’re being followed.
I’ve been faced with a few uncomfortable situations in my life, but only one so far, while traveling in a van. I had found a nice boondocking spot (free camping spot– especially great while travelling in a van), and was greeted by an older man.
Firstly, he was very welcoming and had a van as well, so we had something in common. A few moments later, he asked to show me an amazing and local spot nearby. I then looked and saw that it was extremely public and occupied, I wouldn’t have entertained the idea if it wasn’t.
I also made sure my phones charged, grabbed my mace, got my knife, and sent my coordinates to a friend. However, I love meeting people, but I’m always prepared! Heck, I backpack, so I’m prepared for a bear even!
Shortly after, I decided to walk to explore it, things started to become unsettling.
Oftentimes, fellow travelers are nice and welcoming, but sometimes there are just things that can’t be ignored.
Later, he started asking a lot of personal questions, getting closer to me, and touching my shoulders for long periods of time, as well as trying to get me to stay longer. I decided those flags were enough, and I knew it was time to leave.
I was planning on sleeping in the area, but felt uncomfortable and unsure of my safety.
As I started making my way to leave, he started trying to look inside the van, and open the doors to the van, and asking me if I was staying. I immediately said no, he had a shocked and frustrated face, and I started to back away slowly and wished him the best.
I jetted off fast and said I had to arrive at some ‘fake’ place by a certain time. Act fast!
7. HAVE A BACKUP PLAN
Always have an escape, or a backup plan! Having this comes in handy more than you know, especially after that story I had mentioned earlier.
I must say that none of us are perfect, and we will run into those moments that will test us, but knowing when to leave or having a backup plan is always a reassuring feeling to almost any situation.
One example of a backup plan, with travelling in a van could be having other sleeping arrangements in place and lined up, if the other one fails/doesn’t work out.
8. ACT CONFIDENT
The less you look helpless, the less likely you’re going to attract a predator.
If you look lost, people will feel more invited to try to talk to you, and “help” you.
Typically, looking helpless can look lost, anxious, scared, or even restless. Instead of looking helpless, try to rock confidence, almost in the sense of fake it till you make it!
For instance, the best ways to be confident are to keep your head high, stand tall, and have strong eye contact. You’ve got this!
9. CHOOSE SLEEPING SPOTS WISELY
Of course, when choosing sleeping spots, while travelling in a van, check around to make sure it’s a safe choice. The best way to make sure it’s a good choice is to start off by avoiding an area with many hiding spots, finding a well-lit space, and following laws of course.
Also, avoid an area with lots of garbage or abandoned vehicles, that area is full of disrespectful people that won’t respect your vehicle or your space.
This picture was taken at one of the campsites I pulled up to. The site was filled with trash and feces. After parking here and seeing the condition, a man continuously drove past and yelled at me to clean it up, although none of it was mine. YIKES!
I wouldn’t want those people disrespecting my property, so I left!
10. BE AWARE
Firstly, being aware is an amazing skill always, beyond traveling in a van.
Of course, the best ways to do this is to check mirrors regularly, make sure nobody is following, and keep your eyes open to your surroundings.
Generally, attackers are looking for people who aren’t paying attention, so that they can go unnoticed.
11. BE NICE
This one is tricky to get just right, but with practice it will become second nature. Start off by being nice but not inviting, if you’re too nice people will want to be around your energy.
Not only that, but have strong boundaries without being mean. Physiologically, if someone is too rude, sometimes people can get hurt or angry and become irrational. So, it’s best to stay safe with a bit of kindness with boundaries.
Let me give you an example; Someone approached me while I was working at a café (Free Internet and good food) by myself and approached me, I kindly shook their hand and said hello and entertained the conversation for about 15 minutes. However, after those 15 minutes were over, I simply explained that I was on a time deadline, apologized, and wished them a good day.
Sometimes, it can be nice to get those social needs met, while traveling in a van, but there is a time and place for everything. In other words, maybe save it for the hairdresser or when talking on the phone with family and friends.
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