While the term “solo female van van life” is in the trend, doing it for real seems scary and overwhelming. However I’ve met so many solo female van lifers on the road from Canada to Central America. They are doing just fine on their own traveling and living full time in campervans and most of their stories are very exciting and liberating to listen to.
All these countries are much more peaceful and safe than you think, but there is a very small chance you get in real trouble and it would be a lie that absolutely no one has experienced anything sketchy being on the road by themselves.
In this post, we share the safety tips I’ve learned from being on the road for 2+years and things I learned from fellow female van lifers.
Choose Your Camping Spot Wisely
Choosing a camping spot is always a tricky one. It’s difficult to know if a place is safe or not until you actually arrive. And if you arrive too late in the day, it might not be feasible to relocate.
Make sure to use popular (and frequently updated) camping apps, like iOverlander, where you can read about other people’s experiences. Once you find a place to camp, be sure to arrive there before sunset, because it allows you to learn about your new surroundings better than when coming at night time.
Preferably it’s better to camp in the place with other campers, especially traveling families and couples. Say hi and have a little chat, if possible. This is to let them know who you are and that you’re also camping in the area. This is so that they’ll be able to help you if any bad situation happens.
Also Read: How To Camp For Free During Van Life
DO NOT DRIVE At Night
I can’t stress this enough. From my 2+ years of experience in van life, nothing good happens when driving after sunset. Less lights on the road and fewer people out and about. It’s just generally not a good time to be venturing in a new, unknown area.
This is especially true when driving in rural areas, where I camp most of the time.
Driving at night also drastically increases the chances of hitting wild animals (or people!), getting into accidents, and/or being stuck without many other cars around to help you out.
We often say that van life is a marathon, not a sprint. So if you don’t think you can get to your destination before sunset, just find a safe place to park and make the rest of the drive the next day. Most times it’s just not worth the risk.
Communicate With Family & Friends Frequently
Regardless of how safe the next destination seems, it’s always a good idea to tell your family and friends about your whereabouts and where you plan to travel next.
It also helps to keep in frequent communication with your people back home. Talk about your daily lives and/or activities. That way they’ll know your routines and can notice right away when something is unusual and they can check up on you.
If you take your safety more seriously, your family can install GPS apps on their phone to always know your location. We use the Life360 app.
Keep Your Doors Locked & Cover All Windows
You probably already know and are sick of hearing it, but don’t forget to lock your doors. (Even I still forget sometimes, so I’m TELLING YOU AGAIN)
Also, use Reflectix or blackout curtain to cover the windows and doors for protecting your privacy, or else your van will become like a lighthouse from the outside with all the lights on, especially in the dark.
To make covers for my RV windows, I cut a piece of Reflectix, sized to fit my window, and super-glued a fabric on top to hide the top foil layer from sight when inside.
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Prepare Your Van To Driving Before Going To Bed
If you end up being in an urgent “GTFO” situation, you’ll need to drive out right away. ASAP.
But to do this, you’ll need to make sure the front of your van is ready to drive. So make sure you van’s cab is clear and not cluttered with stuff. Also, keep the ignition key somewhere easily accessible, but noticeable from the outside.
It also helps to make sure any, and all loose belongings in the back of the van is put away before you sleep. You don’t want fragile items crashing to the floor as you’re making your hasty getaway.
Don't Go Out To Pee At Night
Whether you’re parked overnight at a Walmart, truck stop, or even a highway rest area where a bathroom is available, it’s not a smart idea to step out of your vehicle in the middle of the night.
If you have a toilet inside your van, great! If you don’t, like us, the best solution is to use a pee funnel with a plastic bottle. I’ve been using this funnel for over 2 years and it’s absolutely a van life essential.
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Travel With A Dog
If you do happen to have a dog, then that’s great! A camper van is the best way to travel with a dog. Not only are they adorable and fluffy to cuddle with at night, they can also be a great companion and guardian.
And since dogs are (roughly) a bajillion times more sensitive with sounds and smells, they’re much more aware or any activities that are going on outside of your van.
But more than anything, having a dog simply encourages strangers with ill-intent not to approach you. And as a solo female van life traveler, that’s what you want.
Take basic self defense classes
You don’t necessarily have to be a superwoman to fight against an assailant. However, it’s a smart idea to learn the basics of self-defense to be able to get away from attackers.
I took a Krav Maga lesson for a month which taught me to respond and release myself quickly from attackers.
I recommend Krav Maga especially to women because big muscles and power are not required. The self-defense program is well designed for all types of people to protect themselves efficiently.
Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately!) I’ve never had to use the tricks I’ve learned so far on this road trip, but it gives me peace of mind.
Final Thoughts About Van Life Safety Tips For Females
Every type of travel has risks, but the most important thing is to enjoy your time with basic precautions. Wherever you go, if you don’t go looking for trouble yourself, you’ll be unlikely to find trouble. Despite the stories you might hear on the news or social media, van life is an incredibly safe way to travel for solo females.
However, nothing is guaranteed in life and you never know what will happen in the future, even if you follow all the tips above. At the end of the day, you need to trust your gut. If you feel even slightly uncomfortable or weird, don’t stay and just get out of there no matter what. And don’t hesitate to ask for help.
You must not forget that one of the beautiful parts about traveling is to meet people, and most people are genuinely kind and are willing to help if you are in trouble.
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