You are strong, independent, and willing to take on anything. If solo van life is your next great adventure, be prepared for a lot of questions. One of the most frequent concerns from friends and family will likely be your safety. From unknown roads to strangers and wild animals to unpredictable weather, the subject isn’t unwarranted. Luckily, there are many things you can do to stay safer during your travels.

Learn Your Van

Educate yourself on Van Base, and learn your vehicle. Recognizing the location and normal function of all your major systems will help you identify abnormalities. Early error detection can lead to repairs before a safety issue occurs. Knowing your van’s limitations is also important. What is your fuel economy, max speed, and turning radius? Make sure you know how your rig handles various terrain before you venture into rural areas. It is a great idea to do some trial runs close to home or with a trusted partner before taking off on your own.

Follow Your Instinct

When you are traveling alone, you have no one to rely on except yourself. You should follow your natural instinct. If your gut tells you an area seems unsafe, the weather is turning, your van isn’t running quite right, or a stranger is off, trust it. Going against your instincts can put you in danger or cause undue stress. Life on the road often means you have no set agenda, so don’t be worried about delays or changes in itineraries. 

Travel During the Day

While driving through the night may help you avoid heavy traffic, traveling during the day is safer. Unknown roads may present twists, turns, and drop-offs that you can’t see in the dark. Not only does darkness put you at a higher risk of a roadside accident, but it also means an increased chance no one will witness your mistake and call for help. The probability of getting lost grows at night as well. Rural areas can disrupt GPS signals, so you must visually find each turn. Other overnight risks include tiredness and potentially nefarious people.

Traveling Alone
Travel at day, park at night. Photo by Alex Perez on

Make Acquaintances

Traveling solo doesn’t mean you have to be a social recluse. You can and should make acquaintances along your way. It might not be wise to advertise that you’re alone, but doing meet and greets with fellow campers has a few benefits. At best, it might connect you with a new friend who can provide useful information, companionship, and assistance in case of emergencies. Even if you don’t build close relationships, announcing your presence to others means they are more likely to notice if you go missing.

Maintain Communication 

You should do your best to maintain good communication while on the road. Cell phone and internet connections will probably get spotty, but take advantage when you do have access. It is smart to let trusted friends and family know where your adventures are taking you and what activities you’re participating in. If something goes awry, time may be of the essence. Without an approximate location and time stamp, you could be very hard to find if you break down or get lost on a trail.

Observe Your Surroundings

Whether you’re boondocking in the wilderness, overnighting in a parking lot, or visiting a rest park, always be observant of your surroundings. If you think something or someone looks out of place, they probably are. You can be mindful of people, natural anomalies, and wild animals. Taking note of an area also aids you in making an escape plan. 

Prepare To Protect Yourself

It might seem like overkill, but it’s a good idea to be ready to protect yourself. You could consider taking some standard self-defense classes or carrying a weapon. Mace is a great choice because it is lightweight, easy to use, and effective. You can use it to ward off dangerous people or animals like bears and cougars. If you elect to carry any sort of protection, make sure you are well-educated in how it works. High-pressure situations will make clear thinking more difficult, and misuse of a weapon can increase the danger.

Stay Stocked

Before you head into the wild, make sure your van is well-stocked. Depending on where you are traveling, grocery stores and gas stations may be in short supply. You don’t want to become stranded without any of the essentials. It’s vital to carry plenty of food, water, medicine, and fuel. 

Carry an Emergency Kit

Your van should be outfitted with a complete emergency kit. The essentials should cover both you and your vehicle. It is wise to have a first aid kit, all-weather clothing, flares, toiletries, flashlight, and blankets for yourself. You may also want a fire extinguisher, jack, spare tire, chains, and jumper cables for your van. Generators can be quite pricey, but they are extremely helpful in emergency situations. Solar, gas, or propane generators can be portable or built into your rig.

Select Good Campsites

You can stay safer by selecting good campsites. Make sure you don’t stay the night in any restricted or dangerous areas. Camping where you shouldn’t be may bring an alarming late-night knock on your door. Don’t forget to be mindful of natural risks around your camp, like flooding rivers, falling boulders, or dead trees. 

Taking on van life alone can exciting, but it isn’t without potential danger. Follow these tips to stay safe and make the most of your adventures.

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