One Van No Plan: Safety Lessons

How To Stay Safe When You’re Full-Timing

One Van No Plan: Safety Lessons

I’ve always been a bit obsessed with intruders. Even in the daytime, thoughts of home invasion are never far from my mind. So living in a van was the obvious choice. 

It’s made my obsession with intruders a little worse than it was before, but not as much as I thought it would. I’m in the van with my wife, my cat and dog. And no, he’s not a good guard dog. In fact, when people knock on the door at 1 in the morning he doesn’t even wake up.So it’s safe to say that as an attack dog, he’s not much use. The cat though, she’s a feisty one. 

But having literally no other rooms to escape to has made me rethink my entire intruder protocol. Even down to the weapons we keep and who we park near. I’m writing this from lock down in the UK, so parking hasn’t been a factor for over 2 months now. But there are a few basic safety rules that can help keep you safe when you’re living the vanlife dream. 

Tell Someone Where You Are

This is a basic rule and should be followed by everyone everywhere. It doesn’t matter  if there’s 1 of you or 5 of you. If nobody knows where anyone is, if something bad happens then you’re screwed. Tell a couple of people where you’re staying and when you’re leaving. I don’t care if it’s not adventurous or in the vanlife spirit. Someone else should know where you are. Even if they’re 3000 miles away, if something happens to you, or you go missing, then they have a place to start. 

Trust Your Gut

If something doesn’t seem right, don’t stay there. There’s something in your brain telling you that it’s not safe, don’t ignore that gut instinct. 

Only Open The Door For The Police

You only have to open the door for police officers. And even then you should ask to see their I.D badges first. If someone knocks on your door, never answer it without checking who it is. We have a clear panel in our door so we can see people, but always check who it is. 

Shoes, Keys, Torch and a Weapon

Your shoes and keys should always be easily accessible in case you need to make a fast exit. You’ll need the torch to find them. Some people recommend getting a big, heavy torch to double as a weapon. I don’t have the strength or height to hit someone over the head, but if you do, then it saves space and money. 

Your choice of protective weapon needs to fully comply with all the laws in your country or state. Having illegal weapons can land you in prison. Don’t risk it. There are plenty of good, effective weapons that are perfectly legal. You should always try to escape a dangerous situation before using your weapon. Driving away is the greatest form of self defence a vanlifer can have. But if your life is being threatened, then you need to be prepared to use your weapon. One of the weapons I have is a crossbow. Nothing too fancy and too heavy. Just a 180 fps bow. I’ve only ever had to show it once, and it did the trick. A scary looking weapon can act as a deterrent and can stop trouble before it even starts. 

Never Rely On Anyone Else To Protect You

It’s great if they try. But don’t rely on it. There are a couple of guys up where we’re stuck right now. I think if it really went down then they would protect us, but we can’t rely on that. You have to always be prepared to protect yourself and never get complacent about it. 

Window/Personal Alarms

You can get alarms for windows and doors that have a pin that comes out. And when it does, be prepared for a hell of a fucking racket. They’re kind of like rape alarms. And don’t listen to those people who say nobody listens to them. Yes, they do. Not only that, the attacker won’t appreciate all the extra attention that the alarm will cause. Be aware that when triggered, these alarms can produce sounds that can cause permanent damage to your hearing.

Keep Your Phone Charged

Always make sure your phone has enough battery to make an emergency call. 

Don’t Get Paranoid

Not everyone is out to get you. But some people will if you give them the chance. Don’t give them the opportunity.

travel advice
Claire Raymond
Claire Raymond
Read next: Camping > Hotels
Claire Raymond

I have been a writer for 14 years now, I'll figure it out one day.

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