Don’t let fear keep you from the open road, whether you’re planning on driving a car, camper van or RV. There are many steps you can take to keep yourself safe when you’re traveling in an RV.
These tips and tricks simply become that much more important when you’re on the road by yourself.
Here are 11 Safety Tips for Solo RVing.
Tip 1: Create the impression you aren’t alone
It is very unlikely you’re going to be attacked by a would-be murderer. The more likely scenario is that your RV will be robbed. Criminals prefer to enter empty homes and RVs to avoid being identified or shot by the resident.
One way to stay safe is to create the impression you aren’t alone. Put two camp chairs out instead of one. Put a second pair of shoes by the door that’s much larger than yours.
Or get a dog that stays in the RV. Then you really aren’t alone.
Tip 2: Have a way to protect yourself.
Have more than one way to protect yourself. You don’t know when someone may try to rob you or a dangerous animal enters the RV. Not everyone is comfortable carrying a gun, though we’ll say you must learn how to use it and maintain it in addition to being legally allowed to own it.
You could carry bear spray or pepper spray. Know how to use that before you rely on it. Carry a baseball bat. You might want to carry a glove as well so you can’t be accused of carrying an illegal weapon.
Tip 3: Protect your property.
Criminals are generally looking for a quick grab and go. Make yourself a harder target. Lock the door to the cab and the living quarters. Lock your storage bays. Consider putting locks on your generator and trailer hitches.
Criminals will often see this and decide to go for an easier target. Don’t leave heavy tools laying around the RV, either.
These could be used to break into the vehicle or just used to assault you.
Tip 4: Know how to maintain your vehicle.
Know how to maintain your vehicle. Know how to change your own tires, charge the batteries and empty the grey and black water tanks. Then you don’t have to rely on help that may not be available.
Make vehicle inspections part of your daily routine. Check the tire pressure before you hit the road. Check water and fuel levels before you reach a gas station where you can refill. Use checklists if necessary.
Have the RV serviced before you go on a trip to minimize the risk of a breakdown. Read every manual for every piece of equipment in the RV. Then you don’t have to wonder how you’ll start the oven or propane heater when the power is out.
Tip 5: Be aware and act accordingly.
Be aware of your surroundings. Does an area look dangerous? Don’t park there. Are you afraid you’re being followed? Don’t dismiss these concerns. Pull into a lit, occupied location like a gas station or restaurant parking lot. It is a legitimate reason to stop.
There are other people there if you need help. If the person follows you into that parking lot, you know there was a valid reason to be concerned and can now call the police.
Pay attention to the RV itself. Check the dashboard for warning lights. Listen for warning beeps and make sure you don’t smell gas from the oven or a leaking gas tank.
Check your tire pressure regularly, and check the tread depth monthly unless you think you hit something.
Tip 6: Park properly.
There are several variations of this advice. Park your RV so you can just pull forward and leave. Ideally, the RV should always be parked in the direction you’ll drive out of the parking lot or campground.
Then you don’t have to waste time doing a U-turn or back out in an emergency, whether you need to flee a wildfire or escape an angry stranger.
We’d also add the need to park safely every time. Have chock blocks to prevent your RV from rolling downhill. Buy chock blocks with ropes on them so you can quickly pull them up, toss them in the back and get going at a moment’s notice.
Tip 7: Have multiple means to signal for help.
Don’t rely on your cell phone, though that can be one way to call for help. (Note that you need to keep it charged to be of any use.) Have a van or RV alarm that could scare off intruders or warn you of someone getting in.
Consider carrying a siren or loud horn. Then you can signal for help even if your cell phone is dead, and the horn will attract those around you though you don’t have their contact information.
Tip 8: Don’t make yourself vulnerable.
We’re not going to tell you to put on an act and look self-confident if you aren’t. Instead, we’re going to advise you not to make yourself vulnerable.
Don’t rely on word-of-mouth directions to get from point A to point B. Have maps if you don’t have GPS and navigation software.
Don’t use drugs and alcohol on the road, since you’re most vulnerable to theft, rape and assault if you’re in an altered state surrounded by strangers.
Consider connecting with other RVers you’ve gotten to know and camping with them. Then you know who is in the parking space next to you, and they’ll tend to keep an eye on you and your possession.
Tip 9: Top off regularly.
A surprising number of people get stranded because they run out of gas. They think that half tank of gas will last until that beautiful town they want to visit, and then they’re stuck on the side of the road.
Roadside assistance can be expensive, and you may not be able to reach it if you’re outside their service area or range of a cell phone tower. You don’t want to be begging for water or propane from strangers in the rest stop.
The solution is to top of everything you need on a regular basis well before you run out of anything. Keep your fresh water tank full, and have bottled water in the RV just in case. Empty the grey and black water tanks every chance you get. Carry several days’ worth of food at any given time.
Don’t let the gas tank go below half full, and carry extra full-filled gas cans.If you rely on propane to cook, have a spare tank in storage. And while you’re at it, recharge your house batteries and devices regularly.
Don’t let your cell phone battery drop to zero, because then you won’t be able to call for help in an emergency. Keep it and spare batteries or power packs charged.
Do some quick cleaning every time you’re at a rest stop, too. Throw out empty bottles and food wrappers. Put things back in their place so it is easier to find them in the future.
Tip 10: Have backup plans.
Carry a set of keys with you at all times so that you can’t get locked out of the RV. Have a backup set of keys somewhere else on the RV so you can grab them if you have to flee the vehicle.
Then you aren’t locked out of your car or home if they take your keys with them. Have backup plans for everything from your travel itinerary to your supply chain. Know where you want to spend the night, but have a backup plan in case they don’t have spots available.
Know where you want to buy supplies, but know where else you can get gas, water and food. Consider carrying paper maps so you can navigate if your GPS is unable to get a signal and your phone is stolen.
Tip 11: Know how to drive the RV.
Solo RVing advice often focuses on camping. We need to bring up the issue of driving. Know how to drive such a large vehicle before you hit the road. What is its top speed? What is its fuel efficiency? How does it handle on wet pavement?
How much does the vehicle sway in high winds? What is it like taking that RV on a steep incline? What’s the maximum grade of road it can handle? What is the tallest bridge or drive-through it can pass under?
You must know all of this by heart. Practice driving it long before you head out on the open road. Take driving classes if necessary.
They say the journey is as important as the destination. Prepare yourself so that you can enjoy going it alone in your RV, no matter where you’re going.
Have a safe RVing!