Happy International Women’s Day! In line with this year’s theme #CHOOSETOCHALLENGE I want to challenge the idea that women shouldn’t be traveling in a van by themselves. The idea that you have to wait for a boyfriend/ girlfriend to start living your dream life is absolute BS. You only need yourself. That’s a fact – don’t let society convince you otherwise.
That being said, of course you should always be smart about whatever you do. Don’t be reckless with you safety. Instead, follow your intuition (it’s stronger than you may think). Moreover, you should be mindful of the ways you can make your solo female van life experience more safe.
This topic is very dear to my heart, because freedom is one of my main values. I don’t ever want my fears take away my freedom, which is why I did a lot of research on this topic. The following blog post aims to EMPOWER YOU to be a more confident and independent solo female van lifer. Therefore, I hope that you find the following tips useful and that you feel inspired to hit the road even if nobody is sitting in the passenger seat. Without any further ado, let’s dive right in.
(Also: Shout-out to my friend Alicia, who is pictured in the header photo)
Make sure your van is in a good condition
First things first. Being able to trust your vehicle is the backbone of van life safety. Besides that, you’ll feel so much better knowing that your van is road-worthy, trust me. I highly recommend going to the car repair shop before heading out on your travels. That way you’ll know that you can rely on your vehicle, especially when you need it most. Imagine your van is not starting while you’re in a sketchy situation, for instance if someone is trying to break in. That would be a nightmare!
Moreover, let’s not forget that an unsafe vehicle could be of grave danger to you or others. After all, defective cars are still a main cause of car accidents around the globe (Kraft & Associates, 2020).
General van life safety tips
If you’re using apps to find wild camping spots, read the reviews to find out if other campers felt safe or had any trouble in this spot. If other campers had a bad experience, let’s say a break-in, they will usually share it on these apps. This is not only a way to avoid sketchy spots from the start, but it will also help you feel more relaxed.
You should position your van so that you could drive away immediately, especially when parking in a spot overnight. Chances are that you will never have to move the van in the middle of the night. However, in case that scenario takes places you will probably be sleepy, confused and panicked. Therefore, following these tips will help you to handle the situation much more easily.
It’s also a good idea to stay in close contact with friends & family. There are various ways they can help you stay safe from afar. For example, you could share your location with them before going to sleep. You could also send a text every day at a specific time to a specific person. Good communication is key. It benefits you and will make your loved ones feel more at ease while you’re on a van life adventure as a solo female traveler.
Lastly, only share your vague location on the internet/ social media. Likewise, you should not put a sticker with your social media handle on your van. People will be able to use these to find out more about you, such as any valuable items you may have with you. Most importantly, they will be able to see that you are traveling by yourself. Do NOT give people this advantage!
Establish a night-time routine
You should absolutely create a safety routine for your solo female van life travels, which you should regularly try to improve. I came up with the below steps, because these work well for me and my specific van. However, my routine is not perfect and, realistically, it will be changing over time.
Firstly, close all doors and windows, the lock yourself in. I also highly recommend covering them with thermo mats or thick blinds. That way nobody can see inside your van and, most importantly, they won’t know that there is only one person inside.
People usually expect that (at least) two people are inside a van. Let that work in your favour! Make it look like there are two people traveling, for example by putting two reusable coffee cups in the front. Furthermore, I recommend removing girly items from anywhere that can be seen from the outside. If you want to go the extra mile you could even place clichéd “male items”, for example a base-cap, on the driver’s seat.
If you feel comfortable with a weapon, have one close to your bed. This could be a knife, pepper spray or even hair spray. Of course it should be a legal weapon. So if you’re crossing national borders always do some research, e.g. by checking this website.
Lastly, always keep your keys in reach and in the same spot. That way you can grab them quickly without having to look for them. This is crucial if you ever feel uncomfortable or need to leave your parking spot for any reason. Sometimes just a few seconds can make a huge difference, so this should 100% be part of your night-time routine.
Travel with a dog
Besides offering the most loving companionship, a dog also offers you extra protection. Dogs have great hearing, which means they will alert you in case anyone is messing with the van at night. Furthermore, dogs are also loyal and protective of their loved ones. Therefore, even the smallest dog could scare away perpetrators, who may fear to get attacked by it.
Bonus Tip 1: Take a self defence class
I believe that people – yes, even strangers – are inherently good. However, there will always be exceptions to this rule. It’s it always better to be prepared for whatever may happen. Taking a self defence class is not just a relevant safety tip for your solo female van life trip. Knowing how to defend yourself is a useful skill for anyone of any age in any area of life.
Bonus Tip 2: Get comfortable with basic mechanic skills
This is something you probably wouldn’t think too much about until you’re in a really shitty situation. In a perfect world, your van will always be running smoothly. However, we’re living in the real world – not the perfect one. Your vehicle will give you troubles sometimes. That’s just how it is. I’m not saying you need to be a proper mechanic, but not being able to fix simple issues yourself is making you vulnerable unnecessarily.
To all the ladies: I am here to be your cheerleader. I will do anything in my power to make you feel more confident on your future solo female van life adventures. If you’re still not sure about safety or if you want to share your experience, please don’t hesitate to message me <3
I can’t wait to hear from you and would love to connect!