Sadly, too many people allow fear to stop them from taking major leaps in life that could impact their entire future. When it comes to van life, two of the biggest fears seem to be going solo and/or being a woman. We need to start thinking of those as being things that empower us instead of something that stops us. Traveling alone allows you to learn so much about yourself and doing it as a woman is simply no reason to hold back. You are fully capable and absolutely strong enough all on your own. However, safety is always the top (and very valid) priority so I wanted to share all the ways I make sure to stay safe while traveling as a solo woman.
Take self defense classes before leaving. I almost blew this off and didn’t do it because I wasn’t sure if it would teach me anything valuable. After my first class, I was so happy I had gone through with it. My instructor taught me how to fight off an attacker from inside the van, if I’m walking to my van, from behind, from on top of, and if there are multiple attackers. Learning this stuff and then him having me physically do it was invaluable. I feel like I genuinely learned tricks that I had no idea before. Did you know if someone grabs you to bring them in closer and “crowd them” instead of pushing them away? Neither did I. Take the classes.
Add elements to your van build that will make you feel safer and more comfortable. Think of this stuff ahead of time. Whether it’s tinted windows, a pocket door like I have, or a built- in safe to hide a weapon, think of anything that will ease your mind at night. I met one woman who had motion detecting lights on the sides of her van that lit up if someone got close at night. Brilliant! You can also get an alarm that sounds if anyone touches the van. There are a lot of options so do a little research and implement whatever makes you sleep better.
Read reviews for the places you stay overnight. Some solo travelers don’t find this necessary and that’s totally up to each person. I prefer looking at reviews to see if different campsites or overnight spots are safe and definitely allow 24 hour parking. If someone knocks on your door at night, you have no idea if it’s the police or someone trying to harm you. So I reduce the chances of anyone knocking on my van at all costs. I only stay places where I know I won’t get in trouble and have reviews saying others felt safe. I recommend Allstays for businesses like Walmarts, truck stops, etc. and freecampsites.net for BLM land or free camping.
Have a couple weapons and more importantly, know how to use em. I keep pepper spray on Ella’s leash for when I’m walking her in the dark, knives in the kitchen, a firearm in a safe, and a taser for… well just in case. I like feeling prepared and I sleep better knowing that even in a worst case scenario, I have what I need to stay safe. If you do choose to have a firearm, you need to be aware of different state laws. Some require different requirements so just make sure you look it up before crossing into new states.
Lastly, consider getting a fur child. Obviously there’s way more responsibility involved than just simply getting a dog for protection and case closed. It’s something you need to know for sure and have done your share of research on before committing to dog ownership. If you’ve been considering it though and aren’t sure if it’ll make you feel better… I promise it will. Having Ella makes me feel like I’m not alone. When I’m walking her, I know there’s an added element if someone were to try and grab me. She would bark and freak out which would be a situation that some predators just won’t want to deal with.
If you don’t want a dog, I understand. Download a recording of a crazy dog barking and have it ready in case you need to play it at night.
A few quick ones: Sleep with your keys and phone right next to you. Get window shades to cover any windows at night. Park under a light if you’re in a parking lot.)
These are just some of the steps that I take to stay safe and remain prepared for anything that could happen. We are all different and we all have different standards for feeling comfortable so please do what YOU need to do. I’ll end on this, under no circumstances should you not live your best life because you are solo or because you are a woman. Being prepared is crucial but once you are, you can take on anything. Be smart, but be fearless.
How do you stay safe on the road?