8 Easy Solo Female Travel Safety Tips
I'm going to talk about safety tips for solo female van travelers. Safety is never guaranteed in life, whether you live in a million dollar home in a gated community or in a tiny little van in the middle of nowhere.
But I decided long ago that I wasn't going to let fear control me. My mom has a plaque that says courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway. And I really like that. The truth is that you can never really get rid of anxiety and fear entirely.
But there are some tips to help you minimize the risks that are associated with this type of lifestyle.
1. Trust your gut
I am a firm believer that our sixth sense helps us stay alert when there is any kind of potential danger nearby. Stay aware and alert. And if you have little hairs sticking up on the back of your neck, it's probably time to get out of there.
2. Get to an area before dark
It can be a little scary driving at night when all you've got is your headlights to rely on. So I try to get to campgrounds a little bit ahead of time so that I can scope out the area and see what I'm getting into.
I also like to look for other potential nearby campers. I feel safer if I just know that there is someone there. And in my experience, people ask me all the time if I want to camp with them because they can see I’m alone.
One exception to that is if I'm traveling a long distance and I know that I'm just going to be pulling over somewhere for the evening, I try to get there when it's turning dark or just a little before dark.
If I’m heading to Walmart, for example, I get there early enough so I can go in and buy something I need. If I'm at a rest area or a truck stop, I usually just want to stay inside and go to sleep.
3. Have enough gas
Always have at least a half tank of gas. You should always try to have gas in your tank, especially if you think there’s a little bit of a gas shortage in an area.
It's a good rule of thumb so that if you have to quickly leave an area, you don’t want to get stuck with an empty tank. If you are going a long distance and you're not really sure how long it's going to take, you need gas.
4. Know where and how to park
There are a lot of apps out there that give reviews and pictures to show you what kind of dispersed camping is available. I use iOverlander, Campendium, and FreeRoam, for example. Or I can go to a gas station or a truck stop if I'm on the interstate because those feel safe to me. I know a lot of people think that they aren't safe, but for me I feel safe since there are lots of people around, including attendants, always around, so I usually feel safe pulling in to sleep there.
This is also a time to trust your gut. If I get to a place and something doesn't feel right, then I will move on. This happened to me at a state park. I pulled up and there were some guys preparing to go hunting. There were actually state troopers with them, but there was a big gang of them. And I was the only woman in that area where they were going to be camping later. I just had a feeling that I shouldn't be there anymore. So I moved on.
Also, park in such a way that you can get out easily. A lot of people will tell you to back into a site and keep your nose pointed forward. However, that could just as easily back you into a corner. Just look around, see how you can most easily get out if somebody is trying to block you.
5. Have lights
I will use my sensor motion lights in a remote area. They are very useful because whether it's a person or an animal lurking around, the lights will go on and deter someone or something from sticking around.
Park under a light in a parking lot. That shouldn’t be a problem if you have good coverings for your windows to let you sleep.
The light will also deter anyone from lurking around your van. Don't back into a dark quiet corner, which is maybe what you feel like you would want to do to get some sleep.
6. Alert someone where you are
Don't ever let your phone battery die on you, especially if you don't have a backup system or solar lighting. You always want to be able to tell somebody where you are. You can even just drop a pin to let someone know where you are.
I always have two people that know when I'm out and about and where I am. Another side note to this tip is how to handle social media. Don't let people know exactly where you are unless you know them or plan to meet up with them ahead of time.
Don't hesitate to call 911 and let them know that you are feeling unsafe. Sometimes it just helps to talk to someone so that you are less afraid.
And if you really feel in danger, alert the people nearby if there is anybody nearby by honking your horn, making noise, blowing a whistle, or doing anything that you can do so that anybody within earshot can hear that something is wrong.
7. Prepare for self-defense
If you are confronted, you want to be able to have a plan so I carry pepper spray and bear spray. My stepdad was a police officer and marine so he taught me a few things. He taught me to have a Maglite flashlight, which is heavy-duty like a bat, but it’s better than a bat because it blinds someone first to put them off guard.
8. Have a security camera
I have found tiny security cameras for my tiny van and they are an inexpensive and easy solution. They are magnetic, wireless, pair with any device, record, and have a microphone. I like that I can be away from my vehicle and see what's going on around my van.
Solo female travel safety tips
Be as prepared as you can be and don't let fear keep you from experiencing beautiful things, beautiful places, and beautiful people.
I have met the most kind, generous and helpful people along the road and I am so glad that I did not let fear control me.
I hope that these van life safety tips have been helpful to you and that you can get over any fear that you might have.
Do you have other safety tips for solo female van travelers? Let me know in the comments.