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20 Van Life Safety Tips

Safety First: Essential Tips for Van Dwellers

Van life has become a popular lifestyle choice for many people, offering a sense of freedom and adventure while allowing them to live and work on the road. However, living in a van also comes with its own set of safety concerns that need to be addressed in order to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Luckily, more products are on the market now than ever that can improve van life safety. In addition, the van life community has come up with some great tips to stay safe. So we’ve gathered the best van life safety tips here for you!

Protection From Theft 

One of the biggest safety concerns when living in a van is the risk of theft. Therefore, it’s essential to secure your van and belongings by keeping valuable items out of sight.

Here are our top additional tips to prevent the theft of your van or belongings.

  1. Install mechanical door locks. If you feel like your van locks aren’t secure enough, you can install secondary solid steel locks. You can put these on both the inside and outside, so your van is secured when you’re in it and when you’re out adventuring. 
  2. Chain doors together. You can use chains to connect the driver’s and passenger’s side doors. This system works as a backup if someone has somehow managed to pick your locks. For vans with double back doors, you can use chains to prevent the rear doors from opening. 
  3. Use a wheel lock. Wheel locks are devices installed onto a vehicle’s steering wheel and can only be removed using a special key. Wheel locks can prevent unauthorized individuals from moving or stealing your van. Some wheel locks use a physical key, while others use a passcode
  4. Get a car alarm for your van. A lot of older van builds might not have an alarm. Installing an alarm will help scare potential thieves away through its deafening alert system.
  5. Invest in a security camera. This small camera comes with motion activation, night vision, and two-way communication with your smartphone. If something disturbs your van while you’re away, you’ll even be able to speak with them to hopefully scare them away.

More Van Life Tips to Prevent the Theft of Your Van or Belongings

  1. Close blinds and curtains. When valuable items are in plain sight, burglars are much more likely to try breaking into your van. Simply closing blinds or curtains can help to prevent potential break-ins. 
  2. Hide a GPS tracker. Thieves can be persistent, and even with all of these safety precautions, your van may be stolen. A hidden GPS tracker, like the WhereSafe, can help you or the authorities find your van.
  3. Store valuables in a lockbox. You can hide a small, secure safe in your van to add an extra layer of security for your most important items. If you have a lot of expensive equipment, you may consider something larger. But for a few things like your passport and cash stash, something like this portable safe will work great.

Personal Protection

In addition to the risk of theft, living in a van can also pose social and personal safety concerns. Therefore, it’s necessary to be aware of your surroundings and to take steps to protect your safety, such as being cautious about sharing personal information. It’s also a good idea to stay in touch with loved ones and have a support system in place if you need help or assistance.

  1. Always tell a loved one where you’re staying. Tell a trusted friend or family member where you’ll park your van to sleep so that someone knows where you are. Sharing your location through your phone can also help your loved ones rest easy. 
  2. Have some form of self-defense. Each state or country has different rules and regulations on what types of self-defense tools you can carry. Something like pepper spray or a self-defense alarm is typically acceptable. 
  3. Park in secure areas. It’s a good idea to park in well-lit and secure areas, such as a paid campsite or a friend’s driveway, rather than on the street or in a deserted place.

Safety While Driving

Another safety concern when living in a van is the risk of accidents or injuries. Therefore, it’s just as critical to take proper precautions when driving a van as when setting up camp.

  1. Always wear your seatbelt. Make sure there are enough seatbelts for all of your passengers as well.
  2. Maintain your van regularly. Always ensure that it is in good working order, as breakdowns or mechanical issues can pose a safety hazard.
  3. Secure loose items in the van. Loose items can become projectiles in the case of an accident or sudden braking. Store everything away properly or use bungees or velcro to secure things when driving.
  4. Maintain proper insurance. Insurance is an essential consideration for van life, as it can protect you and your vehicle in the event of an accident or other unforeseen circumstances. Look for a policy that covers your specific needs, including liability, collision, and comprehensive coverage.

Be Prepared For Emergencies

One important aspect of van life safety is being prepared for emergencies. Preparing ahead of time for certain stressful or scary situations will help you remain calm when necessary. 

  1. Have a fire extinguisher. A fire can quickly engulf your entire van. Particularly if you cook inside your van, you should have easy access to a fire extinguisher in case of fires.
  2. Be aware of carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that is produced by burning fuels such as gasoline, wood, or propane. It can be deadly if inhaled in high concentrations. Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning when living in a van through proper ventilation, not running the engine or using gas-powered appliances inside the van, and installing a carbon monoxide detector.
  3. Have a first aid kit. It’s a good idea to have a first aid kit on hand in case of injuries. Stock this with simple medicine to have on hand, too.
  4. Keep an emergency supply kit. You should also have a basic emergency supply kit on hand in case of unexpected events such as storms or breakdowns. This kit should include items such as nonperishable food, water, flashlights, jumper cables, a tool kit, reflective wear, a tow strap, and other location-specific items.
  5. Have a plan in place in case of various potential issues.  Knowing specifics, such as the location of the nearest hospital or how to call for help, ahead of time can help you keep your cool in stressful emergency situations. 

The Key to Van Life Safety is Preparation

Overall, living in a van can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience, but it’s crucial to be aware of the safety risks and to take steps to mitigate them. By following basic safety guidelines and being prepared for potential hazards, you can enjoy the freedom and adventure of van life while keeping yourself and your loved ones safe.


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