BY: NADIA ZAIDI
Van life offers us the kind of inhibition like no other. Truthfully, living on wheels does make you happier, less stressed, and fearless. But it also puts you at risk of theft and other crimes. This shouldn’t deter you, in the same way that living in a house shouldn’t – in both cases, safety is key.
Here are some tips on being safe while living in your van:
Don’t make it obvious. It’s called having “stealth” van life, and it’s the practice of making it appear as though your van life is not your home. This will allow you to live in remote, urban areas without being harassed. You want to make your van blend in, so that it resembles every other vehicle. Remove stickers, flashy adornments, or clutter around vehicle windows. This way people won’t be able to track your parking habits. If you can, opt for blacking-out your windows in order to hide your personal belongings.
Find places to sleep
Know where to sleep. The truth is that you don’t want to sleep in the same spot two nights in a row. Switch between several legal overnight parking spaces, so that you don’t attract attention to your vehicle. It’s important to reserve your spot for sleeping only. Don’t cook outside your van, watch anything with bright lights, or make loud noises. The key is to blend in and not let anyone suspect a person is sleeping inside. Shh! Try and find places that have several other vehicles parked because it will allow you to greater blend in.
Remain calm and collected during “the knock.”
No matter how careful you are, chances are if you live on wheels you are bound to receive a knock from police officers or other enforcement officials at point or the other. You can either choose to be discreet and ignore the knock — which I do not recommend — or you can simply respond to whoever is out there. Explain to them that you are travelling and passing through the area. It’s just a conversation.
Keep your van secure
There is nothing more discomforting than sleeping with one eye open. To ensure that your van is a safe space for you to drive and live, lock the doors no matter how quickly you exit and re-enter the vehicle. You may also want to invest in more serious measures like deadbolts, padlock door locks, or a safe to keep your valuables. If you feel safer with a deterrent, than keep a bat, mace, or something that might scare off a potential burglar. If you suspect that someone is trying to break into your vehicle while you are inside, start the car alarm and chances are they will flee the scene.
Have a set of tools in case of a break down
Make sure you are equipped with an extra tire and some basic tools in case your van stalls. If not, ensure that you have a AAA membership so that you can call them so that they can make arrangements to tow out your vehicle safely and effectively.
Van life is possible and enjoyable if you follow safe practice. It’s about knowing how to blend into the crowd without really blending in. After all, you’re on wheels and the world is your backyard.