Van Life Safety Tips for Women

While the term “solo female van life” is in the trend, doing it for real seems scary and overwhelming. However, I’ve met so many solo female van lifers on the road from Canada to South America. They are doing just fine on their own, traveling and living full-time in campervans, and most of their stories are very exciting and liberating to listen to.

All these countries are much more peaceful and safe than you think, but there is a very small chance you get in real trouble, and it would be a lie that absolutely no one has experienced anything sketchy being on the road by themselves.

This post shares the safety tips I’ve learned from being on the road for 4+years and things I learned from fellow female van lifers.

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Choose Your Camping Spot Wisely

Choosing a camping spot is always a tricky one. It’s difficult to know whether a place is safe until you arrive. And if you arrive too late in the day, relocating might not be feasible.

Make sure to use popular (and frequently updated) camping apps, like iOverlander, where you can read about other people’s experiences. Once you find a place to camp, be sure to arrive there before sunset because it allows you to learn about your new surroundings better than when coming at night.

A woman posing outside her camper van
Yuko standing next to her van

Preferably, it’s better to camp in a place with other campers, especially traveling families and couples. Say hi and have a little chat, if possible. This lets them know who you are and that you’re also camping in the area. This is so that they can help you if any bad situation happens.

Also Read: How To Camp For Free During Van Life

Do Not Drive at Night

Camper van parked at night under the stars
Parked on the beach in Baja California, Mexico

I can’t stress this enough. From my 4+ years of experience in van life, nothing good happens when driving after sunset. Fewer lights on the road and fewer people out and about. It’s generally not a good time to venture into a new, unknown area.

This is especially true when driving in rural areas, where I usually camp.

Driving at night also drastically increases the chances of hitting wild animals (or people!), getting into accidents, and/or being stuck without many other cars around to help you out.

We often say that van life is a marathon, not a sprint. So, if you don’t think you can reach your destination before sunset, just find a safe place to park and make the rest of the drive the next day. Most times, it’s just not worth the risk.

Frequently Communicate With Family and Friends

Two women sitting inside a camper van

Regardless of how safe the next destination seems, telling your family and friends about your whereabouts and where you plan to travel next is always a good idea.

It also helps to keep in frequent communication with your people back home. Talk about your daily lives and/or activities. That way, they’ll know your routines and can notice right away when something is unusual, and they can check up on you.

If you take your safety more seriously, your family can install GPS apps on their phone to always know your location. We use the Life360 app.

Cover Your Windows

When night rolls around, I first put up our Reflectix window covers and draw the blackout curtain closed to cover the windows and doors. Not only does this increase your privacy, but it prevents the light inside your van from escaping. Otherwise, your van ends up becoming a lighthouse from the outside.

Camper van interior with reflectix window cover
Getting ready for a peaceful evening

To make covers for my RV windows, I cut a piece of Reflectix, sized to fit my window, and super-glued a fabric on top to hide the top foil layer from sight when inside.

Prepare Your Van To Drive Before Going to Bed

A woman sitting inside a camper van looking outside with the back doors open
Taking it easy on a rough day

If you are in an urgent “GTFO” situation, you’ll need to drive out immediately. ASAP.

But to do this, you’ll need to ensure your van’s front is ready to drive. So, make sure your van’s cab is clear and not cluttered with stuff. Also, keep the ignition key somewhere easily accessible but noticeable from the outside.

It also helps to make sure any and all loose belongings in the back of the van are put away before you sleep. You don’t want fragile items crashing to the floor as you make your hasty getaway.

Don’t Go Out To Pee at Night

Whether you’re parked overnight at a Walmart, truck stop, or even a highway rest area where a bathroom is available, it’s not a smart idea to step out of your vehicle in the middle of the night.

If you have a toilet inside your van, great! If you don’t like us, the best solution is to use a pee funnel with a plastic bottle. I’ve been using this funnel for over four years, and it’s absolutely a van life essential.

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Product Recommendation: Used in conjunction with a water bottle. Yuko swears by this method and says she'll never go back to having a toilet in our camper van again!

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04/08/2024 01:36 pm GMT

Also read: Do You Really Need A Toilet In Campervan?

Travel With a Dog

If you do happen to have a dog, then that’s great! A camper van is the best way to travel with a dog. They are adorable and fluffy to cuddle with at night and can also be a great companion and guardian.

And since dogs are (roughly) a hundred times more sensitive to sounds and smells, they’re much more aware of any activities that are going on outside of your van.

But more than anything, having a dog simply encourages strangers with ill intent not to approach you. And as a solo female van life traveler, that’s what you want.

Related Article: How To Keep Your Pets Safe – Temperature Management

Take Basic Self-Defense Classes

Two women wrestling on a mat
Basic self-defense classes can come in handy, if needed

You don’t necessarily have to be a superwoman to fight against an assailant. However, it’s a smart idea to learn the basics of self-defense to be able to get away from attackers.

I took a Krav Maga lesson for a month, which taught me to respond and release myself quickly from attackers.

I recommend Krav Maga, especially to women, because big muscles and power are unnecessary. The self-defense program is well-designed for all types of people to protect themselves efficiently.

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately!) I’ve never had to use the tricks I’ve learned so far on this road trip, but it gives me peace of mind.

Final Thoughts About Van Life Safety Tips for Females

Every type of travel has risks, but the most important thing is to enjoy your time with basic precautions. Wherever you go, you’ll be unlikely to find trouble if you don’t go looking for trouble yourself. Despite the stories you might hear on the news or social media, van life is an incredibly safe way to travel for solo females.

Woman sitting in camper van in Sedona Arizona
Taking a break along a bumpy dirt road

However, nothing is guaranteed in life, and you never know what will happen in the future, even if you follow all the tips above. At the end of the day, you need to trust your gut. If you feel even slightly uncomfortable or weird, don’t stay and just get out of there no matter what. And don’t hesitate to ask for help.

You must not forget that one of the beautiful parts about traveling is meeting people; most people are genuinely kind and willing to help if you are in trouble.

If you have any questions about van life safety, especially regarding females, please let me know in the comments section below.

Happy traveling!

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