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One of the many benefits of an RV lifestyle is being to enjoy the comforts of home while on the road. For Van lifers, who would mostly be on the road and even campers who might be on the road for a few days, it is crucial to put into consideration some factors to have a safe and stress-free night. Sleeping in a van is generally not an issue for van lifers who are not new to van living because they already know what to do and what not to do, unlike newbies who would probably fall victims of the night’s danger. One necessary thing that has scared most people away from the ideology of van living is the danger that comes with the night.
Van life means more than living in the van. A camper or van lifer must be very security conscious to avoid any harmful incident. So in this article, we will dish out some tips for overnight camping in the van. There will always be some areas that are not safe, but most of the time, you will have nothing to worry about. Before embarking on your journey, it is good to take your van to a shop to have it inspected by a professional mechanic. This act will help to prevent any form of breakdown, especially at night, since it will be challenging to get help at night. Besides, if you do have a significant breakdown, especially when it is something beyond your skill set or toolset, make sure to have an AAA membership. And if you do not, it’s advisable to have a basic set of tools with you to do on-the-road repairs. Probably a jack, jack stand, and tire iron for the flat tire and a set of wrenches and wrenches for other small repairs before calling out a mechanic.
However, before discussing the Do’s and Don’ts of staying overnight in the van, first of all, there are some basic things or items that a camper must put in place to ensure a conducive sleeping environment. It is best to get a mattress. Getting to rest and sleep comfortably after the hustle and bustle of the day is one thing that cannot be avoided except for pertinent reasons. So you can get any mattress of your choice. Another item is a blanket. It could be cold while on the road, so having a blanket or tarp to use helps reduce the cold and warm the body. Also very important to have with you is a flashlight. Flashlights are devices that help Van lifers shine their way at night. Not having a flashlight will make the night difficult as you won’t be able to see clearly and do what is required, but instead restricted to a particular spot. And when there is any suspicious move, you won’t be able to take any step. So it is risky to spend the night in a van without a flashlight. A power bank is another item to behold in the vehicle in case of an emergency when the phone runs out of power. Also, consider tilted windows, this will for sure keep private.
As a van life, there are several things to take note of while spending the night in the van to ensure your safety.
It is vital to find a place that allows long term parking and has some sort of night security, cameras, and gate. Avoid sleeping in areas that have evidence of parties, such as beer bottles and garbage on the ground. Sleeping in these places will increase the chance of being attacked by some persons. If people are frequently partying in an area, there is a good chance the cops will be monitoring it, and you could be given a boot, which could lead to being arrested. Make sure that wherever you sleep is considered a proper place. Endeavor to plan your parking places, so you can focus on your trips instead of having to worry about safety. And if, by the way, you plan to save money by not staying at an RV campground, make a list of several places where you can park and rotate throughout your stay in any given location. You can consider parking lots, 24-hour grocery stores, rest stops, and Walmart parking lots. You can find street parking in residential areas. Just endeavor to choose a neighborhood where it is reasonable to park in the street and obey any local parking signs and laws.
Maintain a low profile
If you plan to hang out in one place for an extended period, be careful not to draw attention to your vehicle. If you develop habits, you can run the risk drawing unwanted attention to yourself and other people with you in the van, making it easier for thieves to keep track of your actions before attacking at night. Meanwhile, this rule only applies if you plan to stay in a designated area for a while before moving
More so, ensure that your van has decent door locks, and it isn’t the kind of trailer that exposes you to the world. To be much safe, you can get involved with your vehicle’s security if that is something you feel is essential. Things like advanced alarm systems, lockbox, door deadbolts, caged dividers, padlocked door locks, or even GPS systems are used to secure one’s self, especially if there are precious materials in the van such as laptops, passports, hard drives, camera gear, and other essential gadgets. Although, it’s better to be safe than sorry, so having a lockbox to store passports, money, etc. is always suitable for peace of mind. Your nightspot is only for sleeping; don’t draw attention to yourself by watching TV, especially if it’s a place that is prone to attack. Consider staying at a location no more than one night in a row. Thieves will notice your sleeping trend and may take advantage of you the following night.
Avoid getting drunk
Make sure you don’t get smashed before going to bed. Always be in good condition, both day and night, to be able to drive away in case someone or something bothers you or perhaps the law agency requires that you move away. Also, be vigilant as getting drunk will lower your reactivity, making you more vulnerable. Do not self-boycott yourself and put yourself in danger.
Keeping contact with Friends
For van lifers who are going to stay alone in the van, it is advisable and recommended to inform family and trusted friends of your whereabouts. While ensuring this, also endeavor to keep your cell phone fully charged for easy communication in case anything goes wrong. And if there it’s not charged, there are many facilities where you can borrow an external power supply and even Wi-Fi at some stations, making your night safe and comfortable. Maybe you could also set your phone ready to make an emergency call just in case.
Hang a shade curtain to block the view
Regardless of where you decide to spend the night in your van, anything could happen. So, to be one step away from danger at night, make sure that you hang a shade curtain over your window to block the view from outside. This act adds a layer of safety as unknown faces out won’t know who and how many persons are in the van. Moreover, it gives room for complete privacy.
Avoid switching on the lights.
When it is night already, avoid switching on the lights while sleeping. And if it’s essential to use the light, minimize the brightness to avoid any attraction. Moreover, unless you have light-proof, super dark window shades, when you switch the lights, people will be able to see inside. If you are in a non-built, people will easily spot you from afar, especially if you are somewhere like a lakeshore or beach. This tip is similar to the previous one.
Be ready for self-defense.
Sleeping overnight in the night requires one to be very security conscious, thus must be prepared for self-defense in case any attack is launched. However, it will be of more benefit if the camper or van lifer has an idea of combat skills. You could get a weapon to at least protect yourself; in other words, know the basics of how to protect yourself not for the night but also your daily life. Well, to avoid danger, especially when you are alone, you can put stuffed animals by the window to make it look like you have some company.
Obedience to Local Laws
Not all countries or cities have the same law as regards wild camping and overnight camping. So, it is vital to know the law so you won’t fall victim to the law enforcement agencies. Check out the rules and regulations and keep an eye for signs. For instance, some provinces and cities do not allow Campers or Van lifers to park by the roadside; besides that, it is even dangerous to do so. Also, to have a stress free night, abide by the rules.
Avoid parking by the roadside
There is no doubt that roadsides are dangerous; that is why it is good not to park by the roadside. When you do so, people will see you, and this makes you more vulnerable to weirdo, thieves, and also too paranoid locals and law agencies. Besides, other cars could crash into you while parked on the roadside leading to loss of life and properties.
Be familiar with your surroundings.
As you drive, check and get familiar with your surroundings to know where to go in case of any emergency. In the van, make sure you know your surroundings as you approach the parking spot, especially at night. It will be helpful if at the park there are lights around at night to be able to detect any suspicious activity. Also, when you are aware of who is around you, take mental note of the surroundings as criminals look for people who are distracted. Be mindful of your position and also make sure to locate it on a map. It’s best to use your phone to drop a pin with the location feature on Apple maps or “set as parking location” on Google maps.
Be a hard target and know your exits
Not only know your exit but be prepared to leave in a moment’s notice. Being a hard target means being alert, aware, and moving. Thieves are opportunists, and they attack the most vulnerable prey they find. So, walk with a purpose, make eye contact with anyone who looks suspicious. Also, keep valuable items out of plain sight in the van. And while in places such as the hotel, people are always conscious of the doors available in case of emergencies. Similarly, if you are in an area that feels less than optimal in the van, make sure you are fully dressed with everything in the truck put entirely away. By doing that, if there’s a need to make a quick exit in the middle of the night, it would be quickly done.
However, 99 percent of people breaking into vans just want to break in, steal something, and get out quickly without anybody noticing the. If they know someone is in the vehicle, it will scare them and most likely get them to run off. After such, it is recommended to move your car immediately after. To get a knock on your door from the police is rare, so be careful before opening the door even after calling for help from the law agencies. And when it becomes more suspicious, bang on the window for assistance or use your car alarm remote.
Sleeping overnight in a van can come with different challenges, but the above listed are the tips to ensure that you have a stress and danger free night while staying in the truck. Though there are still other tips that one needs to put into consideration, nevertheless ensure you follow these listed ones well.