RV Travel Safety Precautions
This article was originally posted on Winnebagolife’s blog
As a solo female full-time RV’er, RV travel safety is the topic I am most often asked about. People are curious – do you feel safe, do you pack or carry a gun, what have you run into?
I’ve only had one incident where my spidey sense went off. I was in Canada in a Walmart parking lot on Canada Day, it’s like our Fourth of July. It was mainly empty, there was one other RV and a group of cars in the far corner of young kids hanging out. I started to hear yelling, then a few cars were doing donuts in the parking lot. At first, I thought they were just having fun but it turned into them honking their horns for extended periods and driving around the parking lot signaling you are not welcome here. The other RV had left and I decided to leave as well, as I departed I saw there was a car parked right next to me. I also noticed there was a car following me out of town. I was assessing whether I should call 911 when the car exited a few miles down the highway. I continued on for another 10 miles or so until I arrived at a large Pilot/Flying J gas and truck stop. They had an area for RV overnighting and there were other RVers already tucked in. I checked inside just to be sure and then settled in safely for the night.
While startling and inconvenient this was a minor incident because I made the decision not to stay and to relocate. Beyond that, my experience with traveling in the RV for the past two years has been overwhelmingly positive. I don’t take that for granted though, I take precautions and have put in place a few “just in case” measures.
Low profile, escape route and deterrents
The most important safety tool is one you have with you at all times – your eyes, ears and common sense! Be aware of your surroundings, trust your instincts, and your gut/intuition.
For me, traveling solo, an important factor in selecting my RV was the ability to be self-contained. While I like Airstreams or the cavernous floor plans in towables and 5th wheels I wanted to be able to get out of bed and get into the driver’s seat inside one vehicle if I needed to leave an area. I didn’t want the added risk of exiting and entering another vehicle. There are a lot of single women who do choose to travel this way; it’s all what you’re comfortable with.
I travel with two small dogs, Cooper and Dakota, which can be both a deterrent, they are good guard dogs, but a potential signal that I’m traveling alone. If it’s late at night I try to make a separate stop to let the dogs out before I find a spot to park for the night to try to minimize exposure that I am single at my final destination. When I park I’ll quickly pull the cab curtains and window shades to settle in for the night. I also plan an escape route pointing the RV in a direction that it is easy to maneuver out if I need to leave in a hurry and that can be either forward, back or both.
Then there are physical deterrents. Bear spray has a longer reach than pepper spray so you don’t need to be as close for the irritant to make contact. However, be aware that you may be impacted by the spray as well depending on proximity and wind direction. There are other self-defense options depending on what your skill and comfort level is – air horn, bat, walking stick, knife, firearm, hammer, ax, etc. Some or all of these may already be part of your hiking/camping gear.
SPOT is a great tool for the RV and for hiking. It is a satellite device and service that can be used to update family and friends on your status while hiking for example or to signal the need for emergency services. It can also track your steps to revisit a favorite hike later or share with friends.
I keep my iPhone nearby at all times. I also have Siri voice activation on so I can say “hey Siri call 911”. Make a mental note of your location as you travel so you are not trying to figure it out in middle of an emergency. Life 360 is an application for your phone that allows you to add family members or friends so they can track your location on a map. It also has a check-in feature similar to SPOT. Cell phone or Wifi service connectivity is required.
I also have an emergency first aid kit easily accessible from anywhere in the RV so I’m prepared for cuts, sprains, poison ivy, etc. I also have a mini first aid kit in my backpack for when I’m away from the RV hiking. It has basic survival and first aid materials, rope, a knife, fire starter, signal whistle, a Lifestraw to filter water, and a mylar blanket if it’s cold.
As a solo traveler, you might want to also consider paying for enhanced travel services. Good Sam provides an enhanced emergency roadside service with extra features such as if I’m sick someone will drive the RV home to NC for me and provide pet care if I am sick or unable to be at the RV. Since I no longer tow a vehicle behind the RV; I have an electric bike, a Trek Conduit, that I can use to go find a cell signal or help in the event of a breakdown.
Follow the old adage there is safety in numbers. At any non-campground overnight locations try to group together with other RVers. I prefer Cracker Barrel locations because they have dedicated RV spaces, camera monitoring, and have employees late into the evening and arriving early morning. Walmart typically has on-site security and monitoring cameras. I will usually go in and shop or eat and let the manager or staff know I will be overnighting. I also send a quick text to let my family know when I arrive and depart from a location.
In a campground, there is typically on-site management, some level of security, and other RVers that look out for each other.
Traveling in Winter
Winter travel adds a few more things to the list. Check the weather forecast. Carry extra water and food. I have a 12V electric blanket and a USB throw just in case I do not have access to hookups for electricity or something happens to the propane or the Travato’s heater. If you are in an emergency, use your cell phone if there is a signal or SPOT if you have one. Worst case, make note of your mile marker location and if any telephone call boxes are along your drive or how far the next exit is for help.
Propane refills for an RV can often be difficult to locate make sure you top off your tank pre-departure. Also, survey your route and confirm availability for future fill-ups along the way. For snowy conditions, there are snow tracks, tire grabbers, and tire socks you can purchase on Amazon. They are a good alternative to chains.
These steps quickly became second nature and provide me peace of mind while I’m traveling. And I’m confident that if a real emergency or illness pops up on the road, I am well prepared.
RV Travel Safety Products
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