- if you've been thinking of joining the camper-van brigade, instagram user and full-time van traveler laura edmondson has some tips, like parking smart and keeping some gas in your tank. oh, and trusting your gut.
- a product called not reaching could prevent a traffic stop from taking a dangerous turn, keeping your vital documents on the dashboard instead of the glove box.
- if you want to go the tech route, there are solar-powered safety lights and ways to mimic someone watching tv in the camper, even as you're out and about.
the rules of the road trip are changing. thanks to 2020 bringing about more change than most people predicted in 2019, the number of people interested in living the van life has increased. and whenever you enter a new subculture, you've got to learn the ropes. in this case, if you want to live or work out of your vehicle, it will help to to internalize some safety procedures. thankfully, there are plenty of resources to help you do just that.
just before the pandemic became widespread in the u.s. in march, an instagram user named laura edmondson (spotted by the adventure publication outside) put up her personal list of 15 rules she uses to feel safe as a woman camping alone, and the gist is to be prepared and think things through. that means taking a self-defense class and having deterrents like pepper spray or a taser—and knowing how to use them. she also makes sure to park in such a way that she can back out or pull forward if she needs to drive away in a hurry and always makes sure her gas tank is at least a quarter full, and she always knows where her keys are.
edmondson knows her audience and has some suggestions just for them, like not posting pictures of the exact location where you're staying until after you leave. but perhaps her most important tip is the last one, which is to trust your gut: "if it feels creepy, just leave," she said.
edmondson also has rules about encounters with law enforcement. if you get pulled over, she suggests calling 911 "to confirm you're being pulled over by a legitimate police officer—they are supposed to call in to dispatch to report that they are stopping you." she also keeps her insurance and registration in a brightly colored envelope in the glove compartment so that it can't disappear amongst whatever other junk finds its way in there.
another option to reduce the worry when you see flashing lights in the rearview mirror is a new product, a little plastic envelope that sticks to your dashboard air vents, called not reaching. police officers regularly remind the public that anyone involved in a traffic stop should not make any sudden movements and to keep their hands visible. the not reaching packet holds a driver's license, registration, and insurance information so you can provide it to law enforcement without the need to reach into the glove box. this obviously works in cars and trucks as well as vans, and in daily life as well as an extended road trip.
etrailer offers up another safety list for solo campers, which comes at the problem from a more technological perspective. becoming proficient at driving your home on wheels is their first suggestion, which is undoubtedly vital to living in a van or when trailering a camper. but they also recommend things such as motion sensors, solar-powered lights, and "decoy products" to confuse potential troublemakers. these decoys range from large men's boots that sit outside the van to lights that make it look like a tv is on inside the camper even when no one is home. after all, one of the main reasons to explore the back roads is to actually experience the outdoors, right?