You are set to go on an adventure alone with your van. This may excite you until you experience all the difficulties you haven’t prepared yourself for, which would make you think twice about living in your van alone. Do not change your mind yet as single van life can get intimidating but worthwhile if you are prepared to face the road and have all the knowledge to keep a safe and enjoyable time.
When deciding to live alone in a van, you must prepare all the essentials you’ll need like electricity, water, security, and emergency supplies. You must also know the do’s and don’ts and security measures to follow to stay safe wherever you are headed or parked.
This is a go-to article for single van lifers. The article would talk about the essentials you need to prepare for your trips and all the safety tips to consider when living alone in a van, especially for women. I also included some useful life hacks to make your van life worry-free and enjoyable even if you are alone.
The Supplies and Essential You’ll Need as A Solo Traveller
There are many reasons you should choose a solo van life, and there are joys to single van life that are worth keeping to yourself.
For one, single van life is not lonely, like people thought it would be. You get to be connected to yourself more to find peace within yourself. Plus, you get to explore different places, learn many things on your own, practice life skills and survival skills, and be more independent.
Single van life is also for those coping with issues they are yet to sort out, like the death of a loved one, heartbreak, and overall mental health break. You’ll have a lot of time to think while traveling solo, and you’ll get to spend time alone to think things through.
You need to be prepared when you decide to be a full-time van lifer. As the van is your home on the road, it needs to have all the essentials and supplies you’ll need. Think like there is no one you can count on to bring them for you since you are living in a van alone so that you’d be more thorough in your essentials list.
Ensuring that you brought all the things you need would cost you less, rather than buying on the road every time you need them. It also ensures worry-free travel, like bringing your home anywhere you go, all comfortable and content.
Here is a list of the vanlife supplies and essentials that a solo traveler needs in their van.
Useful Tips for Vanlifers Traveling Alone
It is fun to travel alone and know more about yourself until you find out that something is not right in your van or the place you’re staying in. Here are some useful life hacks to bring with you on your solo travel to ensure a well-planned and worry-free van life.
Do a Research on the Place You Are Traveling To
Before traveling to different places, you should first know what kind of place you are traveling to. Research on the recent news about the place, if there are campgrounds and parking spaces available on the destination, and the weather updates to avoid dangerous situations on your way.
You should also look out for road conditions and closures, wildlife present on the location (for forest destinations), and cases of crimes and break-ins (for cities).
Try to Avoid Driving at Night
It is better to be settled in your chosen campsite before it gets dark and you do this for many reasons. The first is to avoid an opportunity of car breakdown at night, where help is hard to find, and people are asleep.
You also need to be vigilant and avoid hitting animals or people in dark areas. Settling early in your parking space prevents any further accidents you may encounter on the road during the night.
There are a variety of places where you can find your parking space. Camping on public lands is free. They are easy to find; just use online applications to find you a spot at these parks like national forests, BLM, etc., all abundant over North America.
Parking lot camping is also free. It is found in big box stores, truck stops, and casinos. These are convenient stopovers when traveling to distant places. Most Walmarts allow overnight parking. You may also park at other stores that allow overnight parking like Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s, Cracker Barrel, Hardware stores, and many grocery stores.
Another free camping alternative is urban stealth camping. It is pulling up to a city street, neighborhood, industrial area, or a parking lot without letting people know you are sleeping in your van and leaving early before someone notices you. This camping style is only applicable for smaller vans and not the bigger ones.
Lastly, camping on campgrounds, the safest choice for you. These parking spaces include federal campgrounds, state parks, private campgrounds, and RV parks. However, these parking spaces are not free and need booking before you can use them.
Tell Someone You Trust Where You Will be Traveling
Although you live a solo vanlife, you should still stay in close contact with your family and friends. Always update them on your whereabouts: where you will travel to, where you’ll be staying for the night, and who you are with (if you happen to invite someone).
Notify them if you know you’ll be out of service when you’ll be out in the woods or places with no mobile signal. You live alone in a van but still have your family to worry for you, so they should be informed on where to find you and when to and not look for you.
Always Carry a Satellite Phone With You
Having satellite phones is one smart move in vanlife. When you leave the city, satellite networks are the only ones offering stable communication and can be used anywhere around the world.
Satellite phones allow you to contact your loved ones even without reception. These are perfect for women traveling alone that provide two-way communication with friends and family and send location information. You can also check for weather updates with these phones and activate its SOS feature.
Download Offline Maps or Bring Paper Maps
Make use of the offline feature of Google or Apple to download offline maps when you have internet services and use them in places that don’t have. You can also bring paper maps. Prepare maps for major cross-country routes, state maps, and park maps. Use those when your phone dies but be sure to know how to read them.
Always Have Your Gas Tank on Check
You don’t want to be pushing your van to the side of the road and looking for gasoline stations in the middle of a hot day, so making sure that your gas tank has enough fuel is a must. If possible, fill your gas tank every time it’s halfway full, especially if you’re heading to a remote area where there are no fuel stations or far from the destination.
Go to the mechanic for a check before hitting the road. This is to double-check if everything is clear and working. Let the mechanic know how long the vehicle would be running and how far would it take to finish your travel. They should be able to make adjustments to your van so that you won’t be stuck on the road.
Security Tips for a Safe Vanlife Especially for Women
Living alone may have you concerned about safety, especially for women who may lack skills in protecting themselves. Much more so if you live in a van, where you travel to many places and do not have anyone trustworthy to help you during difficult times. Here are some security tips that will help you have a safe trip.
Be Stealthy When Spending the Night at a Big City
Avoid camping in cities as parking is mostly congested in these places. Choose a safe parking space and park in well-lit spots. Give no hints that you are sleeping in your van as it may encourage criminals to go after you.
Lock the doors and windows at night, and always be ready to leave when someone is bothering you. Furthermore, keep your keys in the same place where they will be easily found when you need to leave in a rush. Lastly, clear your driver’s seat of any mess, so you can easily set yourself to drive for instances when you need to flee from attackers.
Be Careful When Choosing the Place You’ll Sleep
Sleeping in your van lowers your defenses when it comes to security. It’s safer to stay in established campgrounds. Forests and the wilderness may be fun to stay with, but they are not 100% safe as wild animals may be one of your primary concerns.
Campgrounds have facilities you can use. You are also camping with many people, safer than any other parking place. Campgrounds are designated for people living in a van, so security is at its best in these parking places.
Other safe parking spaces are your friend’s and family’s driveways (if you happen to pass by their house), Walmart parking lots, and private campgrounds. You should also avoid dark places and empty parking lots.
Notice the surroundings when finding a parking place. It should have security cameras, with enough lighting, or if they are nearby houses or establishments. These things would make you feel safer staying there during the night.
Take Time to Learn Some Self Defense
One of the first things to consider in being a full-time van lifer is learning self-defense. It’s better safe than sorry as you’ll never know who would disturb you in the middle of the night. You cannot always rely on others for help as you don’t have anyone but yourself.
You should learn some basic self-defense to be prepared when someone tries to break into your van and protect yourself from any harm on your trip. Take some classes and learn techniques to fight someone attacking you from the front or back or against one or more attackers.
Also, bring some self-defense weapons with you. Here are some weapons you can keep with you in your van. Placing a pocket knife is a good choice within arms reach is fair enough but remember only to use it when necessary.
If you have a gun, beware of the state laws and responsibilities when carrying it because not everyone can have their hands on a gun. A hammer or any heavy object is a good alternative if you don’t have any weapons. It should be something powerful enough to hurt someone trying to attack you.
You may also bring a bear spray or pepper spray placed 24/7 in your pockets and be ready to run at full speed afterward. Again, these weapons are only for protection and should only be used when dangerous instances occur.
Always Have a Plan B
If things go wrong with your chosen camping site, you should have a plan B. Trust your gut at all times and leave immediately if a place feels wrong to stay with. If you feel uncomfortable and unsafe staying in a location, you can always find another campground or parking lots like Walmart’s to stay through the night.
Never Be Too Attached to People You Meet During Your Trip
Never share too much information with people you meet during your trips as most of them are just temporary friends you’ll gain. Also, do not tell them you’re traveling alone. Make it so that you meet with friends or travel with family members.
Do not let random people know where you are, especially if you are alone. Avoid posting location tags on social media where people can easily locate you. A pro tip: You can post pictures days later you’ve been to the place just to make sure no uninvited guests would chase after you.
Install Curtains for Privacy and Added Security
It’s a must to install curtains on your van windows to avoid people from peeking through your windows. It also serves as an added security to prevent people from seeing you sleep inside your van and seeing all your valuables that may attract thieves to go for your belongings.
Choose dark-colored curtains and not bright-colored ones that become a see-through fabric when exposed to sunlight.
Bring Your Pet Dog With You
A dog would be perfect for solo travel. Aside from the joy it brings you, it guards you against attackers. It would start barking if they sensed danger or saw someone unfamiliar lurking in your van.
Dogs also alert the attacker that you have company and make them back down from their evil plans.
Beware of Wild Animals Like Bears
The wildlife is not to be underestimated in van life. National parks in the west have bears ready to join your meal or steal your food any time—some wildlife in other countries houses dangerous animals. Hence, you should carry bear spray with you when hiking or when in forests to somehow protect you from wild animals you may encounter.
Try not to hike alone, especially in bear countries, and seal all scented food items and toiletry properly, especially at night, as those may attract bears into your van.
Living alone in a van is an adventure as you get to learn many things and discover yourself more. However, the world out there is not always welcoming and safe for solo travelers, and the hassle of not sustaining all your needs is something to worry about. Nonetheless, with these tips and recommendations, you can start a solo van life equipped with the knowledge of how to go on your journey.