solo van living safety- any tips?

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  • Just after some tips from those of you who have been van dwelling for a while! Main thing in my mind is the coming winter, most of the places I have parked up so far have had a motorhome or another van and although it probably doesn't make much difference, it's felt reassuring to have someone else around.

    I do go on my gut feeling with parking up, and so far it's been fine but just sometimes my mind goes a bit overactive and I start worrying at night- I'm sure it will get better with time and I try and tell myself what can really happen, after all I'm locked in my van, but still!

    I have internal windscreen blinds and try to park so I could leave quickly if I had to- but any other advice?

    Thank you :D

  • It does get easier with time though a bit of caution is never a bad thing.

    If you are on your own and you want to feel secure then the best thing is to place yourself in safe surroundings,ie away from where pissed up people or chavs are likely to go.

    I can not offer you much advice about town parking as am always out in the sticks and rocks,but others on here will have a few ideas if you are in a built up area.

    If you are out in the countryside you could always ask farmers or business owners if you could spend the night in their yard !

    I tend to try and find out of the way park ups behind hedges or somewhere tucked out of sight so that I can have perfect tranquility,but personally am quite used to parking where is available,but having been on the road for about thirty years it has got easier.

    Following your instincts is good as it will often guide you well,but for extra sense of security how about a big dog ? Good security and friendship who well earn their keep in looking after you !!

    A beware of the dog sign could be helpful too irrespective of if you have a dog as can a bit of rope tied to the mirror and a plastic dog bowl with water in it as this could help keep would be dicks away from the door. worst case scenarion is that other dogs and foxes get a drink :-)

    I hear far more stories of people parking up without hassle then those with it so statistically you should get by fine without much hassle.

    I hope that you adapt to the life soon enough and am sure that your worries will lessen fairly soon.

    Bonne route xx

  • Good advice from Fly there, TBH the fear of attack etc is just that, you are more likely to get noise hassle from chavs etc, I agree with the out in the wild plots but if you have buildings, as Fly said ,and maybe a street light or CCTV camera near?, failing all that think of taking up baseball

  • I have a rounders bat and ball in the overhead by the front door ;) , first line of defence for me is a dazzling bright torch , if it can be focused and set to strobe then all the better and if it dont work as a deterrant it still a god lump to have in your hand,usually its only the police nosing around at silly o'clock in the morning and thay have been known to lose interest when temporarily blinded !

    I have a few 'Smile you are on CCTV 24hrs' stickers and a fake camera on my bus, less than a fiver for both.

    If I have to leave the bus unattended I always leave radio 4 on , sounds of conversation deter most wrong uns. With all that said I have never needed the bat and not been broken in to .

  • Hi Plantgirl.

    I rather liked the idea of the dog bowl, very subliminal.

    Would the real thing be to much of a chore ?

    My money on first defence is a car alarm/horn rigged to a panic button inside. Any sound of trouble then hit the button. That or a can of compressed air and horn screwed on top.

    Lurkers hate noise and most will clear off quickly at the first hint of being caught.

    Second line of deference is attack.

    A powerful strobe pulsing LED usb rechargeable torch in the face disorientates would be attackers. Always use a lanyard so it cant be dropped or taken off you.

    Plus the torch facility is handy too. AliExpress 12 bucks, so its not expensive if you buy online from China. My advice, look for one with a steel window breaker point built into the end and learn where to strike pressure points on a body.

    Boris the Bold is right about baseball. Wild eyed wielding and screaming scares most people. (I'm scared already)

    People here will probably criticise me for saying this because its illegal. But get a can of CS/pepper spray. Search out the gel one, as normal sprays are good but not fab in adverse weather like wind and rain.

    The gel has a good direction and sticks to an attackers face.

    Lastly, do a few lessons with someone on self defence.

    It will give you confidence and helps you sleep better at night knowing you can cope in a situation, which is better than feeling nervousness, or edgy.

    Always remember the 7 P's.

    Piss Poor Planning Promotes Piss Poor Performance [panic]

  • Hi Plant Girl,

    I've never lived in a van so can't give you safety tips from experience. What I can give is thoughts from the land owner side.

    Until recently I lived in the countryside within commuting distance of Edinburgh. I had some spare/un-used land and frequently had van dwellers stay over.

    Those who stayed largely needed to stay around Edinburgh for Family / Work / Necessity / Whatever reasons. Pitching in the Edinburgh postcode overnight is a nightmare and usually results in clamping. They all had a handful of van friendly land owners who allowed them to pitch up. It's a win/win situation.

    Personally, I would spend a few days searching out similar people in your area. Planning is everything, even for free spirits. Equestrian properties and livery yards can be good places too. Hard standing for lorries, electrcity and water. And having a van around overnight is a bonus. That bit of extra security for the horses and tack room. There's always the negative people, but you will be surprised at how helpful most people will be.

    And,,, now I'm living in an beautiful organic croft in the North East of Scotland near Speyside. There's a zillion places to pitch up in the area. But is anyone is looking for a good spot to pitch for a few days,, a week,,, a month ,,,,. Then give me a shout. Spring water, electricity and yummy food in return for a few hours help with the fruit and veg gardens.

  • Hi there. Don't buy into the Stranger Danger thing, you are unlikely to be attacked by someone you don't know.

    That said, if there's a knock at the door and I don't know who it is I open a window to speak to whoever it is.

    There are some areas where I would move on from, but that would be because of noise, cars tearing in and out of a parking area and other places where I get a bad vibe.

    I try to walk and stand like I'm not going to take any shit, which is hard for me because I'm friendly and smiley. So instead of going, 'Hi, how are you?' to total strangers I try to scowl and snarl a bit...

    I have one or two items which would put a downer on a person's day if they tried to get in. It's more when I'm not there, then I am concerned about my dog and my stuff, degree of concern would depend on where I am. I'm thinking of getting something like Ring - but not that make because it sends what it sees to Amazon and I feel Amazon already knows too much about me. Then I could speak to my dog, and anyone lurking around.

  • wow thanks everyone for the ideas :D

    I'm glad I asked, it's definately better to have a plan A and B rather than just sit worrying when I hear a noise and the brain goes into overdrive!

    I like the torch idea a lot, and some spray of some sort! The radio on whilst out is a good one too, I have been putting the blinds down whilst I've been out so that no-one can tell if anyone is in there or not (I started doing that after I watched someone peering in through the window of the van when I was walking back to it, I think they were just being nosey but still, shows people do look)

    I like the idea too of finding a friendly landowner and having somewhere to park up for a while in return for some work. I did a while ago look at the woofers website (took me a while to remember what it was called-.....I knew it was something to do with dogs....I nearly said doggers but realised that couldnt be right :o) but I think it's based on live-in accomodation so the hours you are asked to do are pretty much full-time.

  • Just be aware of your surroundings, take sensible precautions and you will be fine, the danger out there is minimal, enjoy and unlike living in a house, you can move on at a moments notice if you dont like the neighbours .

  • Wwoofing is a good way to pass time and learn some skills,but can not come with a guarenteed park up. You would have to chat with each person and see if they could offer you that.

    Working the seasons in the fields,such as grapes,potatoes,daffs,wallflower plants,etc can be a good way as often you will be able to get a park up on the farm you are working for and earn a decent wage too.

    A lot of wwoof hosts only offer food and accomodation so you will still need to earn your diesel money !

    Definately do not get wwoofing and doggers mixed up as if you do you may find a layby to park in,but wull get lots of people visiting the van and spoil that idea of a tranquil park up !!

    Bonne chance xx

  • Once upon a time I had a part-time job driving for a taxi company. One of the other drivers kept a baseball bat in the front, although I'm not sure if that can explained away as easily as de-icer or WD-40! It didn't prove to be much good, though, when he went to pick up a fare at a pub outside town and left the keys in the ignition while he went inside to find the customer.

    The controller made sure to press the speak button on the radio when Jock phoned in to confess. Hearing one side of that conversation didn't leave much to the imagination.

  • Powder fire extinguishers can be quite debilitating. More expensive than deep heat or de-icer but probably more forgivable overall.

    Otherwise, yup, all good suggestions in this thread. I have most and keep all in mind except any type of pepper spray.

    I'd prefer a firearm and mace but nanny state don't like it. (crossbows are cheap and effective but can't legally be available for immediate use and realistically you only get one shot)


  • Half a decade of van life and I've yet to have a single event related to actually residing in a van where I've felt threatened let alone desired a weapon.

    May have been lucky and I don't doubt for one moment is potentially different for a single female but best not to let paranoia detract from what can be an enjoyable lifestyle.

    You've more chance of grief from the authorities than malevolent strangers.

  • True dat !!

    Friday and saturday evenings I always choose a place where the chavs are not going to bother me.

    They are just boys being boys in general and it is nothing but a bit of tom foolery,but it can be annoying all the same if you wake up at 4 in the morning because of someone doing handbrake turns or beeping their horn at you. These people will always ehist so best to take steps where you done have to put up with them.

    Did someone mention napalm :reddevil:

  • The only weird experience I've had so far was some kids (well, presumably kids!) burning out a car down the road from where I was (at least it wasn't next to I have to give them that). It had seemed a nice spot but I hadn't realised quite how near the town I was (I'm learning every day.....). I was woken around midnight by a series of loud, slightly metallic bangs and had an anxious few minutes trying to listen and figure out if it was a psychopath on the loose smashing things up or something else! When I finally plucked up the courage to take a look it all became obvious...

    Fortunately a series of fire engines then turned up and sorted things out, although they then stood about talking loudly for ages, I think they were enjoying a bit of a get together!!

    So it was all fine in the end, but as with other nights where my brain started whirring, it made me think what would I actually do in a crisis. I have lots of ideas now though :D I'm not sure about a crossbow though- think it might be difficult to justify possession of one of those!

  • I woke up once in the early hours in the middle of a beech forest in Burgundy and was not sure what had woken me. On inspection out of the window I saw creepy light over on the lane that I had come down with mist flowing through it like in a horror movie. It was the next thing that really confused me as two zombies staggered by with torn limbs and flesh hanging off them !!

    Seriously,I had not been on the acid :-o

    Didnt know if my pick axe handle would of worked on zombies :-)