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Solo camping: Tips for staying safe while RVing alone

We recently ran a survey asking readers: “Couples: Would you likely keep traveling with an RV if your partner died?” The majority, 74 percent, answered, “Yes, I believe I would.” Many men seemed not worried in the least.

That got me to thinking. What would it take for me to feel comfortable (read: “safe”) when solo camping as a woman? After a bit of research to see what other women do (or have done), this is what I found:

Self-defense

Many people advised exercising your 2nd Amendment rights. Get a gun. Get training. Keep practicing to stay sharp. (Caution: Check state and local gun laws for the places where you plan to camp.)

Self-defense skills help some campers feel secure. Many places offer classes that will refresh your knowledge and keep your abilities sharply honed.

Visual ruses when solo camping

Purchase large-sized men’s boots. Place them outside your rig in plain sight. Passersby will assume that you are traveling with a man.

Always set out three or more camp chairs near your RV. This tells others that at least three people occupy your campsite.

Purchase a dog toy for a large dog. Put the toy, along with a large dog water bowl outside your rig. Also, find an app of a dog barking and use it a few times throughout your stay. Or just get a dog! Many singles enjoy the company, and a thief or attacker will think twice before targeting someone with a canine companion.

When drying clothing outside, hang a few men’s shirts on your clothesline along with your own clothes.

Safety precautions for solo camping

Always keep doors and windows securely locked.

Pull down black-out shades well before dusk and leave them down overnight. Also, keep shades down whenever you leave the campsite.

Upon arrival, get the local emergency numbers for the police. Key the numbers into your phone for quick access. Keep your phone near your bed each night in case you need to get to it quickly.

Place your tow vehicle’s or toad’s key fob on your nightstand. The fob’s emergency warning signal is loud and can easily awaken those around you if you need help.

Personal carry items

When hiking alone or simply walking around the campsite, many folks recommend carrying pepper spray. Other folks say that a longer-distance spray will provide better protection. They suggest bear spray, wasp repellent, or mace. (Again, check local regulations.)

A stun gun is the “go-to” for many solo campers. Learn how to carry, access quickly, and use it properly before depending upon it for security.

Personal alarms have grown in popularity in recent years (we recommend this one). The loud sounds will potentially frighten off an attacker, but also alert others to the danger you face.

Many folks carry a whistle on a chain or fastened to a jacket zipper, well within reach. Blasting the noise may distract a would-be attacker and get the attention of other campers.

Flare safety bracelets like this one can, when activated, simultaneously connect with your phone, and call the local police. It will also immediately provide your GPS location. Some personal bracelets will also signal a loud warning sound to alert those near you.

A word of caution

Repellent spray, stun guns, and firearms may be turned against you. Be aware of that fact and choose your protection wisely.

Do you travel alone? What kind of (if any) protections do you rely upon? Please tell us in the comments below.

##RVDT1696

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Barbara
18 days ago

Seems more than a bit ridiculous. People looking to take advantage will notice you are alone no matter how much crap you leave outside.

Bert Wilkinson
20 days ago

This year, 2021, marks 69 years since I started tent camping and then RV camping. My travels have been coast to coast and thru Canada to Mexico border. My current RV is a 5th wheel that my wife and I use. What a great country we live in I have always felt safe. During all the years I never encountered a situation that was life-threatening. For all overnight stays, I always use locations that are designed for camping. Reading current information and being aware of my situation and surroundings has worked for me and my wife.

travelingjw
25 days ago

This is an excellent article and as a Father of an awesome young woman it bothers me that she might have to face these issues. I do though want to ask anyone thinking about following the photo above to think twice before you kick a man in the testicles. First, it is very difficult to place a kick that would disable the attacker. Second, when you kick a man there he falls forward and can grab and hold onto you. If he is that close and you need to defend yourself, nails across his eyes and/or a knuckle jab into the throat will be much more effective. If you are going to kick, step to the side if you can and kick as hard as you can to the side of the knee. Your one goal is to disable the person enough that you can run.

Lori
25 days ago

I’ve been traveling solo in my Class C for 15+ years, most always with one of my two dogs. They do need to be more than 12 inches at the shoulder, however. Ladies, dogs make the difference. They bark aggressively. They don’t need to attack; they just need to make evil-doers think they will. Over and over again I’ve run into several aggressive human males who have tried to cow me in my travels — especially in the southern states. Look ’em in the eye, give ’em the eyeball once-over, keep a disdainful attitude, and keep your dog close. Teach him to bark on silent hand command. All this, of course, comes after using common sense to not put yourself in an obvious pickle. If it doesn’t feel right, LEAVE. The good folks outnumber the bad. I sure don’t mess around with lots of shoes.

Dana D
25 days ago

Firearms have been part of my life as long as I can remember. My father and his father hunted on the farm for food. I was taught how to shoot when I could hold a rifle. When I moved to Las Vegas, where there are shootings almost every day and everywhere, I got a Concealed Carry Permit. I don’t live in Las Vegas anymore, however my firearm has become part of my clothing when going anywhere. On a recent trip to Death Valley I left my firearm at home because of California’s overly restrictive firearms laws. I was at a gas station in remote Northern Nevada when I was aggressively approach by what appeared to be a homeless person on drugs. He was upset and was yelling at me. I reached for my firearm, and oops, it wasn’t with me. I stood up to him, and he backed down, however he was way bigger and younger than me so if he got violent no telling what would have happened to me. I won’t visit States that don’t honor my Concealed Carry Permit unless I absolutely have to. The USA is too violent!

George Paniagua
25 days ago

Having a bit of experience in the predatory world, I have found that education is the foundation of safety. Read the Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker. It will teach how bad guys operate. Take a course from Tony Blauer (The Spear System) he teaches how to survive an attack. I’m old and beat up. I carry a gun, I can present it and place 2 rounds in the A zone in 1.3 seconds (maybe), I have insurance too. I have a dog, train him most days. I have a edged weapon, use it most days ( open a lot of boxes, I’m a heavy shopper). I don’t live in fear, but I don’t feel safe.

Pat
25 days ago

After traveling alone for years, I have never felt unsafe and don’t do most of those things listed. I carry extra chairs in case someone wants to sit. I open the windows for fresh air. I pull down the shades at dark if other people are around. I use my head and gut. I f it doesn’t feel right, I don’t stay. I have only not stayed in a spot once, mainly because it looked like a teenage drunken party might ensue. I camp alone in the desert, in parking lots, in established parks, and boondocking on national lands.

Judy
25 days ago

I have been traveling alone for 10 years. You are forgetting the most important safety precaution—-your head, If I had to do all of the things you suggest or even half of them it would spoil my camping experience. I use my head and my instincts. I do not travel after dark. I stay in campgrounds where there are a lot of other people. I keep my doors locked when I am away from my rv. I do not hike alone. II always try to be aware of what is going on around me. And if I get an uneasy feeling about anything, I leave. That has only happened to me twice in 10 years. I can’t even explain why I felt uneasy but I just left the campground and was immediately relieved.

wanderer
25 days ago

After years on the road solo and literally NO issues with safety, I think tip #1 would be to chill out and not live in fear.

I’ll agree with setting out 3 chairs, mostly to invite people to visit, but side effect of looking like a family camping. The rest, I don’t know. I think we need to avoid feeding fears, when a woman is probably less likely to be attacked in a campground than in her own hometown.

One tip I would add is ‘be careful where you camp’. Don’t take a space in an urban trailer park with a few open spaces for overnighters, the odds of criminal activity there are much higher than in a recreational RV park. I avoid truck stops and parking lots for the same reason, though many people feel safe in them. On the other side of the spectrum, don’t boondock where you are not in sight of a few other campers, unless you know the countryside like the back of your hand and know it to be safe.

patti panuccio
25 days ago

Be aware.

Don
25 days ago

Caution on the use of wasp spray – this one is an urban legend. It was tested recently and found to have almost no effect on a determined attacker. All the other advice is good…

Tom Champagne
25 days ago

OM G! As a male in my 70’s I never felt afraid of anything when camping alone. Maybe it’s because I’ve always had two yellow labs. Everyone knows though that there isn’t a mean bone in their body and I doubt they would hurt anyone even if I was attacked. Their most vicious part is their tongues. Lol. I do feel Sorry and sad after reading this article for those who have to seriously go thru this fear ( usually justified).

david
25 days ago

Great job Gail, those visuals are excellent ideas. Never thought that far ahead. Once I was camping on Padre Island and vehicle doors slammed outside my camper and woke me up, my first thought was “man, you idiot, your pistol is at the house, you have no protection”, they drove off. I literally felt naked, hours passed before I fell back to sleep. Now, 2nd amendment for me. Note; I found out that 2 years ago a couple was murdered and buried in a shallow grave on this beach area. Their truck and trailer was found in Mexico along with the two criminals.

Martha Mary Holmes
25 days ago

My husband passed away in 2016 while we were camping. That has not stopped me, One of the first things I did was join RVWomen. The next thing I did was learn to pay attention to my surroundings, especially if I am overnighting at a truck stop. I make sure my adult daughter knows where I am at all times. I check in with her every day. I learned Tai Chi, which is a very serious form of martial arts. I keep myself healthy and strong. I don’t like the implication that I am more vulnerable than a single man. Oh, and I travel with Luke, my rescue pit-mix dog. He’s very sweet and affectionate but other people (the dangerous kind) don’t know that. I enjoy spending time outdoors in our beautiful country.I won’t let fear own me.

Traveler
25 days ago

“The dangerous kind “of people?

Martha Mary Holmes
25 days ago
Reply to  Traveler

Anyone who might be looking for a vulnerable person to attack.

Jim Thomas
25 days ago

Gail, I think you may have conflated two things: when I answered the earlier survey, it wasn’t lack of safety that would discourage me from RVing alone, it was that I would find no joy in it without my partner. Otherwise, excellent article.