Planning solo female van life? Worried about security, loneliness or how to take care of your vehicle?
Here's everything you need to know about living and travelling in a van as a lone female.
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Solo Female Vanlife- my experience
I'll be honest, I never thought I'd be a ‘solo female van lifer'. After all, I spend most of my time touring Europe in a motorhome with my husband.
But during the years since I quit my job to travel, I've spent many weeks on my own in the van (well, with the dog- does he count?)
Here are some of the best tips for living and travelling in a motorhome or campervan by yourself, both from my experiences and tips from other solo female vanlifers I've met through our travels.
Solo Female Vanlife Tips for Staying Safe
Safety and security is one of the biggest concerns for most females who travel alone. Here are some ways to protect yourself while travelling by van.
Listen to your gut
This is important whether you travel alone or with anyone else. If you like to wild camp/ wild park with your campervan, you MUST learn to listen to your ‘sixth sense'. If you're worried about an area, or can't find anywhere suitable, there's no shame in going into a campsite for the night
Stealth camping vs campsites
If you’re a solo female van life traveller, one of the hardest things can be finding suitable and safe places to stay overnight.
Campsites can be expensive, and often have to be booked months in advance, leaving you with limited flexibility, but they are the safest option for women travelling by themselves.
However, if you don’t want to be tied down or want to save some money, you can travel using wild camping or stealth camping. These can be found both in built up areas and in more remote areas. There are pros and cons to each.
Built-up areas have a lot more people around- which means there are people to hear if you need to call for help, but there are also more people trying to peer into your van windows or report you for staying somewhere you shouldn’t.
If you do wish to ‘stealth camp’ on a residential street, make sure no one can see you are a female on your own. It helps your security if you can get from the driver seat into the back of your van without needing to go outside. Hang up blinds or curtains so people can’t see inside.
Alternatively, there are plenty of places in woodland or quieter areas (NOT National Parks- overnight parkups are restricted there.) These can be quieter, but do have their own risks- often quiet, out of the way parking areas are used for all sorts of nefarious things during the night and you need to be able to move on quickly should you find yourself in a potentially bad situation.
Have a toilet onboard
Not having to go outside at night will vastly reduce your risk
Be ready to move during the night
Also, make sure you know EXACTLY where your keys are and things are packed away before you go to sleep- just in case you have to move during the night.
Also, don't drive when you're stealth camping. Just in case you need to leave quickly.
Fit additional locks
Don't leave windows or skylights open when you leave the van.
Have an alarm
If you don't travel with a dog (which is a fantastic idea if you're a solo female van traveller), then getting a loud alarm is always a good idea. You can even get some deterrents which sound like a dog barking.
Learn to do basic maintenance
If your van breaks down in the middle of nowhere, you immediately become more vulnerable. Before you set off on your travels, learn how to do basic maintenance, including changing a tyre or at least fixing it to get you somewhere safe. Same for changing a light bulb, checking oil and other basic pre-trip checks you should do.
Solo Female Vanlife tips for when things go wrong
No trip, in the history of the world, has ever gone 100% according to plan. (No, I have no statistical data to support that fact. Possibly one did somewhere. Once)
You WILL experience things going wrong, breakdowns, wrong turns and other problems. Here are some tips to help you mitigate those.
Download Maps (and music!)
NOTHING is more annoying than relying on data for a map, whether it's on your camper sat nav or your phone… and then either losing signal or losing data. Same applies to music. Make sure you download whatever you need before you set off.
Let people know where you are
NO- I do NOT mean post your overnight sleepy spot on Instagram or Facebook! And I strongly recommend you do NOT use Polar steps. But it's important that SOMEONE knows where you are each night… just in case. Text a family member or friend with your co-ordinates or What3Words location, and give them a rough time you'll check in tomorrow so they know you're ok.
Alternatively, you can share your phone location with a trusted person, so if you don't check in they have a way of tracking your phone. You could also put an old phone hidden inside your vehicle and use Find My Friends on that too. You'll need to remember to charge the phone regularly, but it's an effective and cheap tracker.
Have an Emergency Kit
Make sure you have the following onboard:
- Road Trip First aid kit
- Basic tools
- Electrical spares (with tape and connectors)
- Spare water and some snacks in case you break down
- Portable power unit
- Download the What3Words app, so you can easily tell emergency services exactly where you are at all times.