To be expected woman are the ones that most ask me about safety and security during my travels. I understand why they may feel more vulnerable than men.
I don't advocate carrying a gun on the road to anyone due to the gun laws that are different in each state. I believe that someone with a gun that plans on carrying it must be prepared to use it and if your not then don't bring it.
I don't mind people with guns as I have them myself but if you plan to use it for defense then you better know the gun as well as your own hands. You better know when and under what circumstances you will use it and if you do use it you have to be prepared for the consequences of your actions.
The best security are your common senses. Most people on the road don't post where they are but where they were.
I will not be trying to cover this topic as others have written comprehensive blog's on the subject. I will only be addressing how I addressed safety and security on the road while living in and out of my Prius.
To me sleeping in my Prius by myself with the doors locked is more secure than sleeping in a tent, but I don't feel insecure in a tent. In bear country I am more worried about them than people.
We all have different experiences in life that form what we think on everything. If you know something bad that happened to a friend of yours on travels you will form your opinions with this bias, as anyone would do.
I have traveled the world for many years and have always been a minor to moderate risk taker. This is my baseline for my experiences and I don't have any bad experiences with regard to traveling other than being sick. Most of my overseas travel was by myself.
I don't believe in the boogie man so for me everything comes down to facts and figures and then something random could happen to me but it doesn't have to happen on the road.
Heck many years ago a coworker went to a local strip mall and 2 guys followed him and kidnaped him in his own car. By hey took him in the woods about 10 miles away and argued over shooting him as he was on his knees with anckles tied and wrists tied behind his back. They left him there tied up. He had a pocket knofe and was eventually able to get it out and cut the ropes and go for help. The two villains were later caught.
Random acts of violence like this example near home can happen anywhere, including on the road, so it is my belief that there is no greater risk on the road unless you creat it.
For safety I often take risk with my very long hikes. I may not see anyone for 4-6 hours and many places I go do not have cell service.
Signs say watch out for long horn sheep, rattle snakes, mountain lions, and bears. Yup I'm all by myself and no cell phone service. I carry bear spray and at least 3 knives, one very big and all are extremely sharp. In reality would I be wrestling a mountain lion wheeling a knife. I guess if its what I had to do but I don't put too much belief I would be ok after it was all over. When asked I just tell people I'm doing what I love to do and if that random act happened, oh well. I am contemplating getting snake bite gaters. Snake bites seem to be the most probable thing that would happen and I should consider this fact in the future.
I nearly stepped on a snake twice last year but luckily I didn't even though they turned out to be a form of garder snake.
I learned to use my hiking stick to put it over the step down first where I could not see to deal with the snakes that like to rest on the crack of the rocks.
Because I stealth on streets and parking lots and I don't always want to be detected I can get to and from the drivers seat to the back of my Prius with only a little effort. All I have to do is lay the drivers seat back and slide to and from the back seat. I've done this for stealth reasons but never because I felt a threat outside the car that would need me to do it.
The Prius is a keyless car so before I left on this year's travels I bought some extra key blanks on Amazon and had a locksmith cut them for me. One I wore on a necklace for the entire trip. I kept my spare keyless fob in the car without the battery installed as you can't power lock the car if it senses a keyless fob.
So if I lost my keyless fob I carried I would have my mechanical key to get in and assemble the battery to the spare and I'm on my way.
I kept the keyless fob in my pant pocket and it was with me all the time, so if I was in danger I could push the red button and activate the security alarm.
Carrying a fire extinguisher is always a good thing for fires but isn't bad for spraying at someone or something if needed.
My modus operandi is to be settled where I want to be for the night while it is still light. I'm not out in places or bars that may present risk. There were only a few times I was out late at night for entertainment reasons and I planned where I was going to park in advance.
What I am covering is just things to reduce my risk.
Did I camp in dispersed places with no one else around, well yes I did. I don't see being alone in the dark as a high risk. I don't advertise being there in advance and I usually only spend one or two nights and then move on. When I was near Quartzite, AZ there were many others around me so there was no issue. Most Vandwellers will help one another as they would want the same.
National Parks and Monuments have handouts at the toll booths or visitors center with safety information like this one from Pipe Organ Cactus National Monument. It pays to read them and understand your risks.
It recommends hiking with others. Although this is good practice, I would not get to do very much on my trip having to find someone to hike with. I did meet people on trails and some were also by themselves.
I did do a MeetUp.com hike in the Tucson area and it went well, but my need for regular hikes and moving so much prevented this as a regular method of hiking.
I recommend MeetUp.com for hiking with others as it is a good way to meet other like minded people.
It also recommends that you share your location with others.
I use Life360.com's app to send my location to my son Brent 24/7.
He called me once and asked about my experience in a Mcdonalds in Iowa while I was doing downloads.
He would get realtime updates on my location where there was cell service. I didn't need to check in as many trailhead are in cell service range.
I also used the AllTrails app that provided me information on available trails and difficulty, but I would turn it on to track my location.
I have an exceptional sense of direction and do not have much need for maps and compass, but I bring them anyway. My ability is to visualuze the trail and put it to memory. The problem is that there are intersecting trails that are not on the maps that make it confusing.
This app lets me know exactly where I am in different modes and I can always walk towards where I started if I get off trail.
For where to stay I use the AllStays app as it is map driven and I just click on what I want and it opens up my map software and I am on my way.
Although none of these apps are perfect they are helpful to know if a Walnart parking lot is an ask to stay location or no stays are allowed. It a good tool to plan your safe stays.
It also gives you Plan B or C if your first choice doesn't pan out. I would go for the free stay first but AllStsys would show the closest paid campgrounds as well. Getting to your location before dark means you still have daylight to find a second choice if needed.
Remember I don't have s copilot to do this for me so the app is a great substitute.
Do you need a separate GPS if you have a smart phone with GPS?
You do if you travel like me. There were many miles of roads where there was no cell service or on Indian Nation Land where the agreement with the cell company only gives you voice and text.
Remember I drove many back country dirt roads to find my dispersed camping spots and my phone was good but I needed a GPS that would work regardless of cell.
It is one less risk that I covered by being totally self contained in my Prius Campervan.
I don't carry large somes of money with me and I don't use ATM's at night or use ATM's that are not located at a major bank location.
As I mentioned I do not go to bars while I travel by myself. If I wanted a beer I would buy a six pack and that would last me some time. I didn't have much space for keeping extras around.
There is risk in everything we do but we can control one risks and still have adventures. I do have a tendency to offer help to others and this can be a risk but I believe most people are good and I would not my fear of some random act of violance stopping me from helping others. Of course I am parked when it's dark out so my helping others is limited to daylight.
Weather is a big issue when traveling so I used apps for weather radar like this image and future forecast weather maps from Intellicast.
I would never want to get stuck out Boondocking in rain as I don have the clearance on the Prius to deal with water and mud.
I also stayed away from falling snow. On the way home I planned my travels to be after a weather front had moved through not to be in the front where the danger from severe storms were.