How dangerous is Van life?

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: How dangerous is Van life? We will give you advice on how to secure your van for outside dangers, but also how to make sure everything is in order inside the van, so you can have a safe and restful trip!

How dangerous is Van life?

Van life is not as dangerous as you may think it is! We know that safety in a van is a constant concern for many travellers, but with increased awareness and some basic measures, you can sleep safely and sound in your van. 

Yes, whether it is the vehicle or its equipment, whether it is defective or whether the layout of the van is not up to standard, everything can be a source of danger, incident, accident, fire … But don’t panic! Good information, good habits and practical tools will help you feel safe in your van and ensure the safety of passengers in a van.

Here are our top rules for travelling and living in a van:

  1. Take only “essential” valuables on board;
  2. Always lock the door when you leave the van and during the night;
  3. Invest in a good lock;
  4. Get motorhome insurance; 
  5. Don’t be fooled by classic hiding places, invest in a good safebox.
  6. Buy an alarm!

Van life: some tips for securing your van

The security of a vehicle is played both externally (protection against theft and burglary, for example) and internally with the electrical circuits, gas … . When you set up your van, you don’t necessarily think of inconveniences such as break-ins or theft (personal effects or vehicles). Unfortunately, it does exist and the best way to counter them is to be well equipped. Here are some tips and equipment to secure your van.

When you are away for a hike or a visit, there is always this little apprehension of finding your vehicle open, visited, damaged or missing … To avoid unpleasant surprises, certain equipment is very useful:

  • Steering wheel lock: A very common safety tool, it can be seen fitted even on some cars. This is a bar that will pass through your steering wheel and lock into place. Manoeuvres are then impossible. There are several kinds (bar, cane which is connected to the brake pedal, a bar connected to the hand brake, etc.). Prices also vary, depending on the sturdiness and the materials used: between $ 20 and $100. 
  • Side door lock: Locks on the side door and back door. You can add a lock on your side door or on the back door, to secure from the outside as well as from the inside. Count between $ 9 and $ 125. 
  • The transverse security bar: an anti-intrusion system that is fixed between the 2 doors of the cabin to block them. Count around 50 $.
  • Alarms: more used in homes than in converted vans! However, you can equip your van with an alarm that will trigger its siren in the event of a break-in.

To prevent theft of personal belongings in a van. Having your belongings stolen is ugly. But all the more so when it comes to important papers or computers, cameras … To avoid this kind of problem, you should be able to carry your valuables with you all the time. But it’s impossible. So think about hiding a small discreet safe (here or here for example) or creating a hiding place in your van.

In case of theft of the van. Unfortunately, sometimes luck is not with you and evil souls may steal your precious car. In the event of theft, the first thing to do is to file a complaint and report the theft to the nearest police or gendarmerie. Then you must report this theft to your insurer within 2 days of the incident. You can request a compensation claim from your insurer if the vehicle is not found within the period specified in your contract (generally 1 month).

One potential solution to finding your stolen vehicle is to equip it with a GPS tracker. This will let you know where it is. However, make sure to hide this tracer, which could be disconnected by the thief if too sighted. Several sites offer this GPS tracker system, between $ 20 and $ 100 for the most sophisticated.

Van life: keeping your equipment and and the passengers safe

When we talk about your equipment, we are talking about two things. Equipment at risk (such as gas, heating, etc.) and your fittings: furniture, dishes, etc.

Regarding risky equipment, you should know that carbon monoxide poisoning is often the cause of domestic incidents in houses or vans. The cause? Poor maintenance of this equipment, poor ventilation in the vehicle, unsuitable use, etc. It is therefore important to check your gas equipment or its heaters (especially before the winter period). 

To avoid any risk of intoxication, you must:

  • Do a check-up of your equipment and check that everything is working, that there are no abnormal things.
  • Ventilate the van well and do not block the air inlets.
  • Observe the instructions for using the devices.
  • Equip yourself with a gas detector (the Dometic brand is a good choice).

A fire can also start in your vehicle. Inattention, overheating, poor electrical wiring… the causes are numerous. In the event of a fire, every second counts, so it’s important to be warned early. Especially if the fire breaks out during sleep. 

For this, it is mandatory to have a fire extinguisher in your vehicle. This must be changed every 2/3 years. The smoke detector is also compulsory. Count between $ 15 and $ 30 for the detector.

Finally, your personal items such as dishes, furniture, books, etc. can represent a danger if they are not properly secured. Or if the drawers and cupboards are not completely closed. Indeed, all these objects, during your travel time, can move if they are not fixed. 

There may then be a risk of projection forwards and in particular towards the windshield (if the brakes suddenly apply, for example). So make sure, before each departure, to check that everything is correctly attached.

Safety in a van also involves good vehicle maintenance

Safety in a van also involves good vehicle maintenance. In particular, this must go through the technical control stage. This means that your home’s electrical and gas installations have been checked by professionals. If you do not want to do the homologation procedures for your converted van (this represents a certain cost), then you need to think of removable fittings.

Without forgetting the yellow vest and the warning triangle (compulsory in your vehicle), also remember to check your tires and their pressure. Under-inflated tires mean a loss of grip and less effective braking. But also higher fuel consumption or risk of bursting. 

So you might as well avoid all these hassles by regularly checking the pressure of your tires. The correct pressure is indicated on the edge of your vehicle’s door or in the glove box or in the maintenance book.

Conclusions and final thoughts

Living and travelling in a van is not dangerous as long as you take some precautions. Whether you opt for a camping holiday in a caravan, motorhome or tent, thefts are frequent. Although campground operators try to stem this phenomenon, it is impossible for them to eradicate it completely. In addition, the structure of some rentals favours theft. 

However, it is possible for you to take certain appropriate measures, either by implementing sound advice or simply by using common sense!

Please feel free to share your thoughts or concerns regarding van life. 

FAQ on How dangerous is Van life?

How to defend yourself in a motorhome?

To protect yourself in a motorhome, take all the necessary precautions. Perimeter protection, carried out by magnetic sensors, concerns the exterior protection of the motorhome, it is effective day and night. The alarm is triggered when an attempt is made to force the doors of the driving position and the front door, but also bays or gates.

What alarm for a motorhome?

Here is a list of the best alarms for motorhomes:

  • Tiiwee A2 – A motorhome alarm with a motion detector. 
  • Kerui – An inexpensive motorhome alarm.
  • Tiiwee Alarm Kit – A good alarm for motorhome.
  • Beeper – Good alarm for wireless motorhome.
  • Beeper TSX99 – A volumetric and perimetric alarm for motorhomes.

How to sleep safely in your van?

Some tips to make the night go well in a van:

  • Stay discreet!
  • Before going to bed, remember to put all your belongings inside the van. 
  • Opt for curtains: in addition to making your interior opaque, this will isolate you from outside view.
  • You can opt for additional locks.

Where to spend the night in a motorhome?

There are many solutions for spending the night in a motorhome and sleeping outside of public spaces without renouncing pleasant and friendly surroundings: Municipal service areas or campsites. 

References