A concern of many first time boondockers–or those considering it–is the question of personal safety. There are many who claim that you are as safe if not safer out boondocking then you are in just about any other public place. I am one of them. Others would not venture out without a weapon, a firearm being weapon of choice. Neither side is 100% right or wrong. I suppose I would start carrying a handgun if I felt really and honestly threatened—not just imagined–with violence when boondocking. Or if it was that bad out there, I would probably find some other place to camp or instead go to a designated campground where others where nearby. But in my 35 years of RVing and 17 years of serious boondocking as a fulltimer, I have never had a problem. I imagined I had a problem a few times, but they turned out to be unwarranted fears. In contrast, others can tell story after story of how their possession of a gun has prevented robbery, holdup, breaking and entering, assault, mugging, and rape. When you hear these stories, consider the source, and check the facts. Then take whatever position that makes you comfortable. If there have been verifiable stories of assault on RVers when boondocking, they have been few, and there are certainly very long odds of it happening to you. Theft, maybe. But again, not a huge threat. Most thefts have resulted probably because of carelessness by the RVer. Nevertheless, to be prudent when boondocking, follow these guidelines whenever possible (but you don’t have to be paranoid about following all of them all of the time). Practice common sense and enjoy your boondocking time.
- Never open your door to someone you don’t know after dark. Several times I have had someone knock for various reasons—like the native Indians in Mexico that had harvested clams off the rocks near where we were camped and wanted to sell them to us. We bought them and had a wonderful, fresh-out-o-the-water, clam linguini for dinner. Another time, a couple knocked and said they ran out of gas. I told them (through the window) that I couldn’t help them (I had no sympathy for them if they let that happen).
- Don’t invite strangers, even those that seem perfectly harmless, into your RV. If you want to socialize, do it outside, under the awning.
- Lock your door when you leave (I admit that I don’t always do this). You don’t want to come back and find a homeless person inside your rig.
- Don’t tell strangers (or newly made friends) that you meet where you are camped.
- Boondock with friends or with club members. Many solo RVers belong to solos clubs (such as Loners On Wheels) and often camp together.
- Bury some land mines around your rig to protect yourself from intruders. (Don’t call Homeland Security, that’s a joke.)
- Don’t leave any unnecessary stuff lying around outside your rig when you leave. Camp chair, table, rug—OK. Portable generator—if you don’t have a locked compartment where you can stow it, make sure you chain it up with a heavy chain, not one a simple bolt cutter could cut through .
- Close your blinds and drapes so the curious can’t see what you have inside.
- Lock all your outside locker doors.
- Re-key your lockers. Most RVs have the same key to open lockers, which is easy for a would-be thief to acquire.
- If you still feel uncomfortable, buy a simple red LED light and mount it near your entry door, operated by a switch on the inside. When you go out, flip the switch. The red light looks like you have a set burglar alarm.
Check out my new eBook, BOONDOCKING: Finding the Perfect Campsite on America’s Public Lands, on my Web site.