Overcoming Fear for Your Safety While Living Off-Grid in a Van
Since I began this website 10 years ago, the question I’m asked more than any other is, “Will I be safe living on a van? I want to, but I’m afraid.” I mainly get it from single women but I do get it from many men as well. In today’s post I want to answer that question as best I can and reassure you all that YES, you will be safe. In fact, you will be safer boondocking in a van than you ever would be at home in a city. I’m specifically answering women, but nearly all the advice I’m giving here will apply equally to both men and women in how to deal with your fear and stay safe.
This will be a two part post and in this one I’ll just give you general advice but in the next one I’ll give a long detailed list of 1) things you can do now to keep yourself safe from bad guys, 2) what you can do to prevent an attack and 3) some ideas of how to defend yourself.
But in this post I first want to address the issue of fear, because being too afraid can cause you more mental and emotional harm than the bad guys can do you physical harm. If fear is your Master, it’s like a noxious weed growing in your heart that kills out every other good thing.
Embrace your fears:
Sometimes we think being afraid is bad and a sign of weakness, but I don’t believe that at all. I’m convinced that fear is a very good thing because it’s a gift given to us by nature/universe/god to keep us safe. Without it we would run around willy nilly doing dangerous and foolish things that could quickly lead us into great harm. No, fear is a valuable ally we need to embrace, listen to and invite into our life by following its warnings. But, at the same time, we have to control it so it doesn’t become too strong and dominate in our lives. In the right proportion it keeps us safe and happy, but if left unchecked it can lead to paranoia and phobias that dominate and paralyze us and make our lives even more miserable than being a victim of an attack.
Unfortunately our society is plagued by so much fear that way too many Americans are huddled in their houses, which have become fortresses of fear; captives in a pleasant prison of their own making. The epidemic of fear that paralyzes us is a result of the fear-mongering which is an institutionalized part of our lives and it’s coming from our family, the government and corporations alike. There are three reasons for the flood of fear around us:
- The government spreads big fears to get us to be docile and obedient in our houses and so they can chip away at our rights. I don’t mean that in the sense of an evil conspiracy theory, I believe most government officials really are that fearful themselves so they think they are doing a good thing when they spread the paranoia around and erode our rights to “protect” us.
- Corporations use fear to control and motivate consumers to do what they want them to do. They use little fears so we will buy their deodorant so we won’t smell, or their car so we won’t be killed in a crash. They create the fear that if we drink the wrong beer we will be shunned. They use fear to keep their business growing.
- The media is full of fearful things because it attracts customers to their papers, TV shows and websites’ “If it bleeds, it leads.” Most reporters have a “crusader” mentality so they are looking for every bad thing they can find so they can rescue others from it. Once they find it they hype it up so they can be the heroes and crucify the villains. Small problems don’t make a big enough splash in the news cycle so they turn them into big problems.
In each of these cases the people behind them are so full of fear themselves that they want everyone else to share in it; that way they feel justified in their fear. When you told your family and friends about vandwelling, I’m sure many responded with great fear for your safety and spread it to you like the contagious disease it is. They probably had good intentions but because they have been immersed in fear all their lives, in their concern for you they just automatically spewed it all over you.
Fear has become like an evil and corroding thread that is woven throughout the fabric of American culture. The result is that while fear is good, paranoia and phobias are bad and way too many Americans have slipped over the edge into phobia and become crippled by it. While they mean well, many will want to cripple you with it “for your own good.”
My suggestion is that you don’t fight your fears but that you face them and have answers for each of them. There is a solution for every fear so you should find it and when the fear arises you can offer it as a solution to calm it. You may have to do it many times, but eventually the fear will subside and return to a normal, healthy size.
Fear is the only thing that stands between you and living the life of your dreams. To make your dreams a reality you must find a way to overcome it!
Overcoming Fear of Physical Harm:
For many of us, especially for women, their greatest fear is for their physical safety, “Will predatory men hurt me?” So let’s look at solutions to calm your fear for your safety.
The first way you can reassure your fear for your safety is by showing it that thousands of other women are living as nomads in total safety. I’ve been doing this a long time and have met literally hundreds of solo women nomads. The topic of safety generally comes up in our conversations and none of them have ever even considered giving up the mobile life because of fear for their safety. Universally they have all said they felt safer traveling and boondocking in a car, van or RV then they ever did while living at home in a stick-n-brick house.
They all discovered that criminal predators lived in the cities where there were many easy targets with things worth taking. They weren’t on public land where there are few targets and they had little worth stealing.
But my saying that probably won’t be enough to calm your fears, you really need to hear it from many other women directly. In order to do that I asked some lady vandweller friends of mine to make a video with me answering just this question; here’s a link to it:
If you don’t see the embed, click or cut and paste this into your browser:
But you still may need to hear it from even more women so I would encourage you to join my forum where you can talk directly to hundreds of other people (roughly half women and half men) who love to share their experiences on the road. You can hear directly from them what their experience has been and how they stay safe. You can join the forum here: https://www.cheaprvliving.com/forums/. On the forum I started a thread by asking “How do you stay safe on the road?” and I got many wonderful responses. I think it would be worth your time to just go and read the whole thread through here: https://www.cheaprvliving.com/forums/Thread-How-do-you-stay-safe. In my next post I’ll compile a list of the best advice.
Finally one of the best things you can do is follow the blogs of some solo women travelers so that you can see and talk to many others who are doing it safely and having a truly wonderful time. Every time you read one of their posts, your fear will diminish, “If they can do it, so can I.” Here are a few links for you to follow:
- RV Sue and crew: http://rvsueandcrew.net/
- Becky at Interstellar Orchard: http://www.interstellarorchard.com
- Jaclyn on her Harley towing her teardrop: http://www.jhblueroad.com/
- Charlene in her van: http://swankiewheels.blogspot.com/
- Kim at Kimbopollo: http://kimbopolo.blogspot.com/
Finally, to lay to rest once and all for all the idea that living mobile is a certain death trap I’ve compiled a list of measures you can take to both feel safer and to be certain that you are safe. That will be in my next post. But, it won’t be enough to just read the list, you’ve got to take action and actually so some of those things. Every time you do you will feel your confidence and hope growing, and at the same time your fear diminishing. The list will be in my next post.
Faith is the only sure cure for fear and as you take these steps with hard concrete action you will build faith in something that will push out the fears that threaten to cripple and paralyze you. From now on, whenever fear questions your dreams, discuss them together, and discover together the way forward. There you will find the oldest and best wisdom for you.
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing that you think you cannot do.” ~~Eleanor Roosevelt
I’m making Videos on my good friends James and Kyndal’s YouTube Channel. See them here:
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The Gift of Fear: and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence
The Science of Fear: How the Culture of Fear Manipulates Your Brain
The Fear Cure: Cultivating Courage as Medicine for the Body, Mind, and Soul