Many RVers are held back from the joys of boondocking by concerns about boondocking safety. Aside from the amenities and full hook-ups, safety concerns are the reason most people cite for preferring developed pay-campgrounds.
If you've made up your mind to be paranoid, you probably won't even be reading this but, if you're looking for boondocking safety information and advice to put you mind at ease, read on.
Being female, I know how, particularly for women, instincts can kick in when dealing with the unknown. Also, like most people, I'm prone to being influenced by what I hear from others.
When we started on our first year-long RV trip in 2000, we found various locations across northern Ontario to spend the night by boondocking but, before crossing into the “big bad States” (ooooo I was afraid), I insisted that if we were going to camp in "questionable places," we needed some sort of protection - a weapon!.
So before crossing the border, we stopped at a hunter's outfitting store to purchase "Bear Spray". This is, in essence, pepper spray. The packaging makes it clear it is to be used as protection from bears only, not from people.
So, feeling a bit better, at least no longer afraid of a bear breaking into our RV while we were sleeping, we crossed bravely into the USA and Northern Michigan. Because we didn't know the ropes yet (we hadn't even heard of boondocking, never mind boondocking safety), we weren't aware of the fabulous inexpensive and free camping opportunities in the National Forests we were passing through.
A week or two later, crossing the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming, we met a couple who had been traveling for months. They told us they only camped in "dispersed camping areas" in the National Forests. Because other people - hikers, hunters, fishermen and RVers use these isolated free campsites all the time, we realized they must be a safe option.
From this point on, we discovered many other boondocking opportunities to camp in safe legal locations that suited us perfectly for not only cost but also privacy and scenery.
Read stories about boondocking safety contributed by other RVers or tell us about your own experience here.At rv-adventuring.com, you'll enjoy the personal story of a full-time RVer's adventures and mis-adventures on the road.
For me, there were three parts to dispelling my initial fears about boondocking safety.
So, while I hate to say that "fear is all in your mind", it would seem that it is. And you can change your mind.
That's not to say there aren't places and reasons to be cautious in this world. Not only where RVs and boondocking safety are concerned but, in any situation, you need to let your own common sense rule.
I truly believe that everything in life, even sitting in a chair and breathing, involves some element of risk. Each of us decides for ourselves every day what risks we are willing to take. If your risk tolerance is exceptionally low, you're not likely to be traveling at all or reading this boondocking safety web page.
When it comes to quieting our fears, nothing's more effective than knowledge and experience.
From ten years of boondocking experience, here are my common sense conclusions, insights, and boondocking safety advice.
Think about what signs you're displaying. What does your RV say to the passer by? We don't have the option to control our out-of-town license plates, but we can control any other signs that we post.
When it comes to boondocking safety there is some signage that could help to protect your RV.
What if you still feel unsafe and want added security? What are the best protective self-defense devices to have for boondocking safety?
Personally, I believe that by carrying a gun, I'm providing one for the intruder to use against me or in his next burglary. If you do carry a firearm, are you prepared for the consequences of actually having to use it?
The same goes for any object that you have to actually wield at the intruder --a knife, a club, a tire iron. Is this something you could actually do without a moment's hesitation?
I'll end this segment on boondocking safety by telling you about the only time we have ever encountered a feeling of danger while boondocking.
Despite all I've told you above, it was in a very remote desert location, near Gila Bend, Arizona, miles from any "big bad city."
After visiting the nearby pictographs, our chosen campsite for the night was on BLM land, about 200 feet in from the road. There were 2 or 3 other RV's in the area, but we had chosen to camp far enough away to not be within their view.
It's now Sunday morning about 9 am. We are just up and getting dressed, when Randy looks out the window to see an old beater of a car, a driver and one passenger, driving off the road and over the desert toward our RV. Looks like trouble for sure.
Randy (brave man) says he will step out to see what they want. I'm not even fully dressed, but I scramble to see if we have a cell phone signal and get the bear spray canister poised and ready.
My heart is in my throat as I look out to see what's happening. The occupants are still in the car. Randy is in conversation and I can pick up small bits. Sounds like he's talking in a normal voice. He's thanking them. Maybe they're selling something or are lost and asking for directions?
A few minutes later, they pull away and Randy returns smiling and carrying a copy of The Watchtower. We kept that little magazine and have told the story often. It shows that the followers of the Jehovah's Witness faith really are willing to go to the ends of the earth to spread The Word.
At the same time, it reminds me that, no matter where I am, if trouble is going to find me, it can find me anywhere. And that, no matter how conscious I am of boondocking safety, my life is always in the hands of a higher power.
Please share your own boondocking safety advice. You can read stories and advice contributed by other RVers or tell us about your own experiences here.