Traveling solo is one of the most amazing journeys I ever embarked on. While I do enjoy company on the road, I like it in short bursts. Why? Because traveling without compromise is only possible when you strike out alone. Even so, solo travel does pose safety risks, especially when it comes to solo travel for women. So, how do I stay safe on the road and how can you do the same?
1. Choose Your Rig Carefully
I’ve said before that you can start overlanding with whatever rig you’ve got. However, if solo travel safety is a big concern for you, you might want to give some serious thought to your adventure rig.
I spent almost a full year deliberating over whether to buy an FJ Cruiser. Believe it or not, its only other contender was the Kia Sedona. The Sedona was cheaper, had the same towing capacity as the FJ Cruiser, and had a better MPG. Here’s why the FJ still won:
- When traveling solo, deterrence is better than confrontation, so I wanted a masculine setup that did not scream: a woman is out here by herself!
- While the Kia was certainly quite capable and reliable, I would never have the same confidence I do taking my FJ Cruiser down some of the roads I’ve traveled alone.
- I knew I wanted to customize my vehicle for overlanding and there really aren’t that many overlanding mods for Kia.
2. Avoid Confrontation
Be mindful of the flags you fly and the stickers you have on your vehicle. You might scoff at this because you feel strongly about your beliefs or feel confident with your gun in the glove box. However, when you’re out in the boondocks, you’re not the only one with strong opinions and guns. And, unlike them, you’re a sitting duck at camp.
Does that mean you shouldn’t have any stickers on your vehicle or you should stay mum on topics that stir your soul? No, it doesn’t. Check out the tats on my Big Boy Samson.
3. Install Trackers for Solo Travel Safety
I have trackers in the RV, in the truck, on a lot of my gear, and even on my cat. My mom jokes that she’s surprised I haven’t swallowed one yet. But, when my travel days are longer than expected, she loves that she can check where we are without calling or texting.
I use the Tile trackers and have had amazing success with them. They work with all operating devices. Apple fans might prefer the Apple tag. There are also GPS trackers that work even better, especially in remote areas, but these usually require monthly plans.
4. Install a Security Alarm
If you tow a trailer, consider installing a security system. I currently use SimpliSafe. The company allows users to update the address whenever we move. That way, it knows where to send the cops and other first responders if emergencies arise.
I even have a distress code that I can put in if someone tries to make me disarm the system against my will. The distress code appears to disarm the alarm; instead, it automatically summons emergency services. It works whether I have WiFi or not because it has a built-in SIM card.
5. Invest in Roadside Assistance
Some people are so handy with vehicles they can get almost anything running again with the right tools and enough time. If this isn’t you—and even if it is—consider investing in roadside assistance. Here are some instances you’ll be grateful for this service:
- You run out of gas in the middle of nowhere.
- You break down and need to tow your rig.
- Your rig skids off the road and you need someone to winch you out.
- Your battery dies and you need a jumpstart or even a brand-new battery.
- You accidentally lock yourself out of your rig and can’t find a way in.
- You need minor repairs, such as a fuse replacement, to get back on the road.
6. Restrict Information
Many people who travel solo share their trips on social media or with people they meet along the way. Be careful about doing this because you could create a detailed itinerary for the wrong person to trail you. Consider the following solo travel safety tips:
- Only post about locations after you leave them.
- Do not post the names or addresses of campgrounds you plan to visit often.
- Do not tell people at your campground or people in town exactly where you plan to go next.
- The smaller the town, the vaguer you should be about where you are, whether you’re online or talking in person.
- If you have a home that will be unoccupied when you travel, install a security alarm and consider delaying posts about your trip until you return home.
7. Research Your Campsite
I once went looking for a Colorado campground only to learn the hard way that it no longer existed. My only source was one campground app. I hadn’t cross-checked it with anything else and felt pretty confident the campground was still there because it had so many reviews. It hadn’t yet crossed my mind that these reviews were a year old and older.
Here are some additional things you should look for when researching your campsite:
- What the current risk is for fire, flash floods, high winds, and other unfavorable conditions
- Whether the general area has a high crime rate
- What wild animals are in the area and what kind of precautions you should take against them
- Which backup campgrounds are nearby if the campground is full or is no longer accessible
It’s natural to feel some concern about solo travel safety. However, the overwhelming majority of solo travelers will never encounter serious threats on the road. Use basic common sense, trust your gut, and choose your battles wisely. If you decide to bring a weapon, learn how to use it effectively and safely.