Safety and Security Tips for Traveling in your RV

Traveling into the great unknown can be a lot of fun. Discovering new places adds excitement to an RV trip. Yet many people worry about RV safety. RV security is an important factor to consider and there are things you can do to increase the security of your RV, no matter where you are traveling.

RVing has become one of the most popular ways to travel. But a successful and safe RV trip takes preparation and planning to make it a good experience. Whether you are new to RVing or not, these tips can help ensure that your trip will be problem-free.

Embarking on an RV adventure brings the promise of freedom and exploration but ensuring safety as you travel in your RV is critical. In this article I delve into the realm of RV security providing key safety measures to safeguard your RV while you travel.

Cracker Barrel in Goodyear, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Be aware of your surroundings: A critical crime-prevention tool

This rule of thumb sounds obvious but it can be easy to forget. Whether you’re parked at a Walmart or Cracker Barrel or boondocking in a national forest, always be aware of what’s around you. When you stop somewhere, get out and take a look around before you commit to staying. We’ve stopped in places where we just didn’t feel safe. Rather than try to talk ourselves into it, we’ve moved on.

We’ve also learned that those uncomfortable feelings are a matter of perspective. We’re more cautious when we’re in the backcountry in areas that are unfamiliar to us. Use your best judgment and only stay in places where you are comfortable.

Leave temptation behind: Keep valuables hidden

Though it may seem obvious, you should never leave valuables in plain sight and unattended. Laptops, smartphones, cameras, and other personal belongings should be stored when they are not in use.

This one seems pretty obvious. To eliminate temptation put all your things away prior to leaving your site. This could include camping chairs, cooking equipment, and/or firewood. Don’t make it easy for them!

Don’t litter your site with valuables. Put away tablets, cell phones, and extra gadgets. Pull the blinds after dark in your rig. Don’t be a lone ranger; camp near other people. Get a safe. Each of these simple steps will keep robbers at bay.

Camping with your dog © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Set up your campsite with security in mind

From the moment you park your RV, you should start thinking about security. For instance, most RVers reverse into their parking spot but this means that your rig is more accessible.

Also, take a good look at your surroundings and follow your gut feeling. If something about the spot can become a security risk, you’re better off finding a space that feels safer.

If you’re bringing your furry friends with you, you’ll also need to think about their well-being. Therefore, you’ll need to follow RV pet safety best-practices like sweeping for choking hazards and making sure you’re far from a busy road.

Lock it down: The importance of robust door and window locks

One of the first lines of defense for your RV is secure entry points. Invest in quality door and window locks to thwart potential intruders. Consider upgrading to smart locks that provide added convenience and control through mobile apps ensuring you can monitor and secure your RV even when you’re away exploring.

One of the easiest ways to deter thieves is to simply lock your doors anytime you leave, no matter how long you’re going to be gone.  Also, make sure to close and lock exterior storage compartments.

Camping at Lost Dutchman State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Illuminate and deter: Motion sensor lights for enhanced security

Enhance your RV’s security by strategically placing motion sensor lights around your vehicle. These lights not only illuminate the surroundings at night but also serve as a deterrent to potential intruders. The sudden burst of light can startle and discourage unwanted visitors adding an extra layer of protection to your home on wheels.

Eyes everywhere: The benefits of a security camera system

In the digital age, technology offers advanced solutions for RV security. Consider installing a security camera system to keep a watchful eye on your RV. Modern systems provide real-time monitoring accessible from your smartphone giving you peace of mind and the ability to act promptly in case of any suspicious activity.

Conceal and protect: Disguising your RV with camouflage measures

Make your RV less enticing to potential thieves by adopting camouflage measures. This could include discreet branding, covering valuable items, or even using window coverings to conceal the interior. The goal is to avoid drawing unnecessary attention, reducing the risk of burglary when your RV is parked.

Camping at Lady Bird Johnson Park near Fredericksburg, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

GPS tracking for recovery: Protecting your investment with GPS technology

In the unfortunate event that your RV is stolen, having a GPS tracking system can be a game-changer. These devices allow you to track the location of your RV in real-time aiding law enforcement in recovering your property quickly. It’s a worthwhile investment for both security and peace of mind.

Community vigilance: Utilizing the power of RV communities

The RV community is vast and supportive. Leverage this by staying connected with fellow travelers. Join online forums, share your location with trusted friends, and participate in local RV groups. In the world of RVing, a collective eye is often the best security measure with fellow enthusiasts looking out for each other’s well-being.

Camping at Palo Casino RV Resort, Palo, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Emergency preparedness: Security beyond theft

Security extends beyond theft prevention. Equip your RV with emergency preparedness items including a first-aid kit, fire extinguishers, and smoke detectors. Being ready for unexpected situations helps to ensure the safety and well-being of you and your fellow travelers.

Have a way to protect yourself

Whether you’re at an RV park or out in the wilderness, there may come a time when you need to protect yourself. This can mean protection from another person, or from a wild animal like a bear or mountain lion.

There is no shortage of choices when it comes to self-defense from firearms to pepper/bear sprays to blunt objects. Pick the method that you feel most comfortable with. Then, practice using it. Whatever you choose, it’s important that you know how to use it before you ever need to (and hopefully, you won’t).

Camping in Dixie National Forest, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Never post your current location on social media

I totally get that you want to share your cool adventures and amazing places you are at. But, be cautious about giving your exact location and time.

If you want to post a photo of your RV at your campsite or in a certain location, refrain from posting the campground name and town you’re currently located. In other words, keep your social media shares vague. Wait until after you leave the area to share those beautiful views online.

Here are some helpful resources on increasing the security and safety of your RV:

Effective security requires a layered approach. There is no single security measure that is guaranteed to deter and prevent crime. However, by implementing the layered approach outlined above, you can feel confident that you have a good plan in place to deter and prevent crime.

As you embark on your RV journey, remember that security is a crucial aspect of traveling. Implementing these measures can safeguard your home on wheels, allowing you to explore with confidence. By combining technology, community support, and smart practices, you’ll fortify your RV against potential risks ensuring a secure and enjoyable adventure on the open road.

Safe travels!

Worth Pondering…

The art of life lies in a constant readjustment to our surroundings.

—Okakura Kazuko

Are RV Parks and Campgrounds Safe?

Staying in a campground or RV park is a fun and convenient way to travel. Is staying at these facilities a safe option?

For people that are new to RV camping and even seasoned RVers, safety is an issue of concern that crops up time and time again. This is very understandable as daily news reports are littered with stories of various crimes.

In this post, I’ll offer some safety tips, talk about the different crimes that are likely to occur in RV parks and campgrounds, and allay any fears you may have about the RV lifestyle.

Ambassador RV Resort, Caldwell, Idaho © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There are significant safety advantages to staying in RV parks and campgrounds while on a road trip. Some offer gated areas and security check-ins meaning con artists and others up to no good won’t be able to easily wander around your campsite. And many feature surveillance cameras to catch would-be criminals in the act. According to KOA, RVing is relatively safe since most campgrounds don’t typically attract the criminal element. 

Even the busiest RV parks see much lower crime rates than other areas. According to VEHQ.com, the odds of being a victim or a major crime in an RV park are 1 in 25,000. That’s much lower than in many residential areas in the U.S.

Of course, some are safer than others depending on location, the number of people in the general area, and security efforts and surveillance systems. Despite the secure nature of the managed campground environment, it’s always best to prioritize your safety and take the necessary precautions to protect yourself when you’re RVing.

Las Vegas RV Resort, Las Vegas, Nevada © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Crime in RV parks and campgrounds

RV parks and campgrounds are considered by many to be safe havens where one can relax and connect with Mother Nature. And that’s true, for the most part.

We know that crimes occur everywhere. Your preferred RV campgrounds are no different. The good news is that most of these crimes prove to be petty and inconsequential to personal safety. After reviewing several camping blogs and forums, I can break RV park crimes into two broad groups:

  • Petty crimes
  • Major crimes
Buckhorn Lake RV Resort, Kerrville, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Petty crimes in RV parks and campgrounds

When discussing RV parks and campground safety, petty crimes are the main concern as they are far more common. The incidence of these crimes is still low but sometimes they do happen.

Many avid campers report that they have never witnessed a petty crime take place. Others have tales of criminals stealing bicycles, BBQs, and propane tanks, and trying to break into parked RVs. The best thing about petty crimes is that you can usually stop them by being security-conscious. Locking your RV with a deadbolt, keeping windows locked, padlocking your Electric Management System (or surge protector), and keeping all valuables hidden and out of sight can deter the odd petty criminal.

Two Rivers Landing RV Resorts, Sevierville, Tennessee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Major crimes in RV parks and campgrounds

As mentioned earlier, the odds of you being a victim of a major crime in an RV park or campground are extremely low. Most campgrounds have security systems put in place to stop them from happening.

On any given day, a lot of people move in and out of RV parks and campgrounds. The large number of people and unpredictable factors present seem to deter perpetrators of major crimes. Apart from the odd bomb scare which usually proves to be a prank call, significant crimes in RV campgrounds are few and far between.

The Barnyard RV Park, Lexington, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV park security systems

With the availability of high-tech equipment many RV parks are using technology to secure their facilities. Total security can only be achieved with the assistance of every member of the camping community. However, it all starts with RV park management.

The following are a few security measures adopted at many camping facilities:

Surveillance cameras: In many RV parks there is an eye in the sky watching the comings and goings. Of course, these cameras are not situated in your private spaces. However, as long as an area is public, it is likely covered by surveillance cameras. Since nobody wants to be caught on camera carrying out criminal activities, surveillance cameras do a pretty good job of stopping crime at campgrounds.

Entrance security: Many RV parks have gates, security checkpoints, and speed bumps at all access points. It may seem inconsequential but it contributes to the air of security around a campground. These checkpoints are there to prevent non-campers from gaining access to the RV park and by extension, you and your RV.

Hacienda RV Resort, Las Cruces, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How to pick a safe RV park

Staying safe starts with you! Before committing to days or possibly weeks camping in a particular RV park, do your due diligence. You may not be wise to stay in the first campground you come across.

Do your research and plan ahead

Your first line of defense for staying safe in an RV park or campground is to do your research and plan ahead before you ever show up to the campground. This will help you to avoid most of the poorly-rated and unsafe campgrounds altogether while RVing. 

There are numerous ways to research RV park safety but the best ways are to check independent user reviews of the campground as well as check out Google street view to get a better feel for the area the campground is located.

Jackson Ranchero Casino RV Park, Jackson, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Three favorite websites for independent RV campground reviews are:  

  • campendium.com
  • allstays.com
  • campgroundreviews.com

In addition to independent campground reviews check out the RV park website and Facebook page. 

Also, goodsam.com rates its RV parks and campgrounds using a three-number rating of a campground’s amenities, cleanliness, and environment/visual appearance. Each category is rated on a scale of one to 10 and a star is added for exceptionally clean restrooms. If you’re looking for the best of the best, Good Sam annually releases a list of top-rated RV parks and resorts. For 2023, a total of 156 Good Sam Parks scored flawless 10/10★/10 rating.

Before committing to an RV park I recommend checking out available photos of the campground on their website, Facebook, and Good Sam to get a better feel for the facility. In addition to any security concerns, I’m interested in the general layout of the park and invidual camping sites.

While it’s true the photos displayed on the RV park’s website will usually put the campground in the most favorable light, you can still get a pretty good idea of what the campground is like from the photos. 

Pro tip: If the RV park or campground doesn’t have a website or a Facebook page this is usually a big red flag and warning sign. And if they don’t this usually indicates it’s a good place to skip especially if you’re concerned about safety.  

Coastal Georgia RV Resort, Brunswick, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Personal safety tips

Always lock up your RV whenever you want to leave your site. Even if it is only for a short period, lock up to avoid problems. All outside storage spaces should also be afforded the same level of security.

Keep your shades and window blinds down. This is the best way to eliminate temptations.

Park near other RVers. The expression safety in numbers also applies in RV campgrounds. If you are near other campers, they can watch out for you and vice versa.

Staying at an RV park or campground should be an enjoyable experience. Don’t forget to have fun!

Worth Pondering…

Take care of yourself. You’ll find it hard to get a replacement.

How Well Do You Know Your RV Park Neighbors?

When you stay in a RV park for more than a few days, you get to know your neighbors. Or do you?

The local police arrived at Zuni Village RV Park in central Kingman (Arizona) to tell stunned residents that they needed to get out—fast. Experts arrived with a robot to search Glenn Jones’ motorhome after connecting Jones to two bomb blasts that occurred 24-hours earlier in the small rural town of Panaca (Nevada), leaving one dead.

Canyon Gateway RV Park, Williams, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Once inside the RV, the bomb squad found and detonated numerous improvised explosive devices. They also removed 40 pounds of bomb-making materials kept inside the RV. Jones’ nearby storage unit may have also contained bomb-building ingredients.

Far Horizon 49er Village, Plymouth, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

During the scene processing, 10 of the IEDs were rendered safe in a vacant field just west of the RV park. The remaining five, larger, IEDs were removed to be detonated at another location.

Related: 12 Unspoken Etiquette Rules of RV Camping

Poche’s RV Park, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Later that day, Jones’ motorhome was towed away from Zuni Village RV Park; the park’s 100 residents were allowed back the next day.

According to the Associated Press, the 59-year-old man targeted the house because it belonged to two former co-workers. He drove a rented car to Panaca and detonated two bombs and fatally shot himself in the head before the blasts erupted.

Western Way RV Resort, Tucson, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lincoln County Sheriff Kerry Lee said residents Tiffany Cluff and two daughters fled barefoot from the house before the blast. Husband Joshua Cluff and another daughter weren’t home at the time.

Lakeside RV Park, Livingston, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Back at Zuni Village, Jones was known as a quiet man who even cared for the elderly mother of another park resident. Although he had only been a resident of the RV park for six months, he apparently gave subtle clues to neighbors that something was amiss. In the months leading up to the bomb explosions, he told neighbors he was angry with his former employer, admitted to being severely depressed, and suddenly gave away hundreds of dollars to a neighbor.

Flag City RV Resort, Lodi, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

According to park neighbors, Jones:

“…had a fascination with shells and all things military”

“quiet and courteous but tormented”

Related: Consider Your Needs When Choosing RV Parks and Campgrounds

Las Quintas Oasis RV Park, Yuma, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Nobody could have predicted that he was making bombs inside his RV and putting his neighbors at risk. According to the American Psychiatric Association, Jones’ behaviors that neighbors described were classic signs of mental illness.

Golden Village RV Park, Hemet, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Incidents such as the Kingman bomb scare can happen anywhere. Dangerous people in RV parks are no different than those living in traditional neighborhoods.

The best way to avoid any hazard is to be alert to your surroundings, stay out of areas that seem like trouble spots, watch for odd behaviors, and if something doesn’t feel right, turn the key and leave.

New Green Acres RV Park, Waterboro, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Be cautious of rest areas and choose your campgrounds and RV parks carefully.

Related: Finding the Right RV Site

Keep your eyes open, follow your instincts, and don’t overnight in rest areas or other questionable locations.

Okefenokee RV Park, Folkston, Georgia

In general terms, RVing is a safe way to travel. Most campgrounds don’t attract a notorious criminal element.

However, the fastest way to become a statistic of a criminal act is to think it can’t happen to you. The first rule in avoiding crime is to accept that crime does indeed exist and that you are not immune.

Oh! Kentucky Campground and RV Park, Berea, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Get in the habit of locking your rig every time you leave. This RV lockdown should include securing exterior storage compartments and windows as well.

Related: 5 Tips for Safe RV Travel

Close blinds and shades to make “casing the joint” a tougher task. Another perk? Shades keep the sun off the fabrics which reduces fading.

Gulf Coast RV Park, Beaumont, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The choice of the RV park itself is also important. Question management about security. Do they have nightly patrols? Is the park well lit? How hard is it for non-guests to come and go?

Whispering Hills RV Park, Georgetown, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Every city has its bad parts of town. Avoid these. Lose that wide-eyed touristy look and stay alert to your surroundings. 

Worth Pondering…

Stay safe wherever you are and find time to enjoy each day!