There is no question that the open road is a dangerous place. When you are traveling along highways and interstates, staying in campgrounds and RV parks, or exploring the wilds of the U.S. and Canada, it is easy to forget that fact. This is always a mistake.
If there is one piece of good advice I can give you and yours, it is to never, ever let down your guard.
While you cannot avoid every issue that might arise during your travels, advanced planning and trip preparation will help you to avoid or at least be prepared to deal with many of the problems that may arise along your journey.
Predators, drunk drivers, thieves, and scammers are everywhere and breakdowns can and do occur. There are also risks when dealing with nature. Therefore, it’s up to you figure out how you will deal with unhappy situations if they should happen. This article will show you how to do that.
1. Drive defensively
You can avoid many mishaps by staying within the posted speed limit, being especially careful when entering and exiting Interstates and secondary highways, taking care when pulling into truck stop fuel islands, and avoiding driving distractions such as texting or trying to read maps while driving your RV.
Even if you do all of these things, you need to remember that the next guy might not be as conscientious as you.
People do stupid things such as putting on makeup, reading maps, talking on cell phones, and trying to balance food or liquids on their laps when they drive. Some are drunk, high, or medicated as well. Others may never have taken the time to learn how to drive big rigs.
No matter the cause, these people are a danger to you and your family so you must remain alert at all times.
If you see someone driving erratically, too slow or too fast, stay as far away from them as you can. Doing this may slow down your arrival time but it can also save your life.
2. Take care of your vehicles
Repairing and maintaining vehicles is costly and time-consuming. For this reason, many people allow their rigs to fall into disrepair. When this happens, they are no longer safe to drive.
If you cannot afford to take proper care of your RV or tow vehicle you need to find some other way to travel because to do otherwise can bring great harm to you, to your family, and other people as well.
On the other hand, if you take the time to learn how to make minor repairs yourself and check your coach regularly for problems (and fix them quickly), you should be able to safely use your coach for many years.
Checking to see that tires are properly inflated, lights and turn signals are working, brakes are functioning, steps are retracted and antennas are down, and awnings are secured are all simple things you can do that will help you to avoid problems. Also, walk around your RV at each travel stop to ensure that no issues have arisen en route.
3. Protect your belongings
Many people think campgrounds and RV parks are safe but this isn’t always the case. Most have poor security systems, so it is up to you to take steps to protect your belongings.
It is never OK to leave camping equipment and gear outside of units when you go off to fish, hike, or take part in a variety of other activities.
This is a bad practice because other campers also like to play tourists. This means there might not be anybody left to oversee your belongings when they are gone.
Awkward as it is, the only way for you to make sure your belongings will be there once you return home is to stow them away before you leave.
If you have a safe in your coach, you should use it. If you don’t have one, take your valuables with you.
You may think that locking your doors and windows will protect your things but the truth is that many RVs share the same locking systems. Thus one key can open many doors and windows are fairly easy to open, even when locked.
To resolve this issue, put a dead bolt lock on your entrance door.
You may think you can avoid doing these things by asking a neighbor to watch your things but you don’t know who these people are or who will be visiting them.
4. Practice safe camping
Camping is one of the best opportunities to get outside and enjoy the beautiful outdoors. However, your picture-perfect camping trip can quickly go awry if you’re not careful and prepared. To enjoy your camping trip to the fullest, you need to ensure that everyone on the trip is safe.
When it comes to camping, safety should always be your #1 priority (although having fun is a close second). A camping mishap can quickly turn a great trip into a camping nightmare.
Never assume that stopping points are safe. Many are not. The world has changed a great deal since the days when people could stay overnight in rest areas or camp in unsecured and unguarded areas.
The last thing you want is to head out on your camping trip unprepared for the weather only to be faced with unexpected rain, snow, or even extreme heat and humidity. Weather conditions can be very unpredictable and can change on a dime. Be sure to check the weather forecast for the entire length of your trip before you hit the road.
Not only is extreme weather unpleasant but it can also be dangerous if you’re unprepared and caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The bottom line here is that you should do whatever you can to stay safe and also avoid taking risks if you want a good RV travel experience.
5. More safe camping tips
When you are inside of a coach, there is only 3 inches of wall protecting you and it doesn’t take much to shoot a bullet through that wall or break through it.
This is why you should do as follows:
- Only stay overnight in campgrounds or in well populated spots that are monitored regularly
- Hide your valuables and cash
- If you do not feel safe in your campsite, drive away and find a better situation
- If you hear unusual noises in the night, do not step outside to investigate. Instead call the campground manager or 911.
- Keep windows covered so that outsiders are unable to judge where you are when you’re inside your coach
Remember that things can be replaced, but people cannot.
6. Protect your health
A first aid kit readily available in an emergency isn’t just a good idea—it’s a necessity for every RVer. A well-stocked first-aid kit and manual can help you respond effectively to common injuries and emergencies. You can purchase first aid kits and refills at the Red Cross store, and most pharmacies, or assemble your own.
Contents of a first-aid kit should include adhesive tape, antibiotic ointment, antiseptic solution or towelettes, bandages, calamine lotion, cotton balls and cotton-tipped swabs, gauze pads, and roller gauze in assorted sizes, first aid manual, petroleum jelly or other lubricant, safety pins in assorted sizes, scissors and tweezers, and sterile eyewash.
Familiarize yourself with the items in the first aid kit and know how to properly use them. Check your first-aid kits regularly, at least every three months, to replace supplies that have expired.
The Mayo Clinic is an excellent source of first aid information to help you during a medical emergency.
7. Understand nature’s safety issues
Nature is wonderful. People love to go to places that provide peaceful, quiet beauty, and the sense of serenity these areas provide. However, as noted above, going into nature has risks, especially for travelers who normally live in city environments. Therefore, travelers need to understand nature’s risks and be vigilant when faced with them.
8. Prepare for potential problems
One of the best ways to stay safe is to do whatever you can to prepare yourself for potential travel problems.
Just about anything in your RV that can snap, crack, rip loose, tear, bend, leak, spark, or fall off will do exactly that at the most inconvenient time. Something will need to be tightened, loosened, pounded flat, pried, or cut.
To help you deal with everyday problems and annoyances, maintain a well-equipped toolbox in the RV (always store on curbside).
Contents should include Phillips and Robertson’s head and flat-bladed screwdrivers (large, medium, small), standard and needle-nose pliers, channel-lock pliers (medium and large), 10-inch Crescent wrench, claw hammer, hobby knife with blade protector, wire cutters, tape measure, silicone sealant, Gorilla tape and glue, electrical tape, battery jumper cables, open and box-end wrenches, silicone spray, WD-40 lubricant, bungee cords, road flares/warning reflectors, fold-down shovel, stepladder, spare fuses, and heavy-duty tire pressure gauge.
Many RVers also carry a socket wrench set (standard and metric), small drill bit set and cordless drill with spare battery, and digital voltmeter.
Gorilla Tape is a brand of adhesive tape sold by the makers of Gorilla Glue, and available in several sizes and colors, including camouflage, white, and clear. Gorilla Tape can solve many problems while on the road—and you can do most anything with this stuff. RVers have used it to temporarily repair a sewer hose, keep a driver’s side window from continually falling, and even affix the coffee maker to the counter so that it doesn’t move during travel.
9. Create an escape plan
People often get a false sense of security when they look at their recreational vehicles because they give the impression of being solid and safe. But are they?
Do you know how you would react in the event of a blow out, a fire, a rollover, an approaching hurricane or tropical storm, heavy rainfall, severe winds, a flood, or a wildfire? Most people don’t which is why it’s important to take the time to create escape plans and practice using them so that you’ll know what to do in an emergency situation.
10. Learn how to use emergency RV exits
Every second can be critical if you experience an emergency while RVing. The last thing you want to be doing is figuring out how to use an emergency exit window latch or having it stick.
An egress window is large enough to serve as an emergency exit window allowing for easy escape. The windows look like standard windows. However, they open fully to allow you to reach safety.
They should always be labeled with an EXIT label and have red latches that indicate how to open them. Everyone in the RV needs to know where the emergency exit windows are and how to use them.
Emergency exit windows are standard features on just about every RV. Most have at least one but sometimes multiple, emergency exit windows or an exit door.
RV travel safety is important
There are few things as rewarding as taking an RV road trip but nothing so terrible as having it ruined due to a safety issue.
If you use the above methods for protecting your RV travel safety, you should be well prepared for whatever might come your way.
Speed was high
Weather was hot
Tires were thin
X marks the spot
—Burma Shave sign