Free camping, also known as boondocking, is an exciting way to explore the great outdoors. It involves camping on public grounds outside of designated campgrounds. People who free-camp often do so in remote locations where they can enjoy full freedom and tranquillity.
But free camping comes with a few concerns, especially in terms of security. As a free camper, the responsibility of securing your van or pop-top caravan and other belongings is entirely on you. To ensure a worry-free experience while camping, here are some strategies you can follow to secure your van while free camping!
Selecting the right free camping location is the first step in ensuring your van's security. Although the idea is to camp outside of a designated campground, you also need to go for well-established locations and reputable spots that guarantee a certain level of safety.
Avoid locations that are too remote, especially if you’re all alone. Camping near other people provides a sense of safety through numbers. Public lands, national forests, and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) areas often offer designated boondocking sites where you can park legally and securely.
When you park your van in the camping areas, sometimes it's hard to distinguish your vehicle from the others. If you drive your own van and not rent it, I also recommend putting some eye catching alarm stickers to mark your vehicle.
This may sound obvious, but locking your van is one of the most important security rules when you’re free camping. This is even more important when you need to leave the van unattended.
Most vans come equipped with standard locking systems. However, you may want to consider adding extra security features such as deadbolts, steering wheel locks, or gear shift locks. These physical barriers can deter potential thieves and provide an extra layer of protection for your van.
Modern technology has made it easier than ever to monitor your van remotely. If you can afford it, consider installing a security camera system in and around your van. These days, cameras can be accessed through your smartphone or other devices, so you can keep an eye on your vehicle even when you're away. Having visible cameras on your can can also act as a deterrent to would-be thieves.
Curtains and other forms of window coverings ensure that the interior of your van is not visible from the outside. This is very important when you’re not inside the van. It helps to keep your belongings hidden from the gaze of strangers who might be tempted to break into the van.
Keep your valuable items out of sight. Don't leave expensive electronics, wallets, or other tempting items in plain view through the windows. Consider locking them in a hidden safe or stowing them in hidden compartments within your van. You should also lock valuable items inside the van if you’re leaving the camp unattended. This includes your camp furniture, cooking utensils, clothes, bikes, and so on.
A vehicle alarm system can deter potential thieves and alert you to any unauthorized access. Make sure your van's alarm is functioning correctly, and set it whenever you leave your vehicle unattended. You should also place alarm stickers on your van and ensure they’re noticeable. This trick works even if you don’t have an alarm installed on the van, as the alarm sticker acts as a deterrent for thieves.
Consider installing a GPS tracking device in your van. These devices can help you locate your van in case it's stolen. Some trackers also provide geofencing capabilities, allowing you to receive alerts if your van leaves a predefined area or even deactivate it remotely if necessary.