> Start with a reliable rig and keep it that way.
> Buy the size rig you feel you can handle.
Traveling: Getting there safely
> Plan your route ahead of time. Write out the turns on a sheet of paper and have handy.
> Have a backup plan in case your engine doesn't start and you think your battery might be dead or dying. Carry jumper cables.
> Have a good emergency service plan like Good Sam or AAA.
> Have a cell phone with you. A used cell phone that has been activated but has no service will work for 911 calls.
> Keep your fuel tank at least half full.
> Pull over if you feel tired or not fully alert.
Arriving at a Campsite
> Stop well before dark and choose carefully where you'll park for the night, especially if you do not stay in an RV park.
> Lock your doors whether in or out of the rig including while you're traveling.
> Anticipate problems. Think about how you will get out of a location before you drive in. Think of how you would handle situations like someone following you (go to a police station) or deliberately causing an accident (keep honking your horn to get noticed).
> Carry ID when you leave the rig. Write down your rig's location and description to carry along with your ID. If you have a pet, indicate that there is a pet inside the rig too.
> Trust your instincts.
> Always have a flashlight and extra batteries.
> Keep the keys in the ignition, ready to leave in a moment.
> Explore the weapon/no weapon debate. If you decide to carry a weapon or even something like Mace, get the proper training and practice regularly. Most police officers advise that if you do not have the personality to use a weapon in a life-threatening situation, you are better off without one.
> Create the illusion of another person. Outside the rig, place an old, well-worn pair of men's boots, a large dog bowl, and a heavy dog chain when parked in other than an RV park. When you leave the rig, stick your head back inside and yell, "Hey honey, get a good nap. I'll be back soon."
> In general, use four of your senses as a warning system. Whenever something is suspicious (a different sound, a different smell, a different look, a different feel), stop and investigate. Make it second nature so you don't have to dwell on safety issues and can enjoy the freedom and lure of the open road.
March 8, 2004