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RVing Safety Tips to Remember

| Updated Nov 3, 2019

The beginning of the story from the New Hampshire Union Leader pretty much says it all:

James and Michelle Butler set out on an adventure in summer 2018, traveling the country in a camper, but on Friday it was confirmed they were murdered in Texas last month at a beach campsite near Corpus Christi.

The story, which has now been in the headlines everywhere it seems for the last couple of weeks, hits home for us and many of our RV Lifestyle fellow travelers, as indicated by the discussion on the RV Lifestyle Group Facebook page. There is understandably a lot of sadness and a lot of anger. 

Of course, our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their friends and family. 

With confirmation from authorities that the couple was RVing, I thought it would be a good time to provide our RV Lifestyle fellow travelers with some tips for safe travels while RVing, courtesy of a blog from KOA called “Avoiding Crime.” It starts with the blog's first rule: ” the fastest way to become a statistic of a criminal act – from stolen firewood to something much worse – is to think it can’t happen to you.”

Here are some other tips:

At a Campground

  • Get in the habit of locking your rig every time you depart. In short, don't let appearances fool you. It takes but a matter of seconds to lock up and dissuade those with nefarious intent. This RV lock-down should include securing exterior storage compartments and windows as well.
  • Close blinds and shades to dissuade “casing the joint.”
  • Set up a neighbor watch by getting to know the people next to you, who are more likely to look after someone they know than complete strangers.
  • Consider a few devices to protect your vehicle and valuables while you’re away. Although it won’t win you any friends when it goes off accidentally in the night, a vehicle alarm system is a useful defense when you’re away. Motion-detecting lights, also known as “scare lights,” should scatter would-be intruders (not to mention critters). Safes are fairly common options on higher-end RVs, serving as an ideal spot for jewelry and traveler’s checks. If you’re worried about RV theft, invest in a trailer hitch lock or more pricey Lojack-type recovery apparatus. Otherwise, a hungry looking dog might do you just as good.
  • The choice of the RV park itself is also important. Question management about security.Nightly patrols? Is the park well lit? How hard is it for non-guests to come and go? Opt for a visible campsite in the heart of the park if safety is utmost on your mind. Travel the grounds in pairs and stay in lighted areas. RV parks in urban settings may be more prone to crime than smaller campgrounds tucked away in the boonies. But don’t let that be an excuse for letting your guard down.


  • If it’s a quick power nap you seek, always favor busier locales, such as travel plazas, truck stops, or active parking lots. Yes, it may be harder to sleep in areas with greater commotion, but the traffic, bright lights, and steady activity reduces your chances of becoming a potential target. Pulling off to the side of the road, a vacated rest stop, or that cozy-looking enclave in the forest up your risks substantially.
  • Especially when off the beaten path, never open the door unless there’s someone wearing a badge on the other side. Pull the shades, lock the rig up tight, and try to stay within earshot of civilization. Your faithful rottweiler certainly earns her keep on dark nights when you’re far off the beaten path. Your trusty beagle? Well, not so much.

On the Road

  • Avoid the bad parts of town. Lose that wide-eyed touristy look and stay alert to your surroundings. Don’t flash the cash or valuables, which only put a bullseye on your head for would-be thieves. Credit cards and traveler’s checks are the way to go when on the road.
  • Vehicle trouble can lead to all sorts of problems. Remember the saying, “The best offense is a good defense?” Well, it works here too. The best way to circumvent a night stranded on the side of the road – leaving you and your family vulnerable – is to keep your RV in peak working condition, inspect it regularly, keep gas tanks full, and call for back-up (again, cell phone and roadside assistance) early and often. Stay inside until help arrives.
  • Drive strategically. The best response to a person with road rage is to not get into that situation in the first place. Some folks feel that your tailgating, erratic maneuvers, and aggressive driving merits a response (or vice versa), which is how these things usually get started. Diffuse the situation by letting ornery drivers pass; don’t respond and escalate matters. It’s not worth it. If the problem persists, notify the police.




Mike Wendland

Published on 2019-11-03

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

14 Responses to “RVing Safety Tips to Remember”

November 16, 2019at1:22 pm, Deb said:

Along with the boots left outside, we tie a large dog leash up to our steps.

November 12, 2019at3:05 am, Chris said:

No dog? No problem! Large food & water dishes make an impression.

November 11, 2019at2:21 pm, Jim Allaire said:

In states where pepper spray is illegal, long distance Wasp Spray may be useful.

November 11, 2019at2:18 pm, Jim Allaire said:

A large untrained dog that isn’t particularly protective other than visually. Same for a well rained dog that’s been trained not to be agressive. No problem with firearms, if you’re prepared to actually use them. If not they’re just one more thing to steal.

November 11, 2019at1:57 pm, Nancy Nolin said:

I would add to ask for ID from the badged person. If they are in plain clothes or have a regular vehicle keep your door locked and call the police to ask if the person is really who they say they are. Also…not all bad guys look bad.

November 11, 2019at10:56 am, Joe said:

Tom’ comment ‘will disarm a bear’ — just where does one find armed bears? But I get the idea….

November 11, 2019at10:12 am, Roy Wagner said:

Several other recommendations: Especially for any women traveling alone: Bring 2 folding chairs with you and always put both of them out when you are going to sit outside.
Bring a pair of Large Size Men’s Boot plus a set of women’s boots (large is good) and set both pair outside to “dry” theoretically at night.

November 05, 2019at10:57 pm, Nancy Bryant said:

Bear spray .

November 05, 2019at12:01 pm, Tom said:

My favorite “weapon of choice” that is legal virtually everywhere — including Canada — is bear spray. It is an enhanced version of pepper spray (which is illegal in Canada and some US states) and comes in a much larger canister. If it will disarm a bear, it will definitely stop a human with plans for causing trouble and harm. Whole pepper spray won’t work on drunks, bear spray WILL.

November 04, 2019at2:28 pm, Nila said:

Unfortunately, this takes all the fun and spur of the moment activities out of the reason I RV. But, I understand safety and you should always be aware of your surroundings. Not just in your RV. Traveling alone is even further reason to always be on your toes.

November 04, 2019at1:01 pm, Charlotte Day said:

Wasp spray works well also and shoots farther than pepper spray

November 04, 2019at9:27 am, Resa said:

A can of pepper spray at bedside and on the doggies leash! One protects you inside and one from a potential threat outside. Keep in mind it can always be used against you but so can any other weapon.

November 04, 2019at6:48 am, STEPHEN P Malochleb said:

I know some people will disagree but the two best ways for protection are, 1, a large dog, or two, be armed. When I say armed,I mean some type of weapon. My preference is a firearm. But there other choices such as personal tazers which in some states are illegal but ok in others. I’d rather deal with the law as long as my family is safe.

November 03, 2019at2:15 pm, Michele Risner said:

Great tips. As newbies to owning a 5th wheel, it’s very much appreciated. Should be all common sense things anyway, but never a bad thing to be reminded!

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