<— Read Chapter 13: Lake of ContinuityRead Chapter 15: Mobile Internet Options —>
There are said to be three base driving forces in humans – food, reproduction and fear. Advertise with any of these three, and you speak to something so primal in humans, that they have viral power. Keeping safe is motivated by fear – it’s what kept our ancestors living long enough to pass their genes on to us.
There seems to be a fear that at every corner ‘out there’ – there’s a villain waiting to mug you, a calamity waiting to strike, a powerful tornado, a money sucking incident, a sink hole to devour you, a rabid bear stalking you, a health issue or some other such traditionally bad thing.
‘How do you keep safe while traveling?’ is a very common question we find ourselves addressing. And unfortunately, my response isn’t a convenient shopping list of stuff you can go order online, or a reassurance that things are necessarily safer ‘out here’ than in your current living room.
To really handle this topic, it’s going to take some deep inner work to rethink how you respond to fear and define safety.
One of my all time favorite warning labels is:
Caution: Living is dangerous to your health
Risk and danger is all around us. No matter how hard you try, you can’t avoid it entirely. Eat right, avoid high risk behaviors, exercise regularly – and you can still be killed by a falling tree on your morning jog (true story). Unless you keep yourself in an isolated bubble, you’re going to encounter risks – or go insane and die of boredom.
A more traditional definition of safety is:
I’d like to propose that this definition of safety is not actually a condition that is realistically achievable.
The closest one can come is having a feeling of being in a state of significantly reduced risks. And our society seems obsessed with feeling safe. We install alarm systems to keep bad people out, we carry weapons to defend ourselves, we keep installing gizmos to increase safety and we generally live in a state of fear of something bad happening. We humans are evolved to be on alert and seek safety.
And you know what? Living in a state of fear is exhausting, stressful and at the very least shortens our quality of life – if not quantity of life.
That’s not to say bad stuff doesn’t happen.
It does. And Chris and I have faced our share of bad stuff over the past few years… and I’m sure you have too. Over the several years of being on the road full time we’ve had a jack-knifed spin out on an interstate, our lives threatened in the middle of nowhere, our bikes clipped and stolen right off our tow vehicle, a wire shorting out that nearly caused an electrical fire, our cat being bit by a rattlesnake, vehicle troubles, extreme weather conditions, minor medical emergencies and catastrophic bandwidth shortages.
But I don’t feel either of us lives in a state of fear of this stuff (well, maybe the lack of bandwidth thing). I feel incredibly safe in our lifestyle – both before, during and after each of these incidents.
Because long ago I adjusted my definition of safety to be:
My proposed redefinition:
Instead of expecting that bad things won’t happen – safety is trusting that I have the agility, capacity and courage to deal with the bad stuff when it happens.
Notice I didn’t say if it happens. While I don’t necessarily like the bad stuff happening, I acknowledge there’s only so much I can do to prevent them. No matter how many safety gizmos are installed, one can never account for everything that might happen. I focus on that feeling I’ve felt many times before – of getting past the bad stuff and having grown stronger, wiser and more capable as a result.
And in the end, I’d much rather have lived my dreams.. than dreaming about the life I want if only I wasn’t afraid. (Not to say its easy all of the time, mind you.)
Choose your battles wisely
Adopting this new definition of safety however doesn’t mean completely throwing caution into the wind. If you buy into this, you’ll be taking informed risks, educating yourself, choosing what are real fears, taking reasonable precautions, knowing what you’re able to handle and knowing your own risk tolerances.
And act now and you’ll also be willing to challenge all of this from time to time too!
Chris and I have both collectively embarked on some activities that are regarded as risky by others – including fire dancing, SCUBA diving, paramotoring and sky diving. But it’s not like we do any of these things without first receiving proper training and building up our confidence and skillsets. We always assess our environment, our own current health status, our ability to cushion a metaphorical or literal fall and our confidence levels. We choose wisely when we feel we’re most capable to tackle these adventures and their given risks.
You must also recognize that your own personal risk tolerances can change on a regular basis due to a variety of reasons. Be willing to not let your itch for adventure be thwarted by that default evolutionary implanted lizard brain response to fear.
Some Safety Thoughts for RVers
A common concern for RVers is the lack of security options for protecting their RV and its belongings from theft & invaders.
- After all, it wouldn’t take much for someone to break in, hot wire your home and drive off with everything you own.
- If you’re camped in the middle of nowhere, it’s kinda scary that no one is around to hear you scream for help.
- Constantly being in new locations and not having time to really get a feel for your new neighborhood can leave you feeling vulnerable.
- Driving a big vehicle can be intimidating!
Yes, there are reasonable precautions you can take to thwart the common casual burglar. Keeping doors, windows and bays locked are simple actions – as is not looking like a worthwhile target by avoiding displaying flashy expensive items. And you can go techno-crazy with surveillance, motion sensors, tracking systems and security systems. The sound of a loud barking dog can both scare away a would-be intruder and alert you to possible trouble.
And then there’s the question of to carry a weapon or not. We feel that’s a very personal choice and ask on any RVing forum, and you’ll stir up a hornet’s nest of opinions. If you currently carry personal protection then you’ll probably want it on the road too. Be sure to study up on crossing state (and country) lines with a weapon, as the laws from state to state vary widely. If you don’t currently carry, dig deep to consider what is the right solution for you. Everything from spray mace, a large thumpy object, tasers or a gun might be ideas to explore.
Just always keep in mind, with power comes responsibility. Make sure you are confident, trained and ready to pull the trigger – even while under unusual duress. And always remember, RV walls are awfully thin and don’t stop bullets. A weapon can completely change the outcome of a situation (and not always for the better).
The most powerful thing you have is your instincts and awareness of your surroundings. If something doesn’t seem ‘right’, your house now has wheels. Drive on!
If you’re going out into the boonies and off the radar for a bit, check in with a trusted friend or family member to make sure they know your intentions for timing and location. You’ll ease their minds and create a back-up plan if you go unheard from.
Also keep a healthy (un)attachment to your possessions, and realize that most things can be replaced. Make sure your insurance policy is paid up and adequately covers your stuff. For us, we focus our security on the really important things that would be impossible to replace – ourselves, our cat and our valuable data on our computers. A small fire safe can also help protect important documents.
Aside from ill-intentioned people taking advantage of you, there’s also natural disasters to be aware of. When you travel, you might not be aware to be on the look out for local weather events like flash floods, tornados, gusts of winds, etc. Investing in a good weather radio, checking local forecasts and weather apps for your smartphone/tablet are all excellent ways to increase your awareness.
And if you’re going to be camping out ‘in nature’ be prepared for encountering the local wildlife, who may not always be thrilled with your presence.
Be smart about the risks you take on, challenge yourself to grow, take reasonable precautions.. and have fun out there!
Your choice: Be a moving target or still target
There seems to be an erroneous sense of safety being associated with staying put in one location – as if being a stationary target of routine is any less safe than being a moving one. It actually cracks me up when folks questioning the safety of our mobile lifestyle try to take a high road that their life is significantly less full of risk.
Above I gave you a list of scary incidents that have happened to Chris and I since we hit the road together. What I didn’t include was a list of bad things that happened in any other snapshot in my life. Just in the 3 years prior to hitting the road, my list would include: a scary medical diagnosis, tire blow out, neighbor’s house catching on fire, multiple direct hurricane strikes, house flood from a faulty ice maker, identity theft, minor medical emergencies, a car accident and more.
How many bad things have happened in the past 3 years of your life and do you really reasonably expect that number to increase significantly if you were on the road?
Remember – bad stuff happens. Period. Whether you’re living in one spot, or constantly moving.
The list of risks unique to mobility is actually rather small.
The one advantage being still has is speed dial level local services to deal with stuff when it comes up. But even a lack of continuity is addressable in a mobile lifestyle by thinking differently.
Being mobile actually gives you some distinct advantages, such as being more alert to your surroundings because they’re always different and the ability to easily move on if things don’t seem right.
If crime rates in your fixed location neighborhood increase, how difficult would it be to sell your home and move to a safer location? If you’re mobile, you just put the key in the ignition and drive away. You don’t have to go through escrow.
If you have advanced warning of a bad weather system moving in – such as flooding or a hurricane – you can make some preparations to perhaps protect your fixed home. If your home has wheels, you can bug out and get to safer ground.
Good Stuff Happens Too
Yes.. bad stuff happens. It can make for a sucktacular day, indeed. We certainly don’t hope for them to happen, but we’re prepared to face up to them when they do.
A wonderful thing happens when you’re not wrapped up in protecting this false notion that you have complete control over preventing bad things from happening – you’re more free to experience all the good things that can… no, will.. happen.
For everything that has happened that could be classified as bad – I can rattle off hundreds of good things that have happened.
Glorious amounts of serendipity, kind and generous strangers, amazing experiences, amazing meals, hikes, kayaking adventures, opportunities to share my gifts, breathtaking office views, beautiful art, basking in the glow of the gifts of others, gigabytes of amazing photos, the purr of our cat and the shared love of so many absolutely amazing people we’ve encountered and connected with in our travels.
The world is a great big place full of awesome things to be discovered and people to meet. Don’t let a little fear hold you back.
<— Read Chapter 13: Lake of ContinuityRead Chapter 15: Mobile Internet Options —>
No Excuses: Go Nomadic
This article is part of an ongoing series answering the common excuses folks give us for why they’re not pursing their dreams of full time travel. We launched this series a few years ago as Answers to the Common Excuses - and are in the process of massively updating it. We’ll be releasing newly updated & expanded chapters over the coming months. We’ll be addressing topics like: Affording It, Family, Pets, Logistics, Healthcare, Community, Keeping Connected and more.
Read the whole series: No Excuses: Go Nomadic
eBook version - This blog series is also available as a convenient eBook. We offer this compilation on a ‘pay as you wish’ basis. We don’t aim to make a living off our blog, but contributions to keep the blog going is appreciated (kinda like taking us out for a thank-you beer or dinner).
Cost: Pay As You Wish (really… just set the price!)