I have traveled extensively throughout the US for many years and enjoy helping people to make the most of their RV vacations.
You may think you understand the total importance of paying attention to the safety of your family and your vehicles when taking RV road trips, but it never hurts to learn more about this issue from someone who has never had an accident, a theft or a major injury during recreational vehicle trips for more than 50 years.
There is no question that the open road is a dangerous place. When you are traveling along highways and interstates, staying in campgrounds or exploring the wilds of this beautiful country, 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 sidestep every issue that might arise during your travels, doing a good job of advanced planning and trip preparation will certainly help you to avoid or at least be reasonably able to deal with many of the problems that may come your way.
Predators, drunk drivers, thieves and scammers are everywhere, and breakdowns can and do happen often. There are also risks that occur when dealing with nature. Therefore, it's up to you figure out how you will deal with unhappy situations if they should occur. This article will show you how to do that.
Every person who owns a camper, travel trailer or motor home should make it a point to learn how to safely drive his travel unit.
To do this, owners need to
- take an RV driver training course,
- practice often,
- test drive their coaches prior to taking any trips and
- follow safe driving guidelines.
Travelers can avoid many mishaps by staying within the posted speed limit, being especially careful when entering or leaving highways, taking care when pulling into truck stop fuel islands and avoiding driving distractions such as texting or trying to read maps while their RV is in motion.
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 yours, 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.
For inspiration, check out the video I posted here to see how well a large motor home holds up in a head-on crash test! It isn't a pretty sight.
Take Care of Your Vehicles
Repairing and maintaining vehicles is costly and time consuming. For this reason, many people allow their coaches 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, your loved ones 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.
It is especially important to do walk around checks ever day when you're on the road. Checking to see that tires are properly inflated, lights and turn signals are working, brakes are functioning, steps are in and antennas and awnings are secured are all simple things you can do that will help you to avoid problems.
Protect Your Belongings
Many people think campgrounds 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 tourist. This means there might not be anybody left to oversee your belongings when they are gone also.
Awkward as it is, the only way for you to make sure your belongings will be there once you return home is to pack 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 front door and use dowels in window tracks. If you do this and lock all windows and doors before you leave, nobody will be able to get into your coach unless they break a window, which is not likely to happen.
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.
If you do as advised here, you won't have to worry about these issue.
Practice Safe Camping
Never assume that stopping points are totally 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.
There is no way to know who is parked beside you or who may want to harm you, so it’s best not to
- leave your doors and windows open,
- allow strangers to enter your coach or
- venture out after dark.
It’s also wise to pay attention to the site you choose because parking next to a wasps nest or on a site that is not level could create real problems for you.
Also, you should make it a point to test campground water before ingesting it.
Always keep your guard up and use common sense if you want to protect yourself and your fellow travelers.
Some people like to dry camp in the wilderness, but doing so can be asking for trouble if you don't understand the dangers of doing so from poisonous snakes and insects, unsafe drinking water, wild animals or toxic plants such as poison ivy.
Furthermore, if you camp in untamed areas and get injured, your cell phone may not work. In this situation, you won't be able to get medical help.
I had a friend who got thrown from his horse and was kicked by it when camping in the wild and died right on the trail, even though his wife was a nurse.
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.
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 such as Walmart parking lots.
- 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.
- If you carry a gun, make sure you know how to use it.
- Keep windows covered so that outsiders are unable to judge where you are when you're inside of your coach.
Remember that things can be replaced, but people cannot.
Protect Your Health
You should always carry medications and first aid items with you because bad things sometimes happen when you're traveling in a recreational vehicle.
It is very easy to fall out of a coach, slam the door on a finger, get stung by a bee or wasp, fall or walk into a field of chiggers or poison ivy. (I actually have done all of these things myself over the years!).
If you make it a point to keep a well stocked first aid kit available, you can save yourself and your fellow travelers hours of painful misery an even trips to the hospital.
In addition to our medications and a snake bite kit, my husband and I always carry a Coleman First Aid Kit with us because it is made specifically for RV travelers and has products in it that we might not think to take with us otherwise.
We have used other brands, but this one seems to us to be more comprehensive and has also come in handy when accidents have happened.
You should also wear protective clothing and ointments as needed. A bad sunburn can send you to the hospital as can wearing the wrong type of shoes when hiking.
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, it is extremely important for travelers to understand nature's risks and be vigilant when faced with them.
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.
For example you should always
- do a thorough systems and mechanical check of all vehicles you plan to use for your vacation immediately before leaving home,
- carry equipment that can help you in the event of problems such as road flares, updated fire extinguishers, shovels and rope and
- make sure that your load is balanced.
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.
- RVs will quickly collapse in front end accidents,
- many roll over easily due to their high centers of gravity and
- they can catch fire easily.
Do you know how you would react if any of these things happened to you?
Most people don't, which is why it's important that they take the time to create escape plans and practice using so that they'll know what to do in an emergency situation.
Learn How to Use Emergency RV Exits
Travelers generally pay little attention to those exit windows in an RV, but in a fire or accident emergency, they can save lives.
Always have someone show every person who will be in the coach how to use them, and organize a plan of action in case you need to get out of the unit quickly.
For instance, if you are in the rear of a unit and there is a problem up front, never try to exit using the entry door. Instead use the emergency window to exit your coach.
Always practice doing this before every trip so that you will be familiar with the procedure you need to use to stay safe.
You might also want to invest in a folding escape ladder such as the one we have which is call the Extend and Climb. It takes up little space, but you can connect it to your bedroom window so that you can climb out of your coach rather than jumping out of it in an emergency. Jumping can cause serious injury, especially for older RVers.
RV Travel Safety Is Important
There is nothing in this world as wonderful as taking an RV vacation, but nothing so terrible as having it ruined due to a safety issue.
If you use the methods for protecting your RV travel safety that have been discussed here, you should be well prepared for whatever might come your way.
Do whatever you can to stay safe during your RV trips so that you won't be sorry you went!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2016 Sondra Rochelle
Sondra Rochelle (author) from USA on August 19, 2019:
Sorry that happenened.
Bonnie Kaye on August 07, 2019:
That was me in that rv accident. It has affected my life forever. Please drive safe out there.