There are inherent risks with both life on the road and car camping. Much like my life at home or in the wilderness, I believe in being prepared for the what ifs that you hope never happen.
- Before leaving for a trip, take care of any standard maintenance issues such as oil changes and tire rotations.
- Verify your spare tire is at the recommended air pressure.
- Budget for maintenance along the way depending on trip mileage.
- Budget for repairs. In 2016, I had my first flat tire; in 2015 a tiny fender bender.
- Review your policy to ensure it is sufficient to cover the additional miles, states, countries you may be visiting.
- Maintain a copy of your policy information (it may already be available online).
Vehicle Contents Insurance:
- Most likely your car insurance does not include content coverage.
- Review your home owners or renters insurance. These typically cover vehicle contents. Keep the details readily available.
- Take time to make a list of your vehicle contents. It simplifies reporting theft and recovery.
- Consider roadside emergency coverage. If you already have a policy, review to verify details. Before you became a vagabond, you might have had a policy that only tows 5 miles. Consider upgrading to 100 miles. Beware that most policies do not cover assistance on forest service roads, etc.
- Canned air (might give you enough tire pressure to get back to a main road or tire repair facility)
- Battery charger and jumper cables. Tip: Tiny portable power banks for jump starting your car are now available (see below photo).
- Tire chains
- InReach – I already own this device for backpacking and hiking purposes, but I also use it to check in while on the road. When I leave the highway, I’ll send a waypoint to my map. I’ll do the same each evening and each morning. If I don’t check in, I have written a plan of action for my family. You can also use this device to text for help, when you don’t have cell service (i.e. if you break down or are delayed in meeting someone).
- I lock my car when I’m sleeping, which activates the alarm. If anyone were to break in, the loud shrieking noise may deter further advancements even if I’m in a remote location with no one else around.
- Wasp Spray is more effective than pepper spray due to the additional distance you can be away from an assailant, plus much less expensive.
- If you are outside your car, but nearby, and feel threatened, activate the car alarm with your key fob.
- Trust your gut. Don’t park somewhere you don’t feel safe. Be prepared to move if the situation changes.
- Recharging Electronics
- I carry an external battery and recharge it regularly. Many times because I’m using my phone for maps, music and reading, it doesn’t get fully recharged while driving so I’ll charge it at night from the external battery.
- I also carry an inverter to recharge my computer while I’m driving.
- If you’re taking photos on your phone, set your app to back them up online regularly. Unless you have an unlimited data plan, you’ll want to limit upload to when you’re on WiFi.
- If you’re taking photos on your camera, you’ll want to back them up. SIM cards are known to fail. Many of the newer cameras have a WiFi option where you can store a copy online. Mine doesn’t so I use my computer to copy from the SIM card to a USB drive. I organize the photos into folders on the USB drive based on location, then create subfolders with the best photos. When I have WiFi access I’ll upload the best photos to Google for further backup.
- Lost or Stolen Phone
- Do you know how to ping and lock your phone?
- Keep the instructions handy, including the number of your carrier.
- Verify your contacts are backed up, so if you need to replace, it won’t be such a painful process.
- Most likely you’ll be managing your bills and accounts online while your traveling. Store an accessible but secure list of your passwords and apps/website links (or make available to a trusted friend or family member).
- Lost or Stolen Wallet
- Maintain a list of your credit card numbers and contact numbers on your secure online list (or make available to a trusted friend or family members).
- ICE (In Case of Emergency)
- Use the ICE option on your phone to flag emergency contacts. That way even if your phone is locked, others can access your family/friends should an incident occur.
Tip: Travel with a tiny backpack or other carrying device you can grab when you leave your car unattended (i.e. shopping, sightseeing, etc). Keep stuff with you that will be a major hassle to replace (or trip ending) such as passport, phone, wallet, camera.