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Back on the Coast

Back on the Coast

Thursday, January 24, 2008


On the Vandweller's forum lately, there has been a lot of talk about security. People have asked a lot about how to defend themselves, when out on the road. When you are living in a van, you are 'out' there, and I believe due diligence is wise. If you take care, you should be able to enjoy vandwelling, without living in fear of what might happen.

I grew up in a big city. That taught me there are lots of people, you don't want anything to do with. I developed a sense of what I call, 'street smarts'. It's a mode, or set of behaviour skills, that show strangers that I don't take 'crap', but, I don't instigate anything either. I move through 'bad' areas of the city with 'purpose'; I don't portray myself as a 'potential' victim. I minimize my time when spent in these 'down and out' areas, and I don't leave my van unattended for very long.

When you are sleeping in your van, you are vulnerable. So, I take extra care. I don't night park in urban areas of frequent or violent crimes, such as industrial or 'skid row' sections of the city. I park in urban suburbs, where there are lots of people around, and lots of more expensive cars than my van on the road. This minimizes the chance of someone bothering me, or breaking into my vehicle to steal the vehicle or contents.

I thought about having a weapon, like a hunting knife, or bear spray. But, if you introduce a weapon into a conflict, you better hang onto it, because it can be taken from you and used against you. I believe in other modes of defense. For example, most thieves are gutless. If someone is breaking into your van, confront them with an angry stream of profanity and they will probably flee. When passing a potential mugger on the street, if you portray that you are not an easy mark, they will usually leave you alone. But, the best defense is to not be in those areas in the first place, to minimize chance encounters with 'bad' people.

Obviously, I lock my doors, when asleep. Even in the country-side. Not for just protection from humans, but from curious bears and cougars, which are common in the woods of BC, Canada. If these animals are hungry, they aren't afraid of nothin'. Just because you are out in the country, doesn't mean an asshole might try something. So, I keep my awareness level up; again, I protect myself from being a victim. Choosing your campsite wisely, out of sight and out of mind, can save you a lot of unwanted attention.

When dealing with strangers, I trust my 'gut' instincts. I am wary of dangerous situations and act defensibly when appropriate. For example, when I see someone broken down on the road, I pull over and call out to them from inside my van, with the engine running. That way, if any shenanigans begin, you just drive away.

Although I keep alert, I don't live my life in constant fear. I conduct myself in a relaxed awareness, minimizing hazards. My 'street smarts' mode, a kind of a passive-aggressive behaviour, doesn't create any unnecessary conflicts, but avoids them. I've talked my way out of several 'sticky' spots, slipping away unscathed. I believe avoiding conflict, by conducting yourself wisely in the first place, is the best possible defense.

"The clever man solves a problem, the wise man avoids it." - Author unknown.

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