Solo travel NZ

Solo Travelling: A Safety Guide

With low crime rates and plenty of beautiful places to discover, New Zealand is a great place for those with wanderlust. However, it always pays to know how to keep yourself safe. Long-time solo traveller Lisa Jansen shares her tips on how to be and feel safe if you’re travelling on your own.

When you look around many campgrounds, you might be forgiven for thinking that travelling in an RV is for couples (and families over the summer holidays). However, there is an ever-growing community of singles, both male and female, who love travelling around the country on their own, both full-time and part-time.

New Zealand is a great place to travel solo. It’s safe, people are friendly, and there is so much to do and see that you will never get bored. However, being out there on your own can feel a little intimidating at times, especially if you’re new to the idea.

The vast majority of travellers – solo or not – never experience any issues at all, and most say they feel perfectly safe. However, if you are a solo traveller or are thinking about going on a solo trip, it can be a good idea to spend a bit of extra time thinking about safety. You probably won’t need it, but it might help you sleep better.

There are many aspects to travelling safely, including road safety, fire safety and being prepared for getting stuck in a remote place for a few days. These things all apply no matter whether you are on your own or not. The part which concerns solo travellers most – more so than couples and families – is encountering other people that are up to no good. Therefore, protecting yourself from ill-intentioned people is what we’re focusing on here.

Your RV

If you don’t have an RV yet, it’s a good idea to think about safety before you buy one. If you want to do a lot of freedom camping and travel to remote parts of the country, a van where you can walk from the back through to the driver’s cab is a great idea. It means you can get from your bed into the driver’s seat and take off, should you ever feel unsafe.

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It should go without saying that good locks are a must. Installing an alarm is also a good idea. The alarm sensors might pick up on someone trying to get in before you do, and the loud alarm will hopefully scare any intruder away. At a minimum, it will wake you up, so you can then
take other actions.

Solo travel NZ
A walk-through van means you can take off without leaving the camper if you ever feel unsafe

Parking up

When it’s time to park up, there are a few things solo travellers can do to feel safe. Staying close to others is a good place to start. Avoid those really remote parts of the country if you’re solo, and instead, opt for more popular locations where you are more likely to be surrounded by other campers. You might also find you prefer paid campgrounds and NZMCA parks over freedom camps, as these parks tend to lock gates at night, and you’re generally less likely to be on your own.

However, locked gates aren’t always a good thing. If you do find yourself somewhere remote, either on your own or with neighbours you feel unsure about, it’s a good idea to make sure there are no gates that will stop you from leaving at any point. After all, troublemakers don’t always arrive by car.

If you are parked up somewhere with other campers nearby but still feel a bit unsure, getting to know your neighbours can help put yourself at ease. Go over and introduce yourself and have a bit of a chat – you never know when you’re going to meet a new friend!

Other things that can make you feel safer include staying in areas where you have cellphone coverage and making sure your phone is charged, double-checking all doors and windows are locked, and ensuring you always know where your keys are should you want to get away.

Solo travel NZ
Park up with a few others and make some new friends!

Deterring Intruders

Luckily, instances of someone trying to break into an RV while people are sleeping inside are extremely rare. However, you might feel safer knowing you are prepared should you ever notice someone sneaking around, trying to open doors or even getting aggressive.

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If you can get into the driver’s seat without having to leave your RV, do so and take off. Honk loudly on your way out to warn other campers. If you can’t leave but have cellphone coverage, call for help if you feel unsafe. Don’t wait. Don’t worry about looking silly if it turns out it was nothing. Worst case scenario, you end up with a funny story you can tell at the next happy hour. If you like to travel to areas that don’t have cellphone coverage, a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) might be a good idea.

A loud alarm can be an excellent way to scare an intruder away and will likely also wake up any neighbours. Another idea is to have a recording of a big dog barking. It might sound a bit nuts, but playing it when you notice someone sneaking around your van might well be enough to deter them. Of course, you could also get a real dog and get the bonus of company and cuddles!

Solo travel NZ
A personal locator beacon can be useful when there is no cellphone coverage

Join the Community

Another great way to feel safer as a solo traveller is to join the community. Meeting others – online or offline – and hearing how much they are enjoying their solo travels and how safe they feel will likely put you at ease and feel connected. There are a few Facebook groups specifically for this purpose, including Solo Kiwi Travellers, Female Travel Buddies and Motor Home Babes; many of these sites have posts from people saying where they are so you can find out if there are others close by.

Overall, while there are a few things worth thinking about, travelling solo in New Zealand really is very safe. If you spend a bit of time preparing and don’t take any unnecessary risks, you will likely have a great time and be perfectly safe. So, get out there and enjoy your (solo) travels!

Solo travel NZ
Sharla May travels with her dogs for company and safety

Looking for motorhomes or caravans for sale in NZ? Browse our latest listings here. 

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