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The Waki Way .co.uk - Living full-time in a motor home

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LIVING IN A MOTOR HOME: FAQ's

We always seem to get asked the same questions about living somewhat off grid in a motor home, to which the answers seem to spark a dozen more questions! So (to give our voices a rest!) here's the answers to our most frequently asked questions...

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General motor home & Wild Camping safety tips

Just because you're booked into a campsite doesn't mean that you and your vehicle are somehow guaranteed safety, unfortunately accidents happen and thieves will target anywhere they can! You may also find yourself having to wild camp for the night due to unforeseen delays so it's worth being somewhat informed and prepared for a range of scenarios. See our wild camping tips for some pointers just in case.

 

We don't like to talk danger and misery all the time, camping is fun of course but it's easy to let our guard down a little too low when in holiday mode so it's wise to remember a few important safety points. We'd like for more people to share the joys of a motor home holiday and to stay safe and secure while they do it!

 

See below for our 10 top tips on Motor Home and wild camping safety;

 

    1. Store your gas bottles securely where they are not in danger of rolling around whilst driving. Before you drive again make sure that the gas valve is switched off and check the appliances. Make a post-it note check-list of things you need to switch off before you drive or leave the vehicle, and what to switch on once you've stopped like the fridge and water heater. After a few days these checks become routine. Don't leave hob rings or gas heaters on when you're not in the vehicle to keep an eye on things! 
    2. Buy a carbon monoxide detector! They're small, cheap and can quite simply save you and your family's lives. We've personally had two experiences in our lifetimes of a carbon monoxide buildup, firstly we became ill from a blocked chimney in our cottage causing the fire fumes to back up into the house - we had a colour-change monoxide indicator but not an alarm then and thankfully our draughty single glazing saved us that time! More recently, in the motor home, a faulty fridge flame set our alarm off which helped us to address the problem before becoming ill this time! Buy a carbon monoxide detector now here>
    3. Have a fire extinguisher on board. Be sure to read the instructions before you would ever need to use it, at least then in the panic of having a fire in your motor home you will react faster and may save the day. We have two compact vehicle fire extinguishers on board like the photo left; one in the cab glove box and the other on the wall next to the door so they're always accessible. See our fire extinguisher review here> Of course prevention is always better so reduce any possible fire risks where you can, be aware of curtains, drying clothes and bags etc hanging close to heater and hob flames. For much the same reasons, also have a well stocked First Aid kit on board  - and know how to use it! Get on a St John Ambulance First Aid course and be the difference for your family!
    4. Maintain your leisure batteries correctly, if overcharged they can leak, melt or even combust so have a way of monitoring their progress easily. By correctly charging and using your batteries you will also increase their useful lifespan. For 240V power make sure you have the correct type of circuit breaker and wiring that can safely handle what you want to power.
    5. Assess your choice of parking spot carefully. Danger can come in the form of flooding, falling trees or limbs, and undesirables targeting your vehicle. Check a map for clues to the dangers in the area and even ask around, are you near a renowned high-crime area or a flood plain during a night of heavy rain which could leave you marooned? Try to park somewhere that is well lit (if you have good blinds the light shouldn't bother you) or at least overlooked to discourage thieves. If something doesn't feel right about the area don't stay even if it seems like the most logical place to camp, I always trust my instincts to keep us out of trouble and it's worked very well so far! 
    6. Don't leave anything outside, if you have bikes and roof boxes invest in some high quality locks, and be sure to lock all of your doors at night. People have reported waking to find a thief inside with them which must be an incredibly frightening experience! Thieves can be surprisingly brazen and have even been known to target campsites never mind the lone motor home in the secluded layby. If you can get a good alarm fitted, they are available to sense outside attempts without being set off by the occupants. Similarly make sure to secure your vehicle when leaving it and don't leave any clues to what valuables you have on board like sat nav charger cables and holders on the dash. See our article on what to do if unfortunately you do suffer from theft>
    7. If you run into trouble, leave! We don't mean run away from the scene of a traffic accident of course, but if you are being targeted by vandals or a fight is brewing outside get away from there and call the police once you're somewhere safe - the good thing about a motor home is it's very simple to drive away! The likelihood is that you won't get back to sleep anyway once you start worrying about your security and, if someone is in the process of trying to steal your bikes for instance, then simply driving away is probably the best defence to hold on to your stuff. Be particularly suspicious of people who knock to warn you about something broken or missing on the rear of your vehicle, thank them and close the door - you'll check it out later. Truckers have been attacked in similar lures to gain access to their cargo and the chance of a camera, phones and a laptop from a frightened family is certainly worth the effort for some criminals. I don't wish to cause alarm, nor criminalise good samaritans, as these instances are very low but it's worth being aware in order to prevent the figures from growing. For this reason I do not like the idea of the exterior thermal insulation blinds, we have the internal types and it's great to be able to get ready for the night without going back into the rain, never mind having to face a potentially violent situation in order to drive away or even simply see what's happening!
    8. Be ready to move at night. Pack what you can away securely before you go to bed leaving your clothes and shoes easily accessible. Have a torch to hand but also get to know your way around your vehicle in the dark. What if next door's caravan ends up on fire? You never know when you may need to drive away or get out quickly, and at the very least it means less bruises from bumping into things in the night! 
    9. Try to find a parking spot with good telephone signal. A distant dream in most wild areas of course but it can save lives by being able to make that one emergency call.  Check in with people before you go walking into wilderness areas, and perhaps leave a note of your planned route with your vehicle in case someone finds it after several days or if you are reported missing - at least then your rescuers would have an idea as to where to search! See our article on enjoying the wilderness in safety> 
    10. Have a plan. Decide what you need to do in a variety of survival or security scenarios relevant to your setup and regularly remind yourself. If you have a family do a few drills, remember to have fun - you'll actually remember it all better if you do! I can honestly say that I sleep much sounder when I feel that I could handle any likely situation and have taken the steps to improve my chances and security! 

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About us:

My name is Sarah and in 2011 my husband Ryan and I decided to buy and re-fit an old motor home - we named it Waki and now live in it full time in the UK!

We live neither on or off-grid, rather somewhere in between, and are not the first and I dare say not the last to choose this way of life... read more>> 

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