Before leaving the UK I tried to secure the van as much as I could, placing extra locks on the inside of the van as well as having the locks already on the van. I also tinted the windows myself so I had more privacy. After my trip to Scotland, I found people could see inside my van quite easily so I spent just £7 on some tint and did all my 6 rear van windows. Having a safe inside the van that is bolted to the chassis is also a great idea, if I’m out the van for the day I take my valuables with me in my rucksack as they are quite light like my laptop, go-pro and mobile phone. After speaking to a few tourist travellers in Berlin and Prague they do the same with their personal belongings or use a safe in their hostel or safe.
My biggest concern staying in the van was my safety from people outside when you’re trying to sleep. If I find a location I’m happy with I will stay there, I’ll be honest I’ve had a few occasions where my gut feeling doesn’t feel right and I’ve moved on.
I’ve found some great locations in the city and countryside, I first felt safer around cities but found they can be loud on weekends when people are drinking as I’m a light sleeper. I now like countryside locations because it’s quieter but I’m still not safe from disturbance.
One night last week in Poland I was parked up in a car park in the middle of nowhere and went to bed about 10pm, because I’m a light sleeper a car pulled up beside me and woke me up. I first was concerned when they pulled up as I knew how quiet it was and strange a car would pull up beside me in such a large car park, then some blue flashing lights turned on……the police.
They checked my van for a few minutes then they knocked on my window and shouted something in their language, I checked through the window and got changed quickly, I opened the side door and I said hello. They asked me if I spoke Polish or English and I just said English, they then asked why I was parked there and asked to see my passport and van documents. I replied with I’m a tourist and travelling Europe. I got my file that has all my documents in as I think it looks more organised and saves the police time (if you don’t waste their time they won’t waste yours). They sat back in their car and checked my ID and Van V5 Documents, after a few minutes they gave them back and said good night and enjoy my trip.
Linking with this I also had concerns with country border security but found out once you’re in Europe you can just drive over borders without getting stopped, this isn’t like flying on a plane and airport security checking your passport if visiting outside the EU. I have been pulled over by police while driving but again they are just checking the van and if I’m insured to drive on their roads, never had any issues once I’ve shown them my paperwork and passport.