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  • J. Phillips

Knowing your surroundings-Safety tips while rest stop camping


Windows down, radio up on the highway with the soothing hum of some beefy Cooper tires on the asphalt on the way to a weekend adventure…We can not always get there over night, or to some wooded quiet camp ground as much as we like. On more than one occasion we have been forced to take refuge for the night at a road side rest stop. Often times this means camping out with some of the very things from which we intend to escape. Blaring music, the sound of rushing cars, ambient street light, and that guy who was honking at you at exit 105 giving you a thumbs up. Never the less here you are pulling into a rest stop for the night.

From military training it has become second nature to ensure situational awareness in all circumstances and environments I go. I often times sit in a park on the weekend or even walking through the mall and see the whole world head down plugged into their phone or iPod completely unaware of their surroundings. This is what we call a soft target. Someone who is vulnerable and oblivious to any danger. Whether crossing boarders in Central America or sleeping in a truck stop for a night, in an unfamiliar setting at night on the road far from home you need to be a hard target. So how do you be a hard target? Somewhere like a rest stop or even a motel on the way to your escape are prime opportunities for people to attempt to exploit your vulnerabilities. Here are a few steps you can take to keep yourself and your gear safe.

Location: Always when possible park your ride somewhere well lit and in eye sight to a store top camera or the majority of foot traffic. A vehicle that is in the open with multiple opportunities for a thief to be seen is one less likely to be messed with.

Gear: Whenever I have the truck loaded down I always ensure to run some simple cables or bike locks with a lock through and around my gear on exterior of the truck. Don’t be fooled, this is only a deterrent, but often times that is all that is needed. Also be sure to store expensive items such as camera equipment, laptops, IPad, wallets and purses inside a container or under the seat while parked. I try to do this at all times, not just over night somewhere foreign. And of course remember to lock the doors….without the keys inside.

Communications: I always ensure that I have some way of communicating with me and that they are fully charged. Whether it be a cell phone under my pillow or a radio when reception is not the best, communication is a top priority in the case of any emergency. As well as informing someone whether friends or family of where you are staying or exploring.

Personal Protection: Not everyone or every situation needs a firearm or pocket knife, but if you are responsible, knowledgeable and licensed, carrying one is a possibility. Other options include pepper spray, a taser or something as simple as a bat. Even bringing your dog along isn’t a bad idea! Once again it is more for an escalation of force and deterrent than to be actually used.

Being a hard target is about stopping any thought that someone could pull one over on you. More often than not all that is needed is passing the first glance. At first glance this nice vehicle is parked in a well lit heavily exposed area, everything seems to be locked down, I can’t see anything valuable inside the car, the driver just put a baseball bat inside his roof top tent before calling it a night. Probably shouldn’t mess with them. Just a few tips I follow to keep us all safe on our travels near and far!

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