You see this question asked all the time. It's SO common in RVing forums and groups.
So now is the perfect time to address whether it's safe (FOR REAL) for you to leave your RV trailer when boondocking.
Marshall and I each have boondocked full-time since January of 2016 (Till December of 2020). We learned a few things about it while out there. Time to share it with you.
The general answer to this question is 'yes'. It's usually safe to leave your trailer parked alone while boondocking.
However, there are exceptions (and side notes) to this rule.
Let's start with WHERE you are boondocking.
Boondocking Out West, In The Middle Of 'Nowhere'
This is the best scenario possible. It's likely quiet and very scenic. And criminals are not out here. They are in towns and cities with all the low-lying fruit.
Anyone out in nowhere-ville is out there recreating just like you are. Are YOU out there looking for a trailer to steal? Yeah, they aren't either.
This is where I feel the safest when camping. I bought a cheap RV trailer hitch lock when I hit the road, but I only used it a few times. After a while, I never thought about it anymore.
Nobody 'out there' wanted to steal my bumper pull camper trailer. (Or break in.)
Never have we heard about someone's trailer or RV being stolen out in rural public land areas. Not saying it hasn't happened. Surely it has.
But the odds are SO low of it happening, it's pretty safe to exhale and not worry about it.
Boondocking Near Cities
Ok, now is when you must look around and judge what you are seeing. What type of people are camping nearby? Do they look like drug addicts? Homeless people?
If you are camping somewhere where this type is prevalent, then it's fair to be a little more cautious. It's still unlikely someone is going to try to drive away with your trailer.
However, they may have sticky fingers when it comes to your other stuff.
In areas near metro areas, simply DO NOT leave anything outside at night or while you are away when boondocking.
Personally, I still don't put a hitch lock on my trailer in these type of areas. An example of such an area is Snyder Hill camping area in Tucson (pictured above).
I stay, but I never leave things out at Snyder Hill.
If you truly think an area is so scary someone would be so brazen to steal your trailer, you probably shouldn't stay there, hitch lock or wheel boot or not.
Parking With Friends/People
This is an ideal situation. Especially if you are the nervous type. Chances of someone stealing your trailer are slim to none when you are boondocking with others or are within relatively close visible distance.
(Again, I'm only speaking of parking by other people that are recreating. Not people who are living in an RV or other vehicle because they have to.)
Heck, even if they are not friends... if you are parked among other recreating campers who are boondocking, no sane individual is going to pull up and try to hitch up a travel trailer and drive it away from the group.
Even if they did, others will likely notice the shadiness and take action. Boondocking campers tend to look out for one another.
Precautions You Can Take
Ok, so you're still a little nervous about your travel trailer disappearing?
(Especially if you have pets in your trailer.)
Here are some things you can do to feel better about leaving it.
The harder you make it for a crook to take it away, the less likely they will do just that. Crooks are lazy. And they look for the easiest prey.
- GPS Tracker: This will likely have a monthly fee. But hey, peace of mind might be worth it for you. In fact, some pet temperature monitors have GPS in them. Double duty!
- Hitch lock: There are hitch locks on the market that may or may not do much good. Some are better than others (The Coupler Vault Pro is the crème de la crème of locks. See it below). If a crook wants to get it off, they will. But these are great deterrents.
- Cameras: Cameras are cheap these days. The WYZE company has a new very inexpensive outdoor wireless (and waterproof) camera. (Of course, make it too easy to access and a crook might run off with it.)
- Boot/wheel lock: You can also buy a wheel boot or lock. Again- a deterrent. A pro will likely be able to get it off. But it's one more step you're forcing them to make.
- Chocks: RV X-Chocks have a place where you can install a padlock to prevent someone from taking it off. Without removing the chocks, the wheels can't move.
It's totally understandable that at first you may be afraid that someone will steal your travel trailer from public land.
I possessed the same fear you had when I hit the road.
But now, having done it for so long, and with a more experienced understanding of who is out there and why, I have zero worries about my trailer disappearing (or anyone else's) in the places I commonly boondock.
If you think an area is THAT shady, simply don't camp there. If you must stay there, take the precautions you've learned here to help discourage theft.
It's all you can do. That and keep insurance on your trailer.
Do you have any suggestions on how to keep your trailer secure that isn't covered here? Comment below and share your thoughts.
Products Mentioned In This Post
In summary, we do NOT think you need these when boondocking in rural areas. However, they may serve you well when in storage or when camping in an iffy location.
WYZE Outdoor Camera
Trimax Wheel Lock
Author: Kelly Beasley
As a seasoned and passionate RVing expert, I have dedicated myself to living the full-time RV life for over 5.5 years, immersing myself in the unique quirks and joys of the boondocking lifestyle and gaining a wealth of knowledge and experience along the way. In December 2020, my business partner and I made the transition to part-time RVing, but in January 2023, we hit the road once again, this time in our trusty vans. My mission is to help others embrace the RVing lifestyle with confidence and excitement, armed with the knowledge and resources needed to make the most of their adventures. I believe that the more you know, the more you can truly appreciate and enjoy the freedom and flexibility of the open road. Join me on this journey and let's make some unforgettable memories.