How safe is it?

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#1 Sat, 07/02/2016 - 12:18

How safe is it?

Hey Folks,

me and my better half are planning a trip from chile up to alaska.
we will travel in a campervan/car.

i´m slowly getting tired of the discussion of how safe it is.

anybody has experience about routes which are safe, places or parking slots for campervans which have are "safe"???

thanks for your help,


=) [email protected]

Sat, 07/02/2016 - 14:37

Best stay home then and

Best stay home then and wonder what might have been.


"No matter how deep a study you make, what you really have to rely on is your own intuition, and when it comes down to it, you really don't know what's going to happen until you do it."
Konosuke Matsushita



Tue, 07/05/2016 - 23:49 (Reply to #2)

Hey Tony,

Hey Tony,

thanks for your words. I absolutely have the same opinion.

But do you know is there a "save" way of travelling in a camper?
Like are spots where more campervans stay for overnights and protect each other?
Are main roads which are less dangerous than others?
Any good ideas of special alarm locks or something?

thanks for your words again,

Sat, 07/02/2016 - 14:38

Wed, 07/06/2016 - 00:34

There are hundreds of

There are hundreds of established campgrounds shown on that you can access on line and off line on your phone, or as POI files installed on your Garmin.  Many are overlander meeting places where you will come across others. Quinta Lala in Cusco and Finca Somewind north of Quinto are two such places but there are others.


As for safety - the overriding mantra has to be SHIT HAPPENS.


We boondock as much as possible and have done it in Mexico, Morocco and Turkey just as we do in Europe and all over north and south America and done it without incident (well except for a couple of rambo cops in Argentina), but of course others have not been so lucky even though they were not doing anything we haven't done. Wrong place wrong time.

But yes, using I overlander there is no reason you should ever need to camp way out in the wilderness if that is what you want. Some overlanders seem to be fixated on overnighting at truck stops and petrol stations and we use them too. Restaurants are another place that rarely object to you having a meal there and asking if you can stay overnight. Small village central plazas, in front of police stations etc etc all are possibilities especially if you can speak spanish enough to ask if it is OK to sleep overnight.

Just need to be a bit flexible and resourceful and you should be able to camp safely in any country.

Fri, 07/08/2016 - 19:05



#1) ioverlander application for your phone (works with location setting turned on, but data and wifi are not necessary which is great!)

#2) you can ask around to hotels & hostels that you would normally sleep inside, and many times they will let you park out front or in their own parking lot. So possibly safer then just anywhere.

#3) Intuition! Always obey your gut.

#4) If you are really nervous, just plan your destinestions in advance with arrival well before dark and Plan A, Plan B and Plan C for accomodations laid out. Our most nervous times have been when we were camping on a deserted beach, parking lot or restaurant with no locals staying overnight nearby.... 

#5) Don't drive at night, and just research those areas (like Mexico) where you may get hasseled by the cops. They are literally so easy to handle if just at bit intimidating if you just know the protocol. 

Sat, 07/09/2016 - 00:48

Hey Eldestinesia,

Hey Eldestinesia,

that makes pretty sense!
Thanks for your words.

Do you have or know any specific locks, presense detectors or other alarm system?

Thanks you for your words!


Fri, 09/02/2016 - 23:16

Agree 100%.   We did not have

Agree 100%.   We did not have a single safety issue, but we also took precautions.  We wild camped, but not every where.  You have to consider where you are, and what the locals would think about you in the area where you are. 

1) The petrol stations are your best friend.  Remember that in Central and northern S America, locals don't often "go camping". They are often too poor, or it is just not what they do.  So while you may find campsites (and iOverlander is indispensible on this trip), you often won't.  But you will always find petrol stations, and they usually have restaurants, coffee, toilets, and even showers, and more importantly armed guards at night. We stayed in many petrol station forecourts, would chat up the guard and give him a little "gold" kangaroo stick pin (we carry hundreds to smooth our way !!), and he would guard us for the night.  In one we stayed at, the local police even came round to ask us if everything was OK !!!

2) We also stayed in the grounds of a number of hotels, motels, country clubs, etc.  We would just pull in and ask if we could sleep in our car inside their gated compound, and never got told that we couldn't.  Sometimes it was free, or maybe 5 or 10 $.  But for that we often got offered a shower in one of their unused rooms, and they would bring us fresh coffee in the morning. Restaurants are also often good for this, especially if you eat in their restaurant first !  The owners often live on site, and allow you to tuck yourself away somewhere.  Brilliant.  

3) Another place to try are the "Love Hotels".  Seriously !!!   VERY secure, very clean, and in most cases the garage is under the room and I know people who just slept and cooked in their cars inside their private garage.  Reasonable rates too !  Gives you a giggle too when you try to explain why you want a room for the whole night instead of just for a couple of hours !!

And as elDestinesia says, always obey your gut.  Start looking for a place well before dark - And NEVER drive at night.  Too dangerous, plus you might end up stopping in a place that when you see it the next morning, it should not have stopped at !      

And finally, re iOverlander, the best way is to have it on your Garmin or phone.  Tony Lee put it on my Garmin for me in about 10 minutes in the Cusco campsite, and that made it absolutely brilliant.  You can be driving along, and when it is time to thnk about stopping, you don't need wifi to access the site.  All you do is click on POI's, and all the sites come up on your Garmin, based on how far they are from where you are at that moment, plus all the comments about the locations added by others.  Perfect.


Tue, 01/17/2017 - 09:42

Overlanding in/with a roof tent

First off I want to give my $0.02 of experience that I have never had any serious issue in Central or South America in the past 20 years.
I just completed a 3-week trip/ 1500 miles around Panama (on a rental car) and only had one encounter with local police on the Panamericana a little tense which was easily defused by just playing nice (instead of insulted or annoyed which would have certainly escalated the situation). I have done similar trips in Belize, Costa Rica, Argentina, Chile, Brazil and Uruguay without any major issues.’
Main advice: Plan your driving and AVOID at all cost driving at night.
Also, check Ben’s recent 2-part YT video on this topic:

Now I have a question for the community: most seem to be travelling in vans or campers that allow you to sleep inside the car and not be too noticeable.
I’m planning to start travelling with a roof tent, so I’m guessing it will  be more difficult to be allowed to set camp on a restaurant parking lot or in front of a police station.
Someone has experience on this and would like to share?
Thanks in advance & safe overlanding to all,

Sun, 05/07/2017 - 09:17 (Reply to #9)

Pablo, there a heap of

Pablo, there a heap of travellers using tents or rooftop tents roaming around the place and they set up in all sorts of places from forest clearings to hotel and restaurant parkings to fuel stations to established campgrounds.  I've been moderating new entries and corrections on iOverlander for a fair while now, and I don't recall any stories of problems that could be claimed to be specific to tents and RTTs. In fact the ones involving robbery and at least one case of murder, happened to people sleeping in vans or motorhomes.  It isn't what you are sleeping in, but where you are sleeping and that criteria is impossible to define

Sun, 05/07/2017 - 10:19 (Reply to #10)

RTT safety

Thanks Tony for your feedback!

Appreciate your contributions and insights on iOverlander and FB/Overland S&C America group!

Safe travels/overlanding

Sun, 05/07/2017 - 04:36

The safest country - CHILE!

The safest country in the world is Chile! You take your chances in the rest. I have traveled around the world an know what I am telling you! Beable to speak good Spainish and prepared to pay a lot of bribes in every country except Chile and you may do okay. Travel in a caravan if possible. Make sure your vehicle documents are in perfect order or you may have to wait days and even weeks to use your vehicle in many countries. Make sure your vehicle is in top condition and have spare parts for anything that might be a problem. Getting basically useless insurance is required in most countries. Make absolutely sure you have the correct documents for any children with you or you may lose them! For example, it is easy to take your children into Costa Rica, but, getting them back out can be a nightmare! There are "companies" who offer to take you though most or all of the Americas, but, they are horrendously expesive and in some cases liars. Be careful and look out for yourself, your family and your friends.

Sun, 05/07/2017 - 09:11 (Reply to #12)

Fair bit of hyperbole there

Fair bit of hyperbole there captain. We have NEVER paid any bribes in 10 years and never had to take our chances and we get way off the main roads with the best of them.