We converted our campervan in summer 2019 with the dream of travelling the country. Building it out was a huge learning curve (and a huge expense) full of rewarding ups and frustrating downs. But as soon as the final coat of paint was dry, a new fear set in. What if we meet someone else who loves the van as much as we do, and they decide to mess with it, or even worse, try to steal it?
So many scenarios could happen on the road, and each one is a van dwellers worst nightmare. Especially van theft. Imagine, our vehicle, our home AND all our stuff, gone in the blink of an eye! What if the theft occurred while we were far from home, hiking a trail, staying with friends or camping out? That would leave us helpless AND homeless. So, before we set out, we did a lot of research to try make our van harder to steal. We picked up some commercial safety gadgets; a steering wheel lock and a steel box to lock the pedals into. Now it takes about a thousand keys to take her for a spin! But as we learned, external devices are designed to slow a thief down, not stop them entirely. Smarter thieves are adept at bypassing these gadgets and they carry the tools to get into anything. None of this information made us feel any safer about leaving our van for extended periods of time in strange places!
That’s where WhereSafe GPS comes in. In all our research, we learned campervans and RVs are among the most stolen vehicles on the road. We were planning on an epic road trip across 10 states and spanning thousands of miles, and with our recording equipment in tow. We would be devastated should anything happen to our rig OR our gear. WhereSafe was recommended by a vanlife forum as an affordable and easy safety measure and we checked it out. The WhereSafe MagTracker (magnetic GPS tracker) promises real-time tracking technology capable of monitoring the exact location of the van, accurate up to 10 metres? Yes please!
Once we set up the device, we tried it out. I ‘geofenced’ the property and he took up the keys. He had barely left the drive before the app pinged to inform me of the vans movement. Impressive! Setting other parameters are simple on the easy to navigate app, you can choose to be alerted to the route the vehicle has taken and to its speed. We also tested the GPS features on the highways of Ontario, exceeding the set speed limit which resulted in immediate text or email notifications warning us or any other user who we allowed access to the app. The multiple user options is great to keep loved ones aware of our location and travel plan. We even ventured deep into the forest to go boondocking and try out the signal in an area with less coverage. WhereSafe works on all data and wireless services to track the vehicle in real-time and when the van is stationary, it updates its position every 8 hours. As soon as motion is detected by the device, the updates come every 2 minutes. You can choose to receive push notifications or get reports by email, whatever suits. The tracker had no problem pinpointing our whereabouts regardless of the remoteness of our campsite. I would trust this device to be accurate pretty much anywhere!
Companies with large fleets use WhereSafe to monitor taxis, buses and delivery trucks, and nosy parents use it to track teenage drivers, but us vanlifers know the risks of losing our homes is a bigger concern. RVs, campervans and trailers are stolen all the time. Having a GPS tracker onboard can mean the chances of recovering your rig after a theft are much higher. Simply provide law enforcement access to the app and they will know exactly where you van is. Combine that with the downloadable route history, speed advisories and other safety features, the tracker is an essential piece of our kit now. The WhereSafe MagTracker comes with strong internal magnets which can stick discretely to literally any surface of your van. Its compact, waterproof and can easily switch between vehicles or trailers. It will even notify you if it has been tampered with!
I was concerned initially about having yet another battery to charge and another drain on our solar panels, but the tracker lasted almost 5 weeks of van life and the battery charged up quickly by USB. If you’re that worried about power consumption, there is now a longer lasting battery available in the XTracker. The WhereSafe XTracker offers battery life of up to 8 months (depending on usage)!
Being the prudent one, I was also concerned about contracts, activation fees and cancellation if we didn’t find value in the tracking service. Turns out I had nothing to worry about, there are no activation fees and cancellation is free although not something we will be considering anyway! The fee, $12.95 monthly, $120 yearly or $100 for a seasonal plan is a small cost compared to the protection it provides, knowing where our van is located at all times and giving our family members peace of mind while we are on the road.
When we’ve poured so much of our time, money and love into building our van, keeping it safe and secure is our main priority. The WhereSafe MagTracker is compact, simple and affordable way to make your vehicle more secure and, most importantly for a vanlifer, the peace of mind is priceless.