Last Update: 3/30/2018

What if I Die Alone in the Van?

Common fear if ya do vanlife solo (or even as a couple) is what'll happen if ya die or get too sick ta help yourself. Valid worry. Shit happens! An' the older ya get, the more likely it becomes.

Here's how ta cover yourself in case ol' vanlife goes ta hell. (Most a this info is Android based, but iOS should have similar. Even some dumbphones do.)

1. Stay in Contact Daily

Vanholio uses the vanlife buddy system. Every night, he uses an app ta text his GPS location to his best buddy and medical POA.

Sendin' out my GPS coordinates via SMS has three advantages:

  1. It's the most current location ta find me.
  2. It works when cellular Internet don't work. All I need is the barest cell signal.
  3. It lets my buddy know that I'm conscious and OK at that moment.

If I know I'm goin' totally off-grid, I'll text my current location and a summary of my travel plans. Includin' when he can expect ta hear from me next!

2. Use Your Smartphone as a Tracker

What if you're unconscious or otherwise can't contact out? What if ya moved since your last text in? That's where some kinda phone-based trackin' system works.

Right now, Vanholio's sharin' his location ta some friends usin' Google Maps. It's automatic once set up, which is great.

The downside is it only saves the last location I was on the internet. In other words, it don't work for shit if when your totally offgrid. But at least it gives searchers a startin' point.

Even better would be some kinda app that lets your buddies or family get your GPS coordinates via an SMS message, independent of Internet access.. That'll work as long as your phone is on and has the barest cell signal. There's a few apps out there.

3. Have Affairs in Order

It's damn smart ta have an Advance Directive, Last Will and Testament, and all that other shit ready ta go. 

Truly, Vanholio don't care much about whatever pathetic assets left when he bites it. Ain't my fuckin' problem. But I sure as hell care about my dog! And myself if I'm hard up but not quite dead.

The Advance Directive, gives instructions ta the doctors on how much I want done and what I think is bullshit. No fuckin' way I wanna be kept as a vegetable!

My best buddy is my Medical Power of Attorney (POA). He knows how I feel about things and'll see it done ta the best of his ability. I also got a regular POA ta handle the bills while I'm down.

Finally, I got a Pet Care Agreement and some money set aside 'specially for my dog. It's an agreement a who gets Ms. Barkley if I go. Has some backup folks, too. I'd hate ta think she'd die heartbroken and alone in a shelter. That shouldn't happen.

Now, ya might think plannin' all that stuff is gruesome. But it gives Vanholio peace a mind. Truly.

4. Keep Easy-to-Find ICE Info

Say LEOs or other first responders find you out or dead? Make sure they know what ta do. Vanholio's got printed and digital instructions for ICE (In Case of Emergency).

On my phone, I got an ICE app that does three things:

  1. It has my emergency contacts, includin' doctors, family, and POAs.
  2. It has my medical info, such as meds, allergies, and conditions.
  3. It has an emergency button I can press ta automessage my best buddy/medical POA, plus his wife.

But wait, there's more! Vanholio printed two laminated cards, one for his wallet and one mounted on the driver's shade in the van. It's got my meds, insurance info, allergies, where ta locate the Advance Directive, etc. in the van and online, and my emergency contacts.

Friend a mine is a hospital nurse. Says they get in single people all the time, especially middle aged men, with no info about who they are, what medical conditions they have, who ta contact, or nothin'. Makes their jobs damn hard. And maybe they don't guess right what the unconscious patient wants. Don't be that guy.

5. Get a Satellite Locator

Actually, I ain't got this yet. They're kinda pricey. But if you're type a vanlife takes ya outta cell range, look at a personal locator beacon or satellite messenger. Both work off satellite, so ya just need sky where you're at.

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  1. Thank you for your articles Vanholio. Timely, informative, entertaining and I get a kick out of your sense of humor. I look forward to reading your emails, straight forward information that's to the point. Stay safe out there.

  2. Anonymous3.4.18

    Vanholio aint the tough outlaw that he makes hisself out ta be. He even got a bitch runnin his life! Sheeit!!! time ta swap out the Unabomber thumbnail for a Mickey Mouse!