Losing your van keys could easily be one of the most stressful bits of a holiday. Have you noticed that no one ever just loses a key. Losing a key is always a big moment, you’re already late, or really have to be somewhere. It’s always guaranteed to be lost at the most inconvenient time.

Motorhome owners lose keys more than they should, one reason is because it doesn’t take long for two keys to grow into an unwieldy, enormous bunch.

The van door and ignition key, the habitation door, locker keys, the alarm fob, the bike lock keys, those couple of keys from padlocks you’ve lost but you keep them just in case.

A large bunch of keys, too big for a front trouser pocket, get placed in coats and handbags for safekeeping, or they get placed on a lanyard around your neck which you remove in restaurants and them place in a coat or handbags because the keys dangle into your Paella. Lanyards, coats and handbags are much easier to lose than your front trouser pocket. If all your keys get lost at once the inconvenience is considerable.

In over 30 years of motorhome ownership, we’ve had our moments with lost keys.

Like the time in the carpark of a French supermarket, 33 degree heat, a trolley full of rapidly warming produce, No keys.

Luckily for us that day, someone had handed our keys in and we weren’t locked out for too long, but long enough for our Brie to become baked.

A much more stressful event came a few years later, when in Spain on a ferry. After hearing the call over the ship’s tannoy..

Would all drivers return to their vehicles.

We were halfway down a long staircase to the car decks. When I felt for my keys, they were not there!

The panic, where were they? We stopped to look; we were holding people up. With the groans of those desperate to get in their cars in our ears, we search in handbags and in the pockets of coats we are carrying. No keys.

I turned back up, fighting the tide of passengers coming down, their swinging duty-free carrier bags bashing into my knees. I retraced my steps.

I checked the cafe area where we’d been waiting for an hour; I asked a purser. No one had handed in any keys.

The cafe, nothing.

I rushed back to try to find our cabin. All these corridors look the same.

Eventually I got my bearings and found it. Luckily the room was open and being cleaned,

Excuse me, have you found some keys?

Non, désolée

I scanned the room, there was no sign of the keys.

Then I remembered; we had tossed our coats on an unused top bunk which was now folded back into the wall; I pulled it out and felt around.

There were the keys. You can imagine the sense of relief.

I rushed back to the car deck; it was empty apart from a line of intensely annoyed people stuck and waiting behind our van.

But there was someone even more annoyed, and equally embarrassed. My wife.

She was awkwardly stood there with the kids, breathing in acrid exhaust fumes and fending off glares and tuts.

A deckhand shouted and told me we were moments from being dragged out of the way. Red-faced, from my running, and the embarrassment, I started the van and left the ship fast.

Ten minutes later, on a dual carriageway heading out of the Port area, a Brit car overtook us. It must have been someone we held up. Because as he passed, the car tooted, and the driver shook his fist, giving me a universal male masturbation gesture. He was right!

A Key Policy was born

After that, we developed a key policy that would never see us without our keys again.

What we did

We saw to it we each of us had a single habitation door key, not on a ring, they took up too much room, my wife in her purse and me in a wallet. A single door key takes up no more space than a coin.

Just to be on the safe side; we also secured a single habitation door key to the outside of our van.

Over the years in different vans we used all sorts of hiding places for the habitation door key, including the traditional magnetic boxes, which we never trusted) but we hid keys behind number-plates, behind rear light clusters, inside rear bumpers, the hollow tubing of a bike rack, we used a bolt and butterfly wing nuts to secure a key to any number of places under the van; we hid it once in top box and even taped them to roofs with white gaffer tape.

No matter what happened, we would always get in our van.

However, what good would that do us if we lost a full bunch of keys with alarm blips and immobiliser?

Well, we also hid a full set of keys including the alarm blipper and immobilisers inside the van, so once we got in with our spare door key, alarm blaring, we would take the full set from our super secret hiding place and silence the alarm.

Whatever van you have; look hard enough and you’ll definitely find a place or two in your van where you can hide keys in a place no one will find them.

Especially so when you consider a thief will be doing a rushed search, full of adrenalin, especially if you have an alarm with internal sirens blasting away, and you should!

This system served us well, and no way were we ever going to have a holiday ruined by losing keys.

You might have noticed that when talking about my key security policy, I was doing so in a past tense.

This is because an insurance company might, in the event of a future claim, consider that no matter how well I hid my keys inside the van, doing so, constitutes a reckless disregard for the risk of theft.

So, if my insurers are reading this article about our excellent way to safeguard against lost keys, a policy that served us well, and saved our bacon many times, then they should know is not a policy I use today. Honest.

Securing your keys at home

Alarms and immobilisers can deter even the most determined and knowledgeable thieves. For this reason it has become common practice to break into homes and steal your keys first. Then with one blip they are past your alarms and your immobiliser. Don’t make it that easy for them. When you are away from home, make sure your van keys are well hidden in the home, or even better, take them with you.

Deter thieves from breaking in to get your keys

Physical security is always a challenge for thieves, so traditional security posts , clutch claws, and steering wheel locks all have a part to play. If they see this additional security, they might be less inclined to break in your home and hunt for keys.If they get your keys, it might not be all bad, there are systems that will stop them using your keys to steal it, and trackers that you or the police can follow if they do.

Look at the news item below.

This was just too easy.

  • Thieves have targeted the camper, they’ve broken in to the home, found the keys easily enough and used them to defeat any security that was in place.
  • The flashing light of an alarm might have deterred them
  • Physical security might have deterred them, security posts, steering wheel and or clutch locks
  • Properly hidden keys would have stopped them
  • A non Starter product would have stopped them even if they had the keys.

Look after your keys and keep your motorhome!