Sleeping in a van is generally not an issue for van lifers. There will always be some areas that are not safe, but most of the time, you will have nothing to worry about. If your van has decent door locks, and your van doesn’t scream “this is my house,” you can sleep easy. Although, it’s better to be safe than sorry, so having a lockbox to store passports, money, etc. is always good for peace of mind. Stealth van living is a skill that you will pick up as you continue on your journey, and will become vitally important when traveling to foreign places.
Before embarking on your journey, it’s a good idea to take your van to a shop to have it inspected by a professional. Unless you’re a mechanic, you’re going to be kicking yourself if it breaks down in the middle of nowhere. Also, learning the basics of car/van repair is going to save you a lot of hassle and keep you safe. Udemy has a beginners guide to automotive repair that is really helpful. We also have an article with some great tips for tuning up your van before embarking on your trip, along with how to keep it in check while on the road.
Having AAA is very helpful as well. Our friends Irie to Aurora have the premier membership, and once got a tow 180 miles in the snow on a mountain in southern Oregon. Pretty handy!