Camping with friends and family is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and connect with others. Sometimes, though, a camping trip by yourself is just what the doctor ordered. You can take more time to relax, experience nature, reflect on life and do the things you want to do — all without the stress of group disagreements and worrying about others.
Solo camping is a different beast than group camping, though. You have to do everything yourself, and you need to be more careful because if something happens, no one will be around to bail you out.
With proper preparation, a solo camping trip can be an ideal way to get away. Here are seven tips for going it alone on your next excursion.
1. Work Your Way Up
Going by yourself for your first camping trip is not a good idea. You should have some experience with others under your belt before you try to go solo. Reading camping books and other educational materials can’t prepare you in the same way that experiencing things firsthand can. Make sure you’ve logged some solid camping hours, have learned from someone with experience and are confident in your abilities before striking out on your own.
2. Brush up on Your Skills
In group camping situations, whoever has the most experience in something tends to take charge whenever that task comes up. If you need to navigate while hiking, for example, the person who knows their way around a map or compass best usually leads the group. Unless you make a conscious effort to learn the skill of navigation, you may have never really had to do it.
When camping by yourself, you’re going to need to take charge of everything. Brush up on your outdoors skills before you head out for your trip so you know you can do everything. Even if it’s something you’ve been around before, practice to make sure you can complete the task yourself with no direction or help from others.
3. Let Someone Know
You should never leave for a camping trip without letting someone at home know about the details of your trip. Tell a trusted friend or family member when you’re leaving, when you’re coming back and when you’ll be able to check in throughout your trip. You should also tell them your location, and if you’re hiking, give them a route plan. If you don’t check in when you said you would, that person can try to contact you and alert emergency services if necessary. Because they know your location, they’ll also know where to look for you.
4. Pack Light
When you’re out in the woods by yourself, there’s no one to help you carry your pack if it gets too heavy. Because of this, it’s especially important to pack light when going on a solo trip. Consider bringing a hammock rather than a tent, water purification tablets instead of a filter and other lightweight options.
5. Plan for Emergencies
It’s important to be prepared for emergencies whether you’re camping in a group or on your own. The difference when you’re solo is that you need to carry everything yourself. Don’t skimp when packing first aid materials and other emergency supplies — you don’t want to be caught without them. You should also bring a signal whistle and an emergency communication device such as a satellite phone or personal locator, so you can call for help if you need to.
6. Bring a Book — or Write One
When camping on your own, although you might strike up some conversations with fellow campers, you won’t reliably have someone to chat and share stories with. You might also end up with spare time, especially when the weather is bad. While one of the joys of camping solo is the time you can spend quietly enjoying nature and reflecting on life, sometimes you might want a break from that, especially when the sounds of nature get a bit creepy as you’re trying to fall asleep.
A good, uplifting book is the perfect remedy for all of that. You might even want to bring a journal to jot down your thoughts and some notes about your experiences.
7. Prepare Yourself Mentally
When camping solo, you’ll be spending a lot of time alone with your thoughts. And when you don’t have someone else to help calm you down, difficult situations can be even more stressful. Before you head out on your trip, it’s important to take some time to prepare yourself mentally for these challenges. Find something that helps keep you calm, whether it’s deep breathing, thinking about fond memories or whistling your favorite song, and keep that antidote in your back pocket so you can pull it out whenever you need it.
Camping by yourself is an experience that comes with different challenges than camping with others. With a bit of preparation though, you’ll be ready to clear those hurdles and experience the many joys that are unique to solo camping.