Solo Camping. Should you try it? How to be prepared.

I am the first to admit I am not a great camper, but I love the outdoors. Camping, for me, has always been something you do in a group. You get your friends together, bring hotdogs, marshmallows, and a ton of booze so you don’t have to remember that you’re sleeping on the ground, with only nylon covering to shield you from mother nature. However, the world is changing and group travel is currently on hold. So why not try camping on your own? I did and here are some tips which will allow you to have a great time by yourself.

#1. Call the campground where you’re staying ahead of time.

If you’ve been there before, don’t assume everything is the same as the last time you visited. With Covid, rules are constantly changing. Make sure that you know the safety policies of the campground before you go. Ask questions like: Is there a camp store? Where is the closest place I can purchase food? Do you have firewood for sale? If not do you know where I can buy it? Can’t get a hold of anyone? Send an email ahead of time with the questions you have. Asking questions before you go will allow you to properly prepare and avoid stress.

#2. Let someone know where you’re going and check in with a Ranger when you get there.

This is super important for safety reasons. It’s the one rule you should follow whenever you travel anywhere on your own. Let someone know where you are going, a friend, a family member, someone. Also, check-in with the Ranger. Let them know you’re there by yourself. Once the Rangers are alerted to you being on your own they will periodically check on you to ensure that you are safe. Bonus, when they do you will have someone to chat with for a bit.

Being out in nature is amazing but a lot can go wrong. Make sure you have a check-in plan in place. You don’t have to have everything planned out but let someone know approximately where you’ll be and how long you’ll be there. 9 times out of 10 this will just be a precaution but you’ll be glad if you happen to twist your ankle on the trail and can’t get back to your camp. If you at least inform the Ranger of your plans then you’ll have someone who will look for you if needed.

#3. Know what to do if you encounter wildlife

Look we’re in their domain, so be mindful of that. When you’re out camping or hiking and encounter wildlife there are techniques for safely dealing with whatever you come in contact with. For example, if you see a black bear, don’t freak out, believe me, they are more worried about you. Make yourself big and make a lot of noise. Clap your hands and shout, they will typically turn away than confront you. However, if you hear a loud thumping noise, go the other direction, that’s a mama bear warning you not to come closer. Most animals will not attack unless provoked so a good rule of thumb is to leave them alone and they’ll leave you alone. There are a ton of great books you can get about wildlife and how to approach a chance encounter.

#4. Get a starter log…or two

Not all of us were boy scouts or had a wilderness survivalist for a Dad, so how would you start a fire? Good question! The answer…a starter log. Place the starter log at the bottom of the pile then teepee the logs around the starter log. Light the bag and voila, FIRE! Starter logs have saved my camping trips on more than one occasion.

#5. Bring something to do

Look you’re by yourself…with no electricity. Unless your laptop, cell phone, or tablet are completely charged then you will have nothing to do but stare at the fire. So bring something, a deck of cards, a book you’ve always meant to read, or get really familiar with your camera. This is your time so use it as such. Disconnect and reconnect with yourself.

#6. Bring more water than you think you need.

This sounds like a no-brainer but although there may be resources for water…it may need to be purified in order to drink. I always have a spare gallon of water in my car. It doesn’t hurt. You could also buy a Lifestraw. It’s super convenient and I bring it on all of my travels. It’s a purification system that allows you to insert the straw into any water source and it will purify the water as you drink. Let’s face it, even if you’re in a beautiful all-inclusive resort in Mexico, if you drink something with ice in it you could still get Montezuma’s revenge…I did. Wish I had my Lifestraw then. Do yourself a favor and drink bottled or purified water and bring extra.

#7. Bring extra layers/blanket

You may think you’ve packed enough but when you’re camping you may need extra protection. Bring some extra layers and extra blankets. The first time I solo camped I checked the weather report and it said that the low for the overnight would be in the ’60s. It ended up getting into the ’40s. I woke up shivering. It turns out that when you bring an inflatable mattress it traps the cold air inside, so your sleeping bag will have to work overtime to keep you warm. Bringing extra layers and blankets will create an additional barrier against the cold.

#8. Enjoy nature

Most likely you’ve decided to solo camp because you love nature and want to be in it. So enjoy it. Leave your cell phone in your car. Disconnect and relax into nature and have fun.

So those are my top tips for surviving a solo camping trip. If you have questions about what I brought or what type of gear I used send me a comment below. Until next time!

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