Camping is the perfect way to unplug and connect with nature on every level. But anyone who has been camping knows how hard it can be to plan and coordinate with fellow campers. You can still go camping and enjoy nature’s bounty, even if your pals can’t make it this time.
You might find that you prefer solo camping. What’s better than waking up in the foothills of a magnificent snow-capped mountain? Doing it in perfect silence. It’s just you, the mountains, and your delicious hot cup of joe. We’ve outlined the best strategy for planning a solo camping trip you’ll never forget.
Your Guide to Solo Camping
Solo camping doesn’t have to be scary or overwhelming. It’s a unique opportunity to enjoy everything you love about the outdoors without the riff-raff. The most significant part of planning a solo camping trip is preparation. We have all the expert advice you need to plan the trip of a lifetime.
What Is Solo Camping?
Solo camping, or solitary camping, is embarking on a camping adventure by yourself. Whether you’re car camping in a campground or deep in the wilderness, you’re solo if you’re camping alone. Solo camping is a fun, rewarding experience with unique challenges and adventures you won’t get camping in a group.
5 Reasons to Try Solo Camping
There are myriad reasons to try solo camping, but these are the most significant things you’ll take from a solo camping trip.
1. Unparalleled peace and quiet
The best reason for solo camping is the unparalleled tranquility of nature. It’s just you, your surroundings, and your thoughts. Solo camping is an excellent way to enjoy the serenity of nature on your terms, without any disruptions. You can connect with the sights, sounds, smells, and feel of the outdoors in your own way. You’ll return from your trip feeling refreshed and ready for the next adventure.
2. Self-reliance and awareness
Solo camping provides a unique opportunity to learn more about yourself—as a camper, an adventurer, and a person. You’re relying on yourself for safety and survival. It won’t take long for you to gain a newfound appreciation of your strengths and limitations. You’ll learn lessons from your success and mistakes that you can take into every area of your life. Being completely autonomous is the best way to get to know yourself from the inside out.
3. Unencumbered joy and exuberance
Being immersed in nature simultaneously stimulates feel-good hormones and reduces stress. Your body and brain respond to the effects of nature, whether you realize it or not. You can’t help but feel relaxed, excited, and in awe of everything around you.
Camping alone gives you a one-on-one relationship with mother nature, so you can revel the physiological and psychological benefits only she can provide. Barring any emergencies, you’ll find yourself swimming in joy and interconnectedness.
4. Personal growth and introspection
Being alone in the wilderness is the perfect environment for personal growth and development. It’s just you, your thoughts, and your unbridled connection with nature. The sanctuary of the wilderness enhances introspection and soul-searching.
You’ll find yourself thinking about your past, present, and future and how it all sustains meaning in your life. Gazing at the stars or sweeping mountain vistas instills a reverie for everything around you. Solo camping is a meditative experience that will help you learn more about yourself and what you want out of life.
5. Practical learning and wisdom
Solo camping is a great way to become an expert camper overnight. Since you’re relying on yourself for everything, you’ll quickly learn how to be an efficient camper in any situation. Whether you’re facing an emergency or setting up the perfect campsite, you’ll learn how to sleep, eat, and have fun in any camping situation.
You’ll become an overnight master camper who can manage any camping scenario with ease and confidence.
How to Prepare for a Solo Camping Trip
Half the battle of any camping trip is making sure you’re prepared. Follow these seven steps to prepare for an unforgettable solo camping trip.
1. Start small and work your way up
If this is your first solo camping trip, select a familiar location close to home. Preferably a spot that’s easy to find, low-maintenance, with minimal risk. Don’t start your solo camping career by pitching your tent on the edge of a cliff in the middle of nowhere.
You want your solo trip to be as stress-free as possible, so you can enjoy the unique benefits of camping alone. New solo campers should focus on frontcountry locations or developed campgrounds where you know what to expect. More experienced campers can think about camping off-the-grid, but you’ll want to stay close to home until you’re an expert camper.
2. Create a detailed itinerary
Before leaving, research your destination, potential dangers, camping permits, and weather forecasts. You can also make the experience easier by learning how to pitch your tent, use your gear, select a campsite, build a fire, and handle emergencies.
Plan out your itinerary as much as possible. The general idea is to minimize potential surprises so you can relax and enjoy your camping trip. Figure out when you should leave home, how long you want to stay, what you’d like to do, and when you need to be home.
3. Tell someone where you’re going
The most important step in preparing for a solo camping trip is to tell someone where you’ll be camping and when you expect to return. It’s even better to tell more than one person. And best to provide them with a copy of your itinerary, a map of where you’ll be, and emergency numbers, in case you don’t come back on time. If possible, consider checking in with someone daily.
4. Go in well prepared
Before you try solo camping, take the time to educate yourself in skills that will make your trip safe and fun. Many outfitters and outdoor organizations offer free or inexpensive classes where you can master solo camping skills. Some fundamentals you’ll want to learn include:
- How to navigate the wilderness
- How to handle a first-aid emergency
- How to safely deal with wildlife
- How to set up camp and pitch a tent
- How to build and put out a fire
- How to make camping meals
- How to read weather forecasts
You’ll also want to check with a local ranger to see if there are any rules, regulations, and hazards unique to the area. Many camping areas will have fire restrictions, permit requirements, fees, and parking regulations. The more you know, the smoother your trip will be.
5. Pack all the gear you need
When it comes to solo camping, it’s better to be overprepared than underprepared. Err on the side of overpacking, so you have all the gear you’ll need to handle any situation you might encounter. At a minimum, pack all the camping essentials—your tent, sleep system, kitchen supplies, food and water, first-aid, repair kits, safety, and emergency gear. You can prepare your meals at home to make things easier while you’re camping. Or, bring dehydrated foods that only require hot water.
In addition to the essentials, bring wildlife protection, extra food, water, and clothes, games or books for entertainment, a topographic map and compass, and an emergency satellite messenger or GPS communicator.
Make sure you do your research when choosing gear and supplies. Will you want a durable canvas tent or a lightweight synthetic option? Do you want a sleeping bag or hammock? Will you need extra blankets or tarps? What kind of camping stove will you need? What clothes will you pack for the weather? What will you eat while you’re out there? These are some basic questions you’ll want to answer before leaving for your trip. You can research gear reviews online or ask local experts for advice.
Even more importantly, know how to use all your gear. Practice setting up your camp, pitching your tent, and making meals. The more familiar you are with your gear, the better off you’ll be in any camping situation.
And lastly, create a comprehensive packing checklist, so you don’t forget anything.
6. Calm your mind
The most significant thing working against you in a solo camping environment is your own mind. It’s easy to get worked up with anxiety, fear, and apprehension, especially if it’s your first time camping alone. Being completely self-reliant is no small feat. Try to remind yourself of how capable and strong you are.
Most campers get through their trips without injuries or mistakes. It’s easy to focus on the few bad experiences you’ve heard about. Fear is a powerful agent that incites the ancient parts of your survival brain. But in reality, the chances of something going wrong are pretty small. As long as you’re prepared, you’ll probably be fine.
Many solo campers experience heightened sensations while they’re out there alone. Your mind can play tricks on you when fear lurks around the corner. Don’t let it. Mentally prepare yourself for things that go bump in the night. If you start to feel panicked by loud noises or moments of uncertainty, stop what you’re doing. Take a few deep breaths, and give yourself the pep talk you deserve.
7. Prepare to have fun
Once you’ve done your due diligence and planned your trip, the only thing left is to psych yourself up for the incredible camping experience you’re about to enjoy. Solo camping is a unique adventure that will give you memories to last a lifetime. Let yourself enjoy the journey, from start to finish. Take pictures, write in a journal, stop and smell the flowers. Soak it all up so you can come home feeling relaxed, refreshed, and rejuvenated.