10 Safety Tips For Camping Alone

Camping alone can be a time of discovery. Discovery that you are adept at making a fire on your own and discovery that the crinkling sound of a new rain jacket can convincingly mimic a stealthy animal creeping up behind you. For the record, I only swung around in terror three times.

To keep terror at bay and peace and Zen flowing, we’ve compiled a little checklist that seems to aid in times of sneaky rain jackets. This list is also designed for the purpose of being prepared and putting your loved ones at ease as you strike out to explore some righteous beauty.

1) Leave an itinerary with a point person and check in daily to let them know your whereabouts. *Obviously this is subjective and if your aim is to spend some solo time off the grid, adjust your plan accordingly but do make a plan and leave it with someone responsible. If you still doubt this wisdom, watch the movie 127 Hours.

2) Photograph your car tag and message it to your point person.

3) Take plenty of water. On my recent road trip, which included a piece with my 15 year old son, a piece with my guy, and then the final leg – just wrapping now – solo, I carried no fewer than 3 gallons of water and depending on dispersed camping plans, up to 6 gallons as well as my purifier. I also had a large ice chest filled with ice and assorted drinks.

4) Pack plenty of food. It’s unlikely you’d get into trouble with hunger on road trips or car camping but having plenty of snacks is a boon on long drives.

5) Look around your camp-spot and note other campers as it can give piece of mind to connect with neighbors. I connected with a variety of individuals that included a young fly fisherman, a group of college kids, a retired couple, and several other solo female campers. The point is, reach out and connect with others unless – once again – you are really craving 100% solitude. I had hours and hours of solitude but still felt a sense of connectedness that was reassuring.

6) Touch base with rangers and get the lay of the land. They are your greatest allies in any time of trouble.

7) Bring extra warm clothing. I encountered temps in the 30s in CO in Aug.

8) Check weather. I chose a campsite under trees and off the lake in one area due to storm forecast and sure enough, pea sized hail appeared and had me hoping for no overachieving golfball hail to follow. If lightning joins your campout like it did mine on the north rim in the Grand Canyon, get in your car, turn off all electronics and make certain all windows are rolled entirely up.

9) Be conservative with alcohol. This was not really a consideration for me as I found I had absolutely no desire for spirits while alone. A few times I considered a beer or hot toddy but felt chamomile tea was more in keeping with my solo mood and spirits fit better when I was with loved ones. Dulled senses are not the best scenario when a middle of the night scuffling calls for a loud “go away, bear!” tone in order to scare off chipmunks. Hey, I figured if they heard “bear”, they’d also wonder if there was one around and scoot.

10) Be discreet. By this, I mean fly under the radar and no need to tell anyone along the road that you are camping alone and where you will be. Despite the fact that my latest road trip was designed to share with On A Dime, I waited to list places I’d camped until after I’d gone. The excitement of passing along amazing sites and great finds was very doable after the fact. No need for paranoia, just pragmatism.

A solo trip can be a learning experience on many levels. There will most likely be moments of frustration, nervousness, joy, peace, introspection, awareness, humor and a myriad of other emotions. And any time fear has wandered into your psyche as in a devious rain jacket, try redirecting thoughts to the coming sunrise and the beautiful sites on your agenda and if that doesn’t work, yell “go away, bear!”

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