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on September 21, 2016
By: Erin Sullivan
I used to be the most anxious person you'd ever meet.
The idea of doing anything alone was terrifying to me. Entertaining the idea of spending a night by myself in a tent in nature would have been completely out of the question. I had to train myself over a long period of time to enjoy being alone. Know that it was not always easy, and that I often still deal with anxiety.
So if you're wanting to give solo camping a try, first and foremost, I applaud you. There will always be plenty of reasons to not do something. But danger exists everywhere. I believe that fear is something that should be listened to, but I do not think it needs to govern my life.
I am at a point now where I camp alone fairly often. Not only that, but I actually enjoy it.
Women have an extra set of concerns for going camping by ourselves, so this advice is geared to adventurous ladies, though it applies to anyone. Here are my tips for starting out solo camping.
It's about starting out with a location and situation you're comfortable with. I recommend starting with a more developed campground close to home. This way you have facilities, you have neighbors (probably families and friends having a good time), and generally, a camp host should you have any emergencies. Often you will also have cell phone service at a developed campground, something that makes me personally feel safer.
The internet is a great resource for making sure you have everything you need. I recommend creating a packing list somewhere on your computer and adapting it as you learn more and experience more. If in-person advice is more of your thing, I think very highly of the folks at REI. You can waltz in, tell them what you're up to, and they will help you get what you need. It helps to know what to splurge on, and what you can pick up on the cheap elsewhere, so be sure to ask them what the important pieces are so you can allocate money to the stuff you'll use the most.
And I don't mean announcing to everyone you see that you're camping alone. I don't recommend that. What I'm talking about is being in communication with a friend or family member who knows exactly where you will be and when to expect you back. This gives you peace of mind and creates a back-up plan should anything happen to you when you're out there.
If a place makes you uncomfortable, you don't have to stay there. It doesn't matter what your plan was– it's your plan, and you can change it as needed. If someone is making you uncomfortable, you do not have to continue talking to them. You are under no obligation to do anything that doesn't feel right! Your intuition exists for a reason. Listen to your gut– it is so often right.
Don't let yourself get overloaded with details, or put pressure on yourself to make this a "successful" trip. You decide what success means. I promise you'll forget stuff, you might get rained on, you might not sleep super well. Things always go wrong. But most of it just depends on perspective. Take the first step– you will figure the rest out.
Erin Sullivan, aka Erin Outdoors, is an adventure blogger based in Colorado writing about her experiences in the outdoors and traveling. You can find Erin on her blog at erinoutdoors.com, or on Instagram at @erinoutdoors.