As I (Sonya) write this, I’m planning my first solo camping trip. I’ve been camping numerous times with Necota and friends, but never alone. I’m confident that I have the skills to camp alone, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t have concerns. On Instagram, I asked what concerns there were about solo camping, and the number one response was people. This response was surprisingly consistent across race and gender. Since the presence of people is also my biggest concern as I’m planning, I thought it was worth giving some tips about things I’m considering to help myself feel more comfortable and help have a more seamless experience on my first solo camping trip.
4. Choose Your Location Wisely
As I’m planning my solo camping trip, the location of my campsite is probably the most important thing I’m considering. When Necota and I camp together, we tend to camp in more remote areas where we may or may not have cell phone signals, but this is not something I’d feel comfortable doing alone. As I plan, the location of the campsite is huge. I don’t want to be super remote, but I do want to have privacy. Since the main concern about going solo is people, state parks or Hipcamps are always good to consider, and both have options that offer privacy and more security for a small cost.
I have always thought state parks were great for camping. They typically have a camp host or park ranger onsite 24 hours/day and often have gated camping areas. This is an added benefit for those desiring a little extra security. State parks also offer flexibility in the type of camping with RV, walk-in, or even longer hike-in sites. In addition to the safety and flexibility, state parks often provide a variety of activities, including hiking, fishing, disc golf, and playgrounds for the kids. So, check out the state parks in your area and see if there’s one that looks inviting to you.
Trust; I have my spots in Georgia State Parks that I love, but all my faves were reserved, so I began my search on Hipcamp. If you haven’t heard of Hipcamp, it’s a community that allows you to rent camping space on private property. I like to call it the Airbnb of camping. One of the beauties of Hipcamp is, since you’re camping on private property, there is a limited number of people with whom you will come into contact. Typically, it’s just the property owner or maybe a few other campers.
I love Hipcamps for the lack of access to the public and the variety of locations. Using Hipcamp, we have camped on the side of a cliff, in the middle of a forest, and lakeside. Some of our best sunsets have been at Hipcamps. The opportunities are endless with this platform, with campsites available in most states. Similar to Airbnb, make sure you read the reviews to get input from other campers. (We have no sponsorship from or affiliation to Hipcamp.)
NOTE: If you decide to camp in a more remote location with no cell phone signal, consider taking along a GPS communication device. This, or something similar, will come in handy in the event you have an emergency and need to call for help.
3. Know What Resources Are Available
No matter where you choose to go for your solo camping trip, each location/area will offer a different set of resources (to include none) and activities (to include none). As I’m planning my trip, it is important that I find a spot with nice scenery, adequate space for daily walks, and privacy. For you, things like public restrooms, kids’ activities, or space for a trailer/RV may be important. Whatever is important to you, choose a location that has as many things on your wish list as possible. This is another added benefit of state parks and Hipcamps.
State parks are probably some of the most well-equipped campgrounds you will find. Every state park I’ve ever visited has a camp store, playground, access to water and bathrooms (showers), and various activities throughout the property. The camp store will carry basic camping items like ice and wood, but also have some added perks like food, clothing, and basic camp gear, like marshmallow roasting sticks and sparkles for your fire (what?!?). In addition to all of these resources, depending on the campsite you choose, you may even have water and electricity at your own site. If you’re not a fully independent camper, a state park may be for you. At a state park, your planning and packing can be simpler since you have more resources available.
On the other hand, Hipcamps offer a huge amount of variety, so it’s really important to keep in mind what you want in a campsite and your capabilities as a camper. The most beautiful Hipcamp I’ve ever gone to was on a cliff, with the most beautiful sunset, but had no amenities… at all. There was no bathroom, no water, no picnic table, so we had to bring everything with us. In addition, it was accessible by 4×4 only or hike-in (you know which one we did). We have also camped at very equipped Hipcamps with a bathroom, disc golf, and camp store. When looking for a Hipcamp, be sure to read the details to determine if it’s a good match for you.
2. Plan Ahead
In general, camping requires organization and planning, but with solo camping, it’s even more important because there’s no one else to bail you out. Once you know which resources are available to you, you can create an effective plan to help ensure a successful trip. A few good things to understand include: will you be near a grocery store or restaurants? Is there somewhere in the area to purchase firewood? What will you eat while on your trip? With planning, there’s not much to it but to do it; however, understand this – the more you plan, the less you have to interact with people.
Fortunately, since we camp often, most of my camp gear is packed together, but for every camping trip I still do an inventory to see what I need. Mostly, I’ll replenish the essentials for my experience: things like toilet bags, propane, cooking oil, and seasonings. If your camp gear isn’t organized, I suggest going through each activity (sleeping, eating, relaxing) and making a list of what you will need. If you need some guidance packing, check out this beginner’s guide to camping, list of essentials.
When planning my menu, the method I use is to make a chart using the days of the week and the different meals (breakfast/lunch/dinner). Writing my menu out like this helps me understand the groceries I’ll need, but also the quantities of each item. If you need a starting point for this, subscribe to our site to get our free template.
When conditions permit for a campfire, getting wood is a priority. Not only does a good campfire soothe the soul, but we have the best conversations by the fire. If I can’t purchase wood onsite (or if it’s expensive or collecting wood isn’t allowed), I look for easy places where I can buy wood. Resources like Home Depot, Craigslist, or even your Hipcamp host are options that are easiest to start with. However, there always seems to be a mom/pop home in the area that will sell wood. Knowing a few places to get wood helps me feel a little more comfortable that I will have enough to endure those wonderful cold nights. Just remember to take cash (small bills) with you to handle incidentals.
The next essentials to consider are water and power. We are backcountry campers (self-sufficient) and have had the flexibility to supply ourselves with water and power for quite a while, but your situation might be different. For water, the general rule of thumb is one gallon per person per day. For example if you have two people and plan to camp for four days, you will need a minimum of eight gallons of water, depending on if you plan to shower. If you don’t have the capacity to carry that much water, know in advance where you can refill your water jugs or purchase additional water. Never go out without the minimum amount of water. Yes, we have learned the hard way to carry extra.
1. Unplug, Relax, and Enjoy
After all of the planning, preparation, and implementation, the most important thing to do during your solo camping trip is self-care. This is your time to be alone, relax, enjoy yourself, and do whatever brings you joy. Do all of the things you want to do when you’re not alone, but feel like you don’t have time to do, or when you have put yourself last for the benefit of others. Even if you don’t eat all of the food you made or don’t do any of the activities you planned, it doesn’t matter. Do whatever brings you joy in the moment. But I do suggest bringing things to entertain yourself. Take several books and our secret weapon, a hammock! My Gawdt!!! Download some books or movies on your phone or iPad. If exercise is your thing, bring a yoga mat, your hiking boots, your mountain bike, and of course, some workout clothes. Here’s the key though: it’s essential to avoid putting any pressure on yourself to do any of this. Remember, this is about self-care and self-love and saying yes to yourself. And please remember to turn your phone off and truly unplug. The only person you have to answer to is you.
It sounds tempting, doesn’t it? So now, put your worries aside and go. Know that all of the planning you will do will have you prepared for your destined experience (good or bad). Hopefully, reading this post will help ease your mind and make you more confident that you can be outside and in a relatively safe space, away from the people who concern you. Trust yourself and know that you will make the right decisions for your safety and GO.
And if you’re still concerned about going, that’s okay too, but consider this. This blog was written on January 14, 2021, eight days after terrorists attempted to take control of the US Capitol building. This is also just six days before Joe Biden will be inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States, with Kamala Harris, the first Black and South Asian female, as his Vice-President. Tension is extremely high in the country. At this point, I don’t have concerns, I have fears of what will happen next. But then I realized that these fears aren’t new. They are the same fears I felt the first and second time we drove cross-country.
They’re the same fears I felt when we drove into Alabama on I-20W and were welcomed by Confederate flags. They’re the same fears I felt when we were pulled over for speeding in rural Nevada. They’re the same fears I feel when we go off-roading at Prentice Cooper and see Confederate flags alongside Trump signs. And they’re the same fears that our white friends felt when they carried extra guns because they weren’t sure how a group of Black men would be received in the hills of Chattanooga, TN. They are the same fears that all of our ancestors have faced since we were stolen from Africa. But there’s freedom in them hills. Self-care in them hills. Self-love in them hills.
So, all that to say, you may never feel safe going camping alone, just like you may never feel safe walking down the street. Make a plan and then, just do it. Seriously, how else you gonna get free? Believe me, you’ll be glad you did!