Are you ready for your first camping trip?

Getting ready for your first solo camping trip

Like most hobbies, camping can be tailored to just about anyone's preferences. If you're looking to rough it in the backwoods, you can set out with just your pack and a map and see where the path takes you. If you're looking for something a little more upscale, there are plenty of tents and campgrounds that will cater to your needs, as well. 

Similarly, the perfect camping trip for a lot of people involves a partner or group of friends or family to share the experience with. For others, the solo camping trip is the best way to be alone with your thoughts and with nature. Here are a few tips if you're thinking of setting off on a camping trip alone:

Go with a group first
While you may feel mentally prepared to spend a night or two out on your own in the woods, you may not have the skills needed if you've never been camping before. Avoid running before you can walk. Your first time camping should always be with a partner or a group – preferably with at least one person who has experience. This way, you can learn some tips and tricks about picking the right spot to set up camp, starting a fire, cooking food and staying safe. 

Take it easy
Your first solo camping trip shouldn't be the one where you finally tackle that difficult trail in the backwoods. Not only might it be potentially dangerous to risk getting in over your head or even losing your way, you may find that you don't enjoy all of the alone time. Stick with what you know at first, or even consider starting out with a day trip alone to get yourself used to striking it out on your own. Even if you're the kind of person who values alone time, spending an entire night on your own may be a bit much for you to handle. 

Consider your safety
While safety is always a concern when camping, it's important to be extra careful when you're by yourself. When it comes to spending a couple of nights outdoors, there are a few considerations to make to ensure you're safe:

  • Theft: If you set out on a hike for the day or take a quick run to the lake, you'll usually leave your tent and most of your possessions unattended. Whether you're in the middle of a busy campground with dozens of other campers nearby or in the middle of nowhere, you always risk a passerby wandering into your site and grabbing things that don't belong to him or her. Consider bringing along a portable safe. If you only have a few items of value – some cash, your mobile phone or a small firearm – a mini safe should be plenty of space. However, if you have a lot of expensive electronics, hunting gear or a solar panel charger, you may need something a bit bigger, especially if you drove up to the site. In that case, leave a larger lockbox in the vehicle.
  • Animals: When you're out camping, you're sharing the woods with countless animals both large and small. Depending on where you are in the country – or the world, for that matter – there are different dangerous creatures to worry about, from snakes to bears to alligators. The risk may be greater for solo campers, as groups tend to chat and make noise, while individuals aren't as likely to hold a conversation with themselves. If you're entering a new area, make your presence known by yelling or even singing. Avoid picking up large rocks, as snakes and dangerous insects may be making their home there. This is also a good time to mention that you should always let your friends or family members know when you're going camping, where you'll be and when they can expect you back. 
  • Health: You should always bring a first aid kit with you when you go camping, and this rule is especially true if you are by yourself. Make sure it is fully stocked and that nothing has expired – if you've had the same kit for the better part of the last decade, it may be time to review what you've got and add some fresh items. 
  • Stay alert: With a partner or a group, there are extra sets of eyes and ears to keep track of any potential hazards that may be heading your way. While you're on your own, it's all up to you. Make sure you check out your immediate surroundings by taking note of the closest trail or road, and be aware of any nearby facilities. If there is an emergency, it will be up to you to keep your head on straight and get yourself to safety.

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