Across the way, young men and women sat around a roaring bonfire, laughing and listening to music. Their rugged trucks were parked at angles around the campsite, shielding them from the chill evening wind. Next to my beat-up four-door sedan, my own fire pit was empty and cold. When I decided to take a spontaneous solo road trip up the British Columbia coast to Bella Coola, I’d thought traveling alone would make it easier to meet locals and fellow travelers on the way.
So why didn’t I say hi to my neighbors? Mostly because I was embarrassed. It was my first time camping solo, and my first time camping since I was a little kid nearly two decades ago. Anyone who looked at me would know I didn’t have a clue what I was doing.
To spare you this experience, I’ve collected my top camping tips for first time solo campers!
A Checklist for First-Time Solo Campers
1) Do it now – and prepare accordingly
If I put something off for a day or two, I’ll end up putting it off forever. When I had the idea to drive up to Bella Coola, I knew I had to do it right away, even though I was unprepared and had a shoestring budget.
I’m glad I did and wouldn’t dream of telling you to avoid spur-of-the-moment adventures, but my overall experience could have been way better if I’d known a couple simple things beforehand. Make sure you prepare better than I did.
2) Double up on the essentials
Your first concern with solo camping should be safety. Things go wrong when camping in a group too, but it’s easier to overcome obstacles with extra hands around. If you arrive at your campsite and realize you ran out of ice, like I did, you can’t send someone else into town while you set up the tent.
Your first time solo camping, don’t just stock up on more of the necessities than you think you’ll need, but more than you could possibly need. This includes water, non-perishable food, batteries, toilet paper, ice if you are using an ice chest, and fuel if you are using a camp stove.
3) Test drive your camping equipment
The first time I set up my tent was when I arrived at the first campsite. Coincidentally, that was when I discovered I was missing one of the tools I needed to set it up. You won’t have anyone to turn to if you have problems while solo camping. Even if you’ve been camping before, try putting together and taking apart your tent before you depart. In fact, it might be a good idea to try sleeping in it.
I’d slept on my air mattress before and it was perfectly comfortable, until I tried it out on the cold hard ground of a campsite. It was definitely not the best air mattress for the job and started leaking air on the second night. If you know how to find a hole in an air mattress, you know that locating and fixing a leak is not something you can realistically do while out camping. Make sure you use a mattress that will hold up in any conditions.
photo by Kathi Kamleitner
Tips And Wisdom
Through the ups and downs of my first solo trip, I found that most of the best camping tips for first time solo campers have less to do with packing advice and more to do with mindset.
4) Redefine Success
There were points when I was tempted to label my trip a total failure and just go home. In fact, I did end up having to cut a day off of the journey, but in retrospect, no part of it was a failure. I struggled with many of the challenges I encountered and had a few uncomfortable nights, but I learned so much and had the time of my life.
Don’t let it spoil your trip if everything doesn’t work out quite the way you planned. We learn by failing, after all. Besides, if you make it through your first night mostly unscathed, you’ve already made it farther than most people ever would.
5) Give Yourself Some Space
Your first time traveling by yourself, you’re going to feel a little homesick and maybe a little lonely. It happens – particularly when camping. Chatting with your friends back home and keeping up with social media can help, but you don’t always have the best phone signal while camping, so try and keep it to a minimum. You would not believe how meditative and transformative camping alone can be if you allow yourself to be truly alone.
Camping out in Bella Coola, my first impulse was to upload photos of every beautiful thing I saw and show my friends what a wonderful time I was having. Not until I turned my phone off and stood on the shore of some unknowable northern ocean, a hundred miles from the nearest civilization with the rain on my face, did I realize what a wonderful time I was having.
I hope that you enjoy this article and well preparation for your camping trip. If you have some idea or want to discuss more Best Camping Tips For First Time Solo Campers, just leave the comment bellow. This topic is open for discussion 🙂
This is a guest post by Deann Rebello.
Deann Rebello is the founder of BearinForest.com, a camping blog where she shares everything she knows about traveling and camping. To keep up to date with her adventures, follow her on Twitter @DeannRebello.Tweet