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Everything You Need To Know To Go Solo Camping Like a Pro

Hannah Unbound solo camping in the woods

Why in the hell would you want to go camping all alone in the big dark scary woods?! Because I like it, that's why! And if you love camping, but haven't been solo camping yet, you will love it too, I promise!

While initially camping by yourself can be very daunting to some people, I'm here to give you everything you need to know so you have the best time adventuring solo. While I'm not going to teach you how to camp in general, I will answer some of your questions about solo camping, give you the benefits, tips on where to go, and what to bring.


Solo camping is a fantastic way to boost your self-esteem and learn more about nature and yourself. So If you're looking for the perfect escape from the everyday chaos, then let's get into some solo camping tips to help you get started!


 

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Common Solo Camping Questions



Is it weird to go solo camping?


Yes! But only in the best way! If you consider being an independent person that lives by their own rules and wants to experience nature to its fullest extent through their own eyes weird, then yes, it's weird to camp alone. Otherwise, there are thousands of people who prefer camping on their own as opposed to group camping, so you won't be the only one out there camping by yourself this weekend, you'll be in good company (sort of).


How do I overcome my fears about camping alone?


There are so many possible things to be anxious about when it comes to camping alone, and from anxious overthinker to another, I can tell you there is no way to make sure you're prepared for everything. What you can do is make sure you've brought everything from your checklist, know your capabilities in the outdoors, and be confident, but also know when to call it quits on your adventure.

If you've been camping quite a few times with other people then you know what to expect, the only difference is that now you have to be the one cook and clean the dishes afterward. So, just take it slow, start off with a campground or camping out of your car, and read this blog here for more helpful tips. (I'll also be giving more helpful tips in this blog, so just keep reading along).


Why do people want to solo camp? (Benefits)



A woman in a bikini having fun by herself

Doing anything on your own and successfully accomplishing it, gives you the best kind of confidence. The kind you can only get from yourself, not from some validating outside factor. So If you're looking for a self-esteem boost, go put up a tent on your own, make all of your meals over an open fire that you made, and get your hands dirty in the great outdoors. Plus, being outside is just a fantastic medicine for mental health in every way, so no matter what you're feeling, nature can help.


Another benefit of solo camping is that you get to do whatever you want! Like, seriously, whatever you want (within reason, I mean, don't go burning the forest down or dumping prone in the rivers). But just try to let loose, put on some music and dance however you want, sing at the top of your lungs, nerd out over the nature around you, take a skinny dip in the lake, who cares?! If you are out there on your own, you can just be as free as you want to be! Plus, you can do it all on your own schedule, no one is there to stop you or tell you they don't want to do that or they're not ready yet, you can just go for it.


While you're out in the wilderness alone you might also find out some new things about yourself. Like that fact that you forgot just how much you love reading, or you're a better artist when you're outside. Sometimes we find out that we have some things to work through, and what better time than when you're totally alone in nature?


I also wrote another blog about why camping alone is so awesome, so you can check that one out right here.



 


 

The First Steps


Now that you've decided that you want to try out this whole camping by yourself thing, the best way to get started is to make sure you are confident with camping with other people. Whether you like tent camping, car camping, camping in campgrounds, or in the backcountry you should be sure you know how to do your basic camping set up on your own and be comfortable for a couple of days out in the wilderness. Most likely you've been camping a few times before and know what you'll need and how to use it, if not then you'll want to practice.


Camping with a friend before solo camping



The best way to test you and your gear is to go camping with a friend first, this way you can ask questions and also test out certain areas to camp in for future solo ventures. Try to find an area not too far from your home, and that is easily accessible with your vehicle.

While you can try camping in your backyard before going into the wilderness, I don't personally think it's a great choice to get a real test of your gear and of your capabilities outdoors.






 


 

Where to go Solo Camping


Next, you'll need to decide where you want to camp and how you want to make it happen. One of the safest options is to camp out of your vehicle if you have a big enough car. With camping in your car, you can lock yourself inside while you sleep and for added comfort, it blocks out some of the outside noises that can keep you up at night. But you can also go for the classic tent camping option or hammock camping if that's your preference.

I personally don't like hammock camping alone because I feel way too vulnerable at night but to each their own. I also wouldn't suggest backpacking as a first-time solo camper, I went backpacking for my first solo camping adventure and I was so scared knowing I was so far away from any kind of real shelter or means of quick escape.


Now that you've chosen how you're going to camp it's time to decide where you're going to camp. You have quite a few options for this one, the best choices are:

  • backcountry primitive

  • campgrounds

  • glamping

Ask yourself some questions to make sure you pick the right fit for you. Such as, "Do you want a proper working bathroom, or can you make a hole in the ground work?" Do you want to be near other people, or do you want complete solitude?"

Dispersed Camping


dispersed camping spot in Colorado

If you're fairly comfortable with camping in the rough and want some real alone time I highly suggest dispersed camping. Dispersed camping allows you to find a designated primitive area and set up camp wherever you want! Some dispersed camping spots have pit toilets (basically a room with a hole in the ground) and fire pits, while others are simply an open dirt spot to set your tent on. It's best to read up on blogs and get apps like "The Dyrt" to see what sort of campsite you're getting yourself into.

The best part is that this form of camping is absolutely free! But it may lead to challenges such as getting there with whatever vehicle you may have if all of the spots are taken if you'll find a nice enough spot to relax at. There is a lot of unknown when picking a dispersed spot, but it is your best chance at really getting away while still being in reach of your vehicle.


Campgrounds


If you are someone who needs more amenities in their camping experience or is unsure of your camping abilities quite yet, campgrounds are another fantastic option for solo camping. With most campgrounds, you will have to pay a fee and get a reservation ahead of time, but you will have a lot more comfort than a backcountry spot. This can include, fully functioning bathrooms with showers and toilets, fire pits, picnic tables, electrical outlets, and even WIFI. Plus, there will most likely be other people at the campground so if you want to be somewhat in reach of others, campgrounds are a safe bet for your first solo camping experience.

Glamping


glamping tent used for solo camping

For the top of the line camping experience, you can try "glamping" which means you will have every regular amenity that a hotel would have, just in the wilderness. Glamping is usually in a canvas tent or cabin that is already set up for you inside a campground or surrounding a few other glamping units. If the tent doesn't include a kitchen or bathroom the campground you're in should.

This is a great option for solo campers because you won't have to worry about all of the camping parts and just get to enjoy the great outdoors without the fuss. So if you want an already done for you camping experience with heating, cooling, electricity, and a shower, this is a good choice. Just be warned these spots can be a bit pricey so be aware that this option will cost more than the others mentioned above.


Quick Tip: Try to get a campground near something notable, such as a lake, river, or a nice hike so you have something to do for the days you'll be staying there besides just staying in a spot in the woods.

 


 

What to Bring For Your Solo Camping Trip


When it comes to solo camping I like to make sure I've checked off my camping checklist twice, because on your own you don't have anyone else to bring that extra lighter or spare batteries for your lantern. Just make sure you're packing everything you need and not forgetting the necessities.


 


 

  • Even for those who aren't normally afraid of the dark, being alone in the woods at night is a totally different feeling. All you can hear is leaves crunching and twigs breaking in the distance, and trust me, it's unnerving. I've found it's best to be able to play some music or a podcast/audiobook to cover the sounds coming from outside your tent. So make sure you download these before your trip just in case you don't have a signal when you're out camping.


dog camping inside of a tent

  • Sometimes bringing your pet can help ease you into solo camping. While it's not 100% on your own I'll still count it! I know camping with my dog Leo gives me such an easier time knowing I have something to focus on and something to alert me if there are possible dangers nearby. Even if you only have a cat for a pet, I've seen tons of campers and hikers with adventurous feline friends, so maybe try getting your cat involved in the adventure to ease your worries.



  • This is more something you should do rather than bring, but make sure to tell someone where you are going. As with almost any outdoor adventure, it's best to let a couple of close people to you know exactly where you are planning on camping, just in case they need to send someone out to find you.


  • Some of the most important items in your arsenal will be your safety items. This must include your first aid kit! But can also include large knives, bear spray, pepper spray, and other self-defense items. Make sure to do your research on the area you're headed to and again if it makes you feel safer, you can sleep inside your locked car at night.


Bring a bunch of weird things to do. If you're going out for even a 2 day weekend on your own, it is possible that you can get bored and want to turn in early, and I don't want you to do that! While I'm working on writing an entire blog on all the ways to stay entertained while solo camping, here are just a few things you should consider bringing to keep yourself occupied during the day when camping alone:


woman camping alone with many things to do

  • Books

  • Journal

  • Art supplies

  • Bird/Tree/Rock Etc. Identification Guides

  • Camera

  • Ukulele

  • That half knitted scarf from a year ago, and some knitting needles

  • Some throwing knives to chuck at a log

  • A projector to shoot movies onto the side of your tent





 


 

a woman sitting by her tent camping alone

That is my ultimate solo camping guide. With tons of helpful tips on where to go, how to ease your fears, and what to bring on your first solo camping excursion to make sure you're safe and comfortable.

I really hope this post helps you understand a little bit more about why you should try out camping by yourself and how you can go about doing it. Solo camping is my favorite activity right next to solo hiking, I'm not saying it needs to be your favorite thing, but you may just surprise yourself.


Have you ever been solo camping? What was the scariest part for you? Mine is definitely sleeping in my tent at night, still freaks me out, but totally worth it! Feel free to ask me any questions in the comments, on Instagram, or by Email, I can't wait to hear your stories!


Until Next Time,

Happy Trails!




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Hey there! My name is Hannah Smentkowski, I'm the photographer, writer, hiker, camper, and craft beer drinker of this blog!

 

Here, I share my travel, camping, and hiking tips to help anxious explorers get outdoors with confidence!

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