• Hannah Smentkowski

Worries in the Woods: Tips on how to stop your anxieties on camping alone.

Updated: Feb 25

I really enjoy camping by myself (with or without my dog Leo here), but that doesn't always come with a whole bunch of confidence. Even though I've been camping so many times, each new experience comes with the same difficulties and anxieties. I'm hoping if you have some of the same worries as I do, that I can help show you ways to overcome them and simply enjoy your time outdoors.

When it comes to camping alone in the wild, my biggest worries are:

1.Getting Lost

2.Night Time

3.Being under prepared

1. Getting Lost

While I could (and probably will) write a whole blog only about "way finding", here I'm going to stick to my basic supplies and tactics that I use to keep from getting lost.

For supplies, I always bring:

-a paper map (either printed or free or purchased)

-a compass (simple and cheap)

-my Garmin watch (honestly my favorite piece of anxiety reducing gear)

-my phone (for the All Trails app)

By having the paper map, I'm not relying on my phone to either have signal or be charged. I have run in to a situation where I was driving to a camp site in the middle of nowhere and my phone lost signal, rendering me lost and helpless. Thankfully the paper map saved my ass! I won't go to a new area without one now.

The watch is one of the most helpful tools, by showing me how many miles I've walked while hiking I can look at the map and see how many I have left with amazing accuracy. This way I'm not guessing how far I have been or far to go. No more worry!

My phone is really only used for the "All Trails App" (which I will talk about all the time because it is amazingly helpful). With a paid membership, this app lets you download maps of your trail, which I like to use as a backup to the paper map. It can also track you with GPS on the trail map if you have a signal.

2. Night Time

I normally have no problem with the dark, but there's something instinctual in me that feels a real fear all alone in the woods at night.

To help this issue I always bring:

-lantern (small and at least 200 lumens)

-headlamp (at least 200 lumens)

-small flashlight

-extra batteries

-phone (music)

Of course artificial lighting is my first go-to for night time. For this, I bring the flashlight, lantern and headlamp. It may seem like over-kill, but it always makes me feel better to have back ups. Also, most importantly, bring a way to either charge these items or back up batteries!! There is nothing worse than realizing your only source of light is dead (especially during those 2am bathroom breaks).

My best tip for when you're actually going to sleep is to play a soft meditation playlist to distract you from any anxiety inducing crunching sounds around you. This is the one I use on Spotify to help me : https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3ksy3Zso4vdt4JIzTYvpF9?si=71BplYAmSwW0Vv5a0dEZAw

3. Being Underprepared

One of the worst things about any trip is realizing you forgot something important.

" Yay! I remembered my comfy socks! Crap, I forgot my sleeping bag."

My favorite way to make sure I have everything I need is by NOT unpacking.

You can do this for both backpacking and car camping. For backpacking I leave all of my gear in the pack at all times, even when I get home after the trip. The only exception being my clothes which I wash and then return to the bag.

For car camping, I use totes (or plastic bins, whatever you want to call them) to organize my items. The totes make it easy to bring my gear to the car and to store it while I'm home.

I also use checklists to double-check that everything is there before I go on my trip.

If you want to check out the car camping checklist that I created, you can find that here.

You can also check out REI's backpacking checklist here:


Those are my top tips on how to be prepared for the anxieties of camping all by yourself. I hope this gives you a little more confidence to start going out alone. Even it's for just one night and it's in your backyard, anything can be an adventure! Feel free to comment below or contact me privately if you have any further questions or concerns.

Happy Camping!

Next week I will be comparing my top 3 cheap and expensive gear choices to help you decide what's worth the money.

Hannah Unbound is not affiliated with All Trails, Garmin, Spotify, REI or any other companies displayed in this post. These are all companies I trust, but I am in no way compensated for recommending them.

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Hey there! My name is Hannah Smentkowski, I'm an adventure travel photographer, and a huge plant nerd! 

Here I share my traveling, camping, and hiking adventures in hopes of inspiring you to go outside and explore.

Even introverts are social sometimes...

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