Me-time in the great outdoors can reset your perspective. Here’s how to plan a solo camping trip that’s safe and fun

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have turned to camping as a safer way to take a break from Zoom and get away from the stress of work and news. And solo camping is the epitome of social distancing!

It can also be less stressful to camp when you don't have to worry about anyone else; you can go at your own pace and do what you want.

But before you embark on your adventure alone, it's crucial to have a solid itinerary in place. Here are some tips on how to plan a solo camping trip smart:

1. Don’t go solo the first time

If you’ve never gone camping in your life, don’t make your first trip a solo outing. Go with at least one experienced camper so you can learn the ropes and safety measures before striking out on your own.

Once you’re comfortable with camping in general, you can graduate to a one-person adventure. Make sure you know how to find where you’re going, put up a tent, build a fire that won’t go out in five minutes, sanitize water, deal with wildlife, handle a weather emergency, and use a first aid kit.

Unplanned stuff can happen, and you do not want to be improvising on the fly.

2. Make sure other people know your itinerary

If you’re going camping alone, plan your path in detail. Choose places you've been before for your first solo trip, so you know what to expect.

And leave your full itinerary with all stops with at least two trusted friends or family members. If you have a smartphone signal, check in from time to time so folks know where you are and that you’re okay.

It's a good idea for first-time solo campers to stay at commercial campgrounds like KOA or those available at state and national parks. You’ll enjoy peace and quiet on the road or trail but have people and help nearby if something happens, especially at night.

Those kinds of campgrounds are more likely to have access to showers, electrical hookups, cell signals (so you can check-in with loved ones!), and markets where you can replenish food and supplies. Being around a larger group of people — if not part of it — also deters curious wildlife.

Pro tip: No matter where you choose to camp, get there with at least two hours of daylight left. That precious illumination will help you set up, start a good fire, get familiar with the area, and settle in for the night.

How to plan a solo camping trip, tip 3: pack what you need!

Packing without a plan can be a ticket to disaster. Consider these factors when figuring out what you need to take:

  • How long will you be gone?
  • Are you moving from campsite to campsite?
  • What’s the weather predicted to be?
  • How are you getting to campsites: by car or hiking in the woods?
  • What amenities will your campsites have, if any?
  • Are you going to cook?
  • How much can you comfortably carry on a hike?

Obviously, you can take more with you if you’re not hiking to your campsites. Be sure to pack enough food and clothing along with your fire starters, tent or hammock, and sleeping bag. Always pack an extra pair or two of socks. Nothing ruins a good time faster than soggy feet.

At the same time, don’t overpack, especially if you have to carry everything yourself!

You’ll also want safety gear: consider sun protection, a good-sized folding knife, bear spray in certain areas, a personal locator beacon, a hard-copy map (Waze might not be an option), a mylar blanket, water sanitation tablets, flares, battery chargers for your devices, and a satellite phone if you can get one.

Of course, a lot of those items depend on how far off the grid you’ll be and for how long. Plan right!

4. Let you entertain you

Going camping alone allows you to get away from people to really enjoy nature's beauty and quiet. But at night, all that quiet might get a little scary.

So, take along a book to read by flashlight, some cards for solitaire, your journal or sketchbook—something to do once the sun goes down and you’re cozy by your campfire.

A Kindle or other e-reader is a great idea — they weigh just a few ounces and can hold hundreds of books, so you have variety.

Nature can do plenty to make you calm. But why not add a little extra chill?

Camping alone is a great way to recharge and restore. It will allow you to meditate in peace and know yourself in new ways. Getting back in touch with nature is an excellent way for today’s modern suburb- and city-dwellers to hit the "reset" button and heal.

So, break out your old Scouting experience and brush up on those compass reading skills — then hit the nearest trail.

One thing you probably didn’t have in your pack as a kid was some CBD. But bringing along this little helper can provide some extra stress-relief on your next adventure! And if you can’t hit the road for a while, CBD can help you chill until you can.

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