5 More Reasons to Go Solo Camping

July 28, 2015

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Last year, shortly after my first ever solo camping trip, I wrote this post about five reasons you should go solo camping.

Now, with a few more solo camping trips under my belt, I think it’s time I gave you even more reasons to go camping on your own.

I’m basically like that friend who started doing hot yoga, and keeps on telling you that you should do hot yoga, and gives you all these reasons why you should try it, and will not take no for an answer, no matter how many times you try to tell her that you don’t even like cold yoga.

(Except I’m totally not that friend. I would never make you put on spandex to go hang out in sweltering room full of people doing the downward dog. But I am about to suggest you go live in a nylon sack by yourself in the woods for a couple days. So I’m not entirely sure which one’s worse.)

1. It’s a cheap way to travel on your own.

Here’s a fun fact: I’m poor.

Here’s another fun fact: Hotels are freaking expensive especially if you’re traveling on your own.

Even though all of my camping trips in the past year have been to places in Michigan, I still could not have afforded these trips if I hadn’t been camping.

What? You think Paradise comes cheap? (Actually, it was surprisingly cheap.)

What? You think Paradise comes cheap? (Actually, it was surprisingly cheap.)

Sure, I could have stayed in cheapo, sketchy motels. You know the kind with the parking lot right in front of the door, which makes it easy to drag the dead bodies to your car. But even those kind of places cost forty or fifty dollars a night. Whereas a campsite usually only costs about twenty dollars a night — often less if I opt for a site without fancy stuff like electricity and running water.

Plus, there’s also the possibility of saving money on meals, since you can make most of your meals at your campsite.

Cheap! And easy!

Goodbye expensive restaurant dinners! Hello “butter flavored herb sauce.”

Note I said this is a “possibility.”

Mind you, this is hardly ever a possibility for me. Because when faced with the choice of eating quick oats at my campsite or going to the local diner and eating diner food, I will almost always choose the local diner. Because DINER FOOD, YOU GUYS.

DINER FOOD, YOU GUYS!

DINER FOOD, YOU GUYS!

Plus, I figure since I’m saving money by staying at a campsite rather than a murdery motel, I have more money for diner food!

2. You can pack ALL THE THINGS.

The first time I went solo camping, I really took the whole roughing it thing to heart. I didn’t pack a lot of things that I would later wish I had packed — like my air mattress.

You guys, there was maybe a point in my life when I was much younger, and I could sleep on the ground with nothing more than a sleeping bag and my own sweet dreams, and not wake up feeling like a creeky skeleton. But I am well past that point. I am old. I need a mattress.

Now, I just pack pretty much anything I could ever possibly need. After all, when you’re going solo camping, you don’t have to worry about making room in your car for other people and all their annoying, other-people things. Instead you can just pack your car full of all your annoying things.

Me & my car full of ALL THE THINGS

Me & my car full of ALL THE THINGS

When I went on my ten-day camping trip to the Upper Peninsula this past month, my car was completely crammed full of my junk.

Including my bike (which I used exactly once before the kickstand broke off), five bags of groceries (most of which I never ate because DINER FOOD, YOU GUYS), and not one but two mattresses (because, trust me, there is nothing worse than waking up in the morning to realize that your air mattress has sprung a leak, and you’re flat on the ground, and you are now a creeky skeleton).

3. You never have to argue with anyone about the best way set up your tent or build the campfire or fill the air mattress or HOW YOU’RE DOING EVERYTHING WRONG EVER.

One fun, totally-not-creepy thing that I like to do while I’m solo camping is listen to my camping neighbor’s conversations. (What? That’s not creepy, right? I mean, I figure, if you really wanted to keep your convos private, you wouldn’t go have them in the middle of a campground in front of a couple dozen strangers with nothing but nylon tent-walls for privacy.)

These conversations usually go something like this:

Camper 1: Yay, we’re camping!

Camper 2: Wahoo! This is going to be awesome!

Camper 1: Let’s set up the tent. But not like that. I SAID NOT LIKE THAT.

Camper 2: Hold the pole. HOLD THE POLE! WHY DID YOU LET GO OF THE POLE??? WHY DO YOU NEVER LISTEN TO ME???

Camper 1: Why do I never listen to YOU?? Why do YOU never listen to ME??? I SAID NOT LIKE THAT!!!

And so on and so on, until at least one of the campers wishes they had decided to stay in a motel room, where it would be much easier to murder each other.

Needlesss to say, I never have these arguments while setting up camp because, well, I never have anyone to argue with.

Except inanimate objects. But, luckily, they never argue back or plan to murder me in my sleep.

I put up this tent all by myself without yelling at anyone! (Okay, maybe I yelled a bit at the tent. But the tent deserved it.)

I put up this tent all by myself without yelling at anyone! (Okay, maybe I yelled a bit at the rain flap thingie. But that rain flap deserved it.)

4. Be pretty much the only person at the campground who is doing nature “the right way.”

Now, I’m sure you’re shaking your head right now, saying, “But, Sally, there’s no WRONG way to do nature.”

To which I have to tell you that you’re wrong.

During my recent ten-day camping trip, I noticed lots of wrong ways of doing nature.

These ways included: screaming, listening to NASCAR loud enough on your truck radio so everyone can hear it, screaming, having late-night parties complete with tiki torches, a corn hole tournament and blaring Steve Miller Band music, and, well, screaming (OMIGOD, YOU GUYS, WITH THE SCREAMING).

Meanwhile, this is what I was doing:

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Oh, and this:

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I was like Henry David Freaking Thoreau.

If he drank herbal tea and read Kindle by firelight.

5. Solo camping is the new solo traveling.

Remember when solo traveling was super edgy and nobody was doing it and your mom was convinced you were totally going to die?

Well, guys, I hate to break this to you, but solo traveling is sooooo 2005. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, is solo traveling these days. And they all have solo travel blogs to prove it.

But you know what absolutely nobody is doing ever?

Solo camping!

To prove this, I want you to do something for me right now.

Ready?

Go to Google, type in “solo camping,” and tell me who’s ridiculously unhelpful and terribly unpopular blog shows up as the number one Google search result.

Yes, it’s my blog!

You guys, if my blog is the number one Google search result for solo camping, that has to mean that hardly anyone else is blogging about it, which means hardly anyone else is doing it, because do people really do stuff without blogging about it, anymore?

Behold the face of the world's only solo camping blogger.

Behold the face of one of the world’s only solo campers! According to the Google.

Every time I go on a camping trip, I make a point of walking around the campground to see if I can spot any other solo campers. (What? That’s not creepy either, right? Slowly strolling around the campground, peering into each site to see how many people are camping there. Not creepy at all.)

On the half-dozen camping trips that I’ve taken in the past year, I’ve seen exactly three other people camping on their own. And only one of these three was another woman.

Now, I’m sure in a few years EVERYONE will be solo camping and will have fancy solo-camping blogs, and old-timers like me will be talking about how we went solo camping before solo camping became a thing.

But for now solo camping is the new frontier!

It’s fresh and new and exciting and nobody’s doing it!

Plus, I can guarantee you that your mom will be convinced you’re going to die.

(Hi, Mom! I haven’t died… YET!)

 

Have you ever been solo camping? What are some other reasons to go camping on your own?

39

I've blathered on long enough! Now it's your turn!

  1. On July 28, 2015 at 12:31 pm eleanore said:

    love your post! Completely agree – solo camping is the new solo traveling. I just spend 12 days solo hiking/camping the john Muir trail. No fights about topo maps, no packing extra food, no packing gross food (lots of heavy chocolate), waking up when YOU want to, going to bed when YOU want to – it is awesome! You post is very tImely. You are awesome!

    • On July 28, 2015 at 10:47 pm Sally said:

      I haven’t done the hiking/camping thing yet (just car-camping and taking day hikes), so I’m curious if you see many people doing that solo? I hardly saw anyone hiking alone on the few day hikes that I took when I was in the UP, which surprised me. I don’t expect to see a lot of solo campers, but I would think that there would be more people out hiking by themeselves if only for the exercise. Just wondering what your experience has been?

      • On August 1, 2015 at 1:02 am eleanore said:

        On popular trails in the summer you do see quite a few solo hikers, inculding us gals. Still a minority, but we are out there. I think I see at least one a day. (But then on got on a not-very-popular trail and did not see another human for 48 hours.)

        • On August 2, 2015 at 11:41 am Sally said:

          I was really surprised (and disappointed) that I didn’t see any solo female hikers on the few hikes I did while in the U.P. The hikes I went on were pretty popular and well-marked, so I wasn’t going off in the bush or anything. But, yet, I only saw couples, families/friends and a few solo guys, but no single ladies.

  2. On July 28, 2015 at 9:59 pm RenegadePilgrim said:

    I will see your solo camping and raise you with solo backpacking. I go solo backpacking whenever I cannot find someone to go with me. I enjoy the solitude (and I do bring my tablet so I can read in my hammock at night) and the funny looks I get from people when they see a chick with a tiny backpack out on the trail going out for two or three nights. The joys of lightweight backpacking….

    • On July 28, 2015 at 10:50 pm Sally said:

      Totally agree! Solo backpacking is definitely the next-NEXT solo traveling. Do you ever see anyone else solo backpacking or is it mostly friends/couples?
      I’d love to try it, but I’d have to get totally different gear. Plus, there’s the issue of my air mattress which I’m pretty sure I can’t live without!

  3. On July 28, 2015 at 11:59 pm Carolyn said:

    Yes, I solo camped at two bluegrass music festivals this year. Also I have a couple of acres of land on a bluff overlooking the Harpeth River, and I sleep out there sometimes. No other people around at all.
    Well, my little Jack Russell terrier is a good companion. He loves to run around free out there, and he guards while I’m asleep.

  4. On July 29, 2015 at 6:49 am Pam said:

    Your blog already inspired me to buy a tent. The solo camping is next! Can hardly wait to read your next few entries about the trip.

    • On July 29, 2015 at 10:29 am Sally said:

      For real? I’m so excited for you! I hope you enjoy your solo camping trip.
      Pro tip: if you’re car camping, I suggest staying at a state or national park (not a privately owned one… I stayed at one of those in Munising and it was SO LOUD). I also suggest staying in a rustic site — which means no electricity or showers, but also means less big huge camper vans and usually a lot quieter. And if you’re lucky, you might be able to stay in a rustic site in a park with a modern site, that way you can bum their showers (and electricity if needed), but still get the peace and quiet of a rustic site.

  5. On July 29, 2015 at 7:21 am Gail at Large said:

    I went solo camping in 1998. Borrowed my cousin’s boyfriend’s tent (which I’d never set up before) and he gave me a bear whistle. Everyone thought I was crazy, not the least because north of Vancouver is BEAR COUNTRY.

    Also, it was late September, the end of the camping season, and there weren’t many other campers. But there were a lot of bears! Before then I’d camped near forest service roads, which used to be free but like most things in BC these days have fees up the yin-yang. I was reluctant to fork out the cash for a site that’s noisier (just like how you described) and the bins are bear-proof, but I figured I should play it safer by staying in a provincial campsite so there’s at least more noise to ward the bears away. But it was covered in signs warning of bear sightings so I think either way the bears win.

    Car camping in BC is not considered “real camping” but when solo camping involves bear whistles and listening for every twig cracking in the forest, my usual priorities of solitude and only nature sounds got dumped in favour of no-one finding my carcass until the next spring.

    I haven’t gone solo camping since 1998, but I live in Portugal now, where the camping is CHEAP and there’s always a café within 50m serving up quality Portuguese coffee and beer. Church bells chime the hour (and half-hour, and quarter-hour, and mass, and ‘Ave Maria’…) so I always know what time it is. It’s glamping, really. So maybe it’s time to revive the solo camper in me that’s been lying dormant for 17 years.
    Gail at Large recently posted..13th Blogiversary

    • On July 29, 2015 at 10:26 am Sally said:

      Phew, glad I don’t live in BC where I’d be accused of not being a “real camper”! I would like to try hike-in camping one day (or possibly bike-in camping), but that would require a lot of expensive gear I don’t have at the moment. My current gear, which is super heavy and bulky and would never fit in a backpack, was free since I borrowed it all from my brother who just had a new baby and isn’t going camping anytime soon. Maybe I just need to find someone with lightweight gear who just had a baby so I can borrow all their stuff? 🙂
      And camping in Portugal sounds fab! Especially the nearby cafes!

  6. On July 29, 2015 at 1:21 pm Lisa said:

    Sally, I have *never* been solo camping and here’s why. DON’T YOU GET SCARED? I would be lying in the tent ALL NIGHT thinking someone was going to do unseemly things to me and then murder me. Or some wild animal was going to eat every bit of me. Does it ever freak you out?

    Also, do you ever long to talk to someone? Another reason I haven’t tried solo camping is that I tend to want to yammer on and on. I don’t know I could go DAYS without talking to someone (Though, is that why you hit the diners? To get the FANTASTIC diner breakfast and small chat with people?) I’m dying to know.

    • On July 30, 2015 at 9:04 pm Sally said:

      I’m actually going to be addressing some of your concerns in my next post on solo camping, but to answer your questions:
      1. Of course, I get scared! Ummm, this is ME we’re talking about. Especially on my first trip, I was super petrified. But I stay in established campgrounds (not in the middle of nowhere). I usually stay at state parks where there are lots of other campers and there are rangers around, too. So, I feel like, it wouldn’t be a very convenient place to murder me because pretty much everyone would hear me screaming (even more so than if I were in my apartment, which has much thicker walls than my tent!). Also, because I’m staying at pretty populated campgrounds, I haven’t had a whole lot of problems with animals — just some aggressive squirrels and seagulls.
      2. I’m one of those weirdos who is both an introvert and really likes to chat with people. So I really don’t mind hanging out by myself, but I also don’t have a problem going into a bar and chit-chatting with the bartender or whatever other random single person I can find there. In fact, I find I’m more likely to do that while I’m solo camping because I’m so starved for conversation. Whereas usually I’d be kind of shy to do that kind of thing. Plus, I always bring my phone along with me, so when I have wifi I can chat on social media. Sure, it’s not the same thing as talking in person, but it still lets me communicate.

  7. On July 29, 2015 at 2:29 pm Aurora said:

    I’ve done a few solo backpacking trips — but this summer I did my first solo bike-packing trip (camping and biking). I didn’t see anyone else out there for most of the trip, but my last night in a campground there were 3 other bike travelers — all traveling solo and 2 out of the 3 were women! A great place to do solo backpacking is a circuit — when I was in South America, the popular circuits often have solo folks, which is fun!

    Can’t wait to read more about the adventures!
    Aurora recently posted..Vancouver Island – Part 2

    • On July 30, 2015 at 8:57 pm Sally said:

      Ooo, I’d love to try bike-packing. There are some really good bike trails in Michigan that have camping spots along the way. But first I think I need to work on my biking fitness. The other day I biked 12 miles (the longest I’d done in a loooonggg time) and I’m still a little sore. I can’t imagine if I had to haul stuff with me too! 🙂

  8. On July 31, 2015 at 11:29 am Amanda | Chasing My Sunshine said:

    I love that you posted this! I haven’t been on a solo camping trip (yet!) but I am going to make it happen. I’m mostly not confident in my skills such as making a life-sustaining fire. Once I get at least that figured out, I figure everything else I can learn on the fly. 😉 Keep on spreading this word! It’s such a good word!
    Amanda | Chasing My Sunshine recently posted..US Road Trip Stop: The Grand Canyon

    • On July 31, 2015 at 12:26 pm Sally said:

      I had never made a fire by myself in my life prior to my first camping trip, and I somehow managed to pull it off (without even using that fire starter gel stuff… which I now make sure to bring with me, but at the time I didn’t have any). So I’m sure you can pull it off too!

  9. On August 1, 2015 at 7:49 pm Priya said:

    I just googled “solo camping” and guess who came up? A friend invited me to go camping with her and I might go as the only type of camping I’ve done was in the outback. And that wasn’t camping at all. That was more like OMG-I’m-Going-To-Die!
    Priya recently posted..Priya’s Summer Travels Starting Now

  10. On August 5, 2015 at 1:06 pm shanna said:

    Just discovered this post and your blog when searching Mr. Google for ways to avoid getting chopped up into tiny bits on my first solo camping trip. I’m glad I landed here! You are hilarious 🙂

    I’m currently on my annual social media sabbatical (The Silent Treatment), but it doesn’t include blog-looking and commenting. So, here I am!

    I leave next week and I’m getting super-excited. I hope my sleeping mat is fat enough for my aged bod. I’ll send coordinates–keep the forest service on speed dial, okay? 😉
    shanna recently posted..The Silent Treatment (A Digital Sabbatical)

    • On August 7, 2015 at 8:49 am Sally said:

      Shanna, So glad you found my blog! Best of luck on your camping trip — I’m sure you won’t be chopped into tiny bits. Mauled by a raccoon possibly… but probably not chopped into bits. 🙂

  11. On August 29, 2015 at 1:03 am anil_traveller said:

    Thanks for the post! Have done solo travelling but never really considered solo camping, thinking of giving it a shot already. 🙂 as you say it, “solo camping is the new solo traveling”

  12. On August 31, 2015 at 5:04 pm nadira said:

    While coming back from Annapurna base camp trek in Nepal, we bumped into a solo camper late at night in a hot spring in Jhinudada. He was a French farmer who grew oats, and in winter when lands become barren he travelled around the world. He always chose camping friendly destination because he did not have much money. He carried his tent and everything in his backpack and cooked his food. I was so thrilled hearing his stories as he was the first solo camper I came across.

  13. On September 7, 2015 at 10:42 pm Ceri said:

    You sell it so well, Sally. I’m going to have to give it a go before it becomes hipster’s paradise, aren’t I?
    Ceri recently posted..Tour of my Korean Apartment

  14. On September 24, 2015 at 11:16 pm Whoberry2 said:

    Hi there! First off I am planing a camping trip, solo. My husband & I brought an REI tent this summer and I’ve been itching to play with it. I waited all summer for the husband to find time to take a camping adventure… But nope. The need to play my shiny new toy was so bad that one night while he was at the gym I took it out & setup in the garage, inflated the air mattress ( I NEEDED to make sure it fit in the tent, ehat that’s normal right?) turnednout all the lights & laid in it. It was awesome and I have pictures to prove it. So now I’ve decided that I’m getting the hell out, husband or no husband. I need some stars & nature, solo. Unless you count the dog because she’s sssssoooo coming with me. Honestly I’ve been a little nervous about going solo and leaving my camp site unattended while we wonder around because I always camped with big groups but after finding you blog (yep Googleed camping solo) I’m totally stoked!! I love reading your write ups! Funny, real and priceless. I am however going to do one “nature done wrong” because after camp is setup I’m going back into town to get some pizza 🙀 my absolute died hard favorite pizza place is near by and I need it… Please only judge me a little. Once I safely have my pizza in the car Sookie (my dog) and I will drive back to our tent and enjoy the delicious pizza the way Mother Nature intended. Behind nylon & mesh walls well sitting in my comfy camp chair.
    Thank you for your write ups because it encouraged me I can do this & it be fun.

    PS I’ve pretty much decided your my spirt animal.

    • On September 25, 2015 at 7:19 am Sally said:

      Me? Judge someone over getting pizza while camping??? You are obviously a new reader to my blog because I WOULD NEVER DO THAT. In fact, the last time I went solo camping I did exactly that. Set up camp, started a fire, headed down the street & got myself a pizza to eat next to my campfire. My only regret is that I didn’t have them deliver the pizza directly to me at my campsite. 🙂

  15. On August 18, 2016 at 1:58 am quilty said:

    I love your blog. Was looking for tiny campers
    and found this site. Have done lots of solo
    travel, but now camping is more in tune with my wallet. Am old and needing to get out of the monotony of just doing local hobbies and
    putzing around the house with the dogs. I’ll drag my tent out of the garage and look for some camping places nearby. Thanks a bunch.

    • On August 18, 2016 at 10:05 am Sally said:

      Totally understand the wallet comment! Solo camping is a great way to travel even if you don’t have the money to stay in hotels. And the more willing you are to rough it, the cheaper it gets. When I first started out, I stayed at the nice places with electricity and hot showers. Sites were usually $20-30 a night. But I learned those places can get pretty loud on the weekends, so now I like to stay at rustic places, which don’t have any amenities (besides a stinky pit toilet and a water pump). And they only cost $10-15 per night. I was looking at a fancier place this week and when I saw the price, I was like, “$25! No way!” I guess I’ve come a far way from my beginner days… 🙂

  16. On April 8, 2017 at 8:51 am JanT said:

    WOW! Having read the many previous posts, I can honestly say I am ready for my first solo camping trip. Like a couple other earlier comments, I too am from Phila. and have camped with meetup groups. This time for my “mid-60’s” birthday gift, I thought I would treat myself to a solo trip. I purchased a new tent since my last tent of ten years finally gave way last year in a rain storm and I slept in my car. It just happened to be my last night too. Thank you for sharing your story which inspired me as well as the writers from Philly and Phila area and especially the writer who is in her 60’s. I am ready to go it alone. The camping isn’t the hard part, it’s the “aloneness” part I have to get out of my head. Maybe I will discover a new me. Anyway I’m looking forward to it.

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