Since writing my post the other week on 5 reasons to go solo camping (in addition to the other 5 reasons that I gave you guys last year), I’ve had some people tell me that I’ve inspired them to go solo camping. A few of those people even informed me that they’ve already bought their tents.
Holy schnikeys, you guys!
I didn’t think anybody was actually listening to me!
Now I’m feeling a bit like maybe I should give you some helpful advice that will hopefully prevent you from being killed. I mean, I know that isn’t exactly like me — to be helpful and all. But I don’t want all you new solo campers out there to die and then have people blaming me for your death because I basically forced you to go solo camping with my super persuasive writing skills.
So here goes:
1. Start with what you’re comfortable with.
When I say I go camping on my own, a lot of people picture me hanging out by myself in the middle of the woods with just my backpack and a bunch of bears.
Let me assure you, that is not the case.
The only kind of camping I’ve done so far is car-camping. Which basically means I reserve a campsite at a campground (usually a state park), I drive to that campground, I flirt with any cute park rangers while I check in, I pull my car up to my campsite, I dump all of my stuff out of my car (and, trust me, there is a LOT of stuff), I set up camp and then I start drinking hard cider by my campfire.
Some people might not consider this “real camping.” In fact, a few people left comments on my last solo camping post implying just that. To which I responded, “Whatever! I don’t consider YOU a REAL PERSON!”
(Just kidding. I did not respond to them in that way. In fact, I did not respond to them at all because they are NOT REAL PEOPLE and I don’t make a habit of responding to fairies and goblins and other un-real people on the Internet.)
Sure, car-camping may not exactly sound like something out of a Jack London novel.
But it’s what I feel comfortable with for now.
If you feel comfortable camping in the middle of the woods by yourself, fending off bears for a fun time, awesome! Go do that!
If you’d rather set up your tent in a campground, where there are cute park rangers and other people around who can hear your screams while you’re being devoured by bears, okay! Do that!
Or if you’d rather rent a cabin and watch from the safety of your four wooden walls while your tent-dwelling camping neighbors are being eaten alive by bears, swell! You should go do that!
And if anyone tries to tell you that what you’re doing isn’t “real,” don’t listen to them. Because, whatever, they’re probably NOT REAL. They’re probably pixies or gremlins or other un-real internet people.
2. Borrow all the things.
Okay, this tip won’t actually help you avoid getting killed.
But it will save you a whole bunch of money — money that you could use to pay your ransom after you’re kidnapped in the woods by marauding hobos.
So, yeah, maybe this tip will save your life. You’re welcome.
Before I went on my first camping trip, I borrowed all the camping gear I needed from my brother, who had just had a new baby and had no plans to go camping anytime soon. And by “borrowed,” I mean “I took it and never gave it back and really have no intention of giving it back ever because do you know how much a new tent costs? I mean, seriously, you wouldn’t think a nylon sack with a few sticks attached would cost so much, but it does!”
I’ve since managed to accumulate some items of my own, including a camp stove and an air mattress, but I probably haven’t spent more than a hundred dollars on camping gear.
So, yeah, find someone with lots of camping gear (preferably someone who just had a baby because THEIR LIFE IS OVER). Borrow all their stuff. Never give it back. Save all your money for marauding hobos.
3. Tell everyone where you’re going/what you’re doing.
Okay, I know this one is tricky if you live alone and are traveling alone. I mean, who are you going to tell? Your cat? Because she’s pretty much useless when it comes to emergencies.
This is where social media comes in.
If you follow me on the Instagram, you know that when I go camping I basically post a picture of every single thing I do while I’m doing it.
You probably thought this was because I’m one of those annoying types of people who can’t do anything without posting it on social media. You would only be partially right.
This also ensures that people know where I am and what I’m doing. And when they don’t hear from me on Instagram in a while, they know where to look for my bear-eaten body.
4. You don’t have to know what you’re doing. You just have to act like you do.
The first time I went solo camping, I had no idea what I was doing. I had never set up a tent by myself. I had never made a fire on my own. I didn’t even know enough to bring that fire-starter gel stuff to help me out. (I do now. And don’t tell me that using the gel is not the “real” way to start a fire. YOU’RE NOT REAL, YOU HOBGOBLIN!)
I was worried that I would never get my tent up and have to sleep in my car. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to make a fire and would have to eat cold hotdogs for dinner. I was worried I would be attacked by wolverines.
But, most of all, I was worried that people at the campground would notice how ridiculously unprepared I was and start telling me what to do.
You guys, if there’s one thing I fear more than wolverine-attack, it’s people giving me advice I haven’t asked them for. Which is totally ridiculous, I know, because I’m so incredibly clueless about pretty much everything, so shouldn’t I be happy when someone goes out of their way to try to help me out?
Yeah. No. Not so much.
As soon as someone tries to give me unsolicited advice, I instantly go into DON’T-YOU-GO-TELLING-ME-WHAT-TO-DO defense mode and I want to scratch their eyes out.
So, in order to avoid the awfulness of advice I never asked for and the awkwardness of just having scratched out some stranger’s eyeballs, I made a point of acting like I totally knew what I was doing. I stomped around my campsite with purpose. I slowly and steadily put up my tent and pretended like I wasn’t looking at the directions when I was actually looking at the directions. I threw logs on the fire with confidence, as if I spent every weekend throwing logs on fires. And it must have worked because absolutely nobody tried to help me out.
Granted, this could have been because of the DON’T-YOU-GO-TELLING-ME-WHAT-TO-DO-OR-I’LL-SCRATCH-OUT-ALL-YOUR-EYES look on my face.
Either way no one told me what to do. And everyone survived the weekend with their eyes intact. Win-win!
5. Remember bad things can happen to you anywhere.
When I tell people that I go solo camping, I get asked quite a bit if I’m scared I will be attacked by some ax-murdering serial killer.
I will admit this possibility has crossed my mind a few times.
But since I stay at campgrounds, which are usually full of other campers, I feel like my chances of being ax-murdered are kind of slim. First, there are lots of people around to hear me scream while I’m being hacked into ax-murdery bits. Plus, tents don’t really provide a lot of sound insulation.
Besides, most of the people at the campgrounds I stay at are camping with other people — their families or friends or partners. Now, I don’t know a whole lot about ax-murdering, but it seems like something of a solitary business. You wouldn’t go ax-murdering people on a camping trip with your family members and friends, would you? I mean, wouldn’t they start to suspect something if you went off to chop firewood and came back with no firewood and a very bloody ax?
In fact, if anyone at the campgrounds I stay at matches the description of an ax-murdering serial killer it’s probably me. After all, I’m usually one of the only people camping alone. And I have a suspiciously large car with a suspiciously large trunk. Plus, I have a tendency to lurk around other campsites, trying to see if I can spot other solo campers.
Even if I were camping out in the woods by myself, I feel like my chances of being ax-murdered are still pretty low. I mean, if I were an ax-murderer (and, trust me, I’M NOT AN AX-MURDERER), wouldn’t I want to go somewhere that I’m guaranteed to find people I can ax-murder? Why would I tramp all the way out into the woods, on the off-chance that there might be some girl camping out there by herself that I can chop into little bits, when I could go to a city where there are tons of perfectly good people to ax-murder? (I should probably repeat here that I AM NOT AN AX-MURDERER. I SWEAR.)
I’m not saying that there isn’t a possibility of something really horrible happening to me while I’m camping alone.
But the sad truth is that there is always a possibility of something really horrible happening to any of us at any time no matter who we are with or not with.
The other week, I woke up to the news on Facebook of the mass shooting at a cinema in Louisiana, resulting in the death of two people and the injury of nine others, including two teachers.
I had just gone to the cinema the day before. I had watched the same movie they had been watching. As a teacher, I had probably even been thinking the same exact thoughts as those two teachers in the audience. Namely, “Wahoo! Summer break! Time to watch movies and eat popcorn for dinner!”
It hadn’t crossed my mind that I might be in danger as I was shoveling popcorn into my face and feeling fluttery girlie thoughts for Bill Hader.
Later that day after reading the news of the cinema shooting, I went back to the cinema. I bought a ticket for another movie and another bucket of popcorn. And I marched into the theater despite the fact that I was terrified — truly terrified that the same thing might happen to me as it did to those two teachers in Louisiana.
As a professed scaredy cat, I’m a firm believer in admitting and owning your fear.
But I’m also a firm believer in not letting that fear stop you from doing the things you want to do.
Yes, there is a really real chance that you might get hurt going solo camping. But, unfortunately, there’s also a really real chance that you might get hurt while driving your car each morning or while sitting in your office at work or while shoveling popcorn in your face at a movie.
But that really real chance shouldn’t stop you from doing any of those things.
Unless, of course, you’re some kind of NOT REAL PERSON. In which case, you can go do whatever you want and not worry about bad things because reality doesn’t apply to you. Must be nice, YOU PIXIE-GOBLIN-TROLL PERSON!
Have you ever gone solo camping? Have any tips to share with people so they don’t die?