Going tent camping in North American National Parks or numerous modern campgrounds, home or abroad, is a great option for the solo traveler. Many campgrounds today feature numerous amenities that make “roughing it” not so rough at all-on either the camper or his/her wallet. A great alternative to expensive hotels lets you see a destination from a unique and natural perspective. Have that vacation safely and without hitches when traveling on one’s own.
Research thru guidebooks, camping directories and resources on the Internet about your destination and its campground options before you go. Join a camping club for a modest fee due and then take advantage of their centralized database of info, discounts and especially forums. Any tent camper will be glad to see the forum posting that says site 42 at the campground where they are headed has a great view of the lake but also puddles up quickly when it rains. Finding out ahead of time is easier so you can skip finding out the hard (and damp) way! Woodalls online (See Resources) is a great resource with a club and forum.
Pack properly and as a solo traveler relying upon one’s own self-no one else will be there to remember to pack the lantern fuel. Make a list to not miss anything. Camping websites such as Coleman (See Resources) have great basic lists that you can personalize for your own needs. Consider also if transportation is one’s own vehicle (more leeway in the amount of supplies that can be brought) or if the traveling will be with backpack only such as might be the case overseas.
Create a “camping kit” at the beginning of the season to camp often, replenishing single items as needed. Pick out basic needs once and keep them together-tent, tools, stove, lantern/flashlight, sleeping bag, etc. Taking off for that last minute trip is easier when preemptively organized.
Know the campground and the individually chosen camping site. Meet the owners/managers and check if they stay on property. Pitch tent in a non secluded site and near onsite campground hosts if available. Avoid sites that have large shrubbery or are completely blocked off from view by short trees and grab a campground map to check the entire property out-not just the individual tent spot. Campgrounds often “look” very different after sunset and returning after dusk can be tricky. It is never advised for anyone, even the most experienced outdoor enthusiast, to camp alone in the backwoods so stick to the safety of a campground.
Notice any local “threats” unique to the location and plan accordingly to either not encounter them or to be prepared if there is an unavoidable encounter (bears in the mountains attracted to improperly stored food, poisonous spiders/snakes in the southwest sneaking into a sneaker or sleeping bag before the intended camper, a creek that is reported to become a strong current with even light rainfall). Know who to contact night or day in case of medical emergency and also where the closest medical facility is. Carrying a GPS in a pack or pocket is a worthy investment-a regular compass, mini pepper spray and ID are also great to have on one’s person during solo travels.
Rent an electric site for the stay (yes even in a tent-most now have imbedded outlets inside that a tent power drop chord can be plugged into). Use small electric lamps and radios when inside to save on batteries. It is much easier to quickly flip a small electrical lamp on middle of the night instead of blinding one’s self with a flashlight hoping to send the 3 inch foraging ground squirrel scurrying away that had a drowsy camper’s mind positively convinced it was a ravenous bear sniffing the tent.
Appear to be traveling with a companion. Small tents are simple to set up and most sites allow two per spot so set up an extra one for gear and others will think that there are two travelers camping. Or two camping chairs by the fire ring works just as effectively.
Have a reliable tent. Extra poles-a must have-can be purchased economically at all camping retailers such as Coleman (See Resources) and often times at big box stores such as Target or Kmart. Grab some extra mud anchors to make your tent solid if you are in a place that is susceptible to surprise storms and high winds and water seal treat those outer surfaces, especially all tent seams.
Remember to “pay back” Step 1 listed above by documenting and sharing experience if any unusually good or bad or noteworthy issues happened or if exceptional amenities or sites were available. Any camper should share “eyes” of experience with others on a forum or in a campground review to help others have a safe and enjoyable camping experience just as another camper’s information allowed preplanning to do for their own trip.