GETTING OVER A FEAR OF SOLO CAMPING
The first night I spent alone in a tent was a fairly scary experience. I was hitchhiking in Europe and was free camping to save money. The first night I was alone in this small woods in Northern Spain. I chose an awful spot and the wind was vicious. I don’t think I got a wink of sleep I was so terrified the whole tent was going to be blown to pieces by the wind.
Since then I have camped alone countless times (and learnt how to choose a better camping location). Although there have been a few frightening moments, waking up to three huge wild boars surrounding the tent and sniffing the ground inches from my head being the worst, there is a great personal satisfaction you get from solo camping.
When you are alone the only person to depend on is yourself. You unlock a new inner confidence and learn to trust yourself and your abilities. There are also other perks to camping and hiking alone, like being able to go at your own pace and take your time. People are generally more social to a solo traveller than to a group. They want to talk to you and ask where you’re from and what you’re all about. As a result, it is much easier to make friends.
MENTALLY PREPARE YOURSELF FOR SOLO CAMPING
Don’t try to take on too much too soon. If you suffer from a fear of solo camping, stay within your comfort zone in terms of your outback experience. In hindsight, on my first solo trip, I probably would have been more comfortable starting off in a designated campsite, but I was a teenager with no money and free camping was the only way to go. I wouldn’t recommend throwing yourself in at the deep end, but staying within your comfort zone until you get more comfortable.
TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS
As a female solo-camper, the best piece of advice I can give is to trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, take yourself away from the situation. If someone seems odd or is being weird, excuse yourself politely and leave them to it. If you think conditions aren’t safe to push on, then turn back. When you are alone you can’t afford to take risks in the same way you can when in a group with support.
TAKE THE PLUNGE AND GO FOR IT
The best way to get over your fear is to try it yourself. Choose a popular location for your first trip so you can capitalise on the benefits of solo-camping and don’t have to worry about getting lost or stranded if something goes wrong. Tell someone where you are going with precise details of your hiking plans and when you will return to civilisation. Then head out and do it.
Sure, the first night might be a sleepless one. That’s normal. But once you get over the fear, you unlock the world of solo-camping and the specific joys and satisfaction it brings. The point isn’t to become fearless. The point is to control the fear and be free from it.
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