Solo Camper

TIPS FOR SOLO CAMPING

I have undertaken several solo camping trips around Australia, from sleeping alone in tents across Northern Queensland, to driving solo in a camper across the Australian Alps. With solo camping, you have no support from another individual and are the master of your own fate. Your preparation has to be a little more thorough, but the level of satisfaction is also heightened when everything goes to plan. If you’re new to travelling alone or thinking about it, that is not you in the photo above.

PACK LIGHT

I always try and keep my pack under 10kg when solo camping. I make sure my big-ticket items like my tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad and backpack are all good quality, lightweight items. When you are moving campsite each night, as you tend to do on solo camping trips, you want gear that is easy to transport and light to carry.

PREPARE YOUR ROUTE

Preparing your route is particularly important when solo camping and backpacking. If you are heading to a remote area, plan out the places where you can buy provisions. If you are driving, plan out petrol stations so you aren’t caught out. This may seem obvious, but when you are camping solo, without support, small oversights can have drastic consequences. If water is likely to be scarce, ensure you have enough of a supply with you. If you’re planning to take water from a source, make sure you can purify it.

USE PAID CAMPSITES IF YOU ARE WORRIED ABOUT SAFETY

If you are nervous about sleeping alone in a tent, use paid campsites until you feel more secure and safer. Paid campsites have more security. Just having access to a payphone or wifi has a big impact on the way you feel, even if you don’t use them.

START EARLY

Packing up and leaving your campsite early will let you make the most of the coolest time of the day. Because it is unlikely you will be sitting up into the early hours if you are solo camping, you might as well adjust your body clock to the natural rising and setting of the sun to get the most out of your day.

IF YOU ARE DRIVING LEAVE PLENTY OF TIME

As a solo-driver, you will have to do all the driving yourself. Allow plenty of time for rest stops and breaks. Similarly, if you are hiring a vehicle, make sure you are completely familiar with how everything works before you drive away. You don’t want to be in the middle of nowhere and find you have absolutely no idea how to open the petrol cap.

IF SOMETHING GOES WRONG, DON’T PANIC

It is going to happen so you may as well accept it. Hiccups happen and there will be problems for you to deal with. The most important thing is to stay calm. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from other campers or locals when you need it, if they are around. You will be surprised at the kindness of strangers and how even the most serious problems can generally be sorted out with a little bit of help.

THE PANIC EXPERIENCE

Don’t panic. That’s is such an oxymoron.

If you are alone when something goes wrong, it’s easy to panic without even knowing that you are slipping into a full blown panic attack. Panicking is an emotion that clouds our logical thought process because our body is going into “fight or flight” mode even though there is nothing we can do. Anyone going it alone for the first time will probably experience this at some time or another. It can happen fast even in a crowded airport.

I ran out of fuel halfway from Uluru to Darwin because of a leak in a fuel hose. I thought I was going to die out in the middle of nowhere until I woke up finding myself flat on the ground. A look at my watch and a couple of hours had gone by. I had passed out from a panic attack and was lying flat on my back. My panic attack was over and it didn’t take me long to realise that I had plenty of water and food. I had my logic back and I was bored. That’s a good sign of being calm. I started to think about how to manage what I had and plan out the afternoon and evening, through to the next morning as I had decided that is when I would make the next big decision on what to do. Before I’d even taken a bit of the sandwich I made, there was dust in the distance, a vehicle coming down the road. It was all over. It takes a few of these kinds of experiences to build confidence travelling alone.

And that’s when the real experience begins, a strange new sense of freedom that is mindblowing.

This is when you can immerse yourself in the camping experience. My best trips have been on long solo treks. The only downside is the end of the trail gets closer. Try not dread being around people again. Put those thoughts out of your mind. You can deal with them in a new way when you have, or not.

Solo travelling and camping, whether way out on your own or among crowds is a sure fire way to get a new perspective on everything. You will become a new person for the rest of your life. I know some people that have never come back.

 


What about you? Do you have solo travelling or camping experiences or any thoughts on this piece? We’d love you to share them with the community through the comments section below.

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Oli Ward
oli@dinga.com.au

Oli has camped and hiked his way around Australia and most of Europe. He also loves writing about his experiences and sharing his knowledge.