Lessons Learned from my First Solo Camping Trip
By Morgan Rogue
At the time of my first solo camping trip, I did a lot of research of my location, what I was going to take, how I was going to set up camp, etc. I had intended to stay two nights, but I ended up only staying one night due to a variety of factors.
I was so excited to camp on my own. Prior to my first solo trip, I had camped a lot with my family when I was a kid. After that, I had always gone with past boyfriends and my husband. Never had I even considered going by myself. I got the idea when I started watching guys on their solo camping trips. It looked like so much fun, I just had to give it a shot. I’m always up for the challenge and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I enjoy camping with others, but solo hikers and campers seemed to really enjoy being by themselves.
I went to our national forest and hiked in to find a nice spot off a multi-use trail. It was a clear area with a couple down trees that I could use for sitting. I couldn’t see the trail and nobody could see me, there wasn’t a soul in sight. It was a beautiful spot and so peaceful.
After I got set up, I ate and just kinda sat there. I didn’t bring anything to entertain myself with. I had some eBooks on my phone, but that was it. That was my first mistake. It was late afternoon when I got there, so there wasn’t much I could have done anyway, but it would have been nice to have some ideas on how to stay busy or entertained. Outside of eating and sleeping and reading the eBooks or going out for a hike, I didn’t have any other ideas at the time.
Later, I got more into bushcrafting and survival and far more into hiking, so I have many ideas now on how to stay entertained and busy.
My second mistake was not knowing whether I could have a fire or not. I had no service and wasn’t able to check the local laws to see if there was a burn ban in effect. I was camping in TX and much of the state was in burn ban, but that was something I hadn’t considered before going. So I did without which was a pretty big downer. I later realized that I could have had a fire.
Many of the solo camping trip videos that I watched centered around hammock camping. I had never slept in a hammock before but I thought, hey, they’re doing it, I guess I should give it a try.
This was my third mistake. While setting the hammock and tarp up was quite easy, that night I discovered that I hate sleeping in hammocks. I was extremely uncomfortable the whole time and got a terrible night’s sleep. Plus, I felt extremely exposed. I really didn’t like not having the ‘walls’ that a tent offered. Even with the tarp around the hammock, it wasn’t enough. I realized then and there that I was a tent kinda gal. It was so bad that I ended up getting up well before dawn, packing up and heading back to my car. I rested in my car for a few hours and waited for the sun to come up.
Before I drove home, I went on a reflection hike. I realized that much of what I had done, I had done it because I was mimicking the solo videos that I saw. While there’s nothing wrong with trying new things, it probably shouldn’t have been done so far away from home and on my first solo trip. I should have stuck with what I knew and was comfortable with for my first time.
It wasn’t a total bust, I learned a lot and after coming to my realizations, I knew that I wanted to continue going on solo camping adventures. But next time, I’d make sure I was true to myself and make sure the experience fit my specific wants and needs. Start where you’re most comfortable and as you build experience, try more advanced or different methods of camping.
Solo camping helps you grow as a person and as an adventurer. It’s an experience that I highly recommend to everyone. Even though my first experience wasn’t the absolute best in the world, I learned a lot and carried those lessons to future solo trips. Anyone at any age can try their first solo camping trip. Be honest with yourself and have fun!