There are a lot of unofficial “rules” for women in our society. Sometimes, the concern about going somewhere alone keeps us from some fantastic life adventures – and lessons. Here’s my advice for making the most of camping alone as a woman.
What Kind of Solo Camping Is Best for Beginners?
I have been camping alone or with my children multiple times and have never felt unsafe. I choose well-populated, regularly monitored campsites like state parks. I’m a committed car camper; I desire nearby water, electricity, and showers.
If you’re going to go all Cheryl Strayed about it and hit the wilderness, you need to exercise more caution. That’s out of the scope of this article, and I don’t recommend it for a beginner. If you insist, employ common sense. Be aware of your surroundings, and ensure someone at home knows where you are.
Choosing Your Campsite
State and national parks are budget-friendly and usually have a lot of families and retirees nearby, which puts me at ease. Most of these facilities have all the basic comforts within the campground. They also have staff that routinely pass through.
Choice of campsite matters. Many park reservation sites allow you to choose from a map and might have photos of the campsite to check out the view. How close do you want to be to your neighbors? Can you get close to the restrooms but not so near that you hear everyone coming and going?
Many websites will serve you a two-page checklist of “camping essentials.” There can’t be that many essential things. My essentials are a tent, sleeping bag, lantern, and hygiene products. Campsite meals can be simple and stress-free.
Bug spray, sunscreen, and lots of water are essential for warm weather. Thermals, a hat, and campfire accessories are necessary for cold weather. Anything else you want to bring is up to your comfort level entirely. I’m more of a minimalist, so I keep trying to reduce the number of items I bring camping.
Setting up Your Site
It’s a great idea to set up the tent at home first. On-site, clear rocks & debris from where your tent will be; a tarp under your tent is helpful for wet ground. Only unload necessary gear – no need to have everything out all over. That’s the beauty of car camping!
Keep in mind the animal population. Keep food in a secure container to avoid luring anything from ants to bears to your campsite. Keeping food in your tent’s not a good idea, especially overnight.
Ask For Help When You Need It
I spent a freezing night with an equally cold dinner. I couldn’t get my campfire to stick around and didn’t want to look like an idiot. A lovely couple was next to me with a roaring fire, but I just coldly looked on from afar.
I mentioned my predicament to a fellow diner at breakfast the next morning. My new friend gave me suggestions and told me where to get the suggested supplies. I was warm, well-fed, and feeling all kinds of capable because of that conversation. Seasoned campers are generally eager and happy to help!
Strike up Those Conversations
I switch between my “No” face and my “I truly want to hear your life story” face. If I travel alone, I will likely engage someone in conversation or insert myself in their dialogue with little prompting. After my campfire failure, I met the loveliest people at breakfast by sitting at the counter instead of waiting for a table.
While out exploring, I chatted with hikers and sight-seers. People are generally willing to snap pics of you when they see that you are solo. I overheard two couples who found out they lived in the same neighborhood! Engaging with those around you makes the experience more interesting.
You Are One Walmart Away From Comfort
If you stick to state and national parks while developing your camping skills, you’ll generally be within a 30-minute drive of a big-box store. On my first outing, it took one night to discover that this body doesn’t appreciate sleeping on the ground. I purchased an air mattress at Walmart the next day; no shame.
I shivered through a late October overnight in the North Georgia mountains, despite having an appropriate sleeping bag and warm(ish) clothes. I went back to Walmart the next day to purchase thermals and a cozy hat. Don’t suffer from pride or someone else’s idea of what you should or shouldn't need.
Benefits of Camping Alone as a Woman
We love our friends and families. But everyone needs time for solitude and recharging. Some women favor a spa or a luxe AirBnB. I love my cozy tent and the peace I find in nature.
I also enjoy how capable I feel. Sure, I make mistakes, but I rectify them. I like meeting new people and touring areas at my own pace. I get to try new things without anyone else’s criticism.
Blow off People’s Expectations
You’ll have people who won’t understand why you would go by yourself. You’ll also have people who will doubt your capability. Good thing you have decided not to care what they think!
I don’t consider myself an expert camper. I still have a lot to learn. But I’m willing to learn through experience. You don’t have to know everything or be able to do every task perfectly. Do some simple planning and go.
Solo Camping for Women
I hope you are inspired to get out there and try solo camping. Scope out your first campsite and get your basics together. You’ll become more comfortable with the experience. You might get some excellent stories out of it if nothing else!
Amy Albers is a librarian in the Atlanta suburb of Marietta. When she's not getting lost in genealogy and local history, she is finding fun solo and family travel destinations to share with others. With over a dozen years of experience writing about family and travel on her own blog, Amy now enjoys freelance writing. She has three teen and young adult boys who turned her on to all things Marvel and Star Wars and a husband who has nurtured her into a committed SEC football fan. The beach and the great outdoors are her happy places but she's never mad at a luxury hotel. Her book reviews and latest adventures are found on Instagram at Exploring The Amysphere.