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Tips for Solo Adventuring

August 20, 2019 4 min read 0 Comments

Tips for Solo Adventuring

All modern explorers have felt the draw of trekking out into the wilderness alone, with nothing but some basic necessities and our wits for company. As great as it can be traveling with a group or even a few close friends, there’s something beyond compare in taking a few days of quiet solitude to reconnect with nature and contemplate our place in the world. Or maybe you’re just sick of your friends. Whatever the reason, it’s important when venturing out on your own to do it safely.

Tips for Solo Adventuring

Work up to big trips

If you’ve never been out on your own before, don’t start by tackling the Appalachian Trail. Start with some small day hikes, maybe an overnighter or two before embarking on longer expeditions. You have to learn to pace yourself, to build up your mental endurance, and to maintain physically when there isn’t another person around to remind you. Even if you’re the one used to keeping the team on track, you may find that it is harder when you don’t have someone else to worry about.

Planning, planning and more planning

When exploring solo, it’s more important than ever to plan ahead. When in a group, if someone makes a mistake, forgets something, or has to come up with a solution on the fly, the odds of coming out of a scrape are much higher with every additional person. If you’re on your own, you’re on your own.

Slow down

Take your time during solo adventures. This is important in many ways. Every extra set of eyes you travel with increases your chances of noticing a problem, or seeing a solution, but without that backup, it’s important to slow down and limit opportunities for mistakes to be made. It’s also common for solo adventurers to push themselves beyond their limits when they don’t have another person to consider, or another person to consider them.

Acknowledge the danger

Confidence is important — you need to believe that you have the ability to get through the necessary obstacles before you can tackle them — but blind confidence can be more dangerous than beneficial. It’s important to recognize that there is inherent danger to traveling alone. You’re not impressing anyone by striding out into the unknown like you’re Bear Grylls — because you’re not Bear Grylls. Before you can avoid danger, you have to accept that you’re not invincible.

Stay in touch with the outside world

Try to have a communication device available. Double-check your mobile carrier’s coverage, or invest in a satellite phone or HAM radio. Of course, in some remote destinations, even those options might not be feasible. When that’s the case, make sure someone knows where you’ll be and what your itinerary looks like. Designate timeline milestones, so that someone knows when you should be back to safety. In many areas, you can stop at ranger stations or waystations to check in as necessary. Mark them on your map ahead of time.

Stay healthy

It’s easy to lose track of things like a meal schedule and staying hydrated when you’re flying solo in an isolated area. Make sure to stay on top of your physical health, even if that means setting alarms to remind yourself when to take a break or pull out a granola bar.

Mental preparation

You may like your alone time, but days on end — especially in the wilderness without modern distractions — is another animal entirely. You need to be ready for the mental challenge it presents, so make sure you’re up to it. If you spend a lot of time at home, try going a day or two without TV or internet, and see how you feel about finding other means to occupy yourself. Then spend a day out at a campsite by yourself. Even if you plan to be on the move as much as possible, you can’t predict everything. You may find yourself stranded, alone, at a single site for hours on end due to weather, for example. If you can’t handle that, then maybe soloing isn’t for you.

Embrace backpacking culture

No matter how much of an introvert you are, significant amounts of time alone can be psychologically challenging. There’s a reason solitary confinement is a punishment in most parts of the world. But whether it’s urban backpacking or thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, remember that you have automatic membership to a fellowship of adventurers, which can offer companionship when you need it and resources in tight spots.

Solo adventures can be wonderful opportunities for self-discovery and internal growth, but they also have a greater potential for danger than traveling with partners. So long as you know what you’re doing, and take the time to ensure necessary precautions are considered, there’s no reason any modern explorer can’t wander out into the world alone and come back stronger for it.

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