Looking for tips for your first solo camping trip? Here you go!

Recently, here in California, we’ve had unseasonably warm weather. It’s been in the 60/70 degrees F range, when it’s supposed to be in the 20s/30s and snowing. So, I wanted to take advantage of the weather and do a little camping down in nearby Yosemite National Park. To avoid crowds and make sure I was able to snag a campsite, I drove down early Tuesday morning and planned to camp that night to get in two full days. However, because most people have, like, jobs, I couldn’t find anyone to go with me, and it ended up being my first solo camping trip. I’m sure other people aren’t totally sure they want to camp alone, but if you always wait for someone else to go, you’ll miss out on places you want to go. So, put the concerns aside, because I’ve put together these tips for your first solo camping trip.

Before we start: you may notice that the numbering is jacked up below – blame WordPress for that. It totals eight though, I promise. 


    1. Bring plenty of blankets

      In a broader sense, just make sure you have everything you need to stay warm. If you’re used to sharing a tent with someone, you’re going to be colder alone, as having two people in a tent keeps it warmer (body heat, hey hey hey.) Bring a sleeping bag rated for lower than the temperature will get and consider buying a sleeping bag liner to add additional warmth – I just bought this one and it’s quite small packed up, but very warm. I could definitely tell a difference between having it and not having it.  You can also buy heated clothing and boots if you’re really worried about cold.

      8 Tips for your first solo camping trip: HikeUpYourSkirt.com travel and adventure blog

    2. Make sure you know how to use your tent.

      When it comes to tips for your first solo camping trip, perhaps nothing is more important than this: make sure you can set up your own tent! A lot of tents have complicated poling and require pushing from inside while pulling up from the outside, which obviously you can’t do with one person. You need an easy, pop-up style tent that you’ve put together before – you don’t want to be at your campsite unable to erect your tent, unless you’d rather sleep smushed up in your car with your sad, half-assembled tent sitting outside.

    1. When it comes to making a fire, just cheat

      I’m a pro at making a fire in a fireplace, but outdoors, it’s a lot harder – you’ve got wind to content with, and you’re often using slightly soggy twigs and sticks and kindling. Rather than struggling to get your fire going, just bring a fire starter that will burn for a while to give the kindling time to light. I like these from coffee wick as they’re light and organic, but any camping/outdoor store should have plenty of options.

      8 Tips for your first solo camping trip: HikeUpYourSkirt.com travel and adventure blog

    2. Keep the food easy:

      I’m not much of a cook at home in our fully stocked kitchen, so obviously I’m not magically going to know how to cook outside, alone, in the dark. So for food, keep it easy with dishes that don’t require grilling, cutting and cooking. In Yosemite, I made cheese pasta with one pot and the kind of squishy cheese that comes in a pouch. Eat it out of the pot and rinse it out when you’re done – couldn’t be easier. Other options could include grilled sausages (or Tofurky sausages,) ramen/pre-made noodle dishes, or even backpacking style food where you just add water. Bring something for breakfast pre-made, like a muffin, or bring oatmeal, which only requires hot water. Throw in some snacks – I like dried mangos and kind bars, because of course – and you can stay full while keeping cooking to a minimum.

    1. Stay near other people:

      Straight up – don’t be dumb. If you’ve never camped alone, start with being in a campground near other people. Aside from the peace of mind of knowing you’re around other people, you have people to help you if something goes wrong – your fellow campers. If you actually can’t put up your own tent (guess you skipped tip number two) or end up dropping your axe on your foot, you’ll have people about 20 feet away who are probably willing to help.

    1. Bring entertainment:

      My top choice: a sudoku book, a kindle, or a movie loaded on to your iPad, which is especially good when it’s freezing out and you need to distract yourself from how cold you are (cough, me in Yosemite in February cough.) Depending on what time of year it is, the sun may set as early as 5 or 6 PM, so you’ll have several hours to kill by yourself. And on that note….

      8 Tips for your first solo camping trip: HikeUpYourSkirt.com travel and adventure blog

      You’ll get bored staring at this for five hours

  1. Bring a light!

    I recommend a headlamp, but a lantern will work too. Nothing is worse than being stuck in the dark or having to hold a cell phone light to cook. You can buy a good, hands-free headlamp for like $10 like the one below. Just leave it hanging around your neck so you never have to look for a light when you need one.

  1. Stay in cell phone service

    This one can be a little hard in some places depending where you are, but at least try. It’s not so much so you can call someone if you need help (see tip number 5) but more so you can look stuff up. On my recent trip, it was helpful to be able to check the weather, as well as google things like “will two sleeping pads stacked up be warmer than one?” Answer: yes.

There you go! Hope these tips for your first solo camping trip are helpful! Remember, even if it’s cold or lonely, it’s a small price to pay to wake up in the AWESOME place you’re probably camping!

Have more tips for your first solo camping trip? Let me know if the comments.