Solo camping can be scary for women because we’ve been told never to do things alone. However, as a woman who has camped alone for years, solo camping is fun to exercise independence while experiencing the great outdoors.
If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Why not go camping alone?” I’ve written this guide for you.
Solo Camping Benefits
Here are some benefits of camping alone:
- Choosing your itinerary. Is no one free or interested in joining you at that amazing campsite? Go by yourself!
- Improving your mental health. There are many psychological benefits to being in nature, like feeling more peaceful and unplugging from all that screentime.
- Taking time to process and think through a situation. You’ll naturally have time for reflection when you’re alone in a beautiful place. Use the time to yourself.
- Increasing your strength and independence. Few things make me feel as strong as solo camping. If you’re ready to feel more independent and adventurous, one night outdoors will do that.
Fun Activities for Solo Camping
Below, I’ve listed eight excellent ways to entertain yourself as a solo camper. Happy camping!
1. Make a campfire
When I first started camping, the men I would travel with would collect wood and create a fire. The first time I made a campfire was when I camped on my own. As a solo woman camper, starting a fire was one of the defining moments of my independence. It will make you feel like a badass. Some great tips online for making a campfire include this campfire tutorial on SmokeyBear.com and this REI YouTube video.
Fire safety note: Make sure your campground allows campfires and only buy local firewood (usually sold for cash by a campground host).
2. Read in a hammock
There are few things more relaxing than curling up in a hammock with a book, which is the ideal solo camping activity. If you’re looking for inspiration about nature and hiking, consider classics like Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, Jack Kerouac’s The Dharma Bums, and Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass.
3. Write in a journal.
As a solo camper, you’ll have a lot of time to think, so why not take advantage and bring a journal to write down your thoughts? I’ve regularly journaled at the end of my day at the campground, and years later, I still return to those journals to see what I was thinking. Journaling while solo camping helped me organize my thoughts about job seeking, breakups, and accomplishments that year. Journaling has many health benefits if you’re looking for a way to process your emotions, reduce stress, or increase your good mood.
4. Netflix and chill.
After a strenuous day of hiking or putting up camp, relax with some TV. Fun fact: I once watched Schitt’s Creek to sit out a storm in my tent.
But there’s no need to ask the camp host for the WiFi password. Before leaving on your trip, download the Netflix episodes or movies you want to watch. So, if that book you brought isn’t as interesting as you’d hoped, open your app, put on your headphones, and watch away.
5. Play table games
Why not take advantage of your free time to play a board game? After all, most campsites don’t offer electrical outlets, and the wilderness often lacks cell phone reception, so a board game is a fun, analog thing to do. There are several excellent single-player games (here’s a list to start with on Amazon), and I’ve listed a few thematic games below, great for beach, forest, or desert camping trips.
On the beach, enjoy the uniquely-designed solo game Friday, where you can help a shipwrecked man defend himself against pirates and other dangers. And if you’re looking for a world-building strategy game to play alone or with up to three others, consider Everdell (build animal kingdoms) or Terraforming Mars (develop Mars; great for a desert trip).
6. Go fishing
Fishing is one of the most well-suited activities for solo campers because it’s relaxing and can be done near most bodies of water. Camping near a stream, river, or lake? Perfect! Even oceans are great places for fishing, especially if there’s a pier or dock. Bring sun protection, layers of clothing, snacks, music, and headphones, and you’ll have a perfect few hours.
Of course, there are a few steps to begin fishing, but it’s a low-cost, beginner-friendly solo camping activity (here’s an Outside Magazine article that covers the basics). Remember to get a fishing permit and rent or borrow a pole if you’re starting. And if you’re looking for the thrill of catching a fish but don’t want to kill or eat it, catch and release it!
7. Practice night photography.
When you’re camping alone, there’s a lot of time for practicing night photography, a fun thing to do after dark. You can bring a digital camera with a wide-angle lens. However, these days, most smartphones can even take decent photos.
Here are some tips for a successful night photo session:
- Set up a 10-second timer for a steadier photo.
- Turn off your camera’s flash. The best night photos use the existing natural light of the sky.
- Bring a tripod or make your own by propping your camera on a chair, tree, or large rock. You’ll need a steady camera for a clear photo (most night photos take several seconds of long exposure).
- Use a headlamp or flashlight to “light paint” a word or highlight an object. If you prop up your flashlight, you can take a self-portrait (just stay still).
- Take multiple photos from multiple angles.
8. Bring a dog or offer to dog-sit for a friend
If you’re a dog lover, you may have the perfect opportunity to bring an animal companion on your solo camping trip. Of course, you can bring your own dog, but if you don’t have one, tell your dog-owning friends about your upcoming trip and ask if they’re open to having you take their pet. By borrowing a dog, I’ve been able to enjoy a companion and feel extra safe.
There are some significant caveats to this activity:
- Make sure you’re prepared with a leash, bed or towel, food, water, and doggie poop bags.
- Plan a place for your temporary pet to sleep and where you’ll put it when cooking or setting up camp.
- Most importantly, check the campground’s pet policy (if you’re visiting a National Park, remember that dogs have to be leashed at all times, and some parks don’t allow animals on trails).
9. Make friends with your campground neighbors
If camping alone is less fun than you’d hoped, you can also choose to speak with or befriend other campers. For an extrovert, this tip may be obvious. But for solo campers who are more introverted, here are some ways you can open a conversation with your neighbors:
- Ask to borrow something (e.g., salt).
- Ask for campground directions (e.g., to the bathroom).
- Offer to do something (e.g., take a group photo).
- Offer something extra (e.g., a can of beer), which is likely the best way to befriend a stranger.
Once you’ve opened a conversation, introduce yourself and start with small talk, like asking them how their camping trip is going or if they’ve stayed there before.
In my experiences as a solo camper, I’ve had several of these minutes-long light conversations. A couple of them resulted in a dinner with my neighbors, and Instagram follows afterward. If you’re open to meeting others, this can be a fun way to brighten your trip. And if you’re tired of the conversation, there’s an easy way out: head back to your tent!
Questions about Safety and Camping Alone
As a woman who has camped alone, I can understand why others ask, “Is it dangerous to go camping alone? Is it scary?”
Yes, sometimes it is scary, like the many times I’ve heard animals outside my tent (I’ll never forget the sound of a coyote eating an Oreo cookie). And I’ve stayed awake with fear during terrible nights like a summer thunderstorm in the Texas panhandle.
However, I’ve rarely, if ever, been afraid of other people, and that’s because most campers are families, couples, or groups of friends. In other words, other campers probably won’t notice you, or they’ll assume you’re in a group too.
If you’re concerned about camping alone, I recommend watching Nicole Snell’s Outdoor Defense video series on YouTube. Nicole is a solo camper, hiker, and self-defense instructor (I particularly enjoyed this video about staying safe in a tent). Another great video is Jacey West’s solo camping safety precautions.
Additionally, consider camping in the back of your car, which can be warmer and feel more secure than sleeping in your tent. I’ve taken advantage of my Honda’s full-flat back seat on cold nights or in less safe places (like truck rest stops).
Finally, please tell others about your camping plans: campground, site number, and how to reach you if necessary. If you won’t have reception or WiFi and can afford to invest in a satellite beacon ($130-$400), I recommend buying one. I own a Garmin InReach Mini, and I use it to send and receive text messages to my loved ones in the wilderness. Keeping others informed provides them ease of mind and is safer for you.
In summary, camping alone can be a fun thing to do to build inner strength and allow you to explore new parts of the world. Follow these tips for fun outdoor activities on your next solo trip.Dare To Be A Wildflower is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.