There are plenty of reasons to head out on your next adventure alone. Maybe your regular adventure buddies are busy. Maybe you’re just looking to take on a few challenge all by yourself. Whatever the reason, go for it. Do not let the fact you’re flying solo be something that holds you back. Instead, make this something that propels you forward into the adventure. But, keep in mind — exploring on your own will be a bit different than wandering with a group. As your plan, prep + pack keep a few things in mind.
Tell Someone Where You’re Going!
When you’re headed out on your own, tell someone where you’re going. Give them specifics on your destination, your route + your expected return time. You really should do this for every adventure, but it’s especially important when you’re alone. The risks you face won’t necessarily change when you’re alone, but your ability to mitigate them will.
Consider getting lost. If you’re alone you have no one to double check the route with. What if you fall + hurt yourself? There will be no one there to go for help. Or, if you lose your food stash in a crazy encounter with a greedy raccoon. There will not be friend there with you to offer up their snacks to hold you over. Don’t let these possibilities scare you away from an adventure. Instead, keep them in mind while you plan + pack so you’re ready to take on the what if’s.
…a simple text to a friend saying “hiking up to Heather Lake from the main TH” could be what saves your life [+ dignity]. just send it.
Be Prepared to Be Lonely…
If you’re headed out with the goal of being alone, this may sound like a silly thing to consider. However, being alone + being lonely are two different things. There is something beautiful + empowering about getting out in the woods alone + taking on every challenge as an independent individual. You get to explore areas you probably wouldn’t go with a group. If something goes awry you get to solve the problem alone + bask in the glory of success when it’s all over. This part of adventuring alone is invigorating.
However, there are also times when you see something incredible + desperately want to share it with someone else. It could be a complete stranger or someone you love…you just want to share your amazement with another soul. It is during moments like this when you get to feel the true stab of loneliness. This puts the world + your life into perspective. It also makes you realize just how important your friends + family are to you. Don’t run from these moments, but don’t dwell on them either. Let them happen + wrap your heart around the feeling of lonely. Take this as a reminder to truly appreciate the people in your life. Maybe take a few photos so you can share the experience with friends upon your return.
it is entirely possible to feel utterly alone in a city of 5 million…don’t fear it; embrace it + learn from it.
Pack Accordingly; It’s Only You.
For short trips — day trips or over nighters — this may not be quite as important. However, if you’re headed out for a weekend in the wilderness on your own after multiple group adventures remember to adjust your packing. For starters, look at your food. Many dehydrated meals come ready for two people + even non-traditional backcountry meals are too much for a solo meal. Leftovers aren’t easy to handle in the backcountry so try to avoid them. Rather than force feeding yourself more food than you need spend some time at home re-packaging your meals into individual portions.
On the other side of the spectrum, don’t under pack or leave anything to chance. If you forgot replacement batteries for your headlamp you’ll have no one to borrow from. Even if you’re an experienced packer make a list for your first solo adventure. Go through the list a few times + make sure you’re not missing *anything* because your pack will be the only one you get to dig through when you need something.
pack the basics + then some. with time, your solo pack will get lighter as you learn how to get creative with your gear.
Find Ways to Reconnect, With Yourself!
One of the best reasons to go out on a solo adventure is to get to know yourself. It’s an incredible opportunity to learn what you’re body + mind are capable of. You’ll be faced with challenges you’ll have to talk yourself through. In most cases, it’ll be something as simple as talking yourself up + over another false summit. Every once in a while you’ll be faced with something bigger + badder. Use your best judgement, get comfortable with your personal limitations + never, ever be afraid of turning around when you get uncomfortable.
Beyond the more serious risks + mishaps that you may encounter on the trail you’ll also be faced with more inward facing chances to get to know yourself. Whens the last time you went hours [or days] without talking to another person? Where does your mind wander off to? Will you discover a hidden life goal in the depths of your soul? Get out there + find out. Better yet, pack along a little note book + pen so you can randomly write down your thoughts + feelings along the way. It may sound silly now, but you’ll appreciate the idea once you’re out on the trail. Or, if you’re less old school than we are — talk to yourself on camera. Whatever your medium, feel your feelings + share them with yourself so you have a way to remember why you head outdoors on your own.
you may not know you like beaches…until you force yourself to take on a tiny beach town for a week, solo.
Every one of these considerations has an upside + a downside. Get yourself outside alone for the upside, but don’t forget to at least think about the downside. Being informed about the risks + rewards of your adventures is the surest way to survive them, no matter what happens while you’re out there.
Have you been out adventuring on your own?
If so, tell us how it changed your perspective on yourself + wandering.
If not, tell us where you’d like to take your first solo trip to.