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Six reasons to try solo camping now

With social distancing guidelines still in place for most of Canada, 2020 might just be the year for solo camping, especially if you’ve never been before. 

Our last article shared some tips for getting out there during a pandemic. Although most places in Canada are in or past Stage 2 of their reopening plans, there have been several predictions from health authorities that physical distancing will be in place until 2022.

While yes, you can camp with your COVID-19 social bubble, and camping with a group of friends, in general, is a lot of fun, there are lots of things to look forward to even when camping alone. (Remember, alone doesn’t mean lonely.) 

As much as I love camping with others, there is something about solo camping that is indescribably special. Yes, you’ll need to have basic camping skills like setting up a tent and cooking on a camp stove. But otherwise, it’s pretty easy to get started with camping solo (we’ll cover this in a future article). 

If you’ve never gone solo camping and you’re looking for a bit of a nudge, here are six things I look forward to and some tips: 

1. No need to align your schedule or impulse to go camping with anyone else’s. 
Feel like going camping this weekend or tonight? Just go. It’s sometimes hard to even decide on a restaurant to go to with a group of friends, let alone a group camping trip! 

Tip – Check local parks for availability and see what sites are available. Sometimes, taking that first step sets off all the other steps to put an idea into motion! 

Got friends who share a common interest in other activities but just not camping, no matter how many times you’ve brought up how much you love it or would like to try it? Just go. Instead of spending that energy trying to convince others why it’s fun to sleep under the stars, you can spend that energy looking up camp recipes for one. 

Tip – Before the pandemic, Parkbus offered group hiking and camping trips across Canada. Build your camping confidence or network of camping buddies through an organized event.

2. You are on your own schedule.
Wake up at 4:30 am to hike to a lookout point to watch the sunrise? Want to wait a bit longer on the water to watch the blue heron catch fish? No prob! You get to choose your own adventure. No one around to say ‘too early’ or to influence you otherwise. And that includes you deciding to go for that second or third dip in the lake on the same day. 

Tip – Not sure what to do while at camp solo? Look up the suggested activities for the park you're visiting. Make a mental list of some things that sound interesting to you. Maybe a particular hiking trail, some wildlife to spot or take note if canoe rentals are available.    

3. Your gear, your way.
While it’s great having an extra set of hands to help with gear or setting up camp, doing everything yourself means you’ll have it set up the way you want it. 

Want the vestibule of your tent facing the right direction so you can see the sunrise from your sleeping bag? Done. 
Having your kitchenware cleaned and ready for the next meal? Also done. 

Tip – If needing to share gear with a buddy means you can’t go camping solo, try looking for gear rental places from local stores or outdoor organizations. Some parks also offer Learn to Camp packages that provide gear.  

4. Breakfast, lunch, brunch, dinner, dessert – all for one
You don’t have to cook for anyone else! Eat what you want, when you want, as much or as little as you want. Skip a meal for that extra paddle session if you want! No other hangry person around (except when that hunger hits you). This also means that the amount of food you need to pack or prepare is completely catered to you. 

Tip – Check out Kena Peay on Instagram for some ‘cooking while on an adventure’ inspiration like that time she made mini Philly Cheesesteak Sliders! I’m a big believer that camp food does not mean boring food! 

5. Only your own bad habits to deal with. 
One of my biggest camping pet peeves has to be getting bitten by mosquitoes inside the tent because someone ELSE left the doors open. Even doors left unzipped by an inch or two —THEY. WILL. FIND. A. WAY. IN.

Friends not pulling their weight in collecting wood or cleaning dishes before the next meal? No problem. You already took care of these things. Or, you procrastinated intentionally opted to do these later, after your refreshing dip in the lake.
With solo camping, it's all on you. No one else to blame. No one else to get grumpy at you!  

6. You will connect to nature differently. 
This is that indescribable thing I was talking about. You'll hear the loons more clearly, see the green of moss more vividly, or notice how wonderfully strong the scent of pine is. There are no other distractions other than the ones you allow because it is just you out there. And you don't have to go far into the remote backcountry for this experience! This will happen even if you are at a car camping park. 

So go ahead, take a deep breath and try getting out there solo!

Lead photo by Ihor Malytskyi.

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