So you have lodging. A couple more words on that... Safety is of the utmost importance when you are camping solo. If you arrive at your campground and do not feel safe, you don't have to stay there. On my last camping trip, I went to three different campgrounds before I found one that I felt was suitable. It was a quick walk down to the dock, there was a public restroom right across from my campsite, and there were lots of families occupying the spaces around me.
Now you need to think about food! And remember - you can use your car trunk for storage. Keep this in mind if you're going somewhere that raccoons or bears frequent.
I like to take 2 coolers. One is filled at least 2/3 with ice and a few items that I want chilled (like soda, white wine, and some lunch meat, eggs, a plastic half-gallon of milk, and cheese). It should have a good seal around it for transport. You can plan to leave this in the trunk of your car - once it's filled, it might be too heavy to lift alone!
The second cooler has the rest of my food in it. For a weekend, I’ll take a half-loaf of bread, some peanut butter and jelly, crackers, and some other light, easy foods. Also, I take a case of water (yes, a whole case) or at least 2 gallon jugs of water. When you’re camping, don’t plan on having potable water with you – or water that you like the taste of.
Other camping necessities:
- A bucket and a shovel - most campgrounds require this in the event that you need to put out a fire
- A lantern and a flashlight – one’s for the tent, the other is for you. Take both.
- Firewood (available at most grocery stores – if you’re going to an area that allows fires). I recommend picking up a box of fireplace logs - they burn for about 3 hours and are a great ready-start when you need one.
- Bungee cords. You never know when these will come in handy!
- Fire forks for roasting marshmallows and hot dogs - you can buy these fairly inexpensively, or you can do what I do.... untwist an old wire hanger.
- A hammer for your tent stakes
- Plastic tarps to cover your coolers, put on the ground under your tent, or provide extra shade
- A plastic basin for washing dishes, cleaning up and whatever else you can think of.
- A can opener – If you have a good utility knife, a basic one is included. If you’re like me and can’t use the one that's on your utility knife to save your life, a good hand crank can opener is usually fairly inexpensive.
- Garbage bags – take at least one for each day that you’ll be out. You never know when you need to bag something, AND always leave the spot as good as or better than you found it.
- A good, quality knife
- Twine or rope – you can string this between trees for a clothesline or to air out blankets.
- A couple bath towels, an extra blanket, sleeping bag (if you need it), a pillow, AND solo air matress. Just get the single size. Trust me, you won't be restless sleeping.
- Cookware – look for lightweight sets that can be used over campfires. I don’t recommend taking cookware out of your kitchen cabinets to use over a fire. You don't need to spend a lot of money to get a great set!
- Plastic utensils – at least 4 sets
- A water jug or bottle that you can carry if you’re planning to hike
- A folding shovel and pick – you can generally find these at Army/Navy surplus stores. They’re great for cleaning up campfires and making sure they’re out.
- Clothing that will keep you warm from 20 degrees on up.
- A sleeping bag
- Appropriate camping shoes - I recommend one pair of boots or good cross trainers for getting around and a pair of flip flops for lounging
- Appropriate clothing for swimming if you're near a lake or river that's swimmer-friendly
- A chair that folds or collapses easily
- A backpack, in case you decide to go for a quick hike.
- Sunscreen – at least SPF 40.
- Mosquito repellent – use it religiously.
- Last, but certainly not least, a good first aid kit.
And don’t forget your camera!
Camping solo can be a great break from the everyday vacation. It’s affordable, gets you exploring your state, and can be a great, relaxing escape from the everyday grind. Being prepared for your trip will make it all the better!