Traveling Alone on the Road

Helpful tips and tricks from an experienced adventurer to make sure your next solo trip is a success
May 21, 2016Words by Gregg BoydstonPhotos by Gregg Boydston

When it comes to getting outside and adventuring, most of us agree that it’s more enjoyable with a solid group of friends. Unfortunately, making schedules and plans line up can be tough, so I often travel and explore new areas alone. There are definitely pros and cons to this, so I want to share some ideas, tips, and tricks to make you more comfortable doing it yourself.

#1: Make a plan and let two people know where you'll be each day

First off, when you are flying solo, I recommend having a game plan. While hitting the road with no plan can be exciting and fun, it is very important to let someone else know where you are headed. I personally let two different people know where I will be each day, mainly because most of these sweet spots have spotty cell service that can’t be relied on if something were to go wrong. This will provide peace of mind for yourself and those who care about you, a.k.a. Mom. A game plan will also help to plan your food and drink: Will there be anywhere to restock along the way? If you’re determined to just go with the flow, pack plenty of water and food to get you through a couple of days.

#2: Carry tools and first aid supplies in case you run into trouble on the road

The second thing I recommend when hitting the road alone is a kit of tools and first aid supplies. Again, who knows what cell signal you will have if something turns sour. Basic first aid kits and a little knowledge can be extremely beneficial in a sketchy situation. I make my own little kit to keep in the rig, but there are plenty of pre-made options out there that will fit under the seat or wherever you choose. Along with medical emergencies, what about vehicle emergencies? I put together a little tool kit that fits in the storage area under the seat of my truck that will allow me to handle miscellaneous small breakdowns like a flat tire. You can also buy a ready-made kit, just make sure it suits your vehicle. I also carry a single car battery jumper with some jumper cables. The cables by themselves are useless if you are alone, hence the single charge unit. Okay, now you are prepared for most minor mishaps!

One other small thing I like to do if I am camping alone is to stay in an actual campground where other people are around. Don't get me wrong, I love camping out in the boonies, but whether it’s weirdos or intimidating wildlife, it can feel safer to stay in established campgrounds. 

#3: Take books, games, or music to pass the time and stay entertained

Now for staying busy and entertained without your closest friends at your side. Some things I bring to stay busy during downtime are books, cards, a camera, music, a hammock, a notepad, and maps. Single player card games are a great way to waste time while listening to some of your favorite tunes. Or, just set up a hammock and catch up on some sleep since you've been getting up for sunrise every day! To be honest, I often just play some music over my speaker, bring the beer cooler close, and take in the views. But that’s just me. Tired of doing all these? Well, bust out that paper map you have and check out some areas for your next stop. Did I mention you should carry paper maps? You can’t always rely on your cell phone!

#4: Don't be afraid to make friends and learn their stories on the road!

Not every trip that starts solo remains that way either. I often end up adventuring with someone else I meet along the way. Sometimes someone from Instagram sees that I’m hitting the road and wants to meet up somewhere, or I get a couple beers in me and invite strangers over to my campfire for the evening. Meeting new people and hearing their stories can be another way to pass the time and stay entertained. Check the map for the area you are in and plan out some nice hikes before you move on. Take in the area as much as you can before moving on to the next stop! [H]

Some other quick tips and tricks I use to set myself up for a successful solo trip: 

Coffee: Waking up and starting the day with a cup of hot coffee keeps morale high. 
Campfires: Speaking of morale, what’s better than a campfire at night as you sit there alone? I always make sure I have the means for a fire: wood and a way to start it. 
A full ice chest: Although PB&J’s, freeze dried meals, and canned food can be easy and cheap, treating yourself with a BBQ steak can really ramp up your solo experience. 
Dutch Oven: Need I say more? Have you ever had a meal from a dutch oven? 
Stay Charged: I use an inverter and solar panels to keep my electronics charged.
Being prepared: Knowing that I have what I need to get myself through a bad situation puts my mind at ease so I can focus on my trip instead of worrying about what could go wrong.
Know the weather: Check out the weather in the locations you plan to hit. A little foresight will keep you from being miserable in a climate you didn't prepare for. 

When he's not fighting wildfires for the U.S. Forest Service or traveling and camping with the best of them, Gregg is out and about adventuring the Eastern Sierra with a camera, cooler, and positive attitude.


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