Travelling alone always sacred me. But I knew I wanted to be strong – to push myself out of my comfort zone and prove to myself that I can do more than I think I can. My husband is always telling me that I need to learn how to do more things for myself.
“But why?” I tell him. “I have you.”
And I always wonder what the problem actually is? Why is he so insistent that I know how to fix a leaky faucet? Or install of light fixture? But I had to admit – he had a point when he said that I should know how to drive the trailer, or dump the black water tank, or level the RV at a camp site.
I need to know how to handle the travel trailer – from hitching it up to the truck, to driving it, to setting it up at the site – by myself. Because, he is right, if we are on a trip, in the middle of no where, and something should happen to him, I do need to be able to take care of these things. Drive if he breaks his leg. Hook up the electrical and water lines at the camp site if he is ill. He had a point. The RV community is kind and generous. But let’s face it – there is only so much you can ask a stranger to help you with. Does the nice man at the next site really want to dump your poop for you? I think not.
So I booked myself a solo camping trip. To force myself to learn how to do everything by myself. And then panicked. But I refused to cancel the trip. Refused.
My husband taught me how to do everything – he took the time to show me everything from backing up the truck to hitching up the trailer. How to unhitch and stabilize the trailer on site. How to hook up the electricity and water. How to dumb the water tanks. And most importantly we practiced driving together.
I learned that really it is not that hard. Driving was actually pretty easy. Backing up is a totally other story – that’s still a work in progress. But the rest is really not that hard.
And so I went – alone – and had a great time.
Still – there are some things a solo camper should consider, especially a female solo camper. If you are camping alone you want to look like someone is with you. Sometimes campers are targets of crime – not usually violent but sometimes theft. It is not common – it really is safe – but it does happen. However, as Edna Mode from the Incredibles reminds us “luck favours the prepared”. Make sure you do not look vulnerable:
- Buy men’s shoes. Go to a local second hand store and buy a pair of men’s shoes – big ones. Put them outside the door of your trailer.
- Buy a dog leash and a water bowl. Go to the local dollar store and buy a dog’s leash and water dish. Wrap the leash around a tree or picnic table and fill the water bowl.
- Camp around other people. At least for the first couple of times. There is safety in numbers but also campers are really nice people. Other RVers are more than help to help you – you don’t even have to ask. I had a bit of trouble finding the right spot on my site to drop the trailer. I needed it close enough to the electrical outlet that I could hook up, but too close to the fire pit. The couples on other side of me both came out to see if I wanted a pair of eyes on the outside to help me know where to stop the RV for the best spot on the site. It was nice to have some help. I do love the idea of boon docking out in the middle of nowhere all by myself, but I won’t do that until I have done a few solo camp trips to make sure I am really comfortable.
- Do trust your instincts. The second day of my trip, I got a new neighbour on the campsite to my right. He was also a solo camper. But he talked to himself – a lot – and loudly. In fact he was openly arguing with himself, and it only got worse as he had more beers. One evening, he went to the public bathroom at the park. I don’t know what he was doing but there was yelling and banging for about an hour. Even my dogs didn’t like him and my dogs like everyone. Over the next few days, everyone else at the park left until it was just me and this one man. I felt uncomfortable, and left. There was bad weather was coming anyway. I’m sure he wasn’t going to hurt me – he never even tried to talk to me. But my gut said not to be alone with this man and I listened.
- Do know your limitations. I hate backing up the trailer, so I booked a pull through spot. So nice…. I also used Google Earth to find gas stations that had lots of room around the pumps and in the parking lot, so I could gas up and take a rest, walk the dogs, without any tight manoeuvring or reversing.
Camping alone, especially as a woman, can seem daunting. But it is doable- and you should do it. For me, it was empowering.