Heading out on an adventure knowing you are in complete control of how fast you’ll go, what you’ll eat and when you’ll call it a night is exciting. There is no one to report to except yourself - so spend three hours at the lake if you’d like to. But, solo adventures can lead you into some dangerous situations, so prepare for the worst. Whether you’re a rookie at planning solo adventures or a pro, here are a few tips we’ve learned along the way:
Plan Ahead: The first step of any adventure is making the plans. Whether this is a long time bucket list item or a new adventure you just heard of, the internet is going to be your best friend. Research the location, the supplies you’ll need and how long it will take to complete. If you’re nervous about taking a solo trip, start off with something small like a day hike or fishing at a nearby pond. Be meticulous in your plans, since you’ll be the only one you can rely on. You won’t be able to lean on your buddy’s map reading skills or the fact that your mate always brings the first aid kit. You need to bring it all and know how to use it.
Share Your Plan with Someone: Share a detailed plan with a buddy or two and try to not stray too far from it. This plan should include a minimum of where you’re going, when you’re leaving, when you plan to be back and an exact time to panic if you’re not back (and what to do). This not only puts you more at ease but also worried family members or friends at ease as well. Having a panic time puts a plan in place in case something happened to you while you were gone. In your panic plan, lay out specific instructions on what to do if you’re not back at your set time. Should your friend call search and rescue, retrace your steps themselves or call your last lodging?
Brush Up On Your First Aid Skills and Emergency Training: While these are skills you should already know, being in a group gives people a false sense of security. Open up a first aid book and make sure you have all of your questions answered before leaving (especially if you’ll be out of cell service). Pack your first aid kit with everything you think you might need and keep it in a convenient location. In addition to first aid skills, learn more about the dangers specific to the area you are going to. What do I do if I see a black bear? How thin is the ice this time of year? What should I do if I get bit by a snake? While some of these scenarios are unlikely, it's important to think of what you would do ahead of time so you can react correctly.
Trust Your Gut: If you are feeling uneasy about going on, there’s no harm in turning around. If you spot bear tracks and feel like you should turn around or go a different way, just do it. The beautiful thing about solo adventures is that your plans are flexible. Wait for it to get lighter, push yourself so you’re back before dark, whatever you feel you need to do to keep yourself safe; trust your gut and take action.
With the right supplies and a detailed plan, a solo trip can be fulfilling and empowering. Have fun, get planning and get out there!