Who said you have to have someone to travel with in order to enjoy a trip? More and more people are finding they enjoy themselves once they venture out and take that trip when no one can enjoy it with them. I used to think the idea of solo backpacking, solo hiking, or any kind of solo travel sounded just sad.
But what do you do when no one has the time to go with you? You have two choices, go alone or don’t go.
Extroverts dilemma with solo backpacking, hiking, and travel
I have really liked the idea of solo travel and solo backpacking for a while, but have been slow in actually going. September of last year, as in September 2015, I was finally completely outfitted with all the gear needed to backpack by myself. But it wasn’t until last weekend that I actually went. I have been on many day hikes alone, but never on a solo backpacking trip. I have camped by myself, but never deep in the backcountry.
One reason for this, is I am extroverted. And extroverts like to be around people. So when I had the choice of a solo backpacking trip or a long day hike with friends on Sunday, I went with friends. Being extroverted is also why I thought the idea of solo backpacking or hiking sounded so depressing. I said things like, “The view is much more enjoyable with someone to share it.” But why does having the view all to yourself sound bad? You can learn to love having it all to yourself.
I do not have a Saturday-Sunday weekend. So if I want to go backpacking or camping I either have to take a day off of work or go alone. To enjoy the outdoors, I don’t believe we should spend our lives waiting on other people. With this belief, I choose to go hiking, backpacking, or traveling alone.
There are some safety issues with going alone. There is the risk of wild animals, getting lost, or hurting yourself and having to wait for help to arrive. And unfortunately as a woman, I also have to be concerned with the crazy creepers too. But if we choose to live our lives in fear, will we really live it?
Don’t forget to make noise
When hiking in grizzly country, solo hiking and solo backpacking is discouraged. Talking with your hiking partner is a one of the best ways to not surprise a bear. So if you are hiking alone, you might try singing or simply talking to yourself. I talk to my dog, and there is no shame in that.
When I backpacked in Montana, my friend, Lagena, and I either got tired or ran out of things to talk about. We periodically sang “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands.” (Sorry if I got that song stuck in your head.)
This last weekend I thought I heard a bear outside my tent. I hate to admit that it probably was just an armadillo. Because I was alone and reading quietly in my tent, I switched to my audio book to make noise.
I want my concealed carry but don’t have it yet. But if you are not a gun person, or are hiking in a national park or places that ban them, there are other ways to arm yourself. Over the weekend, I brought my very protective dog, Caddie.
I also carried pepper spray. In bear country, you can carry bear spray, which is stronger than pepper spray. I also hiked with my trekking poles, which also make nice weapons.
Give an itinerary
If you are solo backpacking or hiking, you should always let someone know where you are going and when to expect you back. If you live alone, you can give a quick text or call to let the person you notified know you made it back.
National park backcountry permits make you fill out an itinerary so they know where you should be throughout your trip. It is good to do the same with loved ones if a permit is not required.
Enjoy the break from others
OK, now that the I have stated some safety issues, don’t forget to enjoy yourself. As an extrovert I enjoy being around people. But I also enjoy being around myself. You’ve heard the phrases, “me time,” or “downtime.” I love my downtime. So if no one no one can join me, I take advantage of this.
This last weekend on my solo backpacking trip, I set up camp in the backcountry around 4 p.m. If I were backpacking with friends, we would have build a fire and talked around it. Now don’t get me wrong, I would have loved that. But I also loved crashing in my tent with my book too.
Take the time to reflect on yourself
When you are hiking and backpacking alone, you have a lot of time to think. Don’t waste this time. You can pray, spend time alone with God, reflect on what makes you happy, meditate on a problem, or anything that helps you grow as a person. I personally love to thank God for his beautiful creation.
Being alone builds confidence
As an extrovert, I bounce my thoughts and ideas off of others. I constantly take in others’ opinions into my decision making. But in solo backpacking or hiking, I have to make the decisions all on my own, and I like that.
The more you travel or do activities on your own, the more you have to rely on just yourself. You rely on yourself for entertainment, direction, and support. Learning this will build your character, as well as build your confidence in yourself.