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  1. Default solo trip - lodging

    hi forum,

    i'm planning a solo trip west-east across the u.s., probably two weeks or a bit more all told. it's my first real go, though, so i'm getting a bit apprehensive about (cheap) lodging for the majority of the trip that's far away from friends and family. is it totally unreasonable for a single guy to consider camping out alone or sleeping in the car? safety is the major concern. any experience or advice on that front, and as compared to just hostelling the whole way?

    found a bit on this in earlier threads--apologies if i missed an identical post.

    thanks! great site...

  2. #2

    Default cheap lodging

    It is okay to car camp and such at places that are safe or at campgrounds. Most campgrounds, other than those at national forest areas, have shower facilities available. Just remember to be safe and if something doesnt feel right about the situation or area, leave immediately. Check around the forum for old posts regarding this and you will get many different opinions on the matter.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Plenty of options

    Welcome to the RTA forum!

    Camping can be a great option if you are by yourself. I've certainly never been in a camping situation where I felt less than completely safe. Plus, you can walk around and stay active after a long day couped up inside a car.

    I've never been a big fan of sleeping in a car, except in a real pinch. However, that's more of a personal comfort issue for me than a safety issue. Plenty of people sleep in their cars, just stay in a well lit area like a truck stop, and get permission if you are on private property.

    Hostels are another good option, espeically if you want to stay in the middle of an urban area. I personally find them to be a good option if you are a solo traveler, but not everyone enjoys the whole shared room experience.

  4. Default Camping solo

    Hello mackay67,

    I can't really count up the times I've camped somewhere solo. I actually prefer camping while traveling solo than staying in a motel, since you usually have more interaction with people than being locked into 4 walls. Campgrounds are cool with a single setting up a camp, particularly since they're pretty sure you're not going to be staying up until 2 am drinking and playing loud music.

    Traveling solo has good points and bad -- no one else you need to negotiate a schedule with, and you get to set the specific route and direction you're going. But then, you have to be more careful about fatigue since no one else is along to spell you on driving. (I notice I take more breaks from driving if I'm by myself.)

    For camping as a solo I had a small backpacking-type tent that went up pretty quickly (3 poles and 2 stakes, typically) with a pad and a bag inside, and a small stove to boil water on or grill up something for dinner. Set up and take down was pretty fast -- and a fair number (50%?) of campgrounds have a shower facility.

    From a safety standpoint, being in an established campground has some pluses -- basically you're in with a bunch of other people, usually families. So if something goes wrong you can shout and other folks will hear you pretty quickly. You still need to make sure you lock up valuables etc in the car if you go off for the day on a hike or something -- but that's the same I've heard if you're hostelling.

    Now, for a solo camping story -- I was once on a solo car trip which took me on California 36 which is 2 lane winding road over the Shasty-Trinty mountains from near Eureka on the Pacific Coast to Redding in the California Central Valley. This was in early spring with a few patches of snow way back in the shadows and mid week. It was starting to get late in the day and the map said that there was a Forest Service campground up a couple of miles, so I pulled into the campground looking for a place to spend the night.

    CA-36 isn't a really heavily travelled route mid week in the spring. I hadn't seen another car for some time. And the campground was empty -- tattered and faded announcements flapping on the bulletin board, fallen twigs and branches crackling under my shoes as I walked around, pine needles covering the picnic tables etc. Nothing but silence and the wind in the trees. I made up some hot water on the stove and had some soup over about hour or so while I looked around. The theme from the Twlight Zone was playing in the back of my mind. There wasn't even traffic on the road. The sun was starting to go down, shadows from the tall trees were starting to slant across the deserted camp sites , and with thoughts of an emergency evacation being called or something going on.... I got a little spooked.

    The map said there was another campground about 2 miles farther down, so I loaded the stove back in the car and drove down to that campground. There was a Forest Service ranger truck just pulling out as I pulled in. I pulled alongside and my first question was "What's going on? Are these campgrounds open??"

    The ranger laughed and just said "Nope. It's just that you're the only camper in the 4 campgrounds I look over. Here, let me turn the water on for you...." We chatted a couple of minutes while he unlocked the water valve and turned on the spigots for me, waved away my question about a camping fee, and wished me a good evening.

    Having my hyperactive imagination put to rest, it actually was pretty nice. Lots of trees, a river next to the campground, and lots of quiet..... I think I heard one car go by on the road before I left the next morning. I put up the tent (had my pick of campsites...), had a leisurely dinner, stretched out and read for a while, and had a good night's sleep. Next morning I had breakfast, packed everything back up and headed out.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Twilight Zone for sure!

    I love your story, Larrison!

    Yes, camping solo is safe. Many of us women do it, too. If we can, you can. Just follow good common-sense rules. I'm not as adventurous as Larrison though. While I love to camp in isolated areas when I'm with other people, I'm hesitant to do it solo. I gravitate to busier campgrounds where help is a loud scream away. However, I have never seen or been aware of any situation where someone needed help. I'm sure it happens but it's pretty rare.

    I also prefer camping when road-tripping, whether solo or with others, but especially when I'm solo. For much the same reasons as Larrison. There's nothing more depressing than a hotel room alone at night, imho. However, at a campground, I can pitch my tent, talk to my neighbors, take a walk around the campground and strike up conversations with other people. Not only is the feeling of community nice, but it's a good way to stretch your legs after a day of driving.

    Larrison's story reminds me of my own Twilight Zone moment. Let's just say that if you're in an isolated area, staying up late reading when everybody else has already crawled into bed, make sure you have alternative lighting besides the propane lantern handy. When the propane lantern dies on you and you don't have another light handy, and you've been reading Stephen King's "The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon" that is about a creepy bear-like monster in the woods, and the pitch-dark blackness is so dark you can't even find the tent much less the zipper so you can crawl in and the natural sounds of the forest sound much louder than normal....well, things can become intensely scary pretty dang quick!

  6. Default thanks

    thanks a ton for the tips and the stories. it's helpful even just to hear that it's not as ridiculous as some skeptical friends and family members suspect!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Well, I've been called crazy before...

    ...but never ridiculous! :-)

    Check out the Roadtrip Planning link in the green bar at the top and then scroll down to "Solo". You'll get a lot of other good advise there.

    Editor's Note: There are three threads, chock-full of solo roadtripping advice:
    Jillian's slightly irreverent look at the practice (speaking of being crazy...)
    More of Judy's tips and suggestions
    First-time solo roadtripper
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 05-31-2007 at 03:53 PM. Reason: Added links for more resources

  8. Default Just had to keep this thread going

    I'm planning a three week trip from Florida to Colorado in Sept and plan on solo tent camping along the way. While it's a little scary to contemplate, I can't wait for the adventure. Reading through these posts has stiffened my resolve and convinced me that I'm not crazy!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    We're glad this thread has helped to calm your fears and proven your sanity!

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