Exploring new places is always exciting. Poking around websites and zooming in on maps makes me feel like I really know a place before I ever pull out of my driveway, but I still get a nervous pleasure when the adventure actually begins. When I travel alone, pulling into a new campground for the first time gives me a slight case of the jitters, especially if the location is remote.
Last summer I spent eight days relaxing at a cozy campground in the mountains where a small stream babbled and squirrels played chase games for hours on end. This tranquil setting provided me the place to relax, and, along with my own safety preparations, it was very easy to slip into full unwind mode.
Breaking Down Safety Needs
Years of RVing, and attending the school of hard knocks, have helped me to understand the three basic areas of safety that I can prepare for.
- Travel. There’s always a bit of concern about weather or traffic or that my motor home won’t run properly. And, since I don’t plan on taking a taxi, this is an area that requires me to plan ahead.
- Daily Activities. Whether I go for a hike in the morning or sit beside a campfire at night, accidents can happen. Becoming familiar with simple precautions helps a lot.
- Other People. It seems like there’s always one camp neighbor who is a little too interested in everyone else or a couple of kids who wander through others’ campsites making relaxation and safety a tricky balancing act.
Safety is what I’m really trying to accomplish, but emergency preparedness is certainly another way of looking at it. So, to get the most out of my Calgon-take-me-away camping trip, here are the things I do to prepare for each category.
On the Road: To and From My Destination
Everyone knows about vehicle inspection, but who really checks all the lights and looks at tire tread or even remembers to replace wipers when it’s not raining? Um, that would be me. And so should you.
You should also be sure to take a cell phone, and please, don’t forget the charger cable. Take the time to jot down a few phone numbers just in case. These will include roadside service and the campground that you’re headed to.
You’ll also want to take along some flares, a tool kit, a map, and for Pete’s sake, keep a spare key to the RV hidden on the outside of it somewhere.
Daily Activities: Life around the Park
I love to be active when I RV. Most days start with a brisk morning walk, preferably along a scenic or historic trail; that just gives it more purpose and helps me remember where I’m at, or more importantly, where I’m not at.
Before I leave home I make sure to fully stock my first aid kit and I keep it in the same place every time so I can always find it, even in the dark. The same goes for flashlights and fresh batteries.
By the end of a fun-filled day, the relaxing glow and warmth of a portable campfire helps my mind and body settle for the night.
My dad always had aloe vera plants in the house so now I keep a couple in my motor home just in case I get too close to the fire. Aloe has a very soothing quality if you burn yourself and the greenery indoors helps make it feel like home.
A few other things I do are to check the weather forecast, drink lots of water, and wear sun screen.
I don’t really know of any attacks on women while camping alone, but it’s something we have to think about. Here are my tips for safeguarding yourself.
- Bring a dog, they are great companions and will stay on alert for strangers both day and night. If you don’t have a dog, put up a “Beware of Dog” sign and string a gnarly looking leash across the ground and under your steps.
- Set up two lawn chairs under your awning to give the appearance that you are not alone.
- Introduce yourself to the camp host or park ranger so they know to keep an eye out for you.
- Carry pepper spray or a whistle.
- Never leave your door unlocked.
- Get to know your neighbors—the nice ones that is.
Remember to Have Fun
Chances are you’re braving the world on your own because you enjoy getting away and are maybe even a little tired of home. Then don’t go to an exciting new place and eat the same meals or keep the same daily routine.
Make it a point to meet new friends, learn a new recipe, take pictures of birds, exercise, or lay back and watch the clouds float by. Do all of the things you dreamed about when you planned the trip, just be sure and do them safely.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe told us that “Nothing is worth more than this day”, so don’t be afraid to get out there and live!
About the Author
Karen Ho Fatt is a freelance writer and avid outdoors woman who enjoys working and living in the scenic setting of her home in the Rockies. Karen also loves to travel. When she is not traveling you can find her writing about portable campfires and iron fire rings on her site, http://www.familyfirepit.com/.