I was recently asked this question by a passing hiker while camping on Mare Island in Vallejo, California. He was referring to the fact that (along with my fantastic yurt) the island was also home to a cemetery. The truth is, I had no anxiety regarding this fact—no offense to any ghosts out there—but his question brought up the broader issue at hand: what fears did I have about being out there and how could I overcome them?
Though nothing beats a glorious weekend spent outdoors (the smoky scent of the campfire, crisp mountain air, and sleeping beneath a blanket of stars) there are quite a few uncertainties that come along with these amazing components. I’ve experienced many of them myself. So, how do we get over these fears and enjoy all of that outdoorsy goodness?
Below, we’ve tackled three of the most common camping anxieties below and laid out solutions that can help you go from scared to stoked for your next camping adventure.
You want to feel more connected to nature, but not necessarily the critters who reside there. As someone who moved from Hawai’i to San Francisco, this issue is real. And I mean really real. I’d never seen a snake let alone a mountain lion or any of those other animals that actually have teeth and claws and are poisonous. Even the cute sweet animals, like deer and birds, can be pretty unnerving…
Though wildlife is a part of camping (you’re heading into the homes of these animals, after all!) there are precautions that you can take to, say, mostly hang with scampering squirrels and not a hungry bear. All you have to do is a little research. For example, find out what types of animals do reside in the location you’re headed to. Yay, Google! You can also head to your local REI or better yet, contact your Hipcamp host, to discover what gear, practices, and precautions should be taken to ensure your safety (and the safety of the wildlife) during your trip.
It can be quite a shock when you realize just what you’re leaving behind. Running water, thick blankets, flushing toilets! Learning to go “off the grid” and going on a hike instead of watching the Kardashians is incredible. But, if you’re still a bit anxious about sleeping on the ground instead of a bed, there is a solution for you.
Just because you’re camping doesn’t mean you have to give up all of life’s modern luxuries. For example, the Yurt that I stayed in provided us with beds, a stove, picnic tables, and an outhouse. Camping comes in a wide variety of forms, from gritty backpacking adventures to car camping to “glamping.” Find which one fits your comfort level best and go from there (though I do challenge you to turn off your phone—for at least part of the time you’re out there).
I have to say, this is the fear I relate to most. It’s much easier to give up trashy T.V. for a weekend than it is trusting that everyone who you’ll meet on the trail or at your campsite is safe and trustworthy.
There’s no sure-fire way to guarantee that you won’t run into someone a little, well, “sketchy” on your camping adventures. But, there are a few things you can do to lessen the liability. First, though I get the value of “solo” time (believe me – introvert here), camp with a buddy. Having someone with you decreases the likelihood of troubling situations and can also come in handy when facing other problems. For example, the time I lost my headlamp in the dark and would have dug around in my pack for hours if it hadn’t been for my friend’s iPhone flashlight.
The second solution? Use a site like Hipcamp and read reviews about the campsite, host, and others’ experiences there. Not only are the hosts being held accountable for your well-being but there’s a proven track record of good experiences that you can feel more assured by.
Camping is one of the best parts of life. There’s truly nothing better than heading outdoors, crossing ponds, climbing mountains, and exploring the wild. Don’t let anxieties get in your way. We hope that these easy-to-execute solutions will help you quell your fears and get outside for a grand adventure!
Born on Oahu, Hawai’i, Kellen McKillop has always experienced a life connected to the outdoors. From imagining herself as a mermaid at the beach to acting out Pocahontas on waterfall hikes, nature played a large role in her upbringing. After discovering her love of literature and receiving a B.A. in Creative Writing, she now finds joy in chronicling her adventures (and the lessons she learns while on them). When not typing away on her computer, you can find her cruising with cats, drinking strong Cortados, and hiking wherever she can—from urban routes to mountainous terrains.
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