Going on a solo car camping trip can be a great way to have an adventure and enjoy some time alone. Camping by yourself is similar in a lot of ways to camping with others, but as female solo travelers, we need to take in a few other considerations, specifically safety on the road.
Plan your next road trip with this ultimate car camping guide for female solo travelers.
Where to Go and Where to Camp
First, let’s talk about where you’re going. This will influence where you plan to camp each night.
With car camping, you can go anywhere! That’s the beauty of it. Feel like a weekend trip to the local campground? You can! Or perhaps a cross country road trip? Sounds like an adventure!
When you decide where you’re going, think about where you plan to park at night. If this is your first car camping trip, I highly recommend that you stay in campgrounds. There are other places to camp and sleep overnight, like truck stops, parking lots, and rest stops, but I wouldn’t start out with those. Work up your car camping skills and then decide if you want to branch out to other parking options.
If you’re doing a multi-day car camping trip, you’ll need to plan out your logistics. Where are you planning to be each day? Book your campground reservations out ahead of time if you can and try to arrive before the office closes. This will give you peace of mind to know that you have a place to camp each night. The last thing you want is to arrive at your destination at night and not be able to find a place to camp.
Also, ask for a campsite close to a bathroom, so you won’t have to walk far in the middle of the night.
Your Camping Set up
What is your camping set up like in your car? Are you able to put the seats down or will some seats need to be removed? I removed the back seats from my car and put a full bed across the back. This didn’t end up giving me much storage space, so I put one seat back in and used any remaining space in front and behind the seat for storage.
Plan out the layout of your camping set up, especially if you will be in the car for more than a few days. Think about where you will store your camping gear and how you will access it. Everything needs to have a place. Always put things back where they go, or you risk losing items forever. I shoved my phone charger somewhere in my car one day in a hurry. Never found it again.
What to Bring
Now that you know where you’re going and what your camping set up will be like, you get to start packing for your trip! This is the most fun and possibly most difficult part, if you are a chronic over-packer like me. If you are fairly minimal, you got this!
I have a whole post about car camping essentials, from clothing to power banks to sleeping bags to cooking gear. Check it out here to see the list.
Here are the categories to keep in mind while you are packing:
- Sleeping supplies – sleeping bag, pillow, window shades
- Power essentials – power banks, battery packs, cords
- Cooking supplies and food – stove top, pans, utensils
- Sanitary items – towels, body wipes, dry shampoo
- Fun essentials – camp chair, hammock, speaker, books
Check the weather before your trip to get a range of what the temperature will be like. Even if you think it will be cold or warm every day, always pack for a variety of weather conditions. Save space by bringing only clothes that can be layered.
If you’ll be traveling for a while, have quarters on hand for doing laundry at campgrounds or laundromats. You could also bring a fold up bowl and clothesline to wash your clothes by hand.
What to Eat
Cooking on a car camping trip is just like cooking on a tent camping trip. Your fridge is a cooler and all of your cooking is done outdoors. As a solo camper, you might need to do some planning with your meals. Most food comes in large packages that can take up a lot of your precious space. Any food you buy will have to be consumed fairly quickly, or it could spoil, especially in warm temperatures.
I tend to keep a lot of snacks on hand, including meal/snack bars, fruit, fruit pouches, and peanut butter. Check out this post for more car camping snacks.
If it’s raining, or you’re hanging out in your car and preparing food, like say making a sandwich, be careful not to drop food in the car. Remember… the car is your bed and you really don’t want to find pieces of food in your sleeping bag when you go to sleep.
You also really want to be careful about keeping food sealed, especially if you are in bear country. Follow any rules from your campground for food storage in areas with bears.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you can’t always break out the camping stove if you are camping in cities. You may end up eating out more than usual, so factor this into the budget.
Here are some other Gander posts for ideas on what to eat while camping:
- Three Healthy Camping Food Brands
- The 5 Best Hiking Snacks
- Delicious Snacks for Your Next Hiking Trip
- Ultimate Guide to Eating Healthy While Camping
How to Stay Safe
Overall, my car camping experiences have been very safe, but as a female solo traveler, you can’t be too careful. Here are some tips for safety on the road:
- Let a friend or family member know where you are going.
- Never ever tag your current location on social media when you are alone. Post a few days behind.
- Always be aware of your surroundings. If you feel uncomfortable anywhere, don’t hesitate to go somewhere else. You’ll enjoy the trip more when you feel at ease.
- Carry some sort of self-defense. I carry a taser, pepper spray, a panic alarm, and a striking stick when I camp. I was gifted these items by a concerned family member (thank you!). It’s not necessary to have all of these items, but some type of alarm and defense is always good. Your car alarm counts as defense too.
- Keep items hidden in your car as much as possible. Never leave electronics or valuables visible.
- ALWAYS (I repeat, ALWAYS) cover your windows while you sleep, even in campgrounds or other typically safer areas.
How to Stay Clean
Finally, let’s get to the part where we talk about how to keep yourself feeling clean and refreshed on your car camping trip.
First off, I know you’ve been thinking it, so let’s get it out in the open. Where is a girl supposed to pee when camping in a car? Here are some considerations:
- Carry a portable toilet or porta potty. I’ve done this before, thinking I would use it. In the 15 weeks over the last year that I have camped out of a car, I’ve only used a portable potty twice. I ended up taking it out of my car to have the extra space.
- Use bathrooms at campgrounds. This is my preferred method. I camp close to bathrooms and haven’t had a problem.
- Carry a large cup for emergencies. Make sure it’s got a wide enough opening, or you will spill. You do not want pee on your bed. Honestly, I would even put the cup in a bag for extra spillage protection. Also, turn on a light (make sure your window covers are in) because peeing in the dark doesn’t always work out well.
- Pee outside. If you’re in a remote area and this is okay, go for it. Just be aware of your surroundings as this is a very vulnerable situation to be in alone. If you are in a campground or RV park, walk to a bathroom or use a cup. Peeing outside is definitely not okay at an RV park.
Next, let’s talk about showering. Campgrounds have showers and this usually works out just fine. Carry a shower bag with all your supplies and wear shower shoes. In between showers, use body wipes, like Ventures Wipes and dry shampoo if needed.
Another option is to have a gym membership with locations around the country. If you’re on a long-distance camping trip, this really comes in handy. You can grab a workout and a shower. Plus, there is usually wifi.
There you have it! Now you are prepared to head out on your own solo car camping adventure. Car camping is a great way to explore your local area or road trip across the country. Whatever your adventure, keep this guide in mind as a female solo traveler.