Billy big-nuts, billy no-mates or Bilbo Baggins? Whatever your jam, travelling solo can be a truly rewarding and life-enriching experience. There are, however certain precautions you should take to ensure you stay safe and out of trouble.
1. Brief Someone On Your Plans
It is always an excellent idea to let a responsible friend or family member know of your plans when you are travelling – this is especially true if you’re wandering off the beaten path or going on a solo adventure. By letting someone back home know where you’re going, when you’ll be back and how to contact you; you are dramatically reducing your chances of being stranded without help. If someone knows your whereabouts and details of your trip, they will be able to better help you if you end up in a sticky situation.
2. Do Your Research
It’s essential that you familiarise yourself with the area so that you are prepared for various eventualities before you enter the wild. This includes creating a 3D image in your mind of the map (a really useful skill to learn) as well as keeping a close eye on the weather. You will essentially become an amateur meteorologist. Know what flora and fauna are present in the area too. Both from a safety awareness perspective, but also for your own fun and interest.
3. Foolproof Communication
Before you set off into the land of the unknown, it’s a good idea to sort out at least one form of foolproof communication. No, your regular mobile does not count (trust me… been there, done that). Instead, equip yourself with either a satellite phone or a personal locator beacon (PLB). They are a bit of an investment but hey, it’s your safety we’re talking about here! Some police stations also rent out PLB’s so that’s a viable option too.
4. Bring First Aid
It is essential that you pack a first aid kit whenever you’re heading off into the bush. It doesn’t take up much room if packed well and can save your life in dire circumstances. The contents of your first aid kit are personal choice, however I would recommend including Band-Aids, antiseptic, snake bandages, a Swiss army knife, fire starters and an electrolyte replacement powder. Make sure you know how to use everything in your first aid kit – bandages won’t be so helpful if you don’t know how to use them properly!
5. Start Small
There is no harm in aiming for the stars, but for your first solo, off-grid trip, it can be helpful if you choose a location that is a little more populated. This will ensure that someone will come across you and can help you if things take a turn for the worst. National parks are a safer bet than state forests as they are maintained and regulated by rangers. Once you get the hang of things, you’ll be more confident and better prepared to take on harder challenges.