It’s a great big world out there and there’s no end to the number of adventures to be had. While some exploits definitely require a group (white-water rafting, anyone?) others can be had all by your lonesome. And it can be hard to tell which adventures are best tackled alone. There’s definitely no reason you can’t wander the PCT all on your own, but these are the questions you should ask yourself before solo adventure traveling.
Are you equipped?
No matter want kind of escapade you’re about to embark on, this is a crucial one. From hiking to mountain climbing to kayaking the Amazon, you need to seriously consider your own outdoor capabilities. How adept are you in the wild? Are you able to handle any problems that arrive with aplomb, experience, and knowledge?
Sure, throwing a pack together and heading off into the wilderness sounds like a lot of fun. And a 3‑month trek without any previous outdoor experience sounds great on paper. But in reality, it’s mostly a great way to wind up dead. If you’re about to head out on your first extended trip, have a friend or two in place who actually know what they’re doing to help keep you on track. Once they’ve shown the ropes the first time around you can consider tackling the world alone on your own after that.
Are you an introvert?
One of the biggest questions you need to ask yourself is how comfortable you are with only yourself as company. Introverts often leap at the chance to spend a few days, weeks or even months to themselves. Extroverts, on the other hand, tend to go stir-crazy with no one around to bounce their thoughts around.
If you’re the type who enjoys having conversations, the loneliness you’ll encounter on the trail could be crippling if you choose to go it alone. On the other hand, even introverts need human companionship every once in a while. Know your threshold for how long you can spend on your own.
How awesome are your friends?
Additionally, we all have those friends that, while we love them unconditionally, we can really only stand to be in their presence for a few hours before we want to run away screaming. Don’t take that friend with you on a group adventure.
In fact, you should probably do a mental rundown on your entire circle of friends and estimate how long you could spend with them before it comes to blows. If your friends are all introverts you’ll probably be ready to dispense of each other’s company after a day or two on the trail. Do you have a friend whose mouth doesn’t seem to have an off button? You probably don’t want to take him/her either.
Do you need a safety net?
The best part of taking a group trip is the built-in safety net your friends provide. If something horrible goes down, heaven forbid, hopefully, one of your buddies will have enough wits about him to ensure you stay safe and get the help you need. When alpine climbing, for instance, if an avalanche occurs and you get buried you’ll feel a little better knowing your friend might be able to get help while you wait.
Do you want to test yourself?
Solo adventure traveling is a fantastic way to test what you’re really made of.
There’s always danger when you head out from the comforts of your home. But there’s no sense in holding back entirely. If you truly want to know what you’re able to accomplish, maybe you need to head out solo and see what kind of trouble you can handle. It’s quite a thrill to handle things on your own if all goes south. However, we’ll say again, always research and prepare as best you can ahead of time.
Above all, soloing it or going with friends is a personal and often situational choice; there’s no solid right answer here. Consider your limits, your desires, and your abilities. After that, decide on the right course of action for each trip you take. Eventually, you’re probably going to want both experiences under your belt.