Camping Alone – Protected by a Code of Ethics

camping alone

An upgrade to a small (really small) motorhome has some appeal.

This summer I camped for the first time alone. I have camped for years and I love being outside all day long. I love hiking, a hammock and good book, building a fire… I love rambling the day away with no chore other than cooking and eating.

Now, to be clear, I don’t do interior camping. That is “true” camping in the eyes of serious hikers and canoeists.  I do the lowly car camping. But for me, the now solo camper, it’s safer than going off into the woods alone.

But is it safe?

As a solo woman traveler, I wonder how safe it is to live in a nylon house. There truly is nothing physical protecting me. What is protecting me is a code of ethics that keeps all campgrounds safe. People respect one another and their gear. Simple as that.

However, almost 20 years ago now, I experienced that code broken when some kids stole our cooler. The value of the loss wasn’t the issue. It was the breach of the code that was appalling. It was unheard of. How could they do such a thing?

So I have this in mind when I think of traveling and camping alone. The code only has to be broken once for an unpleasant result. Ultimately, I think that my ideal would be to camp using a small mobile home – one similar to what we traveled in as a family during the long-term trip in Europe.

white, vw pop up camper with father and son standing in front, camping alone

Renting a Motorhome or Camper

While camping is inexpensive, renting a motorhome can be quite expensive. However, if you go on the off-season it can be affordable. When we camped our way through Europe, the VW Pop-up cost the same for 10 months in the off season as it did for a few weeks in peak season. Amazing!

I’m hoping to make it to the UK again this fall. Last time I took Britrail everywhere, from Cambridge to the Lake District (beautiful, part of the National Trust) to Bath and then London. This year I’d like to explore more National Trust lands. I’m sure that, especially in the fall, there will be plenty of motorhomes for hire that are available at a good price.  So I’ll look into this and, if I make this trip, it will be a completely different Britain that I experience.

  • Livingandlearning

    I have not yet found a website that analyzes camp grounds by safety.

  • Janice Waugh

    Oh my!!! Yes, the warthogs would be a bit of an issue for me as well. Well done!

  • Ashlyn George

    I camped on my own in Botswana near Chobe National park. And although it seemed intimidating at first, it actually was great and everyone else was very helpful when they realized I was on my own! I think it just depends where you are and where you choose to camp. Although, I admit I was a little scared when the warthogs wandered past my tent… 😉

  • Sandra O’RourkeGlynn

    never heard of Elder Hostel, I must google that

  • Sandra O’RourkeGlynn

    In Ireland anyone I know who camps has been robbed at some point, the sites arent well supervised. I camped in Germany and Australia and it was a great experience but I did not do it alone and would not. My son camped in Ireland last summer and yes again he was robbed. Everything stolen, everything including the tent.

  • NannerGoes

    I have done quite a bit of solo camping (only in Canada and the US) and have never had any issues thankfully. My version of “car camping” is on my motorbike, so I don’t even have the security of a car to lock myself into. I always choose a site near families or couples, and avoid the groups of singles who like to party. (Though I do enjoy meeting new people and sharing a few drinks and stories, I have decided that camping solo isn’t the right time to do this). Next year I will attempt my first backpacking/camping trip solo – and I hope it goes well!

  • jet

    I agree – it is not safe for a women to backpack and camp alone. I have had more than one bad experience traveling alone in the woods and am very lucky to have escaped without harm. I

  • BeerMouse

    It depends I guess. I carefully watch the campground and the people on it. Most of the time I’m ok with what I see and people are really nice. But I’ve on occasion ditched my camping reservation in favor of a motel room a few miles away because as a single woman i didn’t feel safe. In one instance I heard afterwards that it was a good decision after all.

  • Lucy

    I’ve thought about solo camping here in the US but have never done it. I don’t feel completely safe about the idea. Also I don’t think I’d back pack alone. Car camping or the small RV seem like a safer solo option for me. I notice this is an older article, has anyone done solo camping since this was published? Any stories to share?

  • Christine

    I’ve camped as a solo woman hundreds of nights in a variety of campgrounds throughout the U.S. Never have had any safety issues. I figure, most people are good people.

  • Patricia Havis

    I felt very safe in the Texas state parks that I have car/tent camped in by myself. I had my dog with me but she is deaf and would probably just wag her tail and ask for belly rubs from anybody who might approach the campsite. I found everybody to be respectful of each other’s “space”.

  • OLEF641

    Car camping is where you park right at your tent site, unload your stuff, and set up camp right there — nearly always the parking space is right up against the tent site. Sometimes you have to park a short distance away. What it means in general is that you can take more stuff ’cause you don’t have to shlep it very far. A halfway sort of camping between backpacking and RVing (which I don’t consider actual camping) 😉

  • Nick Smith

    What is ‘car camping’? You mean camping in a camper van/RV?

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  • Ruth Kozak

    I suppose it depends just where you are planning to camp. I know I’ve camped solo many times in Greece with absolutely no problems.  Just loved every experience — and I’ve been to a lot of different campsite there, last time was in 2010 when I camped on Naxos.  Here in my own home country, Canada, though I’m not so certain I’d try it although I know friends who have. In Greece, the camp sites are well supervised. Some here are a bit remote.

  • Tony

    Glad I found this link for the solo camper. I’m retired and want to travel around the country May thru October visiting campgrounds alone. I’m sure I will get a few tips on solo camping. Thanks

  • Jeff M

    Even as a male I’d be afraid to camp solo. I know there’s a code of ethics, but who’s to say everyone follows them? Maybe I’m just paranoid.

  • solotraveler

    Anyone who want to contact Peter about the RV lifestyle can email me at and I’ll forward your email to Peter.

  • peter flooks

    Hi.I am very soon to start a new life living in my rv,in England.I would like to contact others that are doing the same!Please email me.

  • Steven

    Really enticing to live in an RV. However, I think it’s best to live in an RV if you’re single. At least there are no responsibilities yet, you only have yourself to take care of, you can go anywhere you want to. After this, then maybe you can think of settling down and for good.

  • Harry van Bommel

    Does Elder Hostel provide a safe alternative to solo camping? That is, do they have camping programs as well as staying in chateaus in France? Also for solo camping, it may help to inform the park staff that you are alone and wouldn’t mind a drive by once in a while as well as getting to know your neighbours a bit so they can keep an eye out. A little like ‘neighbourhood watch’ except in a campground! People in campgrounds are wonderfully protective of each other.

  • solotraveler

    Wow. I didn’t realize that you’ve been on the road that long. Thanks!

  • lee

    ohhhhh driving on the left………………

  • Joei Carlton Hossack

    Finally something I can really sink my teeth into – solo camping – although I have to confess that I have an RV. I have been an RVer for 22 years, 18 years as a solo RVer and 13 years as a full-time RVer. My first camping trip was 2-1/2 years through Great Britain, most of Europe, parts of Africa and North America looking for a home. I LOVE IT. If you have any questions you can e-mail me for advice. Joei