After spending most of 2016 on a series of cross country road trips I knew it wouldn't take long before I hopped a plane, train or automobile to get back out there. I live for adventures that involve the great outdoors and while I truly wasn't intending to spend much of this summer traveling (I have a book release to prepare for! Ahhhh!) it was inevitable, I suppose, that the bug would bite at some point and I'd have to get out there.
One of the things that really occurred to me on last year's road trips was the meditative feelings that are often induced while solo traveling. I'm finding that more and more I'm making last minute plans to go out traveling alone. I'm not getting all Into The Wild on you guys, but honestly, it's a whole lot easier to plan when it's just you and the world. There's not too much coordination required and double honestly: I kind of like traveling alone even more so when I'm intending to document the experience ... the creativity arises differently when it's just me, the camera, and the sights and sounds of nature.
A few weeks ago I decided to take one of these trips. I was already planning a visit to Los Angeles to see Ben play a few shows, and then in the meantime, a friend called and would be hosting a birthday party in Joshua Tree, so, well there in the middle of LA and Joshua Tree I'd have 3 days for solo trekking.
I rented a car, studied up on a route and with a plan of a day drive along the PCH followed by a day of canyon hiking and then a day of desert wandering I was ready to go.
I've gotten pretty good at knowing what to pack and how to prepare (and I've shared a lot of that with you here), however, it's a bit different when going at it alone.
It's so incredibly important to take stock of your intended journey to best prepare and to create a plan in case of an emergency too. Here’s how to get started.
1. Pack Maps & Guides, Charge Up and Inform Your Friends of Your Plans
It doesn't matter how experienced you are, out in the wild it's easy to get turned around. GPS and phone service is often non-existent so a paper map can be your best friend. Battery power can drain quickly (especially if you're using your phone GPS) so having a back up source is necessary too.
In regards to routes: there's all sorts of trail tracking websites that you can get recommendations from others that have gone before you. That's good to get some perspective on the landscapes (and the creatures) you'll be meeting along the way. Example: on this particular trip, while hiking Topanga Canyon I came face to face with a coyote for the first time... hi Wiley, don't take me out please. His presence was ominous however, I knew from what I'd read he likely wasn't very interested in me. And while you might be in the mood to go all Thoreau-rogue (and I highly recommend you do!) it's important that someone knows where to find you if you don't report in. A bee sting or a slip & fall might be nothing at home, but out in nature those things can make easy trekking difficult fast.
2. Protect Yourself, You Delicate Flower!
Conditions can change fast and you'll be glad you've got extra gear if the rain kicks up or the temperature drops at night.
Here's a few things you should never travel without:
- water, and lots of it (the recommendation is a gallon per day per person, however I always go with a bit more than that...) you never know when you'll need it to clean up with too, and if for some reason you stay out longer than planned extra water is the #1 necessity
- extra cotton T-shirts and lots of layers (if you're hiking distances you'll sweat and you'll want cotton to wick away the moisture)
- rain gear, and potentially mosquito repelling clothing or sprays (rain + heat is a mosquitos favorite condition!)
- a sun hat, to keep yourself face protected, but also to keep critters from getting in your hair (yep, that's real)
- plenty of sunscreen, SPF-rated lip balm and sunglasses with UV protection
3. Let the Creative Muse Flow
Okay, so now that we've talked about the practical things that will keep you healthy, and well alive...here's a few ways to invite in creativity while traveling alone. I (and so many others before me) find that time out in nature alone lends to brilliant creative moments. I always pack my cameras, extra polaroid film for quick moments, a journal and a favorite read. I'll bring some sort of mystical study materials, maybe a constellation map or the birth charts of my 3 closest friends... (when I get home I'll tell them all about the things I've learned about them!).
And if I'm being super real... I pack a pretty vintage dress and take a few photos documenting me... in my element. Why not?! You'll always have the memories, of course, however, the photos make for lasting keepsakes too (and who doesn't want that instagram moment?).
I'll be back again soon with more details on that solo journey. If you haven't yet been to Joshua Tree, it's my second trip this year and I'm kind of obsessed... Salvation Mountain and Santa Barbara were on this route too. More to come and thanks for following along my wanderful babes!
This feature has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BlueLizardSummer #CollectiveBias