10 Essential Safety Tips for Solo Camping with a Toddler
10 Essential Safety Tips for Solo Camping with a Toddler
Insights for parents taking off on the road with little kids.
By: Dom Carson
I am no stranger to solo adventuring. Back in 2013, when I had just moved to a new city and brought a new little rescue dog with me, I used to head out to the mountains alone with him to reset and feel some calm. This progressed to solo hikes in the Canadian Rockies and solo camping trips with him. It became something that I was not only okay with, but something that I looked forward to.
I wasn’t always like this though. For most of my life, I was very dependent on other people and lacked the confidence to do things alone. My dog pushed me out of that, and our adventures filled me with a sense that I could do anything.
Fast forward, I have a husband, another dog, and an incredible 2.5-year-old daughter. For the last six years, my husband was an athlete and worked away in the U.S. 20-25 days a month from September to June. So, the dogs and I would keep going on our solo adventures. I had my daughter in the midst of the pandemic and because we couldn’t really see anyone, I would frequently take off to the woods out west of our property and find my solace there with her.
When it came to camping with her though, I didn’t have that same sort of confidence. I waited until my husband was home from work trips to take her camping and that was fine. Until it wasn’t. Until I wanted to go more than he was home.
She was a year and a half old when I managed to work up the courage to take her and our dog for a solo tent camping trip. It was wonderful and freeing and reminded me that the only limitations I had were the ones my mind had placed on me. That being said, that night I wished for a locked door between us and the outside world. We live in a very bear-dense area, and I don’t think I slept much that night.
Shortly after, we purchased our 2022 Winnebago Micro Minnie 2100BH and I haven’t looked back (read more about what I use our travel trailer for). We have solo trips under our belt, trips with other moms and toddlers, and this is truly my confident adventure mom era.
Insights for Camping as a Solo Parent
Below I list 10 tips and tricks to help you navigate your solo travels with confidence and to ensure the safety of both you and your little one when you’re out on those unforgettable adventures.
1. Share Your Itinerary
Before setting off on your trip, always inform a trusted friend or family member about your travel plans. Share details such as your route, destinations, and estimated return date. Regularly update them on your progress, so someone knows when to expect you back.
This precaution provides an added layer of safety and ensures that someone is aware of your whereabouts. Important: if you pivot and change plans- update that person!
2. Research Your Destinations
Thoroughly research the areas you plan to visit to familiarize yourself with potential risks and hazards. Check for weather conditions, local laws, and safety regulations. Be aware of any wildlife or geographical concerns, like dangerous hiking trails or extreme weather patterns.
This knowledge will help you plan accordingly and make informed decisions while on the road. I always like to know what amenities are close, like parks and playgrounds or safe places to swim to change things up and have some activities planned that I know she will enjoy.
3. Master Map Reading Skills
While modern technology has made navigation easier, it's crucial to carry physical maps and know how to read them. Familiarize yourself with the route and surrounding areas before you set off. This knowledge will prove invaluable if you encounter any connectivity issues or need to take an alternative route.
Bonus: My toddler will spend hours looking at maps, so I always have them on hand to occupy her if I need to cook or do something.
4. Create Comprehensive Checklists
Prepare detailed packing checklists for each destination or activity you plan to undertake. Include essential items such as life jackets, camping gear, and child safety equipment.
Checklists ensure you don't overlook any important items and help streamline your packing process, reducing the chances of forgetting crucial safety equipment.
I also have checklists geared towards all of the trailer things. (Click here to check out my blog post and save my checklists on hooking up, setting up, and taking down your trailer.) I also carry all of our manuals with me, so that if something goes awry, I can try to troubleshoot it.
5. Carry Safety Devices (and bring a dog, if possible)
Invest in safety devices such as a Garmin InReach or a similar satellite communicator. These devices allow you to stay connected even in remote areas without cellular coverage. In case of an emergency, you can send distress signals and seek assistance promptly.
Additionally, ensure you have a well-stocked first aid kit and familiarize yourself with its contents and usage. Also, like I mentioned, we live in a predator heavy area, so I always have bear spray on me. My dogs also act as a safety device for me. I have also felt safer with my dogs, and I am confident that my retriever wouldn’t let a stranger anywhere near us.
6. Enhance RV Safety
Make necessary modifications to your trailer or motorhome to enhance safety for your toddler. Install bunk railings or place bumpers on the mattress under the sheet to prevent accidental falls during sleep or playtime.
Ensure all cupboards and drawers are securely latched to avoid any potential hazards while on the move. Regularly inspect the RV for any maintenance or repair needs. We have a door that opens from the outside into her bunk area, so I always triple check that that is locked at all times.
7. Practice Online Safety
Maintain a low profile on social media and refrain from sharing specific details about your travel plans before or during your trip. Broadcasting your whereabouts to strangers can compromise your safety. Save the updates and pictures for when you return, allowing you to enjoy the journey without unnecessary risks.
8. Teach Your Toddler Safety Measures
Empower your toddler with essential safety knowledge. Teach them your phone number, address, and how to seek help in case of an emergency. Role-play different scenarios to ensure they understand what to do in unfamiliar situations.
Additionally, establish rules for staying close and not talking to strangers, instilling a sense of caution in your child. Unfortunately, one thing that I thought was important to do is prep her that I might talk as if her Dad is with us and just waiting in the truck or trailer if we are out alone and I feel uncomfortable. I would prefer people not to know that we are alone sometimes.
I have also prepped her a lot on predator safety, and what to do in case we get bears coming into camp or what to keep an eye out for.
9. Lower Your Expectations
This is not safety related, but still something I talk about a lot. I find parenting outdoors to be much easier than parenting inside, which is why I will always choose to go on an adventure if I have the opportunity. Yes, it might be hard, your toddler probably won't sleep (mine doesn’t really), but it will likely also be hard at home.
The memories that we make together when we are out far outweigh any hard moments that we have when we explore. So just go for it.
10. Trust Your Instincts
Above all, trust your instincts and practice situational awareness throughout your journey. If a place or situation feels unsafe, listen to your gut and it might be best to move on.
Solo traveling with your toddler (and dogs!) can be an incredible adventure, as long as safety remains your top priority. By implementing these ten essential safety tips, such as sharing your plans, conducting thorough research, carrying safety devices, and teaching your child important safety measures, you can have a more secure and worry-free journey.
Remember, while exploring new places and creating cherished memories, it's crucial to stay vigilant, trust your instincts, and make smart decisions to safeguard yourself and your little one. So, buckle up, embark on your adventure, and enjoy the incredible experience of solo traveling with your toddler (while prioritizing safety every step of the way). And bonus tip: bring a tripod to take some photos or record some videos on your phone so you can remember the experience forever! You got this!
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