Why travel solo? Is solo overlanding dangerous? Can I overland solo as a female? Let me tell you about my recent trip through the Canadian Rockies. Hope this post will give you some inspiration to get out freely as you wish!
My summer was filled with joyful group trips of over 10 vehicles. As cold weather approaches, I decided to embark on a solo road trip through the Canadian Rockies. The only plan was to meet up with my girl and her boyfriend in Banff. While the journey to and back would be freely mine through the backroads in the Canadian Rockies.
How to stay safe during remote solo overlanding?
I know sometimes we all say how much we love being alone. However, there is a difference between alone at home and alone on the road, especially in remote areas like in the mountains.
My parents were all kinds of unease about me going out alone – yes, even after the whole Australian trip.
I’m sharing a few safety steps that I used during this trip and hope it will help you.
A good map system – know where you are going
By “knowing” I don’t mean to make your trip totally predictable. What’s the fun of exploring, right? However, you should still know at least the basics of the type of terrain and possible wile animal encounter in the places you are heading.
I’ve been using Gaia GPS for all of my offroad tracking and route planning. The premium membership enables the Backroad Mapbook layer which is by far the most in-depth public map for Canada.
Gaia’s premium members are also able to upload your own maps. I recently tried a new map layer from Top Notch Navigator. It’s a map made by a guy in BC. Currently, you can only purchase directly from him and he will send you the map for you to upload to Gaia or other GPS platforms of your choice.
His map gives more detail and is more up to date. One thing that helps me the most is the bear/grizzly habitat symbol. It is fall and they are out looking for food. I tried to avoid those places. But if you are into hunting, Top Notch Nav also has a hunting map for that purpose.
In terms of bear defense, that’s a whole other topic. I brought a firearm just in case but never needed to use it. There’s a huge debate online between bear spray vs. firearm and I am somewhat iffy about both options. What I did was simply not get into their territories, don’t leave food inside, sleep inside the car for extra security.
A Satellite Communicator – let others know where you are
I picked up a ZOLEO Satellite Communicator before the trip. In remote areas, cell reception is not something you get. As much as I love the quietness of not being bothered, when the unexpected happens, it’s best to have some sort of communication with the outside.
An SOS beacon is nice (almost had to use it in Western Australia stuck on a beach full of dried seaweed). But it does only one thing and some are one-time use. ZOLEO receives a satellite signal and connects to your smartphone. You can text others just like how you do normally. Or in my case, update my parent’s that I’m safe by sending a check-in notice – this automated message will also inform them of my coordinate.
Forest road safe driving practice – call your kilometer
In BC, most forest roads have their designated radio channel. It is displayed as “RR-(number)” but you can easily find the frequency on BC Resource Road Channels website. Take a screenshot and save for when you don’t have the internet.
When the roads are under active work, you’ll encounter some logging trucks on the way. It’s also helpful to inform other people who share the road about your location. It’ll save you some surprises at blind corners as well as allow more time for pulling over if the trail is too tight.
Basically, when you see the kilometer marking sign, you’ll either call an odd number or even number. The format can be something like “road name, Kilometer, up or down”.
For example: Little Slocan FSR, 9km, Down.
Make sure your vehicle is ready
I spent a good 4-5 minutes in the video talking about all the s**t that went down in preparation for the trip. There’s a reason for it.
Other than trying to build a Coastal Offroad rear bar, I took the (not enough) time to take care of my Landcruiser’s mechanical maintenance. You want to make sure the vehicle is ready for a prolonged trip in different terrains. The last thing you want is a breakdown in the most unwanted places – annoying and delay your trip schedule.
Solo Overlanding Safety Tips Conclusion
Once you are both mentally and mechanically prepared, there’s really not much to worry about. Have a good map/navigation system, a satellite communication system, and a reliable vehicle. You don’t have to wait for others to take you or join you. Yes, some trips are best to be shared. For mine, I met up with my girl and her boyfriend in Banff – that filled my social needs.
Try go out by yourself. You’ll receive a different type of blizz and most likely gain more confidence in your offroad overlanding skills!