There’re some things we celebrate loud and often here at Uproxx 1) because we genuinely think they’re cool and 2) because we think they should be a regular part of the larger contemporary discourse. If we were to list those things, both solo travel and our national parks system would be near the top. So, when we happened upon traveler Emily Hart on Instagram, we fell in love.
Currently, the badass math teacher has traveled to thirty-four national parks in the United States and five in Canada, and she did it all totally on her own. We respect both the independence and the wanderlust, but it’s also great to see someone committed to visiting places that are being increasingly underfunded and encroached upon. Emily documents her trips on Instagram (where else?), also adding sincere and thoughtful captions — the sorts of musings that invite curiosity and offer inspiration.
Clearly, Emily is the ideal person to lay down rules for solo travel to national parks. Check out her rules, and think about visiting one of the national parks in your region. They’re truly amazing… oh, and AND ALL TOTALLY FREE TODAY!
#1 Be Balanced About Your Itinerary
I always tell people to be planned, but not too planned. Many of the parks are different than people expect them to be when they first see pictures. Plan enough that you feel confident about where you’re staying, obviously, and know a couple of things that you want to do. Then, leave open space to really explore because a lot of parks are huge. You don’t get that idea when you simply see pictures on Instagram. You don’t understand the scale of a place and how it could take hours, literally, to drive from one end to the other.
So that’s the key: Plan enough so you feel confident, but leave a lot of space for spontaneity.
The Redwoods is a good example. The actual park is the National Park of the Redwoods. It’s just huge and long. I went there not really knowing anything, and it ended up being one of the most beautiful times I’ve had, because I didn’t really know anything I wanted to see, other than just trees, and I didn’t realize it was so huge. The area is actually comprised of the State Park and the National Park. I spent an entire day just on the coast, which is a beach. I had no idea that there’s a beach in the Redwoods.