All the advice that applies to someone flying is the same. If you are flying, get to the airport on time. Give yourself plenty of time to get through TSA screening, wear comfortable shoes, yadda yadda yadda. You know the drill. Traveling to different time zones does a number on my gut so I always eat something on the lite side. If you are staying in a hotel, know your check-in and check-out time. If your locations are in smaller towns, pick a big city as your base. I will be embarking on another multi-location expedition. I will have two base cities because all the locations are in very small communities. Now don't get all tensed up because you're flying the sometimes unfriendly skies, relax and enjoy, you're about to go do something that really takes cojones. You're about to have an experience very few people actually understand. We are trailblazers, pioneers, we are bad-ass solo ghost hunters.
I do not have a cast-iron gut. I cannot simply eat whatever and whenever I like. Everyone that knows me, knows I am somewhat picky with the food I eat. I usually eat relatively healthy. And I do cook quite a bit. Before an exploration, I find the safest kinds of foods are foods you are well acquainted with. Foods that perhaps you get on a regular basis. So it may seem counter to recommend what I am going to recommend but it makes sense. Everyone basically knows what a pizza should taste like. If you frequent a chain, then you become acutely aware of how that particular pizza tastes. And when it does not, you should instantly know something is wrong, and you might want to throw it out or demand your money back.
When I am on one of my expeditions I stick to chain restaurants that I am very familiar with. I order food that has to be cooked to order. I usually order food that has to be cooked at a high temperature or even fried. Basic things like fried rice, chicken tenders, pizza, steak, bbq, etc. These are foods that generally are not handled much once they are cooked. If you've ever observed cooks on the line you will see this frequently. A fresh hot pizza goes in a box and is cut. Fried rice goes from wok into to-go containers, etc. I never order salads. I only order sandwiches if I can observe them being assembled by clean, gloved hands.
Why all this fussiness? Think about it. Let's say you throw caution to the wind and eat at some hole in the wall where the cooks look like personal hygiene is optional. Then comes the night of your big solo ghost hunt, the one you may have paid upwards of a grand for. Then the unthinkable happens and you spend the whole night expelling the contaminated meal you had earlier or the night before. Not a pretty picture, and you just blew a bunch of cash and possibly getting that walking, talking ghost on video.
If you're hotel or suite has a microwave, consider going to a big box or grocery store and see if they have any familiar, healthy frozen meals. It's about playing it safe until after your exploration is over. Finally, I have been warned away from the free morning hotel breakfast buffets. I know, it's very tempting, and some items are perfectly safe. But I did pay dearly for this mistake. In the end, it's just not worth it. Again, go to a restaurant that serves freshly cooked breakfast.
If your exploration lasts all night, you will get hungry. I take a combination of bagged snacks like nuts, seeds, crackers, and chips. And don't forget the water. Try to avoid caffeinated beverages because at some point the caffeine will wear off and you will crash. Be cautious of what you eat and you will have a good overnight adventure, instead of spending it in the bathroom full of all kinds of regret.
Every place will have a tour of the location with a little history of specific areas where the phenomenon has occurred. This gives you the opportunity to plan out the evening, so pay attention and always thank your tour guide. You will be given specific instructions on your departure time if there are any restrictions or specific areas that are off-limits, and who to contact in case of an emergency. However, this isn't always the case. I've been to a couple of locations where the caretakers or middleman left for the evening to go home. In this case, you will need to program the local police or sheriff's office or emergency phone number. I can't emphasize this enough: you are there alone, you have to take every precaution so that you don't have to call for help.
Walk into every structure or the entire building before you bring your gear with you. I always walk the location with a good strong flashlight before I bring in the big guns with me. This helps you identify any possible threats and trip, or fall down points. I took a nasty fall at one location because I didn't follow this golden rule. This also presents ideas on where to set up your cameras to get as much coverage of that particular space. If I'm in a multiple floor structure and I get there before nightfall, I will walk each floor again, even though I may have already gotten a tour. You may even get a feel for the room, as in potential activity. Always go with your gut, if one room just feels off for some reason, chances are something is probably going to happen in that room.
If your location is huge like an old penitentiary, you're going to want to limit how long you stay in each new spot. At West Virginia Penitentiary there were so many wonderfully promising areas where things could've gotten going that I stayed no longer than 30 minutes in each. Timing is everything. Again, plan wisely.
Finally, please read the sites' rules and regulations. If they say no food, don't bring any. They will all say absolutely no drugs or alcohol. Again, please maintain a courteous and earnest attitude. Don't ruin it for the rest of us. Leave the place exactly how you found it. If someone helped me or gave me a tour, I thank them and give them a generous tip.
When it gets physical
I always encourage physical contact. I'll say something like, "If you can only communicate by touching me then please do so at any time." The reason I do this is because you cannot debunk physical contact. And you can't think maybe you got touched, either you did or you didn't. Now I happen to know many folks could never do this. I know grown adult people who would absolutely freak the shit out if this happened to them. So I will leave this up to you. You know your own tolerance and how far you can go with this. It has happened to me in very direct, deliberate instances and I just let it happen. I just go with it. I'm usually very relaxed in these locations and the times I've been touched I will wait for it to cease and then I'll report it.
However, if it gets ugly and you are touched in your private areas, you might want to speak up. This is never good unless you're into that sort of thing, you freaky perv. I have an acquaintance who was repeatedly groped at a haunted location and he was not Okay with it. Furthermore, if it gets to the point of discomfort or even pain as in scratching, hitting, or punching, then you need to take immediate action and assert yourself. If you freak out too much then you let it win and it's gonna get under your skin real quick. In the extremely rare case that you actually get severely injured, gather your gear calmly, and get the hell out. Leave the location. It's up to you to decide if you're going to go back in or if you can simply move to another building or floor. I recently had an encounter with an entity that let me know, in no uncertain terms, that it had the ability to really put the hurt on me. I stuck around as long as I could but it just got worse, so I left that floor for another one. I figured it was best to just let it have that floor. It was obviously pissed off that I was there, so I left it alone for a couple of hours. When I returned to that floor it, presumably, was gone or no longer upset.
There are many claims of folks getting hurt, being cursed, and/or having something attach at a location that followed them home. Again, there are protection prayers and mantras that can be used before you go into your location. I have a very detailed, plainly worded statement I always say prior to beginning an exploration. In the end, I always thank whoever was there. I thank them if they communicated with me and then I very plainly state that they do not have my permission to attach to me or come with me. I specifically say they cannot and will not follow me out of the location.
You may scoff at this notion but please trust me on this one, you really need to do this, it is necessary. And for the record, no I don't believe demons will follow me home and ruin by personal relationships. But I believe I did bring something back from my very first test location. Rookie mistake. I didn't say any sort of exit statement. The entity only makes itself known whenever I open the video file for that location. I believe it is a child and she is totally benevolent but very noisy.
Everyone has their own threshold for physical contact. I personally know folks who have both high and low. Mine is very high. It has happened to me on a few occasions and I have always been fine. If you have a low threshold, and you do not seek physical contact, then simply state it in your prayer, mantra, or pre-exploration statement.
Fear is healthy, it keeps us alive and safe. But it can also make us do really stupid things, like assume every person who wears a shemagh is a terrorist. I didn't have a classic fear response in a haunted location until 2017. The classic fear response is also known as fight or flight. You know it because you have experienced it. A long time ago, some dumb cave person saw a snake and thought it would be a great pet, or thought it might be good eats. So this big shaggy-browed, mouth breather picked up the snake and surprise, it bit him! Yeah sure, all his fellow cave aficionados probably thought it was funny as poop until the snake-bit troglodyte dropped dead. Thus our inherent fear of snakes was created. This was the time our modern-day brains evolved. We basically have the almost exact same brain. Same brain, new fears, like terrorists, flying Southwest in a window seat, and anything on the Taco Bell menu.
Fear is a very complex process that happens in several parts of the brain. And while our fear response is automatic and completely out of our control, I do believe it can sometimes be an option. Let me explain. I wasn't always the fearless solo ghost hunting bad-ass you see in my videos. Sometimes I would let my imagination get carried away and in certain situations would feel fear. I am a retail manager at a mom and pop business and part of my closing duties is to walk the floor after we lock up and turn off all the lights.
Many, many years ago during the winter months, I was doing just that. Now it is well known that this little store is haunted. And sometimes that knowledge would be skittering around my neurotic brain while I walked alone in the dark. Well, one night I heard something very unexpected that sounded like someone was still on the floor. That got a little fear into me, but I kept going. About the middle of the store, I unexpectedly heard someone running toward me from behind. When I turned to look all I saw was a sort of cloaked, transparent being just kinda fly over me and make a whooshing sound as it did. Needless to say, I got genuinely spooked. Big time. I mean on the verge of poop inducing. I skedaddled over to the brightly lit offices in the back where the cashiers were counting money. When they saw me they could tell something had happened.
Fast forward many years and I'm hunkered down alone in a very tight, claustrophobic, pitch-black cubbyhole where Grant Wilson saw the face of a presumed civil war prisoner peering up at him from the window of the cell where he was imprisoned more than two hundred years ago. And I had zero fear. For me, for whatever crazy reason, fear was an option and I chose not to feel it. And I was unbelievably inebriated. No, I wasn't. I'm just kidding of course. What it really came down to is this one simple thing, no one has been seriously injured by a ghost. At least not to my knowledge. So what's the worst that can happen?
Now that doesn't mean I haven't been startled. Yes, that will happen, undoubtedly. And you may find yourself in a situation where you might feel fear. Perfectly natural. Just don't let it win. Don't let it stop you from moving forward. And you will probably, eventually, end up in a place with a being who instantly doesn't like you, as I did here in Texas. These beings have a way of getting under your skin by doing things they know will freak you out. This will be a bit of a challenge as it was for me. If you feel this being has the potential to hurt you, back off. Real simple. Do not provoke it. Just as they say you should never look a growling angry dog in the eyes, you probably don't want to challenge an angry spirit, unless you're into that sorta thing you flaky degenerate.
And for the love of brisket, please don't make a complete ass of yourself and run screaming out of the place like a little bitch, the name Zak comes to mind for some reason, I don't know why. Nothing could be more embarrassing. So don't do it. Stand your ground, unless you're getting an ass-beating, then you can run. Remember, surviving your first one will probably be the hardest won battle, but when it's over, and you're dragging you exhausted ass back to the hotel, you will know in your heart that you have just become one bad-ass mother-fu@$er, or daddy-fu%&er. Feel the fear if you must, then get over yourself and move forward.
The day after
Guess how you're gonna feel the day after? If you guessed like crap, you're absolutely right. It's called a paranormal hangover, and it's real. Everyone is different and how bad you get it depends on many factors. But you will feel it and the best thing for a hangover is pretty much the same. Just chill, stay hydrated, and rest up. And let me emphasize this: you will need a full recovery day. Again in all caps: YOU WILL NEED A FULL RECOVERY DAY. One full day for your body and mind to get back to normal. Please don't assume you'll be good to drive safely anymore than an hour or so. If you've got another location on your itinerary, space it two days apart so that you can acclimate after your first one. Please trust me on this one, it is vitally important that you just rest on your recovery day. Resist the temptation to sleep for more than 4-5 hours after you return from your overnight exploration. Resist the temptation to nap for long periods. Yes, you will be dead tired, but you want to try to get back to normal and sleep a good 7-8 hours the following night. It's about getting back into a rhythm so that you are well rested for your next location. It's very different when you're out with a team than when you're solo.
My own personal experience is one that could have ended in death. I had just spent 13 hours at Yorktown Memorial Hospital and decided I could drive all the way back to San Antonio, which is about a 90-minute drive. It's all two-lane country roads until you get close to S.A. Well this was a time when fracking was a boom here in South Texas and these little two-lane highways were a freaking parade of high-speed tanker trucks going in the opposite direction. Every time one flew by me I could feel my little Mazda 3 shake a little. IT WAS TERRIFYING! And I found myself starting to drift, I was falling asleep. The only thing that saved my weary ass was a big 12 oz, Reb Bull. It zapped me back to life and I was able to focus on staying in my lane.
If you don't take my advice on anything else on this website, please take this advice as seriously as you possibly can and always schedule a recovery day. Now you might feel okay by the afternoon and if you're in a big city and feel like exploring, go for it. Just don't stay out too late. If you've scheduled multiple locations in one trip, as I do, it's going to get a lot tougher as the week goes by and you go from one location to the next. Yeah, this is what they don't show you on TV. This is a tough gig. But it does pay off big sometimes and all the weariness is worth it. Just please, be safe and take good care of yourself before during, and especially after. It is important. Your life may very well depend on it.
Ask anyone who knows me or who has gone on ghost hunts with me and they will tell you one sure thing about me. I am extremely anti-gadget. By this I mean, any unproven bullshit device you see being used by TV personalities that claim in any way that it is a device used to "detect or to see spirits". Hell, I'm still on the fence with this whole EMF thing. Any kind of idiotic little box with bells and whistles and lights and sparkles is just a complete waste of money and time. Don't buy into this kinda dookie. Save your money and invest in a good video camera or DSLR. If you plan to shoot in Infra-red light then you will have to buy a camcorder that is IR capable. As far as I know, the only ones still being manufactured that are IR capable are Canons., which is what I use. If you can't afford to buy, rent! There are plenty of websites that rent video gear. If you already own a DSLR, consider having it professionally converted to IR or full spectrum. I had one camera converted by LifePixel. They are the only ones I trust to do a professional job. And don't worry about not being able to shoot regular colored video or pics because you can buy an IR canceling, color correction filter. Works like a charm.
You can invest in a relatively inexpensive micro four-thirds camera and have it converted. I love these junior DSLRs and use them frequently on my hunts. You can find good cheap glass if you need to and it won't set you back that much. I use and recommend Panasonic Lumix cameras. They are mirror-less and are the best choice if you are going to convert to IR or full spectrum. Either way, your gear should consist of the best devices to capture and document. It's what we do.
If you are going to conduct EVP sessions, I have used both Zoom and Tascam recorders and I love them both for different reasons. I love my Zoom H2N recorder because it is very versatile. You have many recording options because of the 4 onboard mics, which are of surprisingly good quality. My Tascam DR-100 produces the best sounding files. I recently upgraded to a Zoom H5 and was surprisingly disappointed with the poor quality onboard mics. Skip this one, please.
For headphones, nothing beats the Sony Professional line of phones. They are an industry standard for a reason, they are simply the best and most affordable. But I don't take these with me on my hunts because they are highly susceptible to being damaged. I've ruined two sets on ghost hunts so I stopped taking them with me. I use less expensive cans because I'm only using them to monitor sound and I don't mind if I demolish them in the process.
In review, please don't be tempted by what you see on TV. There is no device yet invented that can see or pick up spirits. I know it's very compelling to see this in a show. But just remember, these devices were created to give you an instant hit, an immediate positive result that insinuates you are in the presence of a spirit. Yes, this only needs to happen on TV because of the time constraints of producing a finished broadcast product as fast as possible. If the personalities need to lie and sell you bullshit they will and they do, week after week. Yeah, I know, it gets boring sometimes when nothing happens. And this isn't something people want to see, trust me, I know all too well. No one watches my videos because they depict how an investigation really goes down. It's long stretches of time when absolutely nothing happens. Get ready for this, because you will, eventually be in a location for hours before anything significant happens. Of all things, and completely unlike what you see in the shows, we are seekers of truth. Don't embarrass yourself by bringing along cheaply made contraptions with false claims that only prove you are a rube. We want to perhaps one day bring something caught on video and audio to the scientific community without them laughing at us. So, don't do it. Don't waste your money on gadgets, they're worthless.
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The only time analyzing my A/V files seemed like watching paint dry was after my two-night exploration of Presidio La Bahia (the fort on the bay) in Goliad, Texas. And that's simply because in the two night I explored the fort absolutely nothing happened. I guess the spirits at the fort must've been on holiday because absolutely nothing happened. I did record a few very faint EVPs, but none of them were noteworthy. Contrast this to what I got from Fort Mifflin in Philadelphia, PA. I had to stop and mark my audio files every couple of minutes. I recorded over 200 EVPs in my 10 hours at Fort Mifflin. Less than a quarter of those were Class A's, as most were either B's or C's. But before I get to far ahead of myself, let me explain my approach to audio/visual files.
The first thing I do after I get back from a location is to upload all my files to my Mac. I edit video in Final Cut Pro X and process audio on iZOTOPE RX 6. While I can't fully endorse Final Cut Pro X because this is purely a personal choice on your part. I do strongly recommend iZOTOPE RX 6 to process and scrub your audio files. RX6 is very easy to learn and is the industry standard in repairing and scrubbing audio. EVPs are almost never perfectly isolated sounds. Sometimes background noise can really get in the way of a good EVP. RX6 is not the best, but it is affordable (about $300.00) If you are serious about this field, it's a must-have. (And no, iZotope was not free nor am I getting anything in return. I just happen to think it's an awesome app.) I load my audio files into my music files on my Mac, then open them in RX6.
I upload my video files to FCPX as a new event, then create a new project for that location.
Coding is up to you but here is an example of an audio file from Fort Mifflin: FMB2.wav. FM= Fort Mifflin, B = audio recorder "B", 2= second file.
For my video files I'll always label them like this: FM Commandants A-CAM 1. = Fort Mifflin, Commandant's quarters, A camera, take 1. A-CAM is always the camera I am holding, AKA my POV (point of view) camera. B-CAM is always my B-Roll camera which is my coverage camera. My coverage camera is always in the corner of the room on sticks (tripod). If it is a particularly large room, I move B camera from one corner to another just to make sure that the camera is covering me just in case something happens out of my field of view or behind me.
Sometimes I will shoot with 3 cameras. My third camera is usually a GoPro or a junior DSLR. If that is the case, then this camera is always C-CAM. I always sync my cameras before I proceed with the exploration. If you will be using more than one camera I highly recommend that you come up with a good system to sync your cameras. For me, it is a very simple, but effective clapper board, like they use in TV and Film productions (although they now use digital clapper boards that I simply cannot afford.) The reason I bring this up here is that sometimes really weird shit will happen when you are at a location. You might hear one thing on your camera but here something totally different on your digital audio recorder. At one location I recorded a voice that sounded exactly like mine saying something I did not remember saying. When I identified the exact moment when it happens on camera I was indeed talking but I was saying something completely different than my apparent voice on my audio recorder. Because all my devices were synced, I was able to identify and confirm this unusual voice.
I record audio on a few different digital audio recorders. Again this is your personal choice as to what you prefer to use. For my video camera audio, I am tethered to my A-CAM with a wired Sony lavalier microphone. B-CAM is usually rigged with a Rode shotgun microphone.
Both cameras are rigged with what I believe are the absolute best compact Infrared light units I have ever used which come from Ghoststop.com. (Again, not endorsing, just telling you my opinion.) And as always, I only use my flashlights when absolutely necessary. It's location dependent. Some locations are hazardous, like a pitch-black battleship, and I frequently used my flashlight to get down very narrow, steep stairs or over water-tight hatches.
When it finally comes down to analyzing your audio files. Do it slowly and methodically. This is something you don't want to rush and it is best done in a quiet room. Have nothing else on like television or music playing. Make sure you have plenty of time to analyze at least one or two files a night. Buy good Sony Pro headphones and listen. This is where buying an app as RX6 will really help. Not only can you hear the sound file you can see what it looks like. RX6's display shows the audio's waveform as it plays. In time you will become accustomed to what an EVP almost always looks like in the waveform.
Okay, you're in a new, exciting city you've never been to and you can't wait to go explore and see what's around. I'm going to suggest that you resist this urge. Here's why. Yes, you are in a city you've never been to, what are the chances something may go wrong? You get lost in a hood you don't belong in maybe. Or there is so much to do, you spend all day having all kinds of fun, eating, maybe drinking, by the time your overnight exploration comes you might be totally exhausted. Solo overnight ghost hunting is exhausting enough! This is why I self-sequester and stay in my room until it's time to head to the location. I just chill all day. I do most if not all my research on the location. I make sure all my gear is locked and loaded. I just relax, if I could sleep, I would. I would take a little nap. At some point during my day, I do a little yoga then meditate. Basically you're getting completely ready, mind and body. The last thing you need on the day of your exploration is to get into trouble in an unfamiliar town. If your hotel has room service consider getting something on the menu. If not, check the local listings for places that deliver. Better yet, get the GrubHub app on your cell phone. I found through trial and error that this approach puts me in the absolutely right frame of mind to deal with whatever might happen to me at the location. You may have an experience that may be more than you can normally handle. You want to be well-rested and centered to deal with something pretty intense you've never dealt with before. You will also be more alert and less prone to making a mistake that might cost you a serious injury or even your life. Hey, I almost fell down a hatch in the battleship. If I had, it would've been curtains. And I was well-rested and alert. Take it easy, rest, and relax.