Congratulations! You have decided to step into a unique world of mystery, suspense, and even a little spook. Probably one of the most popular questions I get as a seasoned paranormal investigator is, “I’m going on my first ghost hunt, what do I do?” I love helping people prepare for their first ghost hunt. It’s almost like a right of passage! If you google what to do for your first ghost hunt, you’ll find a lot of good stuff. I’m not trying to trump on anyone’s good advice. But, I do have my own little “to do” list that will help you have the best time you can have!
First and foremost, respect the location you’re investigating. Respect the deceased that you’re trying to communicate with. Follow the rules of the venue and the group that you’re in. The quickest way to get kicked out of a ghost hunt, let alone some angry spirit coming after you, is to be disrespectful.
Before you commit to any sort of ghost hunt, you need to decide what you want out of the experience. Do you want to get scared? Do you want to learn some history? Do you want to try to find proof of the afterlife? Are you trying to contact someone in particular? Just answering simple questions like this can help you gain a better understanding of what you want out of the experience. If you’re someone who gets scared easily, read reviews of the location before you go. Read some of the legends and experiences people have had. Is this something you can handle? If not, perhaps looking into a more benevolent location might be better. If you feel you’re ready, then you know what your limits are and when to give yourself a break.
Know Where You’re Going
Being familiar with your location is key before going on a ghost hunt. If the company you’re working with wants to keep it a surprise until the night of, all hope is not lost. Ask them what kind of environment you’ll be ghost hunting in. Is it a house? Will you have to hike? Will you be outside? If there’s any part of the ghost hunt that will take place outside, then be sure you’re ready for whatever weather is on the forecast that night. Not only that, but find out how the roads are. There have been times I’ve almost damaged my car from driving on rugged terrain in my little sedan when my ride buddy had a jeep left at home. If the location is going to be in the dark night in the woods, then flashlights are a must. Closed-toe shoes are also a must. Speaking of the woods, going through any bushes and trees will warrant wearing some jeans just so you avoid any poisonous plants. I also advise people to not wear all black if they can avoid it. I’ve heard of many ghost hunters getting hit by cars at night because the driver couldn’t see them since they were wearing all black.
This is another area where I get a lot of questions. I always tell people that you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on equipment. Part of the ghost hunting experience is collecting evidence, or as I prefer to call it, data. It means you could be recording audio on a recorder, or taking video of your experience. The one thing that people forget is that if you take in 4 hours of data on your audio recorder and 4 hours of data on your camcorder, you have 8 hours worth of data to go through. If data collection is what you want to do, that’s fantastic. If the thought of this is daunting, there is nothing wrong with wanting to do tech-free just so you can have that experience. Some of the earliest ghost hunters only had a pen and paper to jot down notes.
If you’re going on a ghost hunt that will last longer than 4 hours, you might need to pack some food provisions to get through the night. Everyone will usually default to packing sugary snacks and caffeinated drinks. However, that will cause your blood sugar to spike, and then you’ll experience a crash…which will be counterproductive if you want to stay up for several hours. Protein-filled snacks, veggies, and water will be necessary to get through the evening.
Food aside, packing flashlights, batteries, and a first aid kit should be in any ghost hunter’s survival kit. Even if the location is indoors, you never know when you might get a scratch or miss your footing and get injured.
Getting enough sleep is essential to enjoying the ghost hunting experience. Sure, eventually you’re going to get tired. But if you push yourself beyond being sleepy, you will start to see and hear things that aren’t really there. Sleep deprivation can cause some interesting hallucinations and can be similar to the feeling of being drunk. It could compromise your ability to understand your surroundings. Something simple and logical could get interpreted as something paranormal. If you feel tired, there is no shame in taking a cat nap. I try to get at least eight hours of sleep the night before an investigation along with a nap during the day.
This can go in two different directions. Some people want to research the location as much as possible before an investigation. They do this so that they know exactly what is going on at a haunted location. They will know the names of who is reportedly haunting and be able to use contextual questions to establish communication. Meanwhile, other people don’t want to know anything before going in. This is so that they don’t “taint” themselves with previous information. Many with psychic abilities may opt to do this.
If you feel like you have psychic or mediumship abilities, then you’ll need to prepare for another aspect. Numerous times, I’ve noticed people get overwhelmed during an investigation. When I talk to them to try to help them, they reveal to me that they have abilities and they got overwhelmed by the experience. To avoid this, if you’re completely new to the world of having abilities, I recommend that you learn how to ground and shield. There are some great articles to help you learn this. Having the best understanding of your abilities before your ghost hunt will be key to you having a good ghost hunting experience.
Ask the Right Questions
With each ghost hunt, you’ll probably hear a few suggestions for questions to ask. But, there is a trick to asking the right questions that will create a welcoming environment for communication. You want to keep questions simple, but also smart. One of my pet peeve questions is, “Do you know you’re dead?” Something as simple as asking for a name is better. Knowing the history of the location in terms of important dates in its existence (ie: wars, presidential inaugurations, world events, etc.). Stacking questions can create problems as well. That is when you ask several questions in the same stream of speaking. An example of a stacking question would be, “What’s your name? Where are you from? How old are you?” If asked by themselves, these questions are fine. But asking them in the same line of questioning, it will result in confusion. Finally, be sure to leave 10-15 seconds of silence after each question to give the entity time to produce an answer.
At the end of the day, you want to be safe. That is the number one priority in any ghost hunting experience. You don’t want to try anything that could compromise your health and safety. You have most likely signed a liability release form, which means that if you get injured, then you’ll have to cover those expenses yourself. While it may be tempting to climb into the attic or ignore the “Keep Out” signs in order to explore another part of the haunted house, a lot of things could happen. The floor might give out, you might inhale bat guano, or you encounter an unexpected injury. Ultimately, you want to put safety first.
If you have any other tips for a successful ghost hunt for a newbie, please share them in the comments!