Urban exploration is a hobby that continues to grow in popularity with every passing year. We can mostly thank Youtube for that continued growth. All those amazing videos of urban explorers going into exotic abandoned locations are what attracts new people from all over the world to want to take part in this hobby.
What the many new people getting into urbex don’t know, is that this hobby can be quite dangerous. Floors collapsing beneath your feet. Being followed around by a shady character. Getting stuck in a basement with no exit. These are all things that have happened to urban explorers while exploring abandoned buildings. Both to the experienced and inexperienced explorers.
It’s understandable why newbie urban explorers don’t take precautions before stepping foot inside an abandoned building. They see a Youtube video of an urban explorer simply walking into a cool abandoned location and they want to do the same. But what they don’t see on video is the many precautions the urban explorer may have taken to ensure his/her safety.
New urban explorers will make several mistakes their first time exploring. It’s not that they don’t care, it’s that they don’t know they’re making these mistakes. What I hope to do with this post is to bring those common mistakes into the spotlight. Hopefully, by doing so, I can help new urban explorers avoid making them in the first place.
Let’s get started.
Exploring At Night-Time
As exciting as it may be, and trust me it is F’ing exciting, exploring during the night-time is a hell of a lot more dangerous than exploring during the day. New people getting into urbex should 100% avoid exploring at night. At least until you have a couple of successful explorations under your belt.
I know that the thought of walking around an abandoned dark building with a couple of friends can be quite thrilling. You have nothing but a couple of flashlights illuminating where you walk and the sound of wind whistling in the background as it makes its way through a broken glass window make for a pretty enjoyable experience. I get it because I’ve done it. It’s amazing.
But the thing is that low light visibility can be your worse enemy. Even with a flashlight and friends, walking around an unknown building at night can be extremely dangerous. There are several different things that can go wrong. A single misstep in the dark can be fatal.
Urban exploring at night is something every explorer should do at least once in their life. But it should only be done if they themselves are experienced explorers, or are accompanied by someone who knows what they’re doing.
I wrote an entire post on this topic. Exploring by yourself should be avoided at all times. No matter how experienced an urban explorer you are, you should always explore with at least one other person. Accidentally locking yourself in a room with no exit. Falling from the top floor because of unstable floors. Being attacked by hobos or a wild animal.
These are not made up scenarios. These things have actually happened to urban explorers in the past. They can happen to you too. How would you get out of a situation in which you accidentally hurt yourself? Exploring an abandoned building alone is by far one of the worst mistakes a new urban explorer can make.
If you have no one to explore with, join an urbex community online and find people near your area that can join you in your explorations. Until you have someone you can explore with, don’t explore alone.
Forcing Entry Into An Abandoned Building
The front door to an abandoned building you’re wanting to explore may not always be open. Windows may also be boarded up and no entrance to the building may be possible. Forcing your way inside an abandoned building, when there’s clear evidence that the owners don’t want anyone to go inside is illegal.
You can try and squeeze your way through a narrow path or jump through an already broken window, but breaking down a door to get inside will most likely get you arrested. Should you be caught, of course.
If you’re wanting to explore a location but you see no possible entrance anywhere, don’t force your way in. I know it sucks, but the best thing you can do is leave. Go back home and find another abandoned location to explore.
Exploring In Large Groups
The opposite of exploring alone is exploring with a large group. They’re both terrible ideas. There really is security in numbers, but you have to limit how many people you explore with. 8 people being seen walking into an abandoned building is going to arouse suspicion.
You’ll most likely have the cops called on you and that’ll ruin your entire trip. If you’re going to explore with several friends, limit it to 4 people. 5 tops if you can. Any more and it’ll make things more complicated than they should be.
Carrying A Weapon
It’s only natural to think of carrying a weapon with you before making your way inside an abandoned location. You’re conscious of the fact that you could be attacked while exploring. So you decide to carry something that can help you defend yourself in case shit hits the fan.
What you don’t know is that if you were to be caught by a police officer inside an abandoned building and you have some sort of weapon on you, you could get in some serious trouble.
Carrying a gun, large knife, baseball bat, or anything else that can be construed as a weapon is something you should never do. Even as an experienced explorer. I know you have your safety in mind, and that’s a good thing. But a weapon like the ones I just mentioned are not the correct tools for the job.
Never carry a weapon with you when exploring. What I recommend is taking a can of pepper spray in place of a weapon. Pepper spray is more of a self-defense item.
Not Letting Someone Know Where You’re Going
Accidents happen when you least expect them. Even if you carry the right gear and take every precaution possible before stepping foot inside a location you’re going to explore, something can always go wrong. One of the easiest ways you can ensure you safely walk out of an abandoned building is by simply telling someone where you’ll be going and at what time to expect you back.
It doesn’t take 5-minutes to send out a text to a friend or family member and let them know where you will be at. If you for some reason don’t make it back at a specified time, then they know where to start looking for you.
Urban explorers have gotten trapped inside abandoned locations in the past. The only reason they were rescued was that they told someone where they would be going. Don’t make the mistake of not telling anyone where you will be and at what time you’ll be back. You don’t want to find yourself in a 127-hour type situation.
Not Researching The Location You’re Going To Visit
Information on just about any place in the world can be easily found with a simple Google search. I personally make sure to research the buildings I’m going to explore before making my way there. It takes a couple of minutes and the information you may find on the location you’re wanting to explore can shed some light on why the place is abandoned in the first place.
Knowing why a building was abandoned can help you make choices that can keep you safe while you’re inside exploring. What’s also good about researching the building you’re wanting to explore, is that you could get an idea of what the place was used for before it was abandoned. Knowing this before making your way in could make your exploration a hell of a lot more interesting.
The mistakes I listed in this post are some of the most common ones I see new urban explorers make when they’re first starting out. I’m not ashamed to admit that I personally made a few of the mistakes I’ve outlined above. I was also a newbie urban explorer once and I too didn’t know any better.
But now that I have several successful urbex trips under my belt, I know what to do and what not to do. I’ve spent my time writing this post to hopefully help the new people getting into urbex avoid making mistakes that could potentially hurt them.
Now that you know what mistakes to avoid, check out my other post where I write about how to stay safe when urban exploring.