10 Useful Tips For Your First Urbex
Let me first introduce myself so you know who you are dealing with. My name is Marek, I am 24 years old and I have recently fallen in love with urbexing and everything around it – exploring derelict, abandoned buildings, photography, adrenalin, research, and history... Apart from going exploring myself whenever I have the chance, I’ve also had the privilege of going to a couple of adventures with more experienced urbexers and collected a lot of experiences along the way. Experiences, which I would like to share with you in the following blog post.
Without further ado, let’s get to it!
- Research, research, RESEARCH!
This is always where you should start. Before you set off to explore anything, make sure to have all the information necessary about the place you are visiting. Not only will it save you a lot of trouble when you encounter security or police, it can also save your life. Old buildings are, well, old. Those sturdy wooden planks you step on might be riddled with termites and snap like dry twigs. That funny smell in the air might be asbestos, methane or hydrogen sulfide – all deadly.
I recommend going through forums (such as: this, this and this) first and then at least do a Google search. If the place is near to where you live, you can even do field research – visit the building (but do not enter!) couple of days prior to your urbex at random times and look around to see whether there is any activity and if so, which. Take notes and prepare.
- Tell others where you are
I cannot stress this enough. It is important, especially during the first couple of urbexes (and even afterward), that you tell a friend or family where you are going, how can they reach you and when to expect you. Considering the nature of the place you are about to visit, anything can happen. It is best to stay on the safe side and tell others about your whereabouts should you not return on time.
- Bring a proper equipment
Since you are visiting derelict, abandoned or otherwise out-of-shape places, you should consider investing a small sum into essential equipment. Wear sturdy shoes with high soles (the floor is usually filled with glass, rusty nails or other sharp objects) and some older clothes you don’t mind getting dirty. I usually wear a pair of jeans and a couple of layers for my upper body.
When it comes to visibility and light, LED Headlamp is your best choice. It frees your hands to do what they need to do and you can concentrate fully on the task at hand. Consider also a spare flashlight and first aid kit as preliminary measures in case something goes wrong. Your best bet is to head over to Capulux - the first urban exploration store with urbex essentials.
There is a nice visual gear guide here. Although it lists many more items than I mentioned, you can take a look and inspire yourself.
I also recommend bringing a camera. If not for taking pictures, it at least provides you with an alibi. I will elaborate on this in the point nr. 7.
- The unspoken rule of urban exploring: "Take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints".
This rule is pretty self-explanatory. Respect the people who might visit after you and preserve the same conditions.
- You might meet inhabitants
Depending on where you are, some locations might be a home for squatters, homeless people or other social misfits. It is best to be respectful when dealing with these people. Some might be helpful and will even show you around, others might not be so happy about your visit. It all depends. For these cases, I always carry a pack of cigarettes and offer them a couple for hearing out their stories. Every person is different and that makes it all the more interesting. Not only you get to visit a beautiful place, you also gain a friend. I call that a win-win situation.
- Bring a friend along
Nothing is better for friendship than sharing a common hobby. Over the years, I have accumulated a group of friends that are always willing to come with me and explore. If you currently don’t have anyone you can do urbexing with, consider heading over to forums. Some of them have local sections, where you can find your city or state and look for like-minded individuals. Chances are, some will be more than happy to take you along or plan their next journey with you. As mentioned above, some forums include:
- Meeting Police/Security
Even if you do your research properly, you can never be sure whether someone calls the cops or you find a security guard. In these cases, it is best to stay calm and tell them your story. This is where your camera comes in. I always say that I saw the *insert the building name here* and it looked wonderful, so I just wanted to take a peek and take a couple of photos. I have never gotten into trouble this way. Sometimes you are asked to leave and you should do so. Sometimes, though, you might get lucky and stay.
Naturally, your reasons might be different. As long as you don’t lie and twist the truth you should be all right. Remember, the police/security are there for a reason – to protect you or the building. Knowing that you should treat them with the respect they deserve.
- Some of the best abandonments are already in your city
It is funny how before I started doing urban exploration, I completely screened out old, derelict or abandoned buildings. They just blended in with the environment. However, once your eyes are open, you start seeing them everywhere! This is called a "broken glass" phenomenon and it happens to you all the time. Did your friend get pregnant? Suddenly, you start seeing pregnant women everywhere. Are you thinking about getting a new car and you already have one in mind? Suddenly, you start seeing it around every corner.
Use this phenomenon to your advantage, be mindful when you travel to or from work. Take routes you would not normally take. Look around and keep your eyes open. You are bound to find something you have missed all these years.
|Credits: Michael Gaida|
- Staying on the safe side
If you want to abide by all the laws and regulations of your country, you should ask for a permission first before you enter the building. That is the idea at least. Of course, in the real world, some of these buildings owners are hard to find/are non-existent. In that case, contacting the local police branch might give you some answers.
At the risk of sounding contradictory - in most cases, you are fine without a permission. If you just want to sneak in, take a couple of pictures, and sneak out. It is up to you what you choose.
- If it’s locked up
Look around. Oftentimes, there is a window you can climb on, hole in the wall on the opposite side of the building or other entrance you missed.
I am really glad you have clawed your way up until this point. Shows a lot of dedication and passion for adventure. If you resonate with what I have written so far, feel free to incorporate it into your routine. Remember though, these points are by no means any rules. These are just the things I have picked up along the way and made my own. It is best to have your own experiences and create your own guide along the way. Until then, let me be your guide.
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