What’s the best place to go ghost hunting?

The best place for ghost hunting is a location that’s actually haunted.

I’m not being flippant.  Really.

Haunted woods near Salem, MAThe problem is, a lot of people start ghost hunting by visiting places that are just “urban legends.” You won’t encounter ghosts there.

Or, they visit sites that weren’t very haunted to begin with, and — with lots of people trekking through — the original ghostly energy has been diluted.  Even the ghosts are bored with ghost hunting.

So, try to verify that weird things really do happen at the location you’re visiting. Look for recent YouTube videos at the site, or at least recent, detailed written reports, online.

A couple of things are important, no matter where you begin ghost hunting.

– Never go ghost hunting alone. Ever.

-Be sure every site is safe to visit.  Choose sites in safe neighborhoods. Indoors, look for solid floors and few obstacles. Outdoors, you’ll want level ground as much as possible. Bring your own medical-style mask. That’s essential if you’re entering a site that’s has mold, mildew, rodent droppings, or even a lot of dust.

(In 2012, an experienced researcher died from a respiratory infection. The cause was rodent droppings. Masks weren’t worn because the site had been visited — without problems — by several other teams. Since then, many of us are more careful.)

-Make certain the site is open to the public.  It doesn’t matter if “everyone goes there anyway.” If you’re at a site that isn’t posted, but the police ask you to leave, leave immediately. Don’t argue. In some states, the police have the right to decide a cemetery (or other public area) is off-limits.

Try to find a popular location. There, more experienced researchers can explain the basics to you.  For example, I’m usually happy to spend half an hour with a new team, showing them the best research spots.  I’ll also demonstrate basic, low-tech ghost hunting methods.  So, say hello if you see other ghost hunters. If they’re friendly, swap information.

However, don’t expect anyone to give you a free ghost hunting lesson.  Sometimes, we must focus on the investigation.

(Often, I’m happy to talk about the site and ghost hunting after the investigation. Until then, I can seem abrupt.)

Take part in ghost hunting events that are open to the public. You’ll explore new locations, and you’ll be among experienced researchers. That can be comforting and educational.

Is that intimidating? Some beginners prefer to start investigating with a group of friends.

-You could spend the night at a haunted hotel, or a ghostly bed and breakfast.

-You could visit a haunted battlefield.

-Dine at a haunted restaurant.

-Take a stroll through a haunted cemetery just before dusk.

You don’t have to leap into a “lights out” investigation. Start with whatever seems easy and comfortable for you.

How can I start a ghost hunting group?

Would you like to start a ghost hunting group?

As of 2020, there’s a fresh interest in ghost hunting. Starting your own group might be a good idea.

First, See What Other Ghost Hunters Are Doing

Eerie figure in doorwayFirst, participate in a few ghost hunts with local groups, if there are any.

Or, take part in public ghost hunting events. Look on ghost hunting celebrities’ websites or social media.

Also, several companies specialize in ghost hunting events. Here are a couple in the U.K.: Haunted Happenings UK and Eventbrite UK.

In the U.S., try Eventbrite US and Ghost Hunts USA.

See how different investigations are organized. Decide what you like and don’t like.

Next, Find Friends Interested in Ghosts

Ask acquaintances if they watch a certain ghost hunting TV series. See their reactions. If they seem enthusiastic, ask if they’d like to go ghost hunting with you.

It’s that simple.

Start with more interested people than you’ll actually need.

Make sure their backgrounds and schedules are a match.  Try to select team members whose personalities are compatible.

Tip: If your investigations are interesting, people will rearrange their schedules. If some members are awful, people will make up excuses to avoid your investigations.

Avoid personality problems.

Watch Out For…

– Anyone who always has to be the leader. That includes you. This person has always done more, seen more, and knows more than everyone else. (That’s what he or she claims, anyway.)  Maybe that is the most qualified person, but if they’re arrogant, that can break up a group fast.

– Loud, abrasive, sarcastic skeptics. For them, no evidence is good enough to take seriously. Worse, well-meaning team members will keep trying to change the skeptic’s mind. That wastes everyone’s time.

– Nervous people. They jump at shadows. They distract the group by needing comfort and reassurance. Often, they’re the people you least expect to hit the panic button.

– Anyone who makes every ghost encounter a deeply personal, religious experience. (However, if yours is a faith-based group, that may be an asset.)

– Over-eager believers. To them, everything is a ghost or spirit. Be nice. They might really enjoy ghost research. Let them continue… in someone else’s group.

– Anyone who has a troubling mental health issue. Anyone with a drinking or drugs problem.

– Anyone who needs extra attention that distracts you or the group. This includes anyone whose life is otherwise fraught with non-stop problems they insist on telling you about.

-Gossips, bullies, and anyone who ridicules other members, during or after an investigation.

Next, choose a convenient location to investigate. Meet there to see how the group works together.

If someone is being difficult, have a quiet conversation to resolve the issue. (However, obnoxious people tend to remove themselves from the group, usually loudly. Don’t take it personally. They do this a lot. They’re pros. Nothing you said or did would have made a difference.)

More rational people usually try to adapt to the team. Sometimes, that works out. Sometimes, it doesn’t. That’s the normal ebb & flow of any group, not just ghost hunters.

It’s never easy to ask someone to leave a ghost hunting group. Feelings can be hurt. Remember that good ghost research requires focused attention. If someone is distracting members from the work, that person cannot be on the team.

After a Few Investigations, Investigate More Sites

Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries
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Experiment. Try different locations, including haunted houses, battlefields, cemeteries, and so on. Explore private and public sites, and so on. See what the team enjoy most.

Keep good records.  Maybe team members get better results at certain kinds of haunts. Also try different times of day, or on certain days of the week.

After that, you can establish goals, decide if you need to have rules, and so on.

Take your time. It may take a couple of months (or longer) to get a clear idea of what’s working and what isn’t. 

Have patience. Once your group is organized and comfortable with ghost research, the time & trouble will have been worth it.

How can I join a ghost hunting group?

Would you like to join a ghost hunting group?

Some of them are great.

Shadowy figuresOthers were started when ghost hunting TV shows reached their peak — before 2012 — and kind of fell apart after that. A few dedicated members may still be ghost hunting, but they’re not as enthusiastic as they once were.

So, don’t sign up for the first ghost hunting group you find. Check all your options, first.

Start with an online search for local ghost hunting groups.

– Examine each group’s website. Is it well organized? Is it believable? Is it updated regularly?

– Are they open to visitors and new members? (Some groups welcome new ghost hunters on investigations. Others are closed. A few host only fund-raising events.)

– Read the profiles of individual members and see if they have their own blogs. Do they sound like smart, experienced, interesting ghost hunters? Have any of the members already made up their minds about ghosts?

In other words, are they really investigating ghostly phenomena? Or, are they looking for evidence to confirm what they already believe? (If you share their beliefs, that group may be okay.)

Make sure the group seems a good match for your interests. You’ll spend hours sitting in the dark, waiting for ghosts. If your companions annoy you, those hours can be pretty awful.

When you have found a likely group, contact them.

– Have several phone or Skype conversations before meeting anyone.

– Don’t go alone. Bring a friend with you during your first meeting.

– If something makes you uncomfortable during the investigation, leave. You don’t need to make up an excuse. “This isn’t right for me” is enough. (If a group keeps trying to include you, ask them to leave you alone.)

Unfortunately, this is important: Rarely, sexual predators join (or form) ghost hunting groups. They like working in the dark. Women and children are the most frequent victims, but they’re not the only ones.

Remember: Physical phenomena are unusual. That includes ghosts that touch, pinch, or slap you.

If you feel uneasy around someone during a ghost hunt, you don’t need to make up an excuse. Just leave.

Not comfortable walking away…? Need an excuse no one will argue with?

– Say that you had fish for dinner and now you feel like you’re going to throw up.

– Act as if your phone is on vibrate. Pretend to answer it, wait about 15 seconds, and say into the phone, “I’ll be right home.” Then, say you have an emergency at home, and leave.

On the other hand, if the group seems like a good match, go on several more investigations with them.

Then, try a couple of investigations with another group, and so on. Identify what you like and don’t like about each ghost research team and the locations they investigate.

If you decide to join one of them, ask what’s involved. A waiver may be necessary. Read it carefully.

Things to avoid:

– A long-term commitment.

– A large, up-front fee.

– A fee to be part of the “inner circle.”

– Restrictions on who else you can ghost hunt with, what you can talk about, and so on.

If you’re going to join a ghost hunting group instead of start one yourself, choose carefully. You’re going to be in stressful situations with them. Be sure they don’t contribute to the stress, but help you achieve your personal goals as a ghost hunter.