I absolutely love a good ghost tour. A paranormal event in a historical building, especially at night, is high on my list of fun things to do. We’ve done quite a few now, in Charleston, Savannah, locally, and more. Recently, we tried a new ghost tour experience here in Southern California, and it was marred by the behavior of a group of people, so I’m here now to share my best ghost tour tips for a successful paranormal tour event that everyone involved loves!
In case you’ve never gone on a ghost tour before or bought tickets for a paranormal tour, let me give you the very brief basics. You purchase a ticket and visit the venue at a specific time, where a tour guide escorts you around the property. It may be indoors or outdoors. Some include a cocktail, a glass of wine, a candle…it really depends on where you’re going. During the tour, your guide will explain the history of the location, why they are holding a ghost tour on this particular site, and what you may see.
Some paranormal tours include a medium, and some even carry EMF (electronic magnetic frequency) equipment, which displays where there could a spike in frequency, meaning a possible spirit is nearby.
The guide will point out things she feels, share stories of what others have felt or seen, and maybe slightly freak you out…which is particularly easy if this is your first ghost tour. Roll with it, it’s all part of the experience!
Each ghost tour is different. Some are in old buildings with histories of onsite deaths, while others have stories or rumors. Some include walking through forests or fields. Others may be in hospitals, schools, factories, anywhere there are reports of paranormal activity.
It’s important to clarify that paranormal activity doesn’t mean flying books or ooze on the walls. It can be a strange scent that wafts by you in an otherwise empty space, or a breeze you feel where there is no vent. Knocking sounds in empty rooms, shadows that no human body could have made, or you suddenly get cold. Some people feel a nudge or touch, while others hear whispers. Your experience is yours, and yours alone, and there is no right or wrong. Keep your eyes and mind open, and you could be in for a wild experience that will hook you into doing more ghost tours.
Ghost Tour Tips for a Fun and Intriguing Paranormal Event
- Take the event seriously. Even if you’re not a believer, others on the tour will be. Laughing, making fun and doing scare pranks ruins it for them..and they paid money, too. Your money is not any money-er than theirs and they deserve a fun experience, too.
- Don’t use flash. You may need a flashlight on your phone to see, but flash photography may cover up orbs and shadows, the very reason you’re there.
- On that same note, it shouldn’t have to be said, but you’re not on the tour for selfies. If you want selfies inside the venue, go at a different time of day.
- And also related: if you are using a flashlight, point it down. Otherwise, you’re holding it right in the line of sight for others who want to enjoy the tour, and they will see a whole lot of orbs — just the visual disturbances of being blinded, not actual ghost tour orbs.
- Speak quietly. If you’re loud, you — and those around you — won’t hear the slight sounds that could signal activity.
- Be mindful of others taking photos and videos. If you want to take a photo of something, give others space to take theirs as well. Take turns.
- Stay ON THE TOUR and FOLLOW RULES. I can’t emphasize this one enough. Don’t go up stairs that aren’t part of the tour. Don’t go through items you see in hallways. Don’t touch things you’re told not to touch. You’re an adult; act like it. This is a business and you’re just a guest.
- Don’t hide behind something or make scary sounds to frighten people. That’s what an amusement park at Halloween is for. Or your own home.
- Charge your phone in advance. You may take a lot of photos and videos.
- If possible, take photos and snap photos during it. (I saw a really cool orb last week and it advanced towards me. I was solely in photo mode and missed part of it. Video would have been amazing!)
- Wear comfortable shoes. Some venues do include stairs (if they’re deemed safe) or rolling fields. You don’t want to slip or roll an ankle trying to wear inappropriate footwear.
- Feel free to ask questions quietly around you. A lot of people who do ghost tours frequently will tell you that asking if there’s anyone nearby CAN yield a response.
- Envision a white light or something around yourself before you go in, or even during it, if you’re worried. There are other methods of self-protection, but I’m not a professional in the field, and this is what works for me. It can be very calming if you are spooked. (Some tours offer a sage spray or something after, too.)
- Spend time going through your videos and photos after. You may not see anything in the moment, but when you’re looking after, wow, there’s a shape going up that stairwell!
- If you are taking video and see a lot of orbs all floating at once, consider dust. I’m not saying it won’t be activity, but it could also be dust particles that are stirred up by movement. (I got what I thought was an awesome video a while back, and sadly, it was dust, not 30-40 spirits at once.)
- Let your eyes adjust to darkness if possible, and don’t overthink it. Things happen when you least expect it.
- Ask questions before/after — and during, if the guide is okay with it. (And most will be.) You want to understand what you’re seeing. I smelled flowers in an old warehouse once. I asked the medium after what it could be, and she asked me to point out where I’d smelled it; turned out, there was the spirit of a young woman who was known to frequent that space. Pretty incredible.
Whatever you do — be kind, and keep an open mind. The hubs is not a big believer in this, but he was able to enjoy the experience and history of our most recent ghost tour. (And I’m SO thankful to the venue for recognizing what the noisy group did. They allowed us a second, more private tour, one where we truly got to see the site and to take videos without laughing, jokes and silly sounds made my people who had to be told to get back down on the first floor. It was so cool!)
At this latest tour, these were adults in their mid- to late-30s, if not a little older, and they were acting like ridiculous kids. I bit my tongue, but many times I wanted to say “that bag in the corner is not for you to rummage through” or “hey, did you know that others are here too, so stop blocking the hallway with selfies,” and “when the tour guide politely asked you to be quiet, she does not deserve you talking about her now and going overboard with the BE QUIET!! SHHHH! comments. I was really and truly amazed adults would act this way. If you’re reading this, shame on you…I have nothing else for your entitled behinds, because you should be embarrassed. I felt for the tour guides, who had no idea that this group was going to be so obnoxious and basically act like their $25 ticket gave them free reign to touch and do anything they wanted.
You don’t need to be immersed in the paranormal community to enjoy one of these tours! They can be really fun group event, or like we did this past time, a couples date-night event. I’ve also gone with my kids, and we’ve got stories from Fort Sumter, South Carolina that would make anyone a believer. Now that the veil thins as we get closer to Halloween, a ghost tour can be a unique seasonal event, entirely different from a Halloween haunt. Prices can range from free to $50 or so per person; some are in very high-end popular locations and offer food, while others include a glass of wine or snacks. Read the fine print, be ready to sign a waiver of liability (which is standard) and enjoy your ghost tour!
One extra tip: there are ghost tours and paranormal events available year-round. Google “haunted tour” or “ghost tour” and add “near me,” and you’ll find things you never knew about your city or state. Have fun!