Number One: Avoid places that are statistically not haunted.
Many people don't realise this and it seems like a very simple concept, but for some reason, would-be ghost hunters flock to cemeteries, abandoned homes, and other places that probably have zip to do with ghosts. First of all, the huge and vast majority of ghostly events happen where the person the ghost is thought to represent lived, played, worked, or died... not where they are buried. If you go to your local library and grab three "True Ghost Story" books and leaf through them, you'll probably be shocked to see cemeteries are almost never mentioned at all. Next, abandoned properties are usually not truly abandoned and are owned by someone, so you're most likely trespassing. Also, places usually aren't abandoned because of "ghosts"... or dastardly crimes... or anything of the like. They're usually structurally unsound or in some sort of ownership issue. If someone tells you "Old Man Jameson killed his whole family in that house and it's been abandoned ever since because it's haunted.", it's probably not true... a simple web search of the address will show you a lack of news reports about this "murder"... and again, the house is most likely unsafe and being there is illegal.
Number Two: Visit places that are statistically reported to be haunted.
Again, you'd think this was common sense... but to many, it isn't. There's a lot of places that are open to the public that are not "unfriendly" to their ghostly lore... and you can visit them quite legally and quite safely. Look online and read websites... Go find a local "true ghost story" book... Pick a place that has a history of being haunted and try there first properly and with permission or at least, legally and unobtrusively.
Number Three: My mom always used to say to me, "Ask. The worst anyone can say to you is no."
Popping into the local haunted pub or visiting the haunted historic site and saying, "Hi! I've come to see your ghosts! Can we hang out alone here for a long time and see what happens?" won't probably work too well... but talking to the owners, curators, or even staff of a place, mentioning your interest in ghosts, and asking about them and the possibility of taking photos or sound recordings doesn't hurt... and often yields stories and even, on occasion, something "odd" happening while there. If nothing else, and done properly, it will start a conversation.
Number Four: Safety First!
Let's say you have located a reportedly haunted site... and you have permission to look around on your own. Here's a KEY AND IMPORTANT THING TO REMEMBER... "When in doubt, DON'T!" Basically, if a floor seems bad or unsteady, stay off it. You really don't NEED to be on it to experience ghostly phenomena. If a ladder or stairwell seems a little off, then avoid it... look for alternatives or don't go. Simple as that. To be a little "urbane", I've often said that people that NEED to prove how strong or brave they are on an investigation by taking foolish risks are only showing that they need to compensate for... well... being not-too-big in the... um... "privates" area. (This goes for females too in a way, some of them feel the need to prove the "size" of their "manhood" and take silly chances too.) Some of us who are educated... and relatively secure in our naughty-bits don't need to prove to other's anything and simply stay safe. Besides, you'll get far more data and far more experience in the haunted spot than you will from a hospital bed or worse.
Number Five: Wanna show REAL "No Fear" Attitude? Be open about what you're up to!
To walk into an unlit basement is nothing. To say to a historical interpreter at a historic site, "I'm interested in the ghost stories from here." takes a hell of a lot more courage.
Number Six: How about a tour?
Think ghost tours are "lame"? You probably haven't taken one. It's true, almost all ghost tours are NOT like the "dark rides" at an amusement park... but what's truly freaky is that the reputable ones are not makin' things up. They're relaying actual events and experiences... and usually at the places it happened. It's not "leap out of your skin scary"... but then again, to paraphrase Stephen King, real horror is not a monster leaping out of your closet and yelling "Boo!"... it's something coming slowly out from under your bed and kissing your feet... and a good ghost tour is usually just that. A moments thrill is "meh"... something more cerebral like a good ghost tour lasts weeks.
Number Seven: Consider Joining a Team!
We're pretty strict... and with good reason. We do have a free course we ask everyone to read and a free exam... and joining us is and always has been free... but we tend to "lock down" between September and January for various reasons... and sometimes are "over staffed" and not looking in perhaps your area... but we're not alone online. See what other groups are out there... Find one that meets your needs and standards and see if you can join up and work with them... or, between January and September, pop back here and give us a try. As long as you're a legal and bondable adult, we will help you in any way we can "get into the field"!
Number Eight: Don't Go Out Alone!!!!
Sounds ominous, doesn't it... but indeed, always travel in AT LEAST pairs. This is for safety, security... and even an extra set of eyes and ears in case, indeed, something happens. Always better to have someone as a backup!
Number Nine: Sadly, this needs to be said... Drugs and alcohol have NO place doing a ghost hunt or investigation EVER! Aside from the blinking obvious (being inebriated REALLY increases your chances of an accident like crazy!) WHAT if something happened? WHAT if you experienced something? Want to be believed, STAY SOBER... and remember, if someone NEEDS to be drunk to look into ghosts and hauntings, is their courage only from a bottle? Sad, isn't it.
Number Ten: ALWAYS FOLLOW AT LEAST SUGGESTIONS ONE, TWO, FOUR, EIGHT, AND NINE!
We cannot re-iterate these points more strongly.
PLEASE, use common sense when doing these things... People may disagree with some points here, but "Suggestions One, Two, Four, Eight, and Nine" above are musts. There's no escaping it... and not following these suggestions does not show courage or the like... only abject stupidity.