I had an email last night from a lady who wants to go on ghost hunts. She didn't realize two things. One is that you cannot always just traipse onto a cemetery and start hunting, and two, that it cost money to do those things.
Remember that TV edits out a lot of stuff. You don't get to see Zack making reservations, or Jason making dinner arrangements. That would all bore you to death. There is a "Script" to these things. We have intros, or in the case of Ghost Adventures, they find places for their "X" cameras. It is TV. This doesn't mean the results aren't real, but the hour of investigation is more like 8-12 hours, many of those with NOTHING happening. The investigation can even be over multiple nights. The hunters all, eat, use the bathroom, take breaks and do all of those human things we all do.
When my questioner wasn't sure she could scrape up $100 to visit Waverly,I reminded her that $100 was about the average for haunted sites. That however is only the beginning. There is gas money, food, equipment, batteries, snacks, and more, and that is just going "locally". When you venture out to Villisca for example, the cost goes up even more.
Ghost Hunting costs money.Most likely the Travel Channel and Sy-fy won't be supplementing your trip, so it is all up to you.Many places want deposits up front, and the deposits are getting more expensive because many back out at the last minute (Villisca is now $200 non refundable). People backing out is a huge problem with a group in the first place, organizing one of these forays into the dark, is like planning a third world invasion where half your army is defecting. It can be a hair pull for sure.
Haunted sights usually charge a fee. There are some that are haunted hotels and after you pay for your room, the "ghost hunt" is free (I believe the Stanley Hotel still have free options for ghost hunts, but they are short, and in a large group). When you want a place to yourself, it is expensive. The cheapest will most likely run you $100 per person, if you can get enough people to go. Some places depend on group size, so it is beneficial to be in a group at some places, and not in others. When you have a group of like minded friends, you can usually book a location and split the fee.Be aware that many places still charge PER PERSON and that may or may not be to your benefit. I do not recommend going to a place like Villlisca without experienced people, but there are places that the Ghost Hunt Tour groups go to, where you are in with a group and are guided and taught. Everyone pays the same fee.
Villisca will cost you $200 deposit, and a minimum charge of $420. More people, more cost, and extra $70 or so per person. Waverly is $100 per person if you take a chance and just go in with a group. Want the place to yourself? It is $2000.00 on Friday or Saturday nights. Cheaper during the week. Thomas House is $100 and you will be in a group with others. There are not many places that allow you to just wander about on your own anymore. Too many idiots acting like Zack on a bad day.
There are many little places scattered here and there, and you can find them on line, they are genuinely haunted. They all however, charge a fee!
Ghost hunting isn't inexpensive. Most serious ghost hunters have at least $500 of equpment hiding in their suitcases, trunks, and totes. Even a beginner may have a good $70 voice recorder and a digital camera. The SLR cameras that are best for ghost hunting (in the "normal" camera genre), are at least $400.00 without lenses. This isn't a hobby for people without a few extra bucks in their pocket. It really is useless to go without any of it unless you are trying it out to see how you like it before spending the big bucks.
Finding a haunted place to tour is easy. Getting one for free, next to impossible, getting one open to book, harder and harder to do. Do NOT ever go wandering onto property (even if it is abandoned, someone "owns" it, it may be the county or state) or into cemeteries without permission. NEVER trespass.
People who are local should try Waverly Hills. It is genuinely haunted, not too far away (less than 2 hours), supervised, safe (as in no strangers can wander on to the property), and will cost you only $100, and a night of missed sleep. Try that first. There is no hype, no people who go with you and try to scare you, or act like they have abilities. You are taken to an area, given instruction and let loose for about 45 minutes. Waverly packs a lot into that 45 minutes. You most likely won't be able to get in until next year, but that will be the way with most of the "famous" haunted spots.
Many people are all gung ho about going to haunted sites until they get there. When something "bad" happens, like someone gets scratched, then sometimes that is the end of it.
Also remember one other thing. Haunting doesn't happen just becasue you show up. You may spend your money and your time, and not have an experience. Some people have a low level of fear that will not allow them to perceive things that actually do happen. So be ready to say "nothing happened"...and while the cold winter is passing by, ask for equipment for Christmas and save your money for next year so you can take advantage of some of these trips!