Forget all the hi-tech junk, forget the digital thermometers, the EMF meters the movement activated cameras, computer systems, surveillance systems and all that expensive equipment you know you are never going to be able to both afford and lug around. If you want to go ghost hunting then the best way to do it on a budget is to forget all that junk and just go.
The best place for paranormal activity for beginners is to start out walking through the local cemetery during the day. YES ghosts will appear during the day as well as at night, except they are more difficult to see. It's generally believed that movement during the day, noises from traffic and other people etc. disturb any paranormal activity and hence it isn't as active during the day. But if there's a chance of something happening, it might just happen during the day in a quiet moment. You are best to visit during the day, get the feel of the place and see if you can connect with anything going on that might be of interest on a visit back at night.
Other good places to start with are known historic houses, that are open on a daily basis to the public. Most historic homesteads usually have a ghost story or two, it's highly unusual if they don't! Sometimes if you talk to the staff or even have a quiet word with the owners they might have a few stories about the ghosts and might also ask you back for a better look at night! Even if you just walk around the old house and once again get a better feel for the place, maybe take some photos, it's sure to give you an idea of any hauntings or other activity you might want to ask about later.
NO YOU DON'T NEED ALL THE EXPENSIVE EQUIPMENT
The basics you can carry are a note pad and a camera (if possible) and yourself. But of course, you can go without even taking the camera and notepad!. Another handy tool is a torch, with spare batteries just in case.
If you do have a camera, be sure to take photos of anything where your feelings change, its always best policy to take more photos than what is necessary, so don't feel that you are overdoing it. Note down the change in your mood or feelings; i.e. cold/hot etc. Note where and when anything happened and leave enough notes so you will be able to find the exact place again if you wish to return at a later date.
TRY A NIGHT TIME VISIT TO REALLY TEST YOURSELF
Now that you've practiced a little during the day, try and go back at night. If visiting a cemetery at night, you sometimes need to ask council permission, or permission of the cemetery itself (there are usually contact details at the cemetery) for night access. It can be illegal to go into some cemeteries at night so do be careful to gain the proper permissions or you might find yourself talking to the local police about what you are up to.
If you are interested in an old building or someones home, or an old abandoned property, don't be a fool and try to break in, jump fences and romp around the place. DO remember to try to talk to anyone who is a caretaker or owner of the property and tell them EXACTLY what you are doing and check if it's OK with them. It's a good chance to also ask for any information they may be able to supply or suggest any others to talk to who may have experienced anything at that site.
A brief history of the hauntings and any other activity is always handy. Remember if you stay friendly and act responsibly, you are more than likely to be asked back and to also get a good name for yourself for accessing other haunts within the same area.
DON'T EXPECT TOO MUCH - GHOSTS DON'T APPEAR ON COMMAND
Once you are inside the haunted site at night, the best approach is to NOT EXPECT ANYTHING and to keep your cool no matter what. Arm yourself with your camera, be sure it's working, the batteries are holding out and that it's turned on. Check that lens cap is also OFF. Don't have your camera packed away in a pocket or in a camera case where it's going to take you a good minute or two to access it. When something happens, it will usually be a total surprise and you will need to be able to snap photos as quickly as possible.
Once again walk around the site, use your torch and explore the area thoroughly. Note anything that might make noises or disturbances. This can include pipes, drafty doorways, machinery switching on and off especially vents and air conditioners. Don't be fooled by any strange noises, explore them thoroughly and note down what you found. 9 times out of 10 Ghost Hunting is all about patience. Ghosts don't appear every 10 seconds waving their arms, if they ever appear at all......it's really NOT like the movies :o). Try to bear in mind that the majority of stories about haunted houses are untrue and at the very least greatly overexaggerated. No matter how horrific the stories of ghosts and entities may sound, the truth is far more boring in reality. In fact ghosts or any other paranormal activity is very rare to see. You would be lucky to have one event happen in twenty Ghost Hunts!.
BE PREPARED FOR ANYTHING AND BRING A 2ND PERSON ALONG WITH YOU
If you are the type of person to get jumpy in the dark, please don't even think about visiting a haunted site at night. You really need to have a strong heart and a strong mind. Nobody appreciates a person that screams every time the wind blows or a camera shutter goes off.....leave those people behind please!
It's always best to take along a good friend who is interested, and someone who is not likely to be bored or overly skeptical by the entire thing. Not only can they keep you company, but they are also a witness to any even that happens. The most common thing when something does happen is you ask yourself immediately "did I really see that'. To have a backup witness to confirm that YES you really did see that is a great comfort and also adds a backup to your claim of what you saw.
Sometimes two people see different things and having a second person has on occasion made you realise you were mistaken about what you actually saw.
When an event does happen, be sure to try your best to take photos, note down everything as soon as the event has finished. You'd be amazed how you forget small details by the next morning or even one hour later. Note down EVERYTHING as soon as you possibly can, even the tiniest details can make a huge difference at a later date, so try to be as specific as possible.
Take photos after the event too, photograph the surrounding area and also take lots of shots of the outside of the building.
And there we have it - that's about all there is to get yourself out there and Ghost Hunting! See that isn't so hard is it?.
If you get really experienced and feel like you want more company, feel free to start up your own group and organize meets at the local cemetery and other sites and you'll be happily on your way to find out more information and perhaps move on up to a few more bits of equipment.
Castle of Spirits.com
AGHS - Australian Ghost Hunters Society