What You Need for Self Supported Touring by Bicycle
Considerations - Where to Stay
Every night, you've gotta be some place. The more informal you are willing to be, the more choices you have.
- Instead of "Where is the nearest campsite",
say "I need a place to set up my tent. Can you help me?"
- Before asking permission, always remove your helmet and sunglasses.
- When confronted with "We don't have a bathroom you can use.",
you can respond with "I took care of that back at my last stop."
It will be more convincing if what you say is true.
- State Parks
- Few tenters
- Motorhomes with generators and AC
- More concrete; less grass
- Most will take SST cyclists, even if full
- Buy stuff before you arrive
- Prices $12 - $20
- Private Campgrounds
National and State Forests
- Many 'seasonal' occupants
- Tent-only campgrounds are rare gems; grin if you hear "separate tent area".
- Prices $6 - $25
- Some have payment on honor system.
- Sites are more secluded and natural.
- Pit toilets and water fawcet are common.
- Showers and flush toilets are unusual.
- National Forests allow free camping most anywhere
if you follow some rules, like distance from the road
and notification of supervisor. Each place is a bit
different, depending in part whether there are formal
campsites also available.
- Prices $6- $14, or free
- County or City Parks
- Some counties and cities have formal campgrounds.
- More likely if toilet facilities are nearby.
- Less likely if other campground is nearby.
- Good idea to ask, but offices may be closed when you arrive.
- If you can't ask permission, you can still ask for forgiveness.
- State Police said to ask DNR.
- DNR says ask Agriculture.
- Agriculture needs to call back, (they didn't).
- OK if not vagrant or soliciting, per deputies.
- Avoid areas with fences or signs.
- Look for deer trail or other natural path.
- Enter unnoticed - dusk or later.
- Turn off your tail light before entering.
- Best to be out of sight; certainly out of headlights.
- A place higher than the road is best.
- Avoid low areas - mosquitos and flooding.
- No fires - leave no trace except bent grass.
- Bright panniers or tent can work against you.
- Check above for dead branches before setting up your tent.
- Think twice during hunting season.
School yards and ball fields
- Make extra effort to seek permission.
- Mowed lawn for tent setup is a nice bonus.
- Without permission, Saturday night is not best choice.
- Get as far back as possible.
- Use buildings and plantings as shields.
- Set up at dusk, or later.
- Watch for sprinklers.
- Farm yards
Bed & Breakfasts
- Always ask permission.
- Chances go down if husband is not home, or kids are present.
- Farmers have gotten used to local odors; you may not.
- Some may let you set up a tent for a lower price.
- Be sure you get access to the toilet, and maybe the shower.
- If breakfast is included, ask what it included.
- If you restaurant for supper, talk about your tour, then ask 'everyone'
about places to stay.
- Be sure to get your water bottles filled.
- Don't leave things you could snack on later, like crackers and jelly packets.
- Tourist center / Chamber of Commerce
- City Hall / County courthouse
- Go to the back, dusk or later.
- Stay far away from holes, especially those freshly dug.
- Get behind plantings or monuments.
- Some have pit toilets; BYO toilet paper.
- Don't drink the water.