What You Need for Self Supported Touring by Bicycle

  Equipment   Concerns   Considerations    Necessary Options
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.

General Guidelines
  1. Instead of "Where is the nearest campsite",
    say "I need a place to set up my tent. Can you help me?"
  2. Before asking permission, always remove your helmet and sunglasses.
  3. 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.
  1. 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
  2. Private Campgrounds
    • Many 'seasonal' occupants
    • Tent-only campgrounds are rare gems; grin if you hear "separate tent area".
    • Prices $6 - $25
  3. National and State Forests
    • 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
Public Locations
  1. 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.
  2. Roadside Parks
    • 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.
  3. Woods
    • 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.
  4. Churches
    • Make extra effort to seek permission.
    • Mowed lawn for tent setup is a nice bonus.
    • Without permission, Saturday night is not best choice.
  5. School yards and ball fields
    • Get as far back as possible.
    • Use buildings and plantings as shields.
    • Set up at dusk, or later.
    • Watch for sprinklers.
Private locations
  1. Farm yards
    • 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.
  2. Bed & Breakfasts
    • 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.
  3. Restaurant contacts
    • 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.
Emergency locations
  1. Ask:
    • Police
    • Tourist center / Chamber of Commerce
    • City Hall / County courthouse
  2. Cemeteries
    • 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.