Author Topic: Cross Country Tour: Trouble with Lodging, what to do?  (Read 2828 times)

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Offline Stevenp

Cross Country Tour: Trouble with Lodging, what to do?
« on: June 10, 2011, 06:25:58 pm »
Hey to all,

I'm on day two of my tour across America and I have found it difficult to find good/cheap lodging. This is my second night in a hotel because of not finding a place to stay. I'm in Varnville, SC and I have found a couple of things to be true. First, I had planned on just arriving at each destination (town) and then I would call churches or find a park...etc. Problem I have found is that by the time I arrive at the end of the day's journey, I am FAR too tired to spend much energy at all finding something that works. I have tried calling churches but with no avail, no answered phones. Then I was told that churches aren't able to afford being all that hospitable with people looking for a place to stay for the night, although I don't know what that means because what is it costing them anyhow. Second, camping grounds are out of the way. I don't want to go 20 miles out of the way to go to a camp site.

How do you guys do it? I am not yet using the ACA maps, not until KY, and meanwhile I can't keep spending money on hotels. Could you help me with this?

Thanks!

Offline ronnie421

Re: Cross Country Tour: Trouble with Lodging, what to do?
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2011, 07:57:38 am »
Steve,

     I have never crossed the entire country, but I have been on tours that took 8 days/nights to reach our destination.  Sleeping along the way is no dif on MY tours than on your X-country tour. We had the same problem, but we rarely got turned down when asking a someone if we could use a small patch of grass to set up our tent for the night.  It did happen, though, from time to time,  but its nothing personal. The land owner just does not know you or your intentions.  If you are clean, look like you have EQUIPMENT (not junk) on your bike, and perhaps have on a cycling jersey and helmet, most people see you as "harmless". You just have to get over that "first time" of asking a stranger for a small patch of grass to set up your tent. If THAT fails you, you may have to resort to some stealth camping. We would wait till no cars were coming, then quickly tuck into a brushy area to the side of the highway. If a passing motorist saw us tucking into a brushy area, they just thought we needed to pee and never give us a second thought, let alone report us. As long as you dont jump over any fences you should be ok. Dont be afraid. This may soon become your regular routine and its not bad at all. I wish you the best and hope you get a good nights sleep tonight! 

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Cross Country Tour: Trouble with Lodging, what to do?
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2011, 08:57:22 am »
I am 100% with Ronnie421 on the stealth camping. It works. Mix it with the occasional campground and cheapo motel and your trip becomes less expensive. The thing abouta lot of stealth camping is you might have to stay unwashed for days on end, and while a large number of the world's people are unwashed, I prefer to be clean. There are ways to stay cleaned up on a stealth camping tour.

Offline Rep

Re: Cross Country Tour: Trouble with Lodging, what to do?
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2011, 10:37:57 am »
In small towns approach the local police.  Ask if you can stay in the local park.  Next the Chamber of Commerce is a good try.

You also, after a few nights of stealth camping could stop at a motel or campground and buy a shower.  Even try a local fitness center.
Bicycling, Brewing & Backgammon...What a life.

Online staehpj1

Re: Cross Country Tour: Trouble with Lodging, what to do?
« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2011, 12:02:28 pm »
I have almost always been able to find a free place to stay in small towns.  I think it may be harder near either coast though.  We only did this a few times in the east since we often had friends and relatives nearby when in Virginia.

Personally I am not much on stealth camping, but if all else fails...

A few hints:
1. In most cases I ask in person.  I usually don't call any where other than the police.  Most of the towns I stay in are too small to have police though.
2. I often don't ask specifically for permission.  Instead I might say something like, "Do you think anyone would bother me if I pitched a tent in the park over there?" or "Is there a place I can pitch a tent for the night?"
3. Ask store clerks when you buy food, ask wait staff if you eat in a diner, ask the librarian at the public library.  Always mention that you are riding coast to coast and camping along the way.
4. If you do wind up paying, always ask about a coast to coast cyclist's discount.  If that fails you may get a AAA discount, or maybe an AARP discount if you are old like me.
5. Check out warmshowers.org and maybe couchsurfing.org.  I don't use them much, but they are one more option.
6. It is easier if you start out on an AC route because you get a feel for what is a likely place to ask.  It helps build confidence as well.
7. So while not much help at the moment it will be better when you get to the TA.
8. It is also much easier in the middle of the country.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2011, 12:07:38 pm by staehpj1 »

Offline tonythomson

Re: Cross Country Tour: Trouble with Lodging, what to do?
« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2011, 02:12:01 pm »
Hiya
You have some good info here, what I would add is don't wait until the very end of your day to start looking.  I usually start mid afternoon so that I'm not desperately tired and hungry. 
Try the local Fire & Rescue guys they are always helpful,  Set up behind a church, generally no one around in the  evening - never been sent away.
 
Best advice was from Ronnie, look smart and like a cyclist - first impressions and all that.

Good luck
Tony
Just starting to record my trips  www.tonystravels.com

Offline Stevenp

Re: Cross Country Tour: Trouble with Lodging, what to do?
« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2011, 05:52:55 pm »
Great guys!

Today I have spent some time reviewing some of the tips I picked up while I was studying up for the trip and a lot of it seems to amount to building up a little courage to starting asking around.

I want to try several of the options you have mentioned to find what I like best. I look forward to the camping but just haven't really known how to do it.

I appreciate the help. I hit the road again tomorrow and will put these tips to the test. Thanks!

Offline sprocketman

Re: Cross Country Tour: Trouble with Lodging, what to do?
« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2011, 08:58:16 pm »
Hi Steve,
Congratulations on getting out on the road! Its un-nerving at first - not knowing where you are going to stay each night. But that is why we do this. Adventure would not be adventure without the unknown.

I camped on church propeties. I never asked (I usually ride until late at night and arrive when the church is empty), but people are usually happy to find me in the morning.

 Also, look for municipal buildings - fire houses, libraries, highway dept, Etc. More improtantly, most of them have a hose out back. Free shower! All of these options are good in small towns. Fire houses were my favorite. Beware of lawn sprinklers that turn on in the middle of the night though.

You will be suprised to find out what happens if you ask.

Good luck and keep us posted.



 

Offline Stevenp

Re: Cross Country Tour: Trouble with Lodging, what to do?
« Reply #8 on: June 12, 2011, 04:29:18 am »
Thanks again. I am so grateful for all the help I have gotten through this ACA forum. It's been awesome. My journal is crazyguyonabike.com/doc/stevenp. I'd love to hear from you.


Offline Tourista829

Re: Cross Country Tour: Trouble with Lodging, what to do?
« Reply #9 on: June 12, 2011, 07:50:31 am »
I agree with the others on appearance and stealth camping. Methodist Churches, Colleges, Small Private Airports, and RV Parks. RV Parks cost an average of $15 a night. They have showers, laundry facilities, pool, and snack machines. If the weather gets dicey, they usually have a club house. 

Offline Paul A

Re: Cross Country Tour: Trouble with Lodging, what to do?
« Reply #10 on: June 14, 2011, 05:40:56 pm »
In small towns I've had pretty good luck asking at local fire departments.  If they don't have a patch of grass for me set up on they sometimes have bunk rooms in the firehouse.

Offline Tourista829

Re: Cross Country Tour: Trouble with Lodging, what to do?
« Reply #11 on: June 14, 2011, 06:54:49 pm »
Paul A +1 I have never thought of that. Good Idea. Have they ever invited you to stay for dinner?

Offline Blackbear

Re: Cross Country Tour: Trouble with Lodging, what to do?
« Reply #12 on: June 15, 2011, 10:58:16 am »
StevenP:  I just finished St. LOuis-Greensboro, NC on the TransAm, found firehouses, churches, and city parks accomodating.  Always start the conversation with "I'm riding coast to coast"  it's like a passport for permission.  Blackbear

Online staehpj1

Re: Cross Country Tour: Trouble with Lodging, what to do?
« Reply #13 on: June 15, 2011, 11:35:40 am »
Always start the conversation with "I'm riding coast to coast"  it's like a passport for permission.
So true.

Offline DaveB

Re: Cross Country Tour: Trouble with Lodging, what to do?
« Reply #14 on: June 17, 2011, 05:01:07 am »
Problem I have found is that by the time I arrive at the end of the day's journey, I am FAR too tired to spend much energy at all finding something that works.
Your problem is going to continue if you can't put at least some effort into finding a place to stay.  Calling churches is not the way, you have to go to them in person and find someone to ask.  Same with finding low cost motels, etc.  You have to do the work, they aren't going to come to you. 

If you are that tired at the end of the day, perhaps cutting back your daily mileage would help.