Author Topic: Finding accommodation  (Read 578 times)

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Offline mrriffraff

Finding accommodation
« on: September 14, 2021, 02:31:32 pm »
As per my original post, I'm coming from the UK (if your government deems me worthy by then!) and planning a trip from Boston to Seattle via various places I fancy seeing next year.

Other than the standard websites like booking.com how do you find accommodation on route?

I'm 100% not camping as it's not my thing, but I've read on plenty of CGOAB blogs about riders turning up at churches and similar and them putting them up for the night for a donation. This sounds fantastic and would give me a real taste of the American people that perhaps a Best Western doesn't.

But how do you find that a place I'm passing through has one of these facilities? I've tried Google but just come up with blanks.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2021, 02:33:37 pm by mrriffraff »

Offline John Nettles

Re: Finding accommodation
« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2021, 03:32:47 pm »
I use Google map's info most as a lot of smaller rural hotels do not use the booking sites as they have to pay a hefty commission.

As far as churches go (search on "church" as you should see plenty of options), you should be able to call and or knock on the door but note that a lot of churches are closed during the week or have limited hours.  I also go by the fire department, the library (librarians seem to be super helpful), then the police department of a small town.  I have also just asked people walking by or working in their yard if they know of a place to camp for 1 night.  I talk with them a while and would say about 35% of the time, that person is the one who says camp in their yard. 

Also, while it is somewhat common for churches to allow you to camp, a lot do not due to insurance requirements.  If camping, do not expect to see anyone unless a Sunday morning or possibly Wednesday evening.  If staying inside the church (less common), you might see someone come by and check on you in the early evening. Of course, always leave the grounds better than you found them so the next cyclist can hopefully camp there too.

If camping is allowed officially at a church or city park (and it is known to ACA), it is usually listed on the ACA maps. If you are winging it (non-ACA route), then just use Google or any booking site. 

Tailwinds, John


Offline John Nelson

Re: Finding accommodation
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2021, 03:43:22 pm »
John, I think you may have missed the part where he said that he is "100% not camping."

Churches and fire stations that will host you seldom have beds for you. You might get a couch, but more often you will get a floor. So you need to bring something to sleep in. A sleep sack or bivvy or sleeping bag will do. But you often have access to a kitchen and bathroom.

The ACA maps list churches and fire stations that are willing to host you, but of course that only works if you're on an ACA route, which is sounds like you won't be.

As John said, there's usually nobody at a church other than at certain times, but almost all of them have a sign out front that has a phone number on it. I have had luck calling that number, but it doesn't always work, so you better have a backup plan.

Offline John Nettles

Re: Finding accommodation
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2021, 04:01:15 pm »
Opps  ::)

Offline jcostanz

Re: Finding accommodation
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2021, 07:50:02 pm »
I recomend using google maps. With a search for accomodations. And also air bnb.  Note google maps has some wrong locations or the location is based on a billing address, best if there is no website listed with smaller hotels/bnb ect. To either look at the street view or confirm with the hotel directly.


I had a booking made with booking canceled when i arrived at the hotel due to booking.com under pricing and overbooking the hotel.  Resrevation was made 4 hrs before arrival and no message was sent to me,

Offline mrriffraff

Re: Finding accommodation
« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2021, 02:51:17 pm »
Thanks John(s), I'm thinking it might be an idea to get a sleeping bag anyway, so perhaps the occasional couch isn't the end of the world. I've also stayed in some B&B accommodation here in the UK where it would have been better than so of the bedding!

I'll be using some of the ACA routes, so perhaps they will crop up.

I've been picking random small towns on Google that are potential overnights, just to get a feel for what's about even regarding food shops and cafes etc. Bits of Colorado and Kansas are a bit barren, to say the least.

John, I think you may have missed the part where he said that he is "100% not camping."

Churches and fire stations that will host you seldom have beds for you. You might get a couch, but more often you will get a floor. So you need to bring something to sleep in. A sleep sack or bivvy or sleeping bag will do. But you often have access to a kitchen and bathroom.

The ACA maps list churches and fire stations that are willing to host you, but of course that only works if you're on an ACA route, which is sounds like you won't be.

Offline John Nettles

Re: Finding accommodation
« Reply #6 on: September 15, 2021, 03:01:04 pm »
A lot of Kansas allows camping in the city parks (ask first).  Not much help for you, but still.  Churches are a little more helpful in the central plains also.

Offline canalligators

Re: Finding accommodation
« Reply #7 on: September 15, 2021, 11:37:41 pm »
I've had pretty good luck with Google Maps, just type in Lodging and search.  That usually shows all kinds of lodging - motels (chains and independents), bed & breakfasts, campgrounds, hostels.

Occasionally, campgrounds will have cabins, though they will often rent these by the week.

There are a couple of websites that list all the Mom & Pop motels.  Quality will vary, but the ones we've used were OK to Good.  Nothing fancy though.  The site I used was Motelguide.com.

Offline misterflask

Re: Finding accommodation
« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2021, 09:13:37 am »
Further down the stray camping thread...
I just (yesterday) discovered the website and app Dyrt.  Google is miserable at finding campgrounds but Dyrt seems to have nigh all of them including the primitive campgrounds with no website or phone number.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Finding accommodation
« Reply #9 on: September 24, 2021, 07:14:49 am »
Just google for hotels, motels and hostels for whatever town. It works, but sometimes less expensive options might not be listed, for which there may or might not be good reasons. The international youth hostel association or the one in the USA should have a list. I cycled and hosteled all around England, Scotland and Wales and much of western Europe. The books for hostels gave much information, not just about the locations of hostels, but also about phone numbers, open and closed seasons, directions from bus stops and train stations, rules, availability of food and more. I found European hostels more in the spirit of traveling on one's own steam than American hostels. In American hostels I saw almost nothing of hikers and cyclists. One had a rule of no Americans without a passport showing international travel within the past six months. Another had bad attitude characters hanging around. You have to make your choices when you get there. I saw the differences between the American hosteling scene and that in Europe. In Europe hostelers were bicycle tourists, hikers, and tourists using trains. Intended for those traveling by foot or bicycle, when a cyclist or hiker and a motorist showed up at the same time and only one bed was left, the bed went to the cyclist or hiker. In the USA hostels cater to young tourists, often foreigners, who travel by bus, train, rented cars and airplanes. Hostels are places where young travelers newly seeing the world gather with others of their age and experience. It matters not how you travel, whether you just cycled 10,000 miles and need a place to say in the city, or whether you just drove 10 miles from the airport. The idea of long distance cycling and hiking seems to be lost to so many people.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2021, 07:30:33 am by Westinghouse »

Offline OHRider

Re: Finding accommodation
« Reply #10 on: November 19, 2021, 12:07:25 pm »
I might have missed it but you can also join Warmshowers - this is a network of people who will host touring cyclists in their homes.  When you join you do need to volunteer to do the same when you  are back home.  In a recent ride from San Diego to El Paso we camped 10 days, stayed with Warmshowers hosts 3 days, a friend a couple of nights, and a hotel once.

KOA campgrounds often have cabins for rent for not that much more than campsites.  Many state parks have cabins but you usually have to stay more than one night.

You can also search for hostels which there are quite a few of.  If you will be in the Akron, OH area drop me a line- I'm in Warmshowers.

Offline PeteJack

Re: Finding accommodation
« Reply #11 on: Today at 12:47:06 am »
I too hate camping but I've always taken a tiny tent and sleeping bag in case I couldn't make it to a motel or hostel (almost non-existant in the US compared to Europe/UK) I've had to camp perhaps one night in 20. With google maps or the excellent ACA maps you can plan your next destination to be somewhere that has a motel. It's worth giving them a ring to see if they are still in business and if they have a room. I don't use Air B&B because a) I hate having to be somewhere and meet people at a particular time and b) motels have to conform to safety and licensing requirements so chances are they have a minimum standard of comfort; mind you I did freeze my butt off in one motel, Jeffrey City which was the only show in town. If you're like me and like to get a few miles in before breakfast it's worth phoning the breakfast place you're thinking of because they come and go.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Finding accommodation
« Reply #12 on: Today at 08:01:44 am »
I generally found that wramshowers hosts didn't usually work out very well for me, mostly because they typically wanted/need some notice about when/if you would be staying with them.  That is reasonable enough, but I much prefer a flexible schedule and don't know which towns i will actually stop in until the very last minute.  If you plan ahead and stay with a shedule that may not be a problem.  For me it was enough of an issue that I pretty much gave up on using them other than once in a while, usually at the arrival in the city where I would be starting a tour and therefore would know when I would be there.  They also can come in handy for things like a place to leave a box or case or other logistics.

Another problem was that many hosts did not respond to emails.  So I guess you need to contact a lot and hope a few get back to you.

One onther thing is that I would imagine that the pandemic may have had some impact on how many folks are opening their homes to strangers.  I have not been touring during the pandemic so I have no first hand info on that though.