Author Topic: Free Camping  (Read 7722 times)

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Offline beardless

Free Camping
« on: March 26, 2011, 03:31:56 pm »
Biking south from Boston, going it alone with a very low budget. Probably doing a good portion of the Atlantic Coast route, then splitting off. My biggest concern is where to sleep, because I don't want to pay a camping fee every night. Do people just pull off the trail and set up their tent, is it that easy? Tips?

All feedback is appreciated   :)

Offline John Nelson

Re: Free Camping
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2011, 05:45:23 pm »
It depends on where you are. What you need is a large bag of tricks, and then you can apply whatever trick you need from that bag for the situation you find yourself in. Here are some ideas to put in your bag:

Ask at a fire station if you can sleep on their floor.
Ask at a church if you can sleep on their floor.
Ask at a church if you can set up a tent in their back yard.
Ask the police if you can pitch a tent in their town park, county park or fairgrounds.
Ask a local if they know of any patch of ground on which it wouldn't be a problem if you pitched your tent. Don't make it sound like you need a campground--you're just looking for a patch of dirt.
Ask at a farmhouse if you can pitch a tent on their property.
Pull off on a side dirt road and see if you can find a level spot of ground sheltered from view by some trees with no houses nearby and without a "no trespassing" sign.
Sign up with www.warmshowers.org.
Sign up with www.couchsurfing.org.
Buy the ACA maps and use it to find free places to stay.
Find free campgrounds (there are some) or forest service campgrounds with a modest fee.
See if a campground has "hiker/biker" sites, which are generally available for $5 to $7.
Even if they say "no" to "hiker/biker" sites, ask if they have special rates for cyclists (or maybe if they'd make a special rate on the spot).
Ask someone in an existing campground spot if they would be willing to share their spot with you.
Sleep in the dugout of a local ballfield (only if they aren't playing games that night of course).
Sleep under a bridge.

More ideas at http://www.kenkifer.com/bikepages/touring/camping.htm
« Last Edit: March 26, 2011, 05:53:10 pm by John Nelson »

Offline Tourista829

Re: Free Camping
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2011, 07:51:22 pm »
to add to the excellent info from above, a College, University, Small Airport (with permission) I am not sure about this, but I wonder does ACO have a list of members, who might offer you a bed or allow you to set up your tent, in their backyard? If you do spend money, I like RV communities. I can take a shower, go swimming, (and not have to worry about gators SE only) and if the weather really gets bad, I have been known to sleep in the rec room. I also do my laundry there and can get a cold drink or snack. I pay nothing to $15 a night.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Free Camping
« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2011, 08:00:09 pm »
Biking south from Boston, going it alone with a very low budget. Probably doing a good portion of the Atlantic Coast route, then splitting off. My biggest concern is where to sleep, because I don't want to pay a camping fee every night. Do people just pull off the trail and set up their tent, is it that easy? Tips?

All feedback is appreciated   :)
John said most of what I would suggest.  I have had good luck with some of those options in other parts of the country and managed to stay for free something like half of the time on my tours.  I have not toured the east coast other than a tiny bit at the tail end of our Trans America and we were near friends and relatives there.  So I am not sure how well each of those work on the east coast.

One other thing that I will mention is that, for some routes at least, the ACA maps have lots of suggestions for places to stay, but again I have not done the Atlantic Coast so I can't say for sure how it is there.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Free Camping
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2011, 08:32:07 pm »
Tourista829, I've heard you mention the "ACO" numerous times now and I've never mentioned this before, but I believe you are referring each time to the "ACA", that fine organization that is hosting the web site we are on right now.

Offline Tourista829

Re: Free Camping
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2011, 09:32:35 pm »
You are correct, my apologies

Offline humunuku

Re: Free Camping
« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2011, 10:44:27 pm »
if your route goes near the AT at anytime, there will be plenty of cheap hostels to stay at in the trail towns

Offline beardless

Re: Free Camping
« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2011, 11:11:10 am »
Thanks a million

Offline ColoradoKid

Re: Free Camping
« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2011, 06:58:33 pm »
Been there, done that. The only problem with this type of camping (also known as Dry Camping or Stealth Camping) is finding a good campsite and not being found. You can find some nice campsites if you get lucky but on the other hand, just finding one in an urban setting can be a job all to itself. You might want to read Metal Cowboy by Joe Kurmaskie. He did a lot of dry camping in his time and the one that stood out in my mind is he couldn't find a decent campsite down south. He ended up tenting in what he though was a dry ditch only to be deluged by waste runoff from a nearby plant in the early morning hours!

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Free Camping
« Reply #9 on: March 31, 2011, 12:20:45 pm »
I have done the AC route three times. It was in the NE starting somewhere around Marcus Hook and north of there to past NYC that it became so populated and housed, and factoried, and industrialized, I was unable to find a stealth spot, but that was only once.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Free Camping
« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2011, 02:25:58 pm »
There are plenty of good spots in open woodland for stealth camping a night along highway 90 in north Florida on the ST route. Wooded areas in and very near towns on 90 tend to be surrounded by drainage ditches and walled off by thickets and vines. If you look hard enough there is always some place somewhere. My problem is that I pass by ideal places for stealth camping all day, and then when it comes time to lay it down for the night, there is never a really good place to do it. It's all in the timing. There is always something somewhere, but often the sites are not that good.

Offline SweetLou

Re: Free Camping
« Reply #11 on: April 03, 2011, 10:59:39 pm »
I am not sure about this, but I wonder does ACO have a list of members, who might offer you a bed or allow you to set up your tent, in their backyard?
I can't recall ACA having anything like that, but you might want to check warmshowers and couchsurfing.

Offline JHamelman

Re: Free Camping
« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2011, 10:40:52 am »
... but I wonder does ACO have a list of members, who might offer you a bed or allow you to set up your tent, in their backyard? ...

I missed this last week. No, we don't have such a list, however you will find some Cyclists' Only Lodging and Camping options on our maps. These are sometimes businesses that allow cyclists to use their property to camp and occasionally they are private homes that have asked to be listed on the maps. I agree with another person replying to this discussion that warmshowers.org is a good resource for finding free accommodations along the way.

.Jennifer.
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Jennifer Hamelman

Adventure Cycling Association
Inspiring and empowering people to travel by bicycle.
800/755-2453, 406/721-1776 x205
www.adventurecycling.org

Follow Routes & Mapping on Twitter: @acaroutes

Offline staehpj1

Re: Free Camping
« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2011, 11:10:38 am »
... but I wonder does ACO have a list of members, who might offer you a bed or allow you to set up your tent, in their backyard? ...

I missed this last week. No, we don't have such a list, however you will find some Cyclists' Only Lodging and Camping options on our maps. These are sometimes businesses that allow cyclists to use their property to camp and occasionally they are private homes that have asked to be listed on the maps. I agree with another person replying to this discussion that warmshowers.org is a good resource for finding free accommodations along the way.

.Jennifer.
I agree on warmshowers.org, but caution against expecting to use such hosts for a major portion of your stops.  I know that I have not found hosts more than sporadically at places where I want to stop.  I guess it would be possible to plan a route to maximize use of such hosts, but I don't think that I would myself.

Probably best to expect it to be a nice once in a while thing.

Offline johnsondasw

Re: Free Camping
« Reply #14 on: April 06, 2011, 02:31:14 pm »
Biking south from Boston, going it alone with a very low budget. Do people just pull off the trail and set up their tent, is it that easy? Tips?


I have done this a lot.  I have learned, however, never set up in sight of the road and don't set up near houses, etc, or anywhere you can hear a dog barking. 
May the wind be at your back!