One of the first questions people ask us is, “Where do you sleep at night?” It’s an uncomforting thought to think of being stranded on the side of the road with your children. What would we do if we couldn’t find a safe place to sleep?
The good news is that we’ve always found a safe place for the night. Always. In four years of full-time travel on our bikes, we’ve always managed to find a safe place to lay our heads. It might not be ideal, but we’ve never ended up stranded.
People throughout the world have three basic needs – food, water, and a place to sleep. If you find yourselves without a place for the night, don’t be afraid to reach out to others for help – they’ll most likely be more than happy to help.
Hotels: Depending on your budget, you may end up staying in hotels on a fairly regular basis. There are times, however, when the next hotel is too far to reach in a day. You will need some backup in case you can’t find a hotel.
Campgrounds: Campgrounds are great if you can find them. In some areas – like the Pacific Coast – you’ll find nice campgrounds every night. In other areas, they simply don’t exist. Some RV parks allow tents; others do not. Campgrounds are nice, safe places and generally have showers and picnic tables available, but don’t rely on finding them every night. If you are traveling in high season, it would be a good idea to make reservations as they tend to fill up. Some state parks will always find space for a bike tourist, but be sure to check in advance before relying on that.
Warmshowers: Warmshowers.org is a great resource for bicycle tourists of all ages. It is a hospitality site designed specifically for bike tourists. This is a great resource for places to stay in cities, but not so great for small towns as most of the hosts tend to live in cities. Be sure to write in advance and communicate well with your host so they know when you’ll be arriving.
Wild Camping: This is where you get creative. The idea here is to pull off the road and find a spot in the woods where nobody even knows you are there. Never pull in to an area marked “No Trespassing”, do not have a fire, and leave no trace. When it is nearly dark, wait until no cars are coming before quickly heading into the woods. It takes some practice to find good wild camping spots, but after a while you will be able to find a spot nearly anywhere you look.
Ask permission: Another tactic is to ask permission to camp in people’s yards or behind a restaurant or in a church yard. We’ve met some wonderful people this way! People are nearly always willing to help you out and will sometimes even invite you into their homes.
Check out our extensive resource section! We’ve got tips and advice on a wide range of topics from bicycling with children to finances for long term travel to roadschooling and more.