Where we’ll be spending our nights will vary by locale and country. We expect to start the trip with a lot of camping, to help keep costs down in the US and Canada. Once we hit Central America we plan to stay in hotels more often. Throughout the trip we also hope to stay with local hosts.
In the US and Canada – Campgrounds are prevalent. The only trick is to try and get a reduced rate since we don’t want to pay $40 for an RV site! In OR and CA, many state parks
have $5 per person hiker/biker sites. This is great because really all we need is a 8’x8’ area to pitch the tent, not an electric hookup and parking spot. When in remote areas, there is the opportunity to “wild camp” which essentially means making camp off the road out of sight. This is an excellent option because it is free and the location tends to be convenient. — Don’t worry, we won’t pass any fences or “No Trespassing” signs!
Points further south – Once entering Mexico and points further south, hotels/motels/hostels get much less expensive, and I read that campgrounds become less common. In some regions, camping is highly discouraged. In others, it is not as safe as we would like to be. We expect to find accommodation in buildings more often during this part of our trip. Once we get much further south, particularly to Chile and Argentina, we will again be camping a lot.
A third option: local hosts – This is by far the most interesting option, and provides the most benefit, since local folks will give you the scoop on all the local history, attractions, and any safety concerns. That includes advice on upcoming road conditions, which may be necessary once we venture further south!
We plan to visit with various friends and family along our route in the US, but in other locales, there are a variety of ways to meet local hosts. The main way is to use warmshowers.org, a website set up to help connect touring cyclists with potential hosts. Another service is couchsurfing.org, which is a site for general travelers. You may be more familiar with this site if you are not a cyclist. Daisy has a profile on Warmshowers and I have one on Couchsurfing so we are ready to go on this front!
Typically, the local hosts will offer accommodation (a bed, futon, or camping spot), and also possibly dinner and some form of entertainment. The only downside, though, is that after a long day of cycling you have to have enough energy saved up to make good conversation! ;) But we’ve noted through past visits and hosting that the cultural exchange is well worth the effort.
More often than you may imagine, random folks will approach and offer a place to stay. An example of when this might happen is when you’re sitting outside the grocery store eating a bag of chips AND a box of cookies, looking a bit dirty, but definitely happy and friendly. It is even better when the person offering to host tells you the story of how their child is on a long-distance cycle tour, and so they try to return the favor of hosting to balance some of the good fortune their child has received.