Getting 'caught out'

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
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Re: Getting 'caught out'

Postby PH » 25 Nov 2016, 5:50pm

I love the freedom of changing plans, extending a day because the wind is on my back and it’s feeling good, or cutting one short because it’s not my day, or even staying over a day as the place is interesting.
The only way I can afford such freedom is to camp. I prefer campsites for the facilities, but I have no qualms about camping off site, I’d never consider myself caught out when carrying a tent.
I have done a couple of B&B tours where I didn’t have everything booked in advance, I’ve always found somewhere, but it can be both expensive and time consuming. I often like to ride into the evening and my experience is the hosts are not always happy to take late bookings. A couple of times I’ve been told there’s no vacancies when I’ve turned up wet and dirty, and suspected this hasn’t been true.
So, no I’ve never been caught out, but I’ve always found it cheaper and more convenient to have booked ahead and the price for that is a more rigid plan.

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Re: Getting 'caught out'

Postby Mistik-ka » 25 Nov 2016, 7:27pm

meic wrote:
Mistik-ka wrote:City police cells. Canadian blizzard. -38º F. :(

Did you have to get arrested or were they being sociable?

I was hitch-hiking, and got caught by the blizzard when the roads became impassable. It wasn't safe —or possible— to walk across town to the Salvation Army hostel, so the desk Sergeant put me on a bench in the waiting area. When I kept falling asleep (and nearly off the bench) he relieved me of my belt and shoe laces and locked me in a cell until the snow ploughs got traffic moving the next morning.

Ah, to be 17 again… :lol:

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Re: Getting 'caught out'

Postby bohrsatom » 25 Nov 2016, 7:51pm

It can be expensive to roll up somewhere and find the only remaining room is in a 5* hotel but overall the extra flexibility has always made up for the hassle or cost. Even when it's busy you usually can find something. One time we cycled into central Nimes during their annual festival and got the last room in town.

I started out going to the tourist information office and asking for help. In some places this works well - often hotels will offer them spare rooms very cheaply and on a couple of occasions we have got a fantastic deal as a result. But in others the TI appears to be on commission and they will only search rooms with affiliated hotels. Plus you have to work around TI opening hours which can be annoying.

Nowadays we use a phone and finding a hotel for the evening around lunchtime when we know what kind of riding day it's going to be. Knowing you have a booking allows you to ride later into the evening. This approach also allows you to plan ahead, so if you know an area might be lacking in hotels you could make a reservation a day or two earlier just to be sure you have somewhere to stay.

Could never do a trip where all hotels are booked before you leave. What's to say you won't find a more interesting route (or even worse have some serious mechanical issue which affects your progress)?

Edit: obviously you need to take more care if you are travelling in peak season, especially for Fri/Sat night when demand is highest. This is one reason why we usually bring a tent..

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Re: Getting 'caught out'

Postby Toffee » 25 Nov 2016, 8:23pm

How do people find hotels reaction when you turn up with a bike especially at short notice? Do they quite happily find storage for them?

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Re: Getting 'caught out'

Postby PhilWhitehurst » 25 Nov 2016, 8:34pm

Outside of Friday / Saturday's and obvious holiday hotspots or locations finding somewhere to stay is rarely an issue. So you can work on that basis , booking as you go as far ahead as you are comfortable with.

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Re: Getting 'caught out'

Postby psmiffy » 25 Nov 2016, 9:38pm

Lots of times - but its just a matter of being flexible - either having a Plan B or being able to come up with a Plan C on the fly

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Re: Getting 'caught out'

Postby bohrsatom » 25 Nov 2016, 9:45pm

Toffee wrote:How do people find hotels reaction when you turn up with a bike especially at short notice? Do they quite happily find storage for them?

Yes. In general I prefer to show up with a reservation and a bike as they are unlikely to turn you away. There is usually always space for a bike or two, or if not you should be allowed to bring them into your room.

You can make your life easier by choosing hotels which are more likely to have space. Outside a city you will be fine wherever, but inside avoid smaller hotels in old buildings where storage might be a problem.

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Re: Getting 'caught out'

Postby irc » 25 Nov 2016, 10:03pm

Arrived in San Diego from Heathrow. Schedule should have got me there around 8 or 9pm with enough time to check in and go for a couple of beers. Due to fog the plane landed at Los Angeles instead of San Diego. We were bussed to San Diego. I arrived at my booked hostel at 2am to find it locked up tightly for the night. So I assembled my bike and loaded up and headed down towards the beach and found a 24hr Starbucks. Drank coffee until the post office opened so I could post maps ahead then set off without sleeping at all. Slept well that night even though it was just my closed cell mat and sleeping bag rolled out on the sand between some bushes just off the road.

I tend not to book except for the first and last couple of nights. If you carry a tent and sleeping bag there is always somewhere. Parks, fields, picnic tables, front lawn of radio station, New England hotel being closed down for the winter, pub beer garden etc etc.

in the USA I've only once been refused permission to take my bike into my room at motels. I went elsewhere. '

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Re: Getting 'caught out'

Postby eileithyia » 25 Nov 2016, 10:18pm

Had some interesting evening's accommodation when touring in Corsica early season:-

1. Delayed on a trail that was far harder than expected, arrived at a very quiet bar/hotel at turned 7pm along the Porto road. Asked for a bed, we were asked where we heading, assured she was officially closed but gave us a bed for the night, 10 mins later everything was shut up, no lights in bar.... nowhere to get a meal so the emergency supplies were raided but we did get breakfast. next morning we found the road was in the process of a major upgrade with half the surface up.... would not have been nice cycling in the dark, no wonder she let us stay.

2. Village with a hotel, only to find hotel was shut up.... a couple of people inc the hoteliers directed us to Mme... ( i christened her widow twankey as she was clearly vietnamese or similar extraction with her mother living there), we had a bed for the night, a shared bathroom, both evening meal and breakfast but the whole time she kept asking who sent us to her house....... and next day we were told not to tell anyone where we had stayed.... I suspect a widow, making ends meet by taking in travellers, but completely outside the law... clearly believing no one knew but the whole village were in on the conspiracy.

Unbooked and not knowing where or what you might find stay in for the night is part of the fun of the trip.
Have stayed in some interesting places, I once ended up in more expensive place because i could not get in the YH at Barcelona... I made sure of checking for the next couple of nights as my priority the following morning....
I stand and rejoice everytime I see a woman ride by on a wheel the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood. HG Wells

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Re: Getting 'caught out'

Postby GPC » 28 Nov 2016, 9:59pm

One of the best holidays we ever had was doing just this, turning up in towns in Ireland and taking rooms as we found them. Got to a place one night that we had reservations at and they wouldn't let us in, so we found somewhere else that was lovely.

I don't normaly travel like that, but we had no trouble.

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Re: Getting 'caught out'

Postby Sweep » 29 Nov 2016, 8:31am

Norman H wrote:

It's also a good idea to research alternative accommodation beforehand, especially if like me, you don't usually tour with internet access.

Can I ask? An open honest question. Is it a deliberate decision/choice to travel without internet access? You said "don't usually" which implied that it was a choice.

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Re: Getting 'caught out'

Postby hamster » 29 Nov 2016, 10:13am

It depends hugely on the time of year. Travelling in Spain in October I never bothered booking. It would also depend on whether I had the family with me - an extra 15 miles is fine on my own, not so much fun with tired kids.

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Re: Getting 'caught out'

Postby Norman H » 29 Nov 2016, 3:14pm

Sweep wrote:

Can I ask? An open honest question. Is it a deliberate decision/choice to travel without internet access? You said "don't usually" which implied that it was a choice.

No, not really a decision based on any strong moral convictions. I'm no Luddite but neither am I addicted to this technology. Access to the internet is most useful, for booking accommodation etc, when it can be accessed on the fly, and I don't presently own a smart phone.

On longer tours I do carry a 7” tablet but its main purpose is to use Memory Map cartography (backed up with paper copies) and to store previously researched tour related information . It's a nice bonus if I can use free WiFi.

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Re: Getting 'caught out'

Postby georgew » 30 Nov 2016, 10:25am

Got caught short in Rouen in France and ended up staying the night in a Bar/Brothel.

Breakfast was really good. :wink:

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Re: Getting 'caught out'

Postby Barrenfluffit » 30 Nov 2016, 5:53pm

I got a bit caught out when the hostel was closed. The campsite 8 miles on turned out to be idyllic. I don't mind the odd night of wild camping but enjoy a hot shower and electricity.

The place I really struggled with was Berlin in high summer. Huge number of hostel beds but lots with an age restriction and the rest booked. I tried about 5 different hostels from early afternoon and even the 7 story hostel was full. So I paid walk up rates one night in a business hotel and moved to the hostel thereafter. It was air conditioned and fabulous!

Amsterdam was difficult hostel wise so I tried a camping option and found it vastly superior.

Having your own transport is very helpful.