Tenting etiquette on cycling expedition

While a growing number of group cycling expeditions feature all-hotel accommodations, most of them still involve camping. At the end of a long day of pedalling across, say, the Namibian desert or through the forests of Northern Canada, putting up your tent may be the last thing you want to do. It is, however, an important element in your cycling adventure. Making the wrong choices can end up costing you a good night’s sleep…or worse. After a few days on the road everyone knows who snores, farts or gets up to pack at 03:00.

Peg Your Tent

Don’t want to see your expensive tent blowing across the endless Sahara desert? Then at the end of the day, be sure to take the time and the effort to peg your tent. Half-assed methods like leaving one of your bags inside to weight it down (see above) are not recommended. Enlist the help of a fellow rider if conditions deteriorate.

Space Your Tent

There is nothing like arriving at a spacious bush camp, surveying the possibilities and then setting up your tent is a perfect spot…only to have another rider decide to park their home for the night practically on top of you. And inevitably, it will be someone who snores like a tractor.

The exception to this rule is Ethiopia.

If you are shy, be sure to keep your tent closed.

Sometimes, it is best to just pick up and leave.

Locate Your Tent

All spaces are not equal. For example, this ingenious fellow decided to use the roof of the support vehicles to gain some distance from his companions. Brilliant, no? Well, it was until a vicious thunderstorm rolled in that night and the lightning began…

You could choose to erect your tent in an outdoor gym…

…or an amusement park…

…or on a beach.

Practice Makes Perfect

There may be cases where you have to move your tent in the middle of the night (snoring, floods, wild animals, disgruntled lovers, etc) so it is a good idea to get used to taking down and rebuilding your tent in challenging circumstances.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Try to find a space close to important facilities…

…but make sure you set up your tent in an area that is not susceptible to flooding…

…or animal incursions…

And never, ever, tent too close to the kitchen. Chefs are super touchy about that!

Sharing Your Tent

To avoid unwanted gossip, please, please wait until after dark to have your ‘visitor’ arrive. Remember to be sure to set up 2 individual tents and situate them a substantial distance apart when you first arrive at the campsite.

Using Your Tent

Your tent can also be used for such diverse purposes as a Yoga studio…

…or a laundry rack…

…or a library.

But unless you look like Brad Pitt, be sure to change your clothes inside your tent, not outside.

Identify Your Tent

Unless you are looking for a really unpleasant experience, be sure that you can differentiate between your tent and the communal toilet tent.

Have a Back-up Plan

What if you tent does blow away or get stolen or gets flooded? Use your imagination to come up with a ingenious way of making it through the night.

To Fly, Or Not To Fly

We have all been there. It is a beautiful night. The sun is sinking to the west. The sky is clear. The temperature is perfect. A nice breeze comes up. Now comes the question — do you put the fly on, or not?


Star gazing, fresh air


Rain, sand, wild animals

Bathroom Breaks

The eternal question of how far away from your tent and those of your fellow riders you need to travel before you pee/poo remains dependent on 3 main variables: time of day, fatigue levels and, most importantly, alcoholic consumption.

Once you have taken all this sage advice into account, you will find that your camping experience on cycling expeditions will be something you will cherish for the rest of your life. And if not, just remember that you can always opt out and choose an all-hotel expedition.

Originally published at tdaglobalcycling.com on August 5, 2016.

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