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  #1  
Old 1 Jun 2008
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Tent & Sleeping bag

For those of you who have traveled Central and South America and expected to stay in hotels only. Was there ever a time you wished you had a tent and sleeping bag along?
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  #2  
Old 1 Jun 2008
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I have dragged tent and sleeping bag all the way and I am not sure i would do it again.

There are several sides to it:

1. Economic. You will save money by camping, but hostels are n ot that expensive and I have used them all the time. I would also like to add that you can find hostels/hospedajes/hotels in just about any little town/village. I have found hostels everywhere and generally they are cheap in the countryside.

2. Loneliness. main reason I did not use my tent more. Driving around alone and camping alone, is just too much alone for me. If you are alonely type or in a group then a tent is worth more i think.

3. Safety. Main reason I brought it really. If you get stuck somewhere in the mosquito infested jungle or in a mountain pass, you want to have some shelter. I never had to use it, but I think I would have been really glad I had the tent if I had to.

4. Quality and price. If you want something truely usefull you have to shell out quite a bit of money. I had a decent tent, but my sleeping bag was not good enough to use comfortably in the mountains (gets freekin cold there) and my sleeping mat died in Mexico. So I would say that you should reserve 100-300$ for tent, 200-500$ for sleeping bag and 100-200$ for mat if you want something that you will appreciate to use. You can spend much much much more of course!
An alternative would be to only bring a light weight tent for emergency use.

I had a petrol stove with me and havent used it even once. Coffe is cheap and I am not the type who sits down and makes coffe for myself in the middle of nowhere without anyone to talk too. Maybe you are different.


All in all, you will not know until you try. When you come back you have a better idea of your specific needs.
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  #3  
Old 1 Jun 2008
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Really depends who YOU are

I go on these trips not just to see places and put kms under me, but to meet people. So unless I was camping at camp grounds or in someones front yard, I would just be isolating myself. "Rest" between kms is not just getting off the bike, it is "being with peolple". Anyway, that is how I see it...

On the last trip my son and I took Around the Block 2007 | we planned it to stay in inexpensive hostals. We would set a plan for a certain destination, but by 3 pm we would check our progress and stay where we were if it was not possitive we would easily make our destination before dark. NEVER drive in the dark except in an emergency, because it WILL BE an emergency if you do!

I agree with Peter. In fact if you add up the cost of tent, bag and roll, you have enough $$ to stay in inexpensive places every night for 4 months!
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  #4  
Old 1 Jun 2008
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Thanks

Thanks for the advice.

Len
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  #5  
Old 2 Jun 2008
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I agree with the recommendation not to bring tent, sleeping bag etc in Sth Am, and i am the strange type of person that actually likes to ride in the night, in all countries, and off road! But i still always find cheap places to sleep. And if you couldn`t i`m sure you could knock on someone`s door and at worse pay the going rate!
Plus is cheap and the people nearly always friendly/fun, so you end up wanting to stop in a town.

I`ve used my tent 3 times, and that was only because i was in a hurry for a certain destination. This way i would ride until around midnight, stop and be sleeping 20 mins later, then up at sunset, which was quicker than finding a hotel in larger cities in that region and also enabled me to stop when i wanted to. Let`s not question my sanity here(!), i`m just adding weight to the recommendation since even without careful planning you don`t need it.
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  #6  
Old 2 Jun 2008
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You can alwas take a tarp and some rope and pegs for a tent, works for bike cover to. Do take a silk sleeping bag liner some beds are funky.
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  #7  
Old 2 Jun 2008
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Travelling without camping????? I can't imagine....What a loss, in MY mind anyway. ;-) There's nothing like going to sleep and waking up in the middle of nowhere....
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  #8  
Old 3 Jun 2008
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Depends where you camp. More often than not it's a struggle to find a private tranqual place to camp.

We've had an evening snack delivered to us in Turkey after which we got invited for breakfast the next morning by the hotel in the area. In Azerbaijan we got surprised by a side cart ice cream salesman doing side wheelies as he left, and in Mongolia people come out of nowhere.

When I set up camp I'm ready for sleep because after a whole day of eventfull experiences I'm completely farked. And who want's to deal with loud neighbours or grotty plumbing than. I still have dinner and breakfast in towns or diners.

It's all relevant when you talk about experiences. Apples and........
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  #9  
Old 3 Jun 2008
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So what you're really saying it that you don't like 'rough' (or 'wild') camping in general which kind of disqualifies you in answering the question. No offence though, don't mean anything by it.

I don't see how having crap plumbing is better than no plumbing though. Even camping ammenities are worse than nothing at all. The world is your toilet means you don't have to stand in the stink.
Setting up a camp takes less than finding the parking at a hotel, sign in and unload the bike if you organise yourself. Dome tents are great for that because it doesn't need pegs. Throw the mat and sleeping bag in it, and dig into the you bought when you had dinner over a fire. Magic.
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  #10  
Old 3 Jun 2008
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Still, I'm with MollyDog...

I've done lots of camping in my life, even recently. I'm talking about out in the Amazon with a machete, some salt and a mosquito net. Nothing else! That's not for bragging rights, it's to say that I ENJOY "roughing" it. But when I am traveling by motorcycle, I am going not just to see the natural wonders (I NEVER go to see cities), but to really meet people, something that usually doesn't happen during the driving day(unless you break down). I don't feel I've known a country until I've developed real relationships with people there and that takes hours at least.

NO, I'm not talking THOSE kind of relationships! I am VERY happily married.

For example: Don't take everything you need as far as spare parts or even tools. Let someone else rescue you with their knowledge, tools, or pickup truck (take tie-down straps). We beat up on Charley and Ewan, but probably their best moment in "Long Way Round" was when they let those Mongolian "shade-tree mechanics" solve their bike problem. Now THAT'S memorable!

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Old 3 Jun 2008
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MollyDog, you're right, I'm not fluent in Spanish, though I lived in a Costa Rican fishing village for 13 months, where I was the only English speaker. Neither am I fluent in Arabic, though I lived in Egypt for seven years working as a journalist, or Kiswahili, when I lived in Kenya for five years. Basically, I'm crap at languages. However, because I'm pretty much immersed in whatever culture I live or travel, BECAUSE I'm working while travelling, (I've spent two weeks living with Bedouin in caves, and six weeks traveling across the Libyan Desert with camel herders etc etc etc) camping in isolated places is a godsend for me. I need my space, and time to regroup from being around people.
Hope this clears that up.
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Last edited by lorraine; 3 Jun 2008 at 17:07.
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  #12  
Old 3 Jun 2008
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camping

Coming at this from another angle- the cheapskate approach- I say do not buy an expensive tent and sleeping bag. Any $30 department store tent with fiberglass poles and a modest sleeping bag will suffice for emergency summer weather camping. I haul a tent and sleeping bag along for the odd occasion when I find a nice free camping place or in the US seek refuge from overpriced hotels or commercial campgrounds. I have camped out all over Europe and Australia , but only occasionally in thirty years of trips in Mexico and Central America.Last trip to Honduras did not use the tent even once, but it was nice to know I had it in case.So what good would it do me knowing I had $600 of camping gear on the bike and not using it? Money better spent on cheap hotels.And even expensive gear wears out eventually needing $$$ replacements
Also, when folks say camping they usually mean they also cook their own food. This means they will have to haul food, feul, cooking gear, cleaners etc. Waaaaaay tooo much junk to haul on a bike.
If you are willing to camp out and fight the bugs then the occasinal hotel which you might find distasteful to your genteel constitution should be easy to take if you classify it as indoor camping.
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  #13  
Old 4 Jun 2008
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YES!!

Why do we think that we are not going to be able to get things we need when traveling, therefore he haul EVERYTHING (including the kitchen sink) from our home "just in case". The rest of the world doesn't live like that, or even think that way! We must be quite a sight!!!

SIMPLIFY, SIMPLIFY, SIMPLIFY !!!!!!
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  #14  
Old 4 Jun 2008
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So you're saying not to take one, but to buy one locally when you think you'll need it? Why have the hassle to find a tent that is more than likely to be crap. At least in Asia and Eurasia it's that case. I thought I would go with the poncho instead of a tent, but a few windy nights and slugs in your sleeping bag will cure you of that. Oh, and a face like a teenager from the mozzies. Nice.

Then finding an outdoor shop in France without being able to speak French was a massive pain. We weren't near a major city for starters. Found one eventually. That one blew into a river in Turkey, don't ask..... We were trying to dry it out. In Turkey we couldn't find anything decent to withstand Mongolian winds, so had one shipped to Georgia. It was awesome.... It got nicked in Russia by the crate maker though (we think).... Again, don't ask.....
On a previous trip I bought one locally. Nothing with an inner tent, so imagine a rainy night in that. Oh, I lie, there was a Northface tent. Guess what the cost was....

They are small mate (some of them). Bring one. If you enjoy camping you'll love it. Best of both worlds.
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  #15  
Old 5 Jun 2008
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Of course we can buy whatever we truly need locally—that's what local people do, right? But when I've actually done this I've found it difficult to find quality gear of the sort I like once I leave North America or Europe. Sure, all I "need" is a couple of blankets and a pair of flip flops on my feet,....but in fact if I'm sleeping rough I like a dry, wind-stable tent and an actual sleeping bag. These are hard to find most of the places I travel.

Even when proper kit is available for purchase, there's some question as to whether I really want to spend my travel time searching ineffectually for camping gear in, say, Bamako or Blantyre when I've already got whatever I'm looking for sitting on the shelf at home. As long as I can treat the search as entertainment (you know: slowing the pace, establishing connections, interacting with the locals on their terms, etc. etc. etc.) it's fine, but more often I've really got better places to be than, say, Bamako or Blantyre.

I admit that there is a balance between owning my kit and being owned by it, and that I never seem to hit the perfect balance point. I carry a lot more than some folks, less than others. I'm jealous of those I see on lightly-loaded 250's, but I don't really want to join them. In fact, I'm jealous of those who travel by catered, airconditioned Land Rover too, but that's not how I really want to spend my money.

Having said all that, I rarely use a tent in the developing world, but I often carry one (and have had occasion to be very thankful for this). My smallest weighs less than three pounds/1.5 kilos. I've almost always got some sort of lightweight sleeping gear (pad, bag, liner sheet), and these come into play relatively often. For the most part I've stopped carrying cooking gear, but I favor goretex and a water filter.

Mileage varies.

Mark
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