Clothing and equipment
You'll want to spend your bike tour time exploring villages and talking to locals – not doing laundry or waiting for clothes to dry. Try to bring fast-drying clothing, from undergarments to pants and shirts. Note that cotton can be a cyclist's worst enemy since it holds moisture, amplifying both heat and cold. Synthetics or synthetic blends are best. And don’t forget raingear – even if it's a light-weight emergency poncho. Local outfitters are a good resource. We like Rock Creek Outfitters or you can check sites like Magellan's or Travel Essentials.
Padded bike shorts can really make extended rides more comfortable, and they don’t even have to be tight-fitting Spandex. Mountain bike shorts (available at your local bike shop) tend to be baggier, just as comfortable and fine for doubling as casual shorts.
Bike jerseys with 2-3 pockets on the back can also maximize your comfort and convenience. They don’t have to be loud colors like racing jerseys, and the pockets are convenient for everything from digital cameras to suntan lotion. It’s faster to grab from a pocket than to get off your bike and search your bag.
This packing list may also be helpful.
Since many rental bikes come with saddlebags but not handlebar bags, many people find a map holder helpful so that you don’t have to keep pulling increasingly wet, sweaty paper from your pockets. These plastic sleeves attach to your handlebars and make for easy reference to the route maps provided by the tour operator.
Even with the saddlebags, you may wish to bring a day pack that you can drop into the bag and lift out when you go exploring by foot or stop at a restaurant. That way, you don’t have to leave valuables behind or take off the saddlebags each time. Another option is a waist pack.
Voltage and plug types differ around the world. Check out this listing by country to see what kind of adaptors and/or converters you need if you're taking any electronics. (Note that European countries use a 220-volt current but different plugs.) Local electronics stores should have adapters and converters, or check with Travel Essentials.
One of the top questions we get is whether the hotels have hairdryers. Well, some do and some don’t. Since many American models have the wrong voltage (and are heavy), we recommend a travel dryer that has a switch for 110 and 220 voltage.