First and most important rule: PACK LIGHT. Try to limit yourself to a carry-on bag – nothing checked. (The extra airline fees are just the beginning of the trouble with extra or heavy bags—train stations and hotels don’t always have elevators!) It's tough but doable, especially if you plan ahead.
If you're not sure if your suitcase is too heavy, carry it a couple of blocks at a fast clip, without stopping. If you're uncomfortable, it's too heavy. (We recommend this activity for pre-dawn, before the neighbors wake up and wonder if you've finally gone over the edge.)
On most bicycle tours, you're on the move with little time for laundry and drying. When possible, travel with fast-drying clothing - from undergarments to outerwear. Check out our clothing recommendations here. Synthetic fabrics are not only the most breathable and quick drying, they can also be the easiest to pack.
A few ways to make the most of limited packing space:
- Stuff hollow items (like shoes and water bottles) with other small items (socks, MP3 player, etc.). No dead space!
- Roll clothes to eliminate air and reduce wrinkles.
- Packing cubes make the most of small spaces, organize your items, and make packing and unpacking a cinch (key for the daily hotel moves typical of bike tours).
- Compression sacks can reduce the space taken by crushable items by 75%.
Your packing list will depend on the destination, time of year, length of trip, and personal preferences, but our suggested packing list will get you started.
Note that bike rentals generally do not include helmets and that you must bring your own.