Rule #1: PACK LIGHT. Try to limit yourself to a carry-on bag. This isn’t a requirement, just a suggestion. (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, or up a flight of stairs 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. Synthetic fabrics/blends are not only the most breathable and quick drying, they can also be the easiest to pack (the worst fabric to ride in is cotton).
A few ways to make the most of limited packing space:
- Stuff hollow items (like shoes, helmets, 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%.
Note that bike rentals generally do not include helmets and that you must bring your own.
Suggested packing list
See information on appropriate gear and equipment for your bicycle tour.
- Water bottle
- Waist pack or small day pack
- 2 pairs of riding shorts (we recommend padded shorts and that you try them out before your tour)
- 2 riding jerseys (quick-dry)
- 2 pairs of quick dry socks for cycling
- Comfortable shoes for biking and walking
- Riding gloves
- 2-3 tee-shirts or casual shirts
- Trousers or jeans
- 1-2 pairs of casual socks for non-cycling activities
- 3-5 sets of underwear (quick-dry)
- Cool-weather jacket or rain jacket
- Extra layers and gloves for cooler season or climate (thin, thermal, water-wicking)
- Bathing suit
- Tooth brush and tooth paste
- Hair brush
- Hand sanitizer
- Passport, wallet and ID
- Health insurance card
- Travel insurance card
- Cash and/or credit cards
- Camera (with spare battery)
- Plastic bags (for dirty laundry, wet clothes)
- Electronic chargers (for camera, e-reader, cell phone)
- Adaptors or convertors
First aid kit
- Insect repellent
- Antiseptic cream or antibiotic ointment
- Sunscreen and total bloc
- Band-aids and ‘Second Skin’ for blisters
- Salve for chafing
- Medications (in original bottles with your name on them)