Packing well will make your holiday more comfortable and ultimately more enjoyable, however knowing exactly what to pack for a cycling tour can sometimes be tricky. To help you, we've used our years' of experience of packing for cycling tours to put together a guide for what to include.
This isn't a complete list, but is designed to make it easier for you to know what to pack and what to leave behind for your holiday.
When deciding what clothing to pack for a cycling tour, we always consider where and when we’ll be cycling. For example, Holland, Belgium and other countries in Northern Europe have a similar climate to the UK, but Croatia, Italy, Spain and Southern Europe are usually drier and much warmer, especially in summer. As a general rule for clothing, we always recommend taking layers that can be easily removed/added if the weather changes during a ride.
The clothing we would recommend packing can include:
- Padded cycling shorts – To wear under your cycling clothes – definitely worth investing in a pair (or two) if you haven’t got some already!
- Shorts – To go on top of your padded shorts. These should be comfortable to wear and you may wish to take a few pairs. For cooler climates or early/late in the season, you may want to consider packing three-quarter length shorts or tights/leggings.
- Lightweight fleece – A must-have layer to keep you warm on cooler rides. We’d always recommend having one in your pannier, especially for Hotel & Bike tours where you may beat your luggage transfer to your hotel – pop on your fleece or sweater and go and explore or have a beer.
- Breathable top – We would recommend packing a sensible number of breathable tops for the duration of your tour. We always pack comfortable tops that don’t flap around as you ride.
- Waterproof jacket – A lightweight, foldable waterproof is always important to have to hand. If you can get a jacket that is also windproof, this may come in handy too.
- Comfortable shoes – Packing a light, durable pair of trainers/sneakers is a must! We’d recommend something that will be comfortable as you ride and can be used for sightseeing or walking around local towns. There is no need to pack SPD’s as the bikes that are available to hire on our tours have standard pedals, however if you think you would miss riding without them, please let us know and we can tell you if it is possible for your tour.
- Non-cycling clothes – The great thing about our selection of cycling tours is that they’re not all about the cycling! After a refreshing shower at your hotel or on your boat, you will have time to explore local towns, stop for a drink or enjoy a meal. When packing we would recommend ensuring that alongside your cycling gear, there is some room for non-cycling clothing too!
Most cycling equipment that you will need for your rides will be provided when you begin your tour, but we recommend bringing the following with you:
- A helmet – We strongly recommend wearing a suitable cycling helmet on your tour. We recommend bringing your own helmet with you for comfort and safety, although helmets may be available to hire on some tours, please ask us for more information.
- Fingerless biking gloves – Gripping handlebars can lead to calluses or blisters on your hands, but a comfy pair of bike gloves should help to stop these forming.
- Sunglasses – Riding into sunlight can impair your vision, we would recommend bringing a pair of sunglasses that will fit comfortably and not fall off as you ride.
- Basic first-aid kit – It’s useful to have a basic first-aid kit in your pannier as you cycle. Cuts or scrapes can occasionally happen so make sure it includes a set of plasters, together with painkillers, bandages and any essential medication you may need.
- Small waterproof bag – Alongside the pannier provided, you may wish to bring a small waterproof bag to store essential items as you ride.
- Sunscreen & lip-balm – Staying safe in the sunshine is essential. Regardless of where you are cycling, we would always recommend bringing a practical amount of suncream with you to protect your skin.
Other Items To Consider
When putting together a packing list, you may also wish to consider the following:
- Appropriate luggage – When deciding which luggage to bring your belongings in, we recommend always considering the accommodation that you will be staying in. If you are staying aboard a boat, we advise bringing a flexible bag that can fit into the compact storage spaces in your cabin. If your tour is a Hotel & Bike tour, your luggage will be transported between hotels for you, but this transfer may be limited to one piece of luggage per customer. We always recommend labelling your luggage. Plus for tours where you are staying in multiple hotels, it is essential you fill in the labels supplied on arrival correctly and attach them safely for efficient luggage transfers.
- Passport and visa – If you are travelling outside of your home country then you’ll need your passport and if required, a visa.
- Travel insurance documents - As a condition of booking your travel arrangements with us, you are required to have suitable travel insurance. Please ensure that any insurance you book covers you for cycle touring. Once arranged, we recommend printing a copy of your travel insurance documents and keeping these with you as you travel.
- Swimming gear – Many of our tours include rides near to lakes or the ocean, and a selection of our superior and deluxe class boats have hot tubs; if this is the case with your tour then you may wish to bring swimming gear with you to enjoy a relaxing dip!
- Camera – Taking a camera is a good idea for capturing memories of your trip. A large DSLR or similar may impede your cycling and most smartphones have cameras which create very good photos, so this may be all you need. Don’t forget to send in your best snaps for our photo competition!
- Portable charger – If you are taking lots of photos on your mobile phone, you may wish to bring a small portable charger to ensure your phone’s battery doesn’t run flat.
- Plug adaptor – It’s always a good idea to check which plugs work in the country you are travelling to and pack adaptors where necessary.
- Snacks – On many of our tours you can stock up on local snacks to keep you sustained during rides, but in some locations this may not always be possible so packing a small selection of snacks can help to keep you riding. We like to take snacks that are pre-wrapped and won’t melt!
- A good book – This one is up to you, but we always like to bring an entertaining read with us!
Items That Are Provided
The following are provided on the majority of our cycling tours:
- Bike locks – If you are hiring a bike, locks for your bike will be provided.
- Spares and tools – A small repair kit for punctures will be provided if you hire a bike. We recommend that if you experience any other issues with your bike that you call the local number provided in your travel documents.
- Pannier – A waterproof pannier is always provided to each customer who has hired a bike. Dependant on tour and availability you may also be provided with a handlebar bag.
- Route notes and a map – Route notes and a map are provided on self-guided tours.
- Local contact number – During your trip help is on hand from our local operator, should you need it. You will be provided with the contact details for the local operator in your holiday documents which will be sent to you in the period before you travel.