When most people are taking a trip and considering modes of transportation, cars and airplanes are the things that come to mind. They might even think trains or ships, depending on the location. But very few people think of taking a long trip via bicycle—and yet, if you love to bike, it can be one of the best ways to travel for your vacation. Biking is fast enough to get you where you want to go, but slow enough to allow you to enjoy the sights along the way. In fact, here’s eight great reasons you should consider traveling by bike offered by people who have actually done it.
Of course, traveling long distances by bike isn’t for the faint of heart. If you’re interested in taking your next vacation via bicycle, here are some important tips you’ll need to know.
Invest in the Right Equipment
The most important thing you can do to ensure your biking experience goes well is to invest in high quality equipment. Cycling/road bikes aren’t all created equal. Be sure to go for road bikes that you can feel good about. In addition to a quality bike, you’ll want clothing that will wear well and protect you from the elements, and a storage bag to pack a couple of changes of clothing in.
Train for the Experience
Trust us: You can’t go from living on the couch to biking across the country overnight. If you’re passionate about biking long distances, you need to get your legs in biking shape. Get in the habit of biking daily before you go on your trip to build up your strength and stamina. If you can’t bike for miles at a time on a regular day—or simply don’t enjoy it—then you’re not going to enjoy the experience of biking cross-country.
When you’re biking, you’ll be carrying not just yourself but also everything you need for your vacation with you. The key is to pack light. See if you can make do with just a couple changes of clothing and your basic hygiene needs. If you’re biking to somewhere and plan to stay there for a while, you can always ship the things that you’ll want while you’re there ahead of you and meet your things when you get there. But even while you’re packing light, you’ll want to ensure you have some light layers so that you are protected from light rains or cold winds.
Secure Your Route Ahead of Time
Bikes can’t travel everywhere that cars can travel—and they can travel a lot of places cars can’t travel. A different mode of transportation takes a different route. Do a little research ahead of time to see the best route you can take to see what you want to see. Make estimates of how far you’ll bike each day, and book yourself some comfortable hotel rooms along the way. This will not only ensure you have a place to stay, but also motivate you to push on to your next room at the end of a long day.
Give Yourself Enough Time
If you’re taking a week off of work, biking probably isn’t the right transportation option for you. To get the most out of your cycling vacation, you need to give yourself enough time to actually bike to and from your destination, as well as some time to enjoy your chosen vacation spot (or spots). This is a vacation you’ll want to save up some time for—not the sort of thing you can decide to do at the last minute.
Have a Back-Up Plan
What’s your plan if it rains while you’re biking? Or if your legs get dead tired and you can’t bike any longer? Make sure you have a back-up plan for your biking vacation, especially if this is your first time attempting cross-country biking. Have a budget for a rental car if you need one, for example. There’s no shame in changing your transportation mode partway through your vacation: If cycling is no longer relaxing and invigorating you, it’s okay to move on to your backup plan.
Cycling is a great way to experience the world. You can see sights you’d never see in your car, and you get to focus on yourself and your own thoughts. But in order to enjoy cross-country cycling, you first have to think it through and prepare yourself for the experience. If you do it right, you’ll never want to take an airplane again!