Travel planning

packing list for bicycling tour

Pack like a pro and you’ll travel with ease!
Follow our packing list and recommendations, based on 50+ years of experience operating international bicycle tours.

Luggage Limit: There is a limit of 2 pieces of luggage per person on our tours – one larger suitcase that weighs less than 50 lbs (25 kgs), and a smaller carry-on bag such as a backpack or overnight bag.

We enforce these restrictions because of limited space in transportation vehicles and to safeguard the welfare of our tour leaders as well as yours. On self-guided tours, extra luggage charges may apply.

Content overview

Packing guidelines and tips for all tours

Luggage tips

  • Pack light: Keep in mind that you will be toting your luggage at different times during your vacation. Remember, you may have to go from the airport to the train or bus station, and will need to bring your bags down to the hotel lobby in the morning. Some hotels may not have elevators. Please be aware of our luggage limit.
  • ExperiencePlus! luggage tags: Place your tags on all of your luggage pieces including carry-on bags. If you don’t have any yet, you will receive them on Day 1 of your tour.
  • Adhere to the TSA packing guidelines for carry-on and checked luggage: See for current restrictions, but be aware that different countries may have different requirements.
  • Eliminate and combine containers (bags inside bags): Do you really need the toiletry “kit,” cosmetics “case,” passport “case,” camera “case,” etc. or do you need the contents? Combine items in a plastic bag or use packing cubes.
  • Travel samples save space and weight: Visit the “trial-size” section of your drugstore or supermarket for small size toiletries. If your favorite brands are not available then transfer contents to small plastic bottles that can be purchased in the size you need. Or use toiletries provided by hotels, or purchase some at your destination.
  • What’s in your carry-on: Feeling Lucky? It is not much fun to find out that your checked luggage with your cycling gear has not arrived at your destination. You may wish to pack one change of cycling attire, shoes, and helmet in your carry-on, or travel 100% carry-on. DO NOT pack prescription medicines in your checked luggage.
  • Consider your location and bring what you need: While in most cities in Europe, you’ll be able to purchase anything you forgot (insect repellent, sun screen, contact lens solution, etc.), remote areas or countries with limited access to materials will require a more meticulous preparation. If your tour is in mostly remote areas, or if you are joining a tour in Cuba or South America, stocking up will be harder, so be sure to double-check your packing list before traveling.

Important notes about bikes and gear

  • While we do our best to accommodate last minute requests, we cannot guarantee changes in bike choice or equipment requests less than 30 days before tour departure date.  
  • Refer to our Bikes Page to see how your bike will be equipped and see below what gear we recommend you bring.
  • Be aware that if you bring your own bicycle, we are happy to provide a rear rack pack but your bike must have a rear rack. If you bring your own bike on Gravel Explorer tours, we can provide you with an under-seat pack. Otherwise we suggest you bring a small daypack to carry miscellaneous items you will need during the day.

Clothing notes

  • Weather preparedness: Even though we’ve designed our tours around the best cycling weather to avoid heat and inclement weather, weather is unpredictable. Rain is always a possibility and days and evenings can be cool. As such, lightweight, fast drying clothes are best, as are clothes you can layer. Bring cool weather gear for any spring or fall tour. Heat can also be a concern and should we encounter unseasonably hot weather periods on tour, we will try our best to provide flexibility to avoid the hottest parts of the day. To counter sun and hot temperatures, we recommend bringing cycling clothes and sun sleeves with UPF protection and  a head covering that you can douse with water.
  • Dress code: While our tours do not have a dress code and we encourage you to be comfortable, some restaurants frown upon shorts and t-shirts at dinner. Therefore, we suggest you bring casual pants and/or a skirt. No sport coats or ties are needed. Note that shorts and sleeveless tops are frowned upon in some churches, so come prepared.

Country-specific notes

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Packing essentials for all tours

oPassport (required)Check it now for expiration.
oPhotocopy of passportWe recommend you carry one copy with you packed in a Ziploc-type bag and separate from your real passport, and that you leave a copy at home with friends or family.
oPhotocopy of credit cardWe recommend you carry one copy in a safe place with you, and leave a copy with friends or family at home.
oTravel insurance informationBring your insurance’s policy numbers and phone numbers. Remember a toll free number will not work from overseas, so bring the “regular” phone numbers.
oFace masksThey can still come in handy on public transportation or in the event sickness occurs.
oHand sanitizerIt’s advisable to bring some that you can carry with you and use whenever needed. Some will be available on the van while on most guided tours.

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Clothing for all tours

City clothes

o1-2 pair casual pants and/or skirts
o3-4 wash and wear shirts (merino is a staff-favorite and travels well)
o1-2 pair shorts or capris (depending upon season of travel)
o1 light to medium weight long-sleeve top for layering
o3 pair socks
oswimsuit for swimming or sunning or saunas
ohat (scrunchable)


oDo not bring new shoes, break them in now.
oComfortable sandals or casual shoes, as your tour may involve walking on cobbles.
oCheck your itinerary for potential non-cycling activities (non-cycling activities not available on Gravel Explorer and Self Guided tours): Sandals or shoes that can get wet are often useful, especially on tours with cave visits or canoe/rafting events.
oIf you use only one all-purpose shoe for bicycling and walking, then bring a second pair of sandals or shoes to give your feet a rest, or in case one pair of shoes gets wet.

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Cycling gear for all tours

Items you SHOULD bring

oHelmet – Helmets are required on tour. Please bring yours. You can stuff it full of small items and fit it into your checked luggage, or attach it to your hand luggage.
oSunglasses – Bring some good-quality eye protection.
oCycling gloves – long-fingered ones are especially recommended for alpine regions and long downhill sections in the mountains.

Items you MAY want to bring

oMirror – on helmet or on handlebarsAll of our bikes, including e-bikes, in Latin America and Europe accommodate bar-end mirrors.
oYour own bike seat. While we have a variety of saddles for you to choose from, saddle preference can be a very individualized choice. Because the bike saddle plays such a prominent role in your comfort we encourage you to bring your own saddle if you feel it would be best for you. If you do bring your own saddle, do not bring the seat post and make sure that the saddle has rails for mounting in order to fit our bikes. Please note that carbon saddles may not fit standard posts. Our tour leaders will mount and adjust the saddle at the bike fitting and remove it at the tour end for you.
oYour favorite back-up cycling water bottle (we provide one on tour).
oSmall tool kit (optional, but useful), small rag for chain grease (ever wonder why cyclists wear black shorts?)
oYour own pedals. If you bring your clipless cycling shoes with cleats then also bring your pedals that are specific to your type of cleat. On guided tours, our staff will put your pedals on and take them off for you at the end of the tour.

Cycling clothes

o2-3 pair padded cycling shorts or knickers, or other bottoms comfortable while cycling
o3 brightly colored (for visibility) cycling jerseys, athletic tops, or shirts comfortable for cycling
o1 long-sleeved, performance-type fabric shirt jersey for layering
o3-4 pairs cycling socks
oWater-resistant wind breaker
oYou should also plan to bring some cooler weather gear for chilly mornings and rainy days, especially if you are on a Self Guided tour: Cycling tights or leg-warmers, long-sleeved jersey or arm-warmers, water proof (Gore-Tex or similar) rain jacket and pants, head warmer (hat and/or headband), long-fingered gloves, and cycling booties and/or part-wool socks.
oFor sun protection, bring a head covering and sun protection, e.g. UV-protectant sleeves, or clothing with UPF.

Cycling shoes

You may bring cycling specific shoes or allround athletic shoes, for example:

Stiff-soled athletic shoes with closed toes suitable for riding and walking around, such as cross training shoes.
Clipless cycling shoes with your own pedals. If you are using cycling shoes with cleats we strongly recommend mountain or touring style shoes that have a recessed cleat so you can comfortably explore during the day.
oIf you stick with stiff-soled road riding shoes, bring a light extra pair that you can change into for sightseeing and that fits in your rear pack.

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Toiletries for all tours

Cosmetics, toiletries, medications, etc.

oBack-up pair of contact lenses or glasses (you never know!)
oSunblock or sunscreen
oLip balm
oCycling anti-chafing cream for those prone to chafing
oClassic, Bike & Boat and Gravel Explorer tours: Laundry soap and line to dry your laundry (any nylon rope will do); consider bringing a mesh-bag for your laundry. More about laundry while on tour. Expedition tour travelers need not bring laundry soap as we will have some on the van.
oDeodorant, toothpaste, brush, comb, etc.
oShaving materials
oInsect repellent (bugs are generally not a problem but mosquitoes are sneaky)
oAllergy medicine for pollen or bee stings
oKaopectate tablets or equivalent
oAspirin, Tylenol, or equivalent
oSeasickness medication if you’re on a Bike & Boat trip at sea, and are prone to nausea
oSmall travel first aid kit
oWash cloth (if you use one; hotels often provide only towels)

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Sundry items for all tours

Reading, writing, listening materials

oSmall pocket guidebook, or your preferred travel app on your mobile device
oPhrasebook/dictionary, or your preferred translation app on your mobile device
oSmall notebook/diary/logbook/sketchbook and pen or pencil
oAny electronic device you use for reading, listening to music, etc. Note: devices that use headphones are dangerous and illegal to ride with in some countries. Please don’t use headphones while on your bike.
oAny adapters or converters you may need for your electronics. Adapter, converter, which is which? Read more about electronics on tour.

Miscellaneous (optional)

oEar Plugs
oPhotography – If you don’t use your smartphone for photos, remember you may need extra storage cards and batteries.
oSmartphone/mobile device – remember your charger and any additional accessories, depending on your planned use (e.g. if you wish to mount your phone to the handle bars on Classic, Bike & Boat and Expedition tours, bring your own phone mount. On these tours, we navigate with chalk arrows, and tracks are not needed).
oUtensils and small container for picnicking
oSmall travel binoculars
oPack towel – If your tour takes you along the coast and you’d like to stop and swim along the ride we suggest you bring a pack towel. They come in a variety of sizes, are very packable, super absorbent, and quick to dry.

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Special packing notes for Expedition tours

We recommend the following for multi-week Expedition tours

oEfferdent tablets for washing out/sterilizing water bottles
oA brush for scrubbing bottles out (especially if you plan on drinking electrolyte liquids)

Items you can leave home for Expedition tours

  • Laundry detergent (we will supply an ample amount on Expeditions and have it available for you)
  • Protein bars or snacks for each day (will be supplied on tour)
  • Electrolyte drinks (available from the van)

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Special packing notes for Gravel Explorer tours

oExtra water bottle or hydration pack – On Gravel Explorer tours, we provide you with one water bottle but the van won’t always be close-by throughout the day.

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Special packing notes for Cuba tours

oTravel documents for Cuba
oTravel medical insurance. Cuba requires all travelers to have it.
oCash – See our article about handling money in Cuba.
oMedicine – Make sure to bring medicine that you require and make sure to pack it in your hand-luggage.
oElectrical outlet adapter(s) specific to Cuba or universal plug adapter, if needed.
oRiding snacks and electrolytes – Food and snacks will be different in Cuba. While we provide snacks on tour, you might have a certain type of cereal bar might work better for you than local snacks. Electrolyte powder is hard to find, and we suggest you bring electrolytes that work well for you to refuel throughout the ride.
oInstant coffee – If you’re a coffee lover and need your cup to get going in the morning, we recommend you bring along some instant coffee. While most hotels will have coffee stocked, shortages in the supply chain to Cuba may force them to go without.
oBug spray, sun screen, contact lens solution… – be sure you have all necessities you may need as you likely won’t be able to purchase them in Cuba.
oIf you wish, you may bring crayons and crafting materials to donate to local schools and social projects. Check with us if you’d like to know more.

What to leave home for Cuba tours

  • Any devices that you plan on going online with (unless you really must). Expect to unplug and enjoy in Cuba.
  • GPS-device – they are illegal in Cuba. You may use your smartphone with an app.

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Special packing notes for Self Guided tours

Remember there will be no van support.

oWe will provide a GPS device or a phone mount for navigating.
oBe sure to bring bad-weather gear so you’ll be prepared.
oBring along some snacks and electrolytes to refuel.

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Packing errors and what to leave home for all tours

What to leave home

  • Anything valuable that cannot be replaced.
  • Formal attire
  • Extra outfits, pack light!

Frequent packing errors or general travel mistakes

  • Anything valuable that cannot be replaced.
  • Formal attire
  • Extra outfits, pack light!

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