The other day I was contacted by a magazine editor who was seeking some good tips for a beginner bike tourer embarking on an adventure to a foreign country.
I thought I’d share the first things that came to mind…
1. Book a hotel/accommodation (and even transfers) from your home for the first night or two.
It takes me a day or two to get ready before starting my tour, so I find it important that I make sure the transition from my home country to my destination is as easy as possible.
2. Take small gifts.
People will often go well out of their way to accommodate you in many ways, and having 5-cent coins, stickers, local paraphernalia, and lollies will show your appreciation (money is usually not accepted).
3. Bring pictures of people/things from your home.
People are often really interested in your personal life. Having pictures of your family, house, pets, work, and other travel pics is perfect for people who are getting to know you, and a great way to spur more conversation. Just make sure to keep your slideshow short, 20 pictures are usually enough.
4. Do your homework on the weather and pack clothing accordingly.
I’ve been to places like New Zealand in the height of summer, with summer clothes – only to get snowed on. I wished I knew there was the possibility of snow beforehand…
5. Pack everything you think you’ll need, and take out 10% of it.
There will be lots of things you don’t actually need when you think about it, so think twice about what you’re taking.
6. Make sure you have some lights with you, even if you don’t plan to ride at night.
My experience is that you will unintentionally get caught riding at night at least one day of your trip.
7. Research the possibility of riding as many back roads as you can.
Google maps will help you out to an extent, but do not treat these maps like any source of truth. Sometimes roads that are on Google maps are not found in the real world. Avoid riding on highways when possible – it’s fast but just not particularly nice.
What are the best tips you can give a beginner bike tourer?