Equipment Technology

27 Incredibly Useful Free Apps For Cycle Touring & Bikepacking

While I believe your first bicycle adventure should be as low-tech as possible, there are plenty of cycle tourers and bikepackers who pack a smartphone or tablet alongside their tent, stove and toolkit. There’s a good reason for that: they can come in extremely useful.

Smartphone technology moving as fast as it does, the app scene is constantly changing. This is my 2022 update of an article first published in 2012, detailing what in my humble opinion are the most useful free apps for the cycle tourer or bikepacker right now.

This is not a list of navigation apps for cyclists. That list would be hundreds of entries long, and all the big cycling websites have published such listicles in the battle for search engine traffic. Most of this list is about apps for other aspects of life on two wheels than navigating while you’re cycling.

In other words, this list represents a full on-the-road lifestyle app suite.

I’ve included links to Android and iOS (iPhone/iPad) versions of each app wherever they exist, and broken the list down into eight handy categories covering navigation, weather, accommodation, transport, communication, photography, finance, and everything else.

Shall we begin?

Mapping, Route Planning & Navigation Apps For Cycle Touring & Bikepacking

There’s no single best app for cycle touring or bikepacking where mapping and navigation is concerned – and in any case, you may prefer paper maps, road signs, or just following your nose.

But if you do intend to use digital maps and possibly the navigation features that come with these apps, and you don’t already have a favourite that works for you, I would suggest trying a multi-pronged approach, playing to the strengths of each of the following apps and the coverage of the data that supports them, which tends to differ worldwide.

Unlike all those spam blog articles about cycling apps, I’ve actually used all of these apps on my own bike trips. Here’s my current pick of the bunch…

1. Google Maps (Android/iOS)

Google Maps is good in places there’s money to be made. Most of the world’s transport infrastructure now features excellent mapping coverage, and the vector maps are fast, detailed and attractive. If you’re hooked up with a data SIM card, you get good service throughout your ride, and you’re sticking to the roads, Google Maps may well do everything you need. In many places, bicycle-friendly routing is offered alongside directions for cars, and where it isn’t, using the walking directions will often offer you a low-traffic route between two places.

Many places allow you to download maps in the default style for offline use. But that’s about the limit of its offline functionality. It won’t cache the terrain view, which makes it difficult or impossible to estimate a route’s elevation profile if you don’t have a data connection. Nor can it store anything offline about points of interest other than their name. Routing also depends on being online – so while the base map may be cached, you’ll have to do your own navigation. Finally, it’s almost completely useless in remote backcountry regions.

Pair Google Maps up with Street View if you want to explore places in VR before you get there. I only use this if I’m heading for a specific spot in a city, such as a Warmshowers host’s house, and want to visualise the location in advance.

2. Maps.Me (Android/iOS)

In the last few years, Maps.Me seems to have fought off masses of competition to become the go-to Google Maps alternative, and it’s easy to see why. It’s been focused specifically to fill the gaps left by Google in terms of offline mapping and routing, as well as representing the open data movement, and this is marketed as one of the app’s key features.

When you first start the app, you are prompted to download parts of the world region by region, starting with your current location. All of the app’s main functionality will then work offline, including bicycle-optimised routing. On my 2018 trip in Thailand, I used this feature daily and cross-referenced it with Google’s walking directions to plan most of my riding and find quiet, backroad routes across the country. You can also search offline for nearby points of interest such as cafes, grocery stores and lodgings.

It isn’t without its flaws. It depends on the OpenStreetMap (OSM) database to generate its maps, which makes it susceptible to coverage issues in less-visited regions, although not necessarily any more so than Google (and the same is true for other OSM-dependent apps).

My biggest gripe is that the map does not display any topographical data (contours, hillshading, elevation colour coding). This is partly compensated by a elevation profile generated along with the cycling and walking routes, without which I would struggle to recommend it.

3. BackCountry Navigator (Android only)

I’d also keep BackCountry Navigator installed if there are going to be any significant hills along the way. BCN features no routing or sat-nav style navigation features, being more oriented towards GPS users on foot in the backcountry, but the ability to download a variety of basemaps, including the OpenCycleMap and Thunderforest Outdoor styles, makes it invaluable for remote or mountainous rides.

Backcountry Navigator will also allow you to load in GPS tracks in various formats and overlay them on the basemap, as well as keeping a tracklog of your movements if you so desire.

  • Download BackCountry Navigator for: Android

4. Russian Topo Maps (Android)

In places where OSM, Google and paper map coverage is sketchy, my fallback for many years has been the good old Soviet military maps, which, yes, were last updated during the Cold War, but cover the entire world at the 1:100–200K scales and offer a fantastic level of topographical detail. The paid version allows you to download them for offline use. Previously known as Soviet Military Maps, the app has been renamed to Russian Topo Maps.

In some really off-grid parts of the world, these are still the best maps you can get. I wish I’d known about them before that time I went to Outer Mongolia

  • Download Russian Topo Maps Free for: Android
  • Download Russian Topo Maps Pro for: Android

5. RideWithGPS (Android/iOS)

RideWithGPS is perhaps the most cycle computer-esque of all the apps listed in this section, finding favour in the long distance cycling community, particularly bikepackers – indeed, use it as their preferred platform for delivering routes.

If you’re keen to track, analyse and share your rides, RideWithGPS is as good a place as any to do so. (See also Komoot below.)

6. komoot (Android/iOS)

komoot (with a small ‘k’) has one of the most powerful routing algorithms of any of the apps in this list. Rather than hosting a database of user-submitted routes, komoot uses OpenStreetMap data to calculate an optimal route (via any number of points) for road cycling, touring, or mountain biking.

It has some nice social features, too, which encourage you to record and share the best of your discoveries. Users can submit highlights that show up on future route plans if the community rates them highly enough. Read my full write-up of komoot here. This is my personal favourite of all the apps in this category when I’m exploring new places.

Weather Apps For Cycle Touring

It’s good practice to check the weather outlook before setting off on a ride. In circumstances when a change of weather would bring about greater risks, it’s critical for a safe and enjoyable ride. These apps will help with that:

7. Windy (Android/iOS)

I’ve tuned into the finer details of the weather in recent years as a result of spending too much time in the mountains, and this has spilled over into cycle touring. In terms of sheer quantity and range of data, nothing I’m aware of beats Windy, which visualises almost every weather factor you could ask for on an interactive map.

If you’re into making your own forecasts or want an in-depth perspective on what you’re seeing and experiencing, give Windy a data connection and it will give you pretty much all the information you could wish for.

8. (Android/iOS)

Alternatively if you just want a local forecast at a useful level of detail for the outdoorsperson, the Norwegian weather agency’s official app seems still to be the most cited option.

Accommodation Apps For Cycle Touring

When you’re ready for a night off, here’s a few apps that might make finding a bed (or campsite) that much easier:

9. iOverlander (Android/iOS)

Mainly aimed at motorised travellers, iOverlander’s app is still of relevance to the cyclist, mainly because it’s the closest thing to a ‘wild camping app’ in existence. It’s a user-generated global database of points of interest – including vehicle- and bike-friendly hostels, campsites and wild camping sites (as well as Land Rover mechanics!) – with a very active community behind it. It’s volunteer-run, so consider a donation if you find it useful.

10. (Android/iOS)* features the widest range of hotels and guesthouses in many parts of the world. Be aware, however, of the tactics this app will use to make you feel like you have to book right now or the universe will implode.

Know also that they charge accommodation providers a lot – if you want to support small businesses over massive corporations, it might be better to do your research here but then walk in and pay cash.

They aren’t always the cheapest: in South East Asia, for example, the Singapore-based Agoda is often a better bet.

11. Hostelworld (Android/iOS)

Low-budget hostels are underrepresented at (perhaps because they can’t afford the fees), but Hostelworld steps in to fill this niche. Especially in the West, you’ll find way more cheap beds here than through the usual booking sites.

(I previously recommended HostelBookers, but with the app not updated for over two years and with ratings sliding down the charts, I can feel a shutdown coming soon.)

12. AirBnb (Android/iOS)

Though it’s by no means the quirky and inexpensive alternative it used to be, AirBnb is still worth checking out, particularly if you want your own self-catering apartment for a few days off, or if you like the B&B experience as it used to be (i.e. an actual person hosts you in their home and cooks you breakfast).

Sign up through this referral link* to get £25 in credit towards your first stay, then install the app to search for options and make your bookings.

13. WarmShowers (Android/iOS)

The original cycle touring hospitality exchange platform might not have taken off quite like Couchsurfing did post-buyout, but it didn’t really need to (and many would argue it was for the best anyway). The much-improved current version of the WarmShowers app makes searching for willing hosts that much easier, with an interface that’s arguably better and more user-friendly than the website itself. The map search function is particularly useful.

While the distribution of hosts is not exactly even in a global sense, it’s always worth looking at the map to see who’s about on any given route. I’ll continue flying the flag for WarmShowers for as long as it exists and I’m still riding my bicycle, just because I love the spirit of it.

14. Couchsurfing (Android/iOS)

Where WarmShowers hosts have not yet reached, Couchsurfing is still there with its however-many-million users, and if you can be bothered to wade through the oceans of inactive profiles and unresponsive hosts you might still find someone cool to stay with. The lack of a map search is a woeful omission, but most other aspects of the app interface are fine.

Personally, I use CS more now to meet travellers and locals for a drink and a wander in a new city than to find a host, for which I either use WarmShowers (see above) or – now I’ve been on the road a few years – ask around my networks and usually end up finding a friend of a friend to stay with.

If you do use it to find a host, make sure they know you’re showing up on a rather expensive bicycle and that you probably won’t want to leave it locked to the fence outside!

Travel & Transport Apps For Cycle Touring

Sometimes – oftentimes – you need to take a plane, train or bus to get yourself and your bike from A to B before or after you ride it. That’s where the following apps may come in handy.

15. Kayak (Android/iOS)

When it comes to searching for and booking flights, I tend to default to Kayak, mainly for its extensive filtering capabilities, as well as because it usually turns up the cheapest tickets, especially if your dates are flexible.

Of particular interest to the cycle tourist is the ability to filter by airline, which as we all know can make a huge difference at the check-in desk depending on the baggage policy of the carrier in question (a topic for another article, perhaps).

Kayak is mainly just a search aggregator – you have to click through and book elsewhere, though they have started selling tickets direct now too.

16. TripIt (Android/iOS)

Allow TripIt access to your inbox and it will pull in confirmation emails for flights, hotels and what have you and spit out a simplified, offline-accessible itinerary with all the details you’re likely to need while you’re in transit.

Communications Apps For Cycle Touring

You’ll be wanting to communicate while you’re on the road, both to the people you meet and to the people back home. Guess what? There’s an app for that…

17. Signal / WhatsApp / Viber / Telegram (Android/iOS)

I’ve listed four phone number-based instant messaging apps here because, at the time of writing, three of them predominate depending on what country you’re in, and one of them won’t sell your data (Signal).

If you’re heading round the world on a bike and you plan to communicate with locals as you go, as well as friends and family back home, best install all of them.

Such is the competitive nature of this market that other apps are likely to replace those listed in future years.

18. Google Translate (Android/iOS)

Yes, I’m listing Google Translate as a communications app, but for real-life face to face communication with people who don’t speak your language.

It won’t be long before you’re both wearing earpieces and receiving simultaneous translations as you converse freely in your native tongues, but while we’re waiting for that to happen, Translate does allow you to download offline translation dictionaries for a huge number of languages, and the accuracy is only improving.

Rotate your phone to landscape orientation and the word or phrase you’ve translated will be enlarged to fullscreen, allowing you to brandish it at a roadside noodle stand while trying to order a stir-fry with ‘no onions’ in it.

Finance Apps For Cycle Touring

Here are a few selections on the financial end of things, which may ease your pedal-powered wheelings (sorry, couldn’t resist) and dealings:

19. XE Currency (Android/iOS)

Based on the highly popular currency exchange website, the XE Currency app will allow you to choose a handful of currencies and convert between them all at the latest mid-market rates.

I mainly find this useful to ensure I’m not getting ripped off by money-changers, but also to watch for spikes in conversion rates that may affect my travel budget (other Brits abroad may remember 23rd June 2016 particularly well).

20. Toshl (Android/iOS)

My travels of late have tended to involve a slightly more complicated financial picture than the ‘spend as little as possible, preferably nothing’ approach of my earlier cycle tours. To track and visualise what I’m spending, I use an expense tracking app called Toshl, into which I spend a few minutes each day putting my expenses.

For someone who was more or less financially illiterate, this has shed a remarkable amount of light on the actual flow of funds through my travel activities and, in turn, helped me adapt my ways to better fit my means.

If keeping track of travel money is a source of stress for you, I would highly recommend starting to use a simple tracking app such as Toshl as the first step towards a remedy. It can also simply produce an interesting summary of the financial aspect of your journeys, which I’m planning to demonstrate in a future article.

21. Starling (Android/iOS) [UK only]

The UK’s newest fee-free overseas spending debit card provider, Starling Bank, relies on this app to communicate with its customers. Though technically not just an app but also a bank account, I’m including it here because of its particular relevance to the bicycle traveller looking to keep their overseas card withdrawal and spending fees down.

Here’s a full write-up of my experience with Starling if you’re keen to read more.

  • Download the Starling app and sign up for an account here.

Photography Apps For Cycle Touring

Most new smartphones come with absurdly good cameras, sensors, processing algorithms and editing software built-in, so I no longer consider any third party app truly essential in the photography department. Keeping your photos backed up is another story, however…

22. Google Photos (Android/iOS)

My main reason for including Google Photos here is for its automatic backup feature, which upon detecting a WiFi connection will upload in the background all the photos you’ve taken since the last backup, storing them in your combined Google Drive / Photos account.

In its free incarnation, this will store 15GB of your original resolution photos and an unlimited number of compressed but nevertheless high quality versions of the same (you can choose which in the app settings). You can pay to upgrade to a 100GB or 1TB capacity account if you need it.

Plug a card reader into your phone or otherwise connect with a compatible ‘proper’ camera, copy the images over, and it’ll do the same thing. Really this is about safeguarding your images, rather than photography per se (and you do care about having backups, don’t you?).

23. Dropbox (Android / iOS)

If everything being Google-oriented isn’t your bag, the Dropbox app will perform exactly the same backup function via its Camera Uploads feature, though I find Google’s web interface and in-app editing features more appealing. Again, free and paid options differ mainly in terms of the amount of storage you get.

Other Apps For Cycle Touring

Finally, I’ve come across many other useful apps that just don’t quite fit into any of the other categories. Here are a few:

24. AccuBattery (Android)

AccuBattery will give you detailed stats on your phone’s power consumption, including estimates of how long it’ll currently last with the current fleet of running apps; useful when you don’t know where the next charging opportunity is going to be. It’ll also prompt you to disconnect your charger at a level that’ll reduce battery wear and help prolong its life.

25. Sky Map (Android)

I’ll probably never learn the constellations unless I actually need to navigate by them, but the Sky Map app is great fun when you’re lying out under a starry sky and you want to identify what you’re looking at. It’s also great for picking out other celestial bodies when they’re visible to the naked eye.

26. AnkiDroid / AnkiMobile (Android/iOS)

The apps accompanying the open-source flashcard platform Anki allow you to memorise things effectively on the go via the proven learning technique of spaced repetition. I find it particularly useful for language learning, memorising words, phrases, alphabets, and the like. The open platform gives you access to shared, community-created ‘decks’ of cards covering most such topics.

The Android app is free; the iOS equivalent is paid and the revenue supports the broader Anki project.

  • Download AnkiDroid for: Android
  • Download AnkiMobile for: iOS

27. A Trusted VPN App

Ride for long enough and you’ll inevitably reach a country where some website or app or service you rely on has been blocked by the government. Pre-empt this by installing a VPN (virtual private network) app and setting it up in advance.

What these services essentially do is make it look like you’re accessing the internet from somewhere else, encrypting your data in such a way that your actual whereabouts is untraceable.

There are thousands of free VPN apps out there, most of which are full of malware and security holes and whose developers are out to sell your browsing data to the highest bidder. Avoid those and choose one of the recommendations audited by a trusted site with a reputation worth losing. I haven’t included any specific recommendations here as they change so frequently, but TechRadar have an updated list for 2019.

That’s it for 2022’s cycle touring and bikepacking app selections! Any I’ve missed that you’d consider particularly useful to the adventurous rider?

(And just to reiterate: for your first trip, leave all this stuff behind.)

57 replies on “27 Incredibly Useful Free Apps For Cycle Touring & Bikepacking”

hi Fabian, could you give some more details how did you plan your route? Given that im leaving in Munich now, it sounds pretty interesting 🙂

All good apps. I’m especially excited to try Orux out. My suggestion would be Wikipedia Offline. It’s incredible — like something from a Douglas Adams novel. i have almost the entirety of wikipedia on my phone accessible any time anywhere without the internet. Such a joy for finding out some of the general history of a city/region etc. as your travelling through.

Great blog post Tom. The world of cycle touring and technology are forever changing and it’s difficult to keep up. I posted a blog post about my favorite Offline Mapping Tools for Cycling Touring and it’s already stale. Would love to see an updated post.

Thank you Tom, you write a great article.
I am today is rarely travel by bicycle, but quite often traveling to a place that has not been known before. Several times I tried the app maps from Google and today I’m wearing a maps application from Here WeGo. It’s quite easy to use in addition to Here WeGo maps application can be run without the use of internet access but previously had downloaded the data in advance and stored online in Smartphone devices.

Hey Tom , thanks for putting up all these infos. I am going to have a bike tour from Berlin to south italy and back over Spain france and …
I was wondering if there is an app for free/paid camping places. Thanks in advance.

Hi! Does any of these digital maps have distances? I mean all proper paper maps do. It would make it easier to use offline.

Tom there’s an app called Rome2rio it gives every travel option to any destination so if you ride to somewhere and dont want to make it a round trip or want to start somewhere and ride back home its a great resource.

iOverlander! Becoming popular on the road for recommendations of campgrounds, hotels, hostels — even ‘boondocking’ sites, as well as info about border crossings and places to eat. We’ve found some great places through this, and Overlanders are often looking for the same things as cyclists — economical, safe, etc. Getting better all the time!
This reply template doesn’t like my website for some reason: See technology!

Thanks Tom for the update!

I try to rely on my phone as little as possible, but I find it indispensable for one reason mainly (regarding routes). I can avoid the busiest roads easier and discover the beautiful tracks. Every time I put my phone away and go with my instinct, or ask locals for good scenic routes, I would end up in the middle of traffic or just plain boring asphalt roads. Using satellite view on google maps helps a lot in this matter!

For anyone who might concern, these are my recommend apps:

Another app that I use everyday is MoneyLover. It is the only finance app that I recommend. I’ve used dozens of finance apps, some paid, and all of them didn’t fulfil my needs, I’d stop using them after a period of time. Then I found MoneyLover, it has the most appealing and easy user-interface, nice looking colours, it’s very customisable, there’s a handful of features that helps you track your expenses in a easy detailed way. And the apps is updated regularly with good customer support. There’s a free good version, and a paid version, which is paid once and it’s around 5€, a great deal since it helps you manage your money efficiently and end up saving a lot (or spending it wisely). You may even access your account on your desktop and add transactions. I’ve kept record of all my transaction since 2015, every cent.

One other app that might be useful for the cycle touring community is BikeMap. Very similar to Ride with GPS, but it has a nicer user interface and the useful features are free. They claim to have the largest cycle route collection, and you can search these routes marked on a world map. I think I’ll be using this to record my future tours on-the-go.

And one more, Strava!
I know that this app is more oriented to the sports community, but some of its features are very useful. Specially the route planner, it supports bike routes all over the world, unlike google maps and other apps, so it’s easy to make estimations. I use the route planner to plan ahead, and then I’ll export the GPX onto or Google Maps. I also like to keep record of my rides, it will record the route, elevation, time etc, all offline if i wish.. Handy if you want to share them later. All the basics are free, and the paid version is only useful for professional cyclists. 

And finally, Furkot.
Furkot is a trip planner, a very good one. You can use it to plan ahead, or record your trip later once it’s finished, as a way to share it with friends or other cyclists. There is no official smartphone app, it’s mainly for desktop, but they say you can use it on you phone browser and it even supports it offline. For me the best thing about it is that I can record, day-by-day, my touring trips, adding all the POI along the route, lodging, and even the means of transportation, it’s very very complete, you have to give it a try to see its full potential. There is 2 drawbacks that I hope they will fix it in the future. The first is bike routes, some countries don’t support it so you will have to chose “walking” or “motorbike”. The other is that, while editing your route, the plan looks very detailed, but once you publish it, it gets stylised and not all the POI get to be seen by the people you share it with, but every detail will be on the right-side panel day-by-day. You can have a look at my Spanish tour on the link below to get an idea, I made this map once I got home, it’s around 90% accurate. Luckily Spain supports bike routes.


Great list, some nice new one for me — Windy is perfect, and some classics.
My 2c:
*Pocket Earth* (iOS only, sorry) has become my favourite map. Much like but has detailed topography and geotagged Wikipedia articles, all offline. Can import GPX files which I’ve not seen very often. Has an impressive layer with water taps on it and some nice routing features. Only slight drawback is calculating a route requires a connection.
*Komoot* A fantastic bike tour planning tool, similar to RideWithGPS et all, but I like how it shows the road surface.
+1 for iOverlander: bit sporadic and more van / RV based but has been useful.

For navigating I use MotionX GPS or Gaia GPS which allow downloading of maps for offline navigation. Gaia is expensive, MotionX is not very intuitive but you get used to it.

Hi Tom ! Great article. Recently I bumped into an app called Komoot which includes navigation by voice, I find it quite useful especially in urban areas where I keep on earplug in and listen to the voice commands while cycling (and it saves a lot of battery since the screen is black all the time)

Yup, been using komoot for quite a few years now. Nothing beats it really both for planning routes and using it for navigation. Has been stable and reliable enough for long trips too.

A great list Tom

I adore this app: PeakFinder — Panoramic Mountain View

If you cycle through hills and mountains and ever wonder, what is that peak there in the distance, this app will tell you. Fantastic! You can screenshot its views to make great labelled line-drawings of the terrain you’re looking at. I love this app. It works worldwide. Often best to download relevant data st home.

I can’t comment on Viewranger as I haven’t used it. The screenshots of it on the appstore look nice. But I like the simplicity of
PeakFinder’s line-drawing views and the way you can get info on how far away a peak is, it’s height etc. It also has a new feature of superimposing its data on what the phone camera sees. I haven’t tried this.

Hello Tom,

Great site, very useful!
I’m very satisfied with OSM-AND for navigating. Detailed maps, including height profiles and hillside shades, can be downloaded for offline usage. There is a max however, but it’s possible to delete some maps and download new ones.

Thank you,


I agree with Osmand, actually bought it a while ago and always have current map updates. The details are better than anything I have seen, for exploring where I am when out on tour.
For planning on the pc I often use or Komoot, but Osmand allows full offline routing. Great in combination with Brouter as a routing machine.

Hi Tom. ‘Overdrive’ for the readers out there. If you’re a member of a public library there’s a good chance it may be supported by this app (mine is — small town NZ). Borrow books for free to your device for 2 weeks — deletes automatically. Cheers.

Here a few campsite app for North America. Free Campsites(free), WikiCamps USA (free),
RA Camping (free)

Hi Tom in 2006 I cycled around Europe and used cycling map books. All in german but awesome as the day to a page ride had camping options. I can’t recall their name but they were easy to get for any cycle path. 

Im wanting a cycle path app that includes the camping options for my ride in Germany and Switzerland in June 2018. 

Have you found anything?

Hi. Planning a phone guided trip across France atm for sept. Hav you or others suggestions for an app to enable dot watching? Family and friends got hooked on a friends progress in the TCRno5 and want to do the same with me as I wobble back to Blighty from Basel.

Can’t believe you didn’t mention, another good ride planning software with great routes for biking in the USA.

maybe not part of ‘free’ apps, but ASCI offers (for a small amount of money) access to list of campsites in Europe (you can easily search on the map). I was using it already on my bike trips in France and was of a great use if you want to stay flexible on the way and just check which campsites are on your way 🙂

I don’t read all but one App i use is “windy map” for Android and ios.
It is free and all country arepossible to use offline.
I use it in Sweden and denmark and it Works great!!!!!!

Fantastic map! It´s the same app under a different name as the app! Used it all over Europe so far, but compared it with detailed paper maps of the Pamir HWY area and Cuba, and it looks that no tiny road or track is missing. Great!

Thanks for putting together this list, you’ve mentioned quite a few handy apps that we’ll have to look into!

Looking back, both Paul and I wish that we could have had smartphone route finding technology on our first trip. It is SO handy! With just paper maps – there was the continual anxiety of getting lost, not arriving at stores before they shut, having to ride crowded roads because the back roads didn’t appear on maps, etc. etc. 

But as for social media and the ability to blog – so glad that that wasn’t available during our first tour. With nothing to distract us — it made us focus on experiencing our trip as it happened.
Nowadays even long-distance cyclists have gotten sucked into going after ‘likes’ on social media. But on the other hand, they can stop twittering, Instagramming — whenever they want without any recriminations. 

But that can’t be said for charity cyclists. For many of them, it’s their first bike trip and they’ve never blogged before. So they put together a website, and announce that their final destination is some far-away school in Asia or Africa. And that they’re accepting contributions. 

Once they’ve collected some money, they feel guilty about wanting to change their route. Plus they feel pressured to keep blogging. So for these long-distance cyclists, the advantage of electronics (being able to blog, social media, etc.) can turn on them.

Thanks for this really helpful summary Tom.
We’re finding Revolut incredibly useful for managing our various currencies whilst travelling. Loads of powerful features, it’s essentially a card for pre-loading with multiple currencies (purchased at wholesale rates!) and moving cash between them as required. The app is great, and whilst we started cautiously, Revolut is now our new go-to for managing money whilst travelling abroad.

Agreed on the first tour being electronics-free.

Having (hurriedly, admittedly) attempted to plan routes on Komoot and load them to my garmin for a tour of Portugal (north border to south coast — it was amazing), I found I went on crazily indirect routes. It was my first tour, and — had I been sans Garmin — I would have just put my faith in the good old paper map we had with us a lot earlier and paid attention to the rough direction of travel, and where the balance was between an interesting and direct route.

As it was, it took me until the third day to decide to track where I’d been on the garmin, rather than plan ahead. Two days of effectively being the car driver that followed the sat-nav in to a ditch and couldn’t get out again. Lesson learned, never again.

Since then I have ditched the pre-loaded maps and just track my route retrospectively rather than planning each turn, and find this a much better balance. For me, the joy comes from uploading my routes to Relive afterwards and seeing where I actually went, rather than confirming that I followed the route I planned.

Also, agreed with Jeff, above. Revolut is exceptional. We rarely travel without it now, by bike or otherwise.


(Maybe a stupid question )
What is the app used on the first picture (On the Huawei in the orange cover)

It looks like the map is showing together with the elevation profile.

Recently cycled through Spain,France and Belgium and although paper maps ( Michelin Regional) have always been my preference, I now find them harder to come by. In the past I would just purchase the next required map at a Tabac or newsagent, but fewer people stock them now. In fact one lady in a store just said no one buys anymore and held up her phone. I still prefer paper maps, you get the big picture of travel and it doesn’t tell you where to go but just gives you options. However nowadays it makes perfect sense to use both and Google maps for towns and cities is great. It’s a pity but it won’t be long until the traditional maps are a thing of the past.

Thanx for a great site. I’ve done a lot of touring in Europe, and can only agree and get inspired by everything you say !
I’ve used OsmAnd all the time, great offline maps for every country. Worth mentioning. But mostly when I got lost, or to find the nearest shop or campground. Very useful.

For the ones looking for an offline maps app, Magic Earth is the best I’ve ever used. I was a big fan of Google Maps, then used for few years but both are violating the privacy through telemetry trackers. Magic Earth works better than, but with respect to privacy of the user.

OsmAnd+ is a good app too, worth to pay the extras. But the interface is too confusing although that confusion is due to extensive features only it offers.

Hi, I took a look, but can´t find any cyclepaths indicated on magic earth app. Is it somehow possible, to make cycle infrastructure (not in every country it exists, that´s clear, but in many parts of Europe it does!) visible? thanks

A big recommendation for very easy, intuitive cycle navigation is the app from — You can download offline maps freely worldwide. Using the app ist easy. GPX import and export ist possible. You can plan on Your PC and use the routes on the app on the smartphone then (with free account). Tracking and sharing of tracks is also possible and simple. Based on OSM.

Very hepfull list of many good tools. For my last holiday I used roundtrips4you to plan my trip. It is still under development, but is a great tool to list all your stops etc.

2021 THE best app for bicycle navigation is cyclers plus! even the free version is outstanding. best route planning. i use, Sygic (the best for motorcycle), naviki, OpenTracks, Brouter (also extremly good), Komoot. But Cyclers is the best.

Not an app but a website: has a map of publicly accessible fruit trees, orchards, etc globally. Great for grabbing some free fruit fresh off the tree/bush/vine while cycling touring.

Their database is also downloadable, either in full or just for a region, so you can grab it and open it in a spreadsheet while offline as well.

Also publicly editable, so you can add any new places you find.

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