How To Hit The Road: A Beginner’s Guide To Cycle Touring & Bikepacking

All you need to realise your adventure cycling ambitions in a single affordable guide.


If you’ve settled on the bicycle as the key to unlocking your post-pandemic wanderlust, and you’re gearing up to explore the world on two wheels, How To Hit The Road is here to help you get those wheels turning.

Because you’ve spent far too long waiting for the travel restrictions to fade away so you can finally start to pedal… but I’m guessing you still have a big list of unanswered questions.

How To Hit The Road is a 316-page guide to helping you navigate the maze of choices and concerns you’ll enter when planning a cycle tour or bikepacking trip – from the huge and overwhelming to the seemingly trivial – and arrive at the starting line in a way that reflects the uniqueness of your plans.

To achieve this, we’ll break down the planning process, the day-to-day realities, and the longer-term considerations of a big cycling adventure into simple, digestible parts, then tackle each of them methodically via a range of time-proven strategies.

As you work through this guide and the pieces of your plan start falling into place, remember:

Getting started isn’t about knowing everything, but about knowing enough to depart.

This book is totally what I needed… it helped reawaken my need for adventure that has been gradually eroded by work and routine.

M. P. Taylor

How To Hit The Road is not just one person’s version of how to do things.

I’ve been doing this a while – 16 years, in fact – and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that every ride is different. Finding out what makes your ride different is all part of a journey that may have already begun.

This is really important. And it’s why I’ve incorporated into this guide the perspectives of more than 50 other adventure cyclists from a diversity of backgrounds, collected over the years I’ve been riding (and writing about riding).

Be suspicious of anyone who tries to convince you there’s a ‘blueprint’ for a cycle tour or bikepacking trip. There isn’t. 

But trust me when I say that the barriers to beginning such a trip have been overcome many times before. 

The time I led a bikepacking expedition across Armenia in September 2019. This much mud wasn’t part of the plan! Photo © Chris Goodman

When I said I’ve been there, I meant it.

Today I have around 25,000km of adventure cycling experience behind me. But as a newcomer, I wasted an entire year trying to second-guess all the tiny minutiae of should have been a big, freewheeling adventure.


Because the endless unknowns of a long-distance bicycle journey were paralysing.

To block out the feeling of being ill-prepared and clueless, I dived deep into such details as whether the mechanical failure of coil- or air-sprung suspension forks would be less catastrophic in the middle of the Tibetan plateau; what kind of jail sentence I’d be facing if I overstayed a three-month business visa in Russia; what kind of metal wire smelled most neutral for the snares I planned to set if I ran out of food in the wilderness… you get the idea.

(You have my permission to laugh. Especially at the snare-wire thing.)

Could I have avoided wasting all that energy and started riding much sooner?

Yes. I do believe that I could.

And all it would have taken was for someone to gently help me understand what would really be the daily concerns of bicycle travel, what was really worth putting time and effort into planning, and what could really have waited until further down the road.

I wish that someone had, at the same time, reminded me of the beautiful simplicity of bicycle travel: the sheer independence of human-powered transport; the freedom of being able to follow any road or trail; the tranquility of living outdoors and sleeping under the stars; the thrill of the unknown road.

I wish that someone had pointed out that I was obsessing over irrational fears, trying to solve the problems least likely to occur, and in doing so pushing my departure date ever further down the road.

I wish someone had given me permission to depart much sooner, knowing enough of the basics to begin, and figuring out the details on the way.

Now, 16 years later, my own experience of ‘newcomer paralysis’ has directly inspired the creation of How To Hit The Road.

Because too many of us wait too long for the perfect circumstances to arise, letting our fears prevent us from taking the first pedal stroke.

Every day I receive emails and blog comments that prove this. In fact, there’s a high chance you’re reading this right now because, at some point in the past, you searched for the answer to a question about cycle touring or bikepacking, found my blog, subscribed or followed me, and just clicked on a link I posted.

Are you still getting bogged down in the details of planning a bicycle-mounted adventure?

If so, this guide is here to rescue you – that much I promise. 

Having completed two 3‑month cycle tours already I was unsure if I would gain further insight or information with this book. I did!… Tom’s observations on the realities of cycle touring in Part 3: How To Go Further put into words what I had experienced on my tours but could never describe myself.

R. M.

We’ll be tackling your two-wheeled getaway in three logical parts.

Each part will look at a specific phase of your adventure cycling journey, from the time between now and departure day, to your first few days on the road, and finally to new questions that arise as the riding routine becomes second nature.

Part One: How To Get Ready 

We’ll start by tackling those big, meaty questions that arise during the planning phase of your trip – the wheres, whens and hows of a bike trip.

You’ll read about the varied range of approaches to each big decision, learning from the experiences a long list of veteran riders I interviewed while researching and writing this guide, and discovering what resonates most closely with you.

You’ll finish the first part of the guide with a clear picture of what you want to achieve, where and when your dream ride is going to take place, and how you’re going to get from where you are right now to that much-anticipated starting line.

We’ll be covering:

  • How To Decide Where To Go
  • How To Plan A Route (Or Prepare For Unplanned Routes)
  • How To Plan A Realistic Budget
  • How To Understand The Difference Between Cycle Touring & Bikepacking
  • How To Choose The Right Bike
  • How To Choose The Right Equipment
  • How To Train For A Cycle Tour Or Bikepacking Trip
  • How To Plan For Visas & Border Bureaucracy
  • How To Get The Right Type Of Insurance

Part Two: How To Get Going 

Over the course of the second part of the guide, we’ll visualise every common daily scenario you’ll encounter between leaving your front door and finishing your ride. 

Especially if you’ve never done this before, but also if you’ve completed a few short trips and are planning something bigger, this part of the book will help you imagine what life on two wheels is actually going to be like. It’s designed to paint a picture of the bicycle traveller’s daily routine.

This is not to detract from the magic of discovery. It’s more of a reality check for the practicalities of life on the road. Some of this is pretty mundane stuff – which is why it’s possible you won’t yet have thought about it at all, and why I’ve made sure it’s covered.

Having worked through this section, you’ll feel far more confident about your ability to handle what the world will throw at you, because you’ll have a much better idea of what that will actually be – allowing you to enjoy the magic of discovery that much more.

Covered in the second part:

  • How To Transport Your Bike & Gear
  • How To Find Your Way On A Bike Trip
  • How To Feed Yourself While Riding
  • How To Manage Money On The Road
  • How To Approach Health, Hygiene & Food Safety
  • How To Deal With Common Cycling Health Issues
  • How To Stay In Touch Digitally On The Road
  • How To Get The Most Out Of GPS When Cycling
  • How To Keep Your Gadgets Charged While Riding
  • How To Stay Safe & Secure On A Bike Trip
  • How To Find Cyclist-Friendly Accommodation
  • How To Wild Camp Anywhere For Free And Not Get Caught
  • How To Use Cyclists’ Hospitality Exchange Networks
  • How To Maintain & Repair Your Bike On The Roadside

Part Three: How To Go Further 

We’ll finish our journey together by considering additional topics that will become relevant once you’ve got a few miles under your belt and you’re starting to think about something more ambitious.

These topics are a little more abstract in nature, and they aren’t necessarily the most obvious questions you’ll be asking as you plan a big adventure. Instead, they’re deeper topics that only time and miles will bring to light. Considering them now will give you a head-start, helping you avoid some of the unseen pot-holes common to many longer bicycle adventures.

This, by the way, is where the experiences of the book’s many veteran contributors really come into their own – they’ve been there, done that, worn out the T‑shirt, and turned it into a cleaning rag.

We’ll be looking at:

  • How To Decide If A Really Big Bike Trip Is For You
  • How To Cycle Round The World
  • How To Think About A Really Long Bike Trip
  • How To Create Time For A Big Ride
  • How To Plan Financially For A Really Big Bike Trip
  • How To Adapt To Full-Time Bicycle Travel
  • How To Plan An Off-Road Bikepacking Expedition
  • How To Decide If You Should Ride For Charity
  • How To Understand Spontaneous Roadside Hospitality
  • How To Preserve Your Relationship As A Cycling Couple
  • How To Deal With Challenge & Adversity On The Road

There is a lot of straight talking which is exactly what I needed. I write this from the Lisbon hostel (first stop) of my first ever cycle tour, and I found this book… indispensable.

M. P. Taylor

It’s time to start enjoying the process of planning a cycling adventure.

Say goodbye to combing internet forums and finding only opinionated answers to questions that nobody takes the time to understand.

Say goodbye to dredging ad-stuffed spam blogs about cycling and outdoor equipment written by AI robot copywriters who’ve never cycled or camped a day in their digital lives. 

And say goodbye to that paralysing feeling that you still don’t know what you don’t know – those ‘unknown unknowns’ that can make a bold venture into anything new so scary.

You’ll finish this guide being able to see your dream for what it really is. You’ll know how others have achieved that dream, and how you’re going to achieve it too. You’ll still need to do your research, but now it will be hyper-focused. And there will still be unknowns, but of the kind that get you excited rather than stressing you out.

The rest of your planning process? Detail, personal preference, and, occasionally, pure whimsy.

With the pressure off, you might even have some fun as you gradually mould your dream bike trip into shape…

Selfie of adventure cyclist Tom Allen and his bike at Bilgoa Lookout with the the coast of New South Wales in the background.
Your friendly author on a recent bike trip along the coastline of New South Wales, Australia, in February 2023.

I guarantee an answer to every question you have between now and the start of your ride.

If the guide doesn’t cover everything you’re concerned about, I’ll personally ensure your remaining questions are answered. Simply write to me and tell me what’s on your mind. I’ll write back with the full extent of my knowledge on the subject.

How can I afford this for the price of a simple guide? Simple: your questions help me become a better writer. If something’s stopping you from getting out there on your bike, that same thing will probably be stopping someone else – so the solution is worth me researching, writing, sending to you, and then publishing for everyone else too.

Everything you want to ask, answered.

Amazon Customer

Times are indeed still strange.

But there has never been a better time to be planning your next big ride.

Here’s how to get your copy of How To Hit The Road.

First, hit the big green button below to be taken through to the secure online payment page.

You’ll doubtless be familiar with making secure online payments via PayPal. If you don’t have an account, any credit or debit card will work too – no sign-up necessary, and it’s 100% secure.

Alternatively, if you prefer the feel of real paper, there’s another button below which will take you to the Amazon paperback listing.


After ordering the digital edition via PayPal, check your email (including the ‘spam’ folder!) for the download links to get the ebook in all popular formats. These formats include: 

  • EPUB (for recent Kindles via Send To Kindle, other e‑readers, and software such as iBooks),
  • MOBI (for older Kindle devices, also via Send To Kindle),
  • PDF (for laptops, desktops, and printing out at home).

Simply download the guide in your preferred format, load it up on your favourite device or app, and begin your journey.

And if you run into any problems at all, simply drop me a line through this contact form or by replying to your confirmation email, specifying your order number and the details of the issues you’re having. I’ll be personally on hand to resolve things to your satisfaction.

I particularly enjoyed the final section of the book How To Go Further. For anyone who has done some touring and is thinking about a long ride of many months or more, this section provides lots of thought-provoking and insightful material… If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to go on a really epic bike adventure, this section will give you about as good an idea as you could get without actually taking the plunge and getting out there.

D. Dorosz