6 Steps To Planning Your First Ever Overseas Cycle Tour

If the hustle of modern life is stopping you from getting out there on your first bicycle adventure, try following these six simple steps:

  1. Find the next available holiday window in your calendar. You can do this right now. Multiply the number of full days it contains by 50 and write the answer down.
  2. Choose a nearby country or region – somewhere new you’d like to see – and book a plane/bus/train there. (If booking flights, check that your airline is bike-friendly.)
  3. Take your answer from question 1, find another city roughly that many kilometres away, and book a return plane/bus/train home. (Use a route planning app to estimate cycling distances.)
  4. Get a cardboard box from your nearest bike shop and pack your bike into it like this. Pack your panniers, tent and camping mat into one of these. Take your handlebar bag as a carry-on.
  5. Arrive and unpack your bike. Meander towards your destination using the route planning app from step 3. Eat when you’re hungry. Sleep when you’re tired. Do entirely as you feel.
  6. Repeat step 4, having successfully completed your first overseas cycle tour.

Come to think of it, I should probably get around to doing this myself.

Yes. I really should. I work too hard. I need a break – a break from writing all this stuff about adventure cycle touring.


That’s it.

I’m going to go and ride my bike.

I leave tomorrow.


Think it’s more complicated than this? Click here and let me prove you wrong.

Comments (skip to respond)

15 responses to “6 Steps To Planning Your First Ever Overseas Cycle Tour”


    The first picture seems like Italy.
    Remember my invitation Tom — I am the italian-american with Iranian wife — and we live in Ostuni, Puglia, southern Italy.

  2. Haha love the article. You make it look simple, and of course it can be! I’ve always considered myself pretty easy going and flexible on my trips, and it’s funny how shocked my parents and other people are by me being “unprepared”: where will you sleep? Will it be safe? How can you be relaxed this way? What if.. What if.. ;D

  3. Erich DZ avatar
    Erich DZ

    Where can I get maps of the regions I want to tour so I can draw the route and make notes on the map prior to going there? I would like to make notes on campground locations, distances between intended stops, etc. The maps will need to be in a small enough scale to be effective for navigation.
    The locations I intend to tour are British Columbia, Yukon, & Alaska.
    Thanks- I appreciate any guidance.

  4. excellent laundry bag idea, thanks

  5. This reminds me of my planning for cycling Vietnam. Wonderful 5 weeks and met so many interesting people and have some really great memories from that trip.

  6. chip barm avatar
    chip barm

    Bike in the box on the way out I get. 

    I’m sure you’ll have answered this somewhere…what happens on the way back?

    1. Same thing, with a slightly bigger language barrier at the bike shop

      1. Natalie avatar

        have you ever travelled without a box? Some people seem to preach the merits of just leaving it without any packing (supposedly the luggage people are more likely to be careful with it but I’ve never wanted to risk it)… Then again, I’m not sure I’d want to rely on finding a shop with bike boxes in some of the places I’d like to travel to!

  7. […] to read some genuinely helpful practical advice for planning an overseas cycle tour. I asked Tom if I could share it […]

  8. Simon Dunford avatar
    Simon Dunford

    No pasta and stock cube? I’m not going.

  9. “Sleep in wonderful, wild places that only you will ever know. Meet new people every day. Ignore everyone and everything except what’s happening right here, right now. Leave your phone and laptop at home. I dare you. I double dare you. Throw out your calendar. Spontaneously change your plans, your flights, your life.”
    A double YAY! for this one Tom, love it!!

  10. Now this post is what it is all about. I find myself getting lazy with my planning because I know you just have to take every day as it comes. I am not a very good fisherman. That is why I normally take a fishing rode with me. This gives me a reason to stop and enjoy the place I am at. Do not Often catch a fish but enjoy sitting near water. Must say caught some nice tiger fish in Chora basa Mozambique.

  11. Hi Tom,

    Thanks for mentioning British Air. I didn’t know about them so I gave up on getting a reasonable cost from Edmonton, AB. I am going to ride the Rhine River from Mainz to Strasbourg in early Oct. so I am going to buy a used bike in Frankfurt.

    From Strasbourg I want to go to Tuscany but having trouble finding a train ticket to there without going to Milan and then booking another ticket to go to Bologna or Florence.

    Thanks again for the info and advice,

    1. This is a good train travel website — you might find something there http://www.seat61.com x

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