Two weeks on a bike in the USA and wondering how much to take ? The first time I did an unguided, and so no support vehicle to carry my kit, trip I did what many people did and took too much – in fact due a to a mishap with some cheap travel scales I actually thought I was taking more than I was and still took too much ! One of the key things to remember is whatever you load on the bike, you’ll be taking off each night and repacking / loading again in the morning.
Over successive trips I’ve got my packing down to a fine art now. Enough to be comfortable without over packing so these are my tips. I can get away with a 25l bag for two weeks – with space to spare.
- Multi-functional – if you can take a garment that can be used for more than one aspect of the trip do it. Some examples are my trousers I take. Hiking cargo trousers with zip out bottoms. Can be worn as long trousers for the cooler evenings or shorts when hotter. Two for one. I also take a kevlar lined hoodie for some of the riding. Makes a perfectly good jacket to wear out in the evenings when cooler also.
- If you can take a separate riding top – I’ve got a cheap cycling top that wicks sweat etc. away that I rinse out each evening ready to wear the next day. Keeps the number of “going out” tops you need down.
- For the fashion conscious – don’t worry you’re on the road each day so apart from the people you’re with nobody will see you in the same outfit twice 😉 For a two week trip I probably take 4-5 tops to wear, a mixture of t-shirts and long sleeve. I can guarantee you’ll buy souvenir shirts along the way – well I always do. Majority of hotels / motels have laundries so one or two laundry nights over the trip keep things fresh.
- Gadgets – do you really need to take laptops etc. ? You’re on holiday, every gadget, every charger is more to worry about.
- Hand luggage – I have a large Oxford helmet bag which I carry my helmet (obviously) but it also has enough space for all the usual sundries I would take on-board a plane as hand luggage normally as well as my trusty maps so again it’s that doubling up principle.
- Lotions and potions – many years ago I was advised to always buy the sun lotion locally when on holiday as it’s designed for that market. So I do – first morning quick trip to Walgreens to buy the local high factor stuff. I buy small so generally by end of trip next to nothing left. I saved on carrying it over and saved on bringing it back. Same goes for paracetamols or any such item – it’s the USA not the third world. Walmart and Walgreens is everywhere and to be honest most gas stations carry as much as a small pharmacy.
- Undies – prior to a trip I stockpile “near life end” undies to take and literally wear them and bin them. Frees up luggage space for souvenirs and as before … a pack of pants in Walmart for $5 will see you through to end of trip if you run short 🙂
- Waterproofs – depending on time of year and where your trip is you may need them. If you do take them get the lightest / smallest to pack you can. Your European touring set will almost certainly be overkill – and if the rain really is that bad, pull off the road and chill at a local roadside cafe to sit it out. Most of my riding gear is waterproof to a certain extent anyway but another bonus of a thin set is should your find yourself riding in cooler conditions it gives you an extra layer for warmth too. If the layers principle is good enough for the army it’s good enough for me.
- Documents – it might seem obvious but I always take a printed copy of all my documents for travel as well as passport, license etc. and also have scans up in t’internet cloud that I can get to if things go astray. Better safe than sorry.
- Most importantly – your sense of humour – don’t leave home without it ! There will be days when plans go astray, you get a hold up etc. Let it wash over you – unscheduled change of plans can make a trip sometimes … by the evening you will be smiling about it over a cold beer 🙂