Bike tours are one of, if not the most popular activity these days. More and more people are getting into cycling because it allows them a little bit of everything – you can find friendships, you can earn health benefits from cycling and you can even see places and go places you’ve never been before. It’s no wonder why this is becoming a new “hot” thing to do. When it comes to bike tours around the world, you might think that your options are really limited or you might not know what your options are at all! Thankfully, if you continue reading below, you will see that in all you have 3 options to choose from; guided tours, self-guided tours and self-supported tours. Keep reading to find out more about each category of tours.
Like with most other activities that are guided, you will pay to be guided with an experienced biking person or company with the guided tour option. It’s just you and your bike, along with the guide and a group of 2-20 people depending on the company you choose to go with. Things like clothing, toiletries and food are carried in a vehicle that meets you and your group at every pit stop along the way. When it comes to a guided tour, you can expect to be riding with a variety of different people – even some from across the world. Also depending on the different bike tours around the world you may have one guide or you may have up to 3 different guides on your tour leading you along the way while a support van may also lead you along the way to help with things like challenges for people that can’t make a certain route. For example, if you have a person with knee problems that does better on flat terrain than hilly terrain, a support van can pick the person up along with their bike and transfer them to the other side of the hill. It’s more of an accommodation than anything else, but it is helpful if you have any issues along the way and need some extra support. Most of the bike tours allow you to bring your own bike, but if you don’t have one, they probably will have one you can rent – for an expense of course! When you first sign up with the company, they will most likely give you a map of the route you will be taking, landmarks along the way, scenic stops and of course cultural spots along the way so you can be prepared for these experiences!
A Self-guided tour is a lot like that of a guided tour, with a few exceptions. Like with a guided tour, the company you choose to ride with will most likely take care of things like lodging and meals. But, unlike the guided tour where they have a support vehicle to help you along the way and carry your baggage from one location to the next, a self-guided tour will not have this. Whatever belongings you want to take with you, you will have to find a way to take them on your bike with you. Obviously this leaves for little changing of clothes along the way – you can’t have some 50lb bag on your back while riding! But, for some people, that’s what they want, just them, their bike, and the road ahead of them – with a little sack on their back or attached to the bike using some travel contraption. With a self-guided tour you will also not have an experienced rider guiding you along the way, mind you, you will still be riding with other folks (if you so choose to do so) but there will be no experienced guide guiding you along the way. For some people this is a more fun option because they don’t have someone telling them what to do and they can make up their own itinerary and stops along the way, for others it’s just not the experience they want, because they want a more luxury feel to their tour and would prefer a guide to do all the route world for them. If you choose this option AND you chose a route or a location that is unfamiliar to you, make sure you know how to do things in that specific language of origin such as order food, ask for help, navigate through that specific location, etc. This is the second least expensive option, but you also basically don’t get any of the bells and whistles as the guided tour.
While the other two options give you some level of support along the way when it comes to your tour, this one does not. You will not be joining up with a company, you will not be traveling in groups and you will not have an experienced rider going with you along the trip. This is really the most popular type of bike touring by the way. Just you and a partner (if you prefer) and the road. You will be taking care of everything yourself including clothing, food, tools, and lots of gear for your trip along the way. The trip itself is done by you and you alone. The trip can be for a weekend tour, days at a time, weeks at a time or even months at a time. While with the other two options a company will help with things like lodging and food, you will have to do everything from creating a route, to navigating difficult terrain, to lodging and much more. It’s like a nature hike on steroids, but with a bike. This is great because this is something you can do all alone if you are experienced enough, or you can take a friend or partner along with you for some company along the way. This is the cheapest of options when it comes to a bike tour, but it’s also the option in which you must have more preparedness, more knowledge, more will and more common sense along the way than with the other tours.