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The Myriad Joys of Planning a Bike Tour from Scratch

Posted on Thursday, February 23rd, 2023

Story by: Molly Waldstein | Travel Writer


Thinking about designing a bike tour from scratch? That sounds like a lot of fun—and a lot of work. Here's a little breakdown of the time it takes to design your own bicycling vacation from scratch.

The Myriad Joys of Planning a Bike Tour from Scratch 3

Thinking about designing a bike tour from scratch? That sounds like a lot of fun—and a lot of work. If you’ve been following the latest news in cycling vacations, you’ve probably heard about VBT’s Self-Guided Bicycling Vacations. These private, turn-key vacations offer flexible cycling itineraries with top-notch boutique hotels, well-maintained bicycles, and scenic cycling routes. Sure, we think Self-Guided Bicycling Vacations are the perfect choice for folks who want the freedom to do their own thing within a curated framework of thoughtfully designed routes and 24/7 local support. But we know how it is—an expertly planned itinerary just isn’t for everyone. And since we’re all friends here, we thought it might be helpful to give you a little breakdown of the time it takes to design your own bicycling vacation from scratch.

Why Is This Bike Path Full of Tourists?

So, let’s say you’ve read up on different destinations and you made a short list of your top three. The next question is: which destination has the best cycling routes for your activity level? Do you want hills, or flats, or some combination? And how do you feel about car traffic? Many destinations offer car-free bike paths—but finding them isn’t always easy. If you do find the perfect bike path, you can be sure plenty of other folks have the same idea. Anything you can easily find on the internet is bound to be packed full of tourists.

To find secluded bike paths takes real insider knowledge. If you happen to have a friend who is local to the region, they can help save you some time by pointing you towards cycling routes that are off the beaten path. How do we know? Because that’s how we find the best bike paths all over the world! Our friends spend weekends cycling the bike paths and byways of the world—and they know routes that aren’t easy to find without insider connections. They’ve got the skinny on hard-to-find paths offering the best scenery, top conditions, and just the right amount of challenge—and aren’t on the main tourist circuit. When you book a VBT Self-Guided Bicycling Vacations, you’ll benefit from our wheels on the ground. Researching cycling routes on your own will eat up at least 30 hours of your life.

Wait, My Bike is WHERE?

There’s no way around it—you can’t take a cycling vacation without a bike. When you’re designing your trip from scratch, you have three basic bike options—fly, ship, or rent. Many airlines will allow you to check a bike box as oversized luggage—for a fee. If you’re generally comfortable with bike mechanics, it’s not difficult to break down your bicycle and pack it into a bike box. You can also go to a local bike shop and ask for help—but if you do this, you’ll want to be sure to have a bike shop lined up at your destination put your bike back together. If you choose to check your bike as luggage, be sure to confirm the oversized baggage allowance, and fees, before you book your flights.

You can also ship your bike to your destination ahead of your trip. Of course, you’ll need a ship-to address—so you’ll want to coordinate with a hotel, bike shop, or local friend. This is always a risky gamble—if something slows down your shipment, your bike may not reach you in time, leaving you without a bike for your vacation. If that happens, you’ll likely spend much of your trip coordinating with the shipping carrier and finding an adequate bike rental. Not everyone’s idea of a good time.

Bike rentals are a whole different ball game. There’s no packing or shipping, so that’s a plus! Of course, finding a rental bike that’s comfortable, well-maintained, and fits you properly isn’t always easy—and in some destinations may be flat-out impossible. When you book a VBT Self-Guided Bicycling Vacation, you’ll be fitted with a bike from our expertly-maintained bike fleet—which includes road bikes, hybrid bikes, and E-bikes available in many sizes and styles. All bikes on our Self-Guided Vacations are equipped with protective tire inserts to protect against flats—and a local host you can call if you need assistance. Overall, we estimate researching bike shipping and rental options will take 20 hours of your life.

That Luggage Isn’t Gonna Move Itself

If you’re like us, you enjoy surfing the internet for great boutique hotels—comparing prices, locations, and decor. You can easily while away a pleasant Sunday afternoon reading hotel reviews—comparing properties and features, weighing pros and cons, and hunting for the best deals before booking your room. And while hotel shopping may be all fun and games—the act of moving your luggage from one hotel to another is not.

Unless you plan to stay in the same hotel for your entire trip, chances are you’ll need to figure out how to get yourself, your bikes, and your luggage from one hotel to the next. You have three basic options: rent a car, call a taxi, or take public transportation. If you decide to take public transportation, you’ll have to pick your hotels VERY carefully to ensure they’re an easy walk from the bus or train station. Picture yourself walking your bike in one hand and pulling a rolling suitcase behind you with your other hand—top it all off with a backpack, and you’ll likely find maneuverability a bit challenging. You won’t want to walk that way for long—so the hotel had better be close by!

Rental cars and taxis are also options—but most won’t come equipped with a bike rack. Of course, you can bring a bike rack with you, but that’s one more thing you’ll have to lug on the plane. Without a bike rack, you’ll leave your bikes behind while you drive to the next hotel, drop your bags and drive back to get your bikes. This limits the distance you can travel—based on the amount of time it takes to drive to the hotel and your state of exhaustion after doing it twice—knowing you’ll be pedaling the same distance yet a third time. When you book a VBT Self-Guided Bicycling Vacation, we move your luggage for you. When it’s time to switch hotels, just bring your bags down to the lobby, and we’ll whisk them off to the next hotel while you’re out enjoying the day’s ride. Overall, we estimate researching, and executing, luggage transportation options will easily consume over 50 hours of your life.

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