How To Bike Tour As A Couple (And Survive)

“If you survive a trip like that, you’ll stay married forever.” -Said by a random person, while we cycled around the world

Bike touring with your husband, wife or partner certainly has its advantages. There’s always someone to talk to. Luxuries like a private hotel room become more affordable and, when the cycling gets tough, your best friend is there to help and encourage you.

But life isn’t all roses. We’ve been together for 14 years now and we rarely fight but bike touring forced us to develop new strategies for travelling well together. Here are some tips to help you get through a bicycle trip à deux, with relatively little stress.

Topping a pass at Lake Song-Kol, KyrgyzstanTravelling with your husband, wife or partner is great because there’s always someone to help you ride out the storms.

#1. Split Up The Tasks – We’re all better at certain things than others. By dividing up tasks according to your strengths, you’ll save a lot of endless debates and heartache.Our tasks look like this:

Andrew – Reading maps, navigating, maintaining bikes and camping gear. Friedel – Food shopping, cooking, bargaining, asking for directions, keeping water bottles topped up.

With a clear set of tasks, things get done quickly and easily. Each person knows what they have to do and takes responsibility for their own area. There’s less chance that you step on each other’s toes as you try to get the same thing done in 2 different ways, and no one has to be stressed out by a task they strongly dislike. There’s also less chance that you forget something because the person with that task should make sure it’s taken care of. Navigator-in-chief

#2. Set Clear Expectations – We all deal with adversity better when we know what to expect. Before jumping on your bikes, make sure both of you are thinking about the day in the same way.

How fast and how far will you cycle? Is there something you want to see along the way? Do you want to bike at all? Maybe one of you wants a rest day.

Each person has to take responsibility for communicating, rather than expecting the other person to be a mind reader! If you’re hungry, make sure you suggest a snack break. If you can’t keep up, suggest that you ride in front and set the pace. If you’re navigating, let your partner know when a detour or other problem might make the route longer than originally expected.

#3. Plan On Bad Days – No two people are the same, and no one is happy all the time, so be ready to support your other half when they’re having a bad day. As one person said on our Facebook group:

Prepare for bad days

Supporting your partner might mean taking on a few extra tasks that you don’t normally do, setting a more relaxed pace or deciding to treat yourselves to a luxury day on the road (a meal out or a hotel room, for example). It might also simply mean giving the person a bit of space and quiet time to work through whatever is bothering them.

#4. Have Time Alone – Even the best of friends will struggle to be together 24 hours a day, 7 days a week so work some alone-time into each day. This might mean riding slightly further apart, so you can get lost in your thoughts, or you might just want an hour or two in the afternoon where each person goes off and does their own thing.

Time alone is a good idea even if you’re getting along well but it’s essential if you are frustrated. Just having a bit of space to blow off steam can save the day from turning into a big grumpy mess, as Janyis points out.

Blow off steam

#5. Have Long Discussions At The End Of The Day – If something is really bothering you, sometimes it’s tempting to let all your frustrations fly in the middle of the day but we find this generally isn’t a good idea.

Finishing an involved discussion about a sensitive topic isn’t easy when you’re also trying to get somewhere or possibly distracted by things like traffic on the road or the heat of the midday sun. Instead, we prefer to take 30 minutes at the end of the day to sit down with a mug of tea and talk about how the day went for each of us.

This is our chance to bring up any problems and to find solutions, and we can do this much more calmly once the tent is set up in a peaceful spot.

Here are some of the other handy tips for getting along that people shared with us via our Facebook Group:

Facebook comments

And via Twitter:

Twitter comments

If you have a tip, please share it by leaving a comment!


  1. Becky
    8th June 2011 at 5:06 pm #

    I’d add one – divide the load based on ability/strength not on “even”. The best lesson I learned was that at the end of the day you should be equally tired. If one of your is more tired, then you need to adjust the load.

  2. Chris
    8th June 2011 at 6:19 pm #

    Great topic to cover and nice to read that I’m not the only arsey cycle tourist out there. Not sure I agree with the ‘share your cakes’ comment though. True love has it’s limits….

  3. Amaya
    9th June 2011 at 12:41 am #

    Never make big decisions on an empty stomach.

    We got that advice from a couple cycling through Central America and it really holds true.

    Severe hunger pangs can turn even the happiest of couples into a pair of bickering bikers.

  4. Brenda in the Boro UK
    9th June 2011 at 1:44 pm #

    After 40 years cycling together – still married!!- I still have to give him a list of what goes where. It helps to have a list of all pannier bags and their contents to refer to- it keeps the weight balanced.
    We do work to our strengths though and have separate tasks that we get on with and can be set up really fast so it works.
    Brenda in the Boro

  5. Harry,
    15th June 2011 at 3:11 pm #

    Great post and tips. If only I had known before!
    Just kidding, this is the reason we planned to get married at the end of our 3 year trip and not before, which might be a tip in itself 🙂

  6. Tom
    22nd June 2011 at 12:18 pm #

    Great list. I am about to set out on my first tour with my best cycling friend Chuck. Although we are not a couple, it applies just as much to us. When I committed to tour with a pal, I worried about how well we would do alone for 10 days. You touched on many things I have been thinking about. thanks again for this timely post for me.

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