When we began our bicycle tour, I didn’t think the way I approached our journey would be very different from my husband.
After cycling for so long, through so many different countries, however, there are a few packing tips I’ve learned and would like to share with other women.
#1. Take A Good Moisturizing Lotion.
I’ve never been one for ‘lotions and potions’ (even before our trip I hardly ever wore makeup) but a small bottle of face and hand lotion goes a long way to making you feel better after a few nights of camping. If you want to go even further, you might also add some mascara and lip gloss. Then you’re set for a meal out, if you stop for some city sightseeing along the way.
#2. Get A Mooncup.
I could not survive without my Mooncup. It makes every month so much easier. No searching for bulky pads and tampons, and no need to worry about what to do with them afterwards when you’re camping in the wilderness. With the Mooncup, there’s no garbage to dispose of and you can wear it all day without worry of Toxic Shock Syndrome. I use it even when we aren’t cycling but it’s a particular godsend for when we’re on the move. If you are planning a trip and haven’t used one before, make sure you have two or three cycles to get used to it. The Diva Cup is a similar alternative.
#3. Get A Nice, Fitted Rain Jacket.
You have to get a good rain jacket for a bike tour, so you might as well get a nice one with a flattering cut. There are some really good women’s jackets on the market. I’ve had a few Gore-tex jackets (they make cycling-specific ones) and been pleased with them, for example the Gore Power II Lady (£188.09 from Wiggle).
The MacPac Prophet rain jacket is slightly less flattering but it’s by far the best Friedel has tried to date. It’s terribly expensive if you have to buy it new (we picked it up for a fraction of the normal retail price at an outlet sale).
#4. Consider A Peeing Device.
Some women also really love the devices on the market that let you pee standing up. I had the chance to review the pStyle, the Whiz Freedom and the Go Girl. Other cyclists have something to say too:
“I recently got back to the U.S.A. after spending one year touring the world by bicycle for my honeymoon! One thing I really really loved during my trip and couldn’t have survived without is the WhizAway. It’s sort of a little purple rubber funnel that fits against your crotch and allows you to pee while standing up, or into a bottle. I found this hugely useful in roadside peeing situations, times when we were stuck in the tent because of bug attacks, and in super dirty bathrooms.” –Sarah, Erck.org
#5. Think About Pacing.
If you’re cycling with your boyfriend, husband or partner, talk about pacing. Nothing will make life more miserable than if he wants to race ahead and you want to take it easy. Also, consider asking him to take some of the heaviest luggage. This is assuming of course that you are a bit less strong than he is! If it’s the other way around, reverse this advice. In the end, no matter which way you do it, each person should be carrying just the right amount of stuff so that you both go at the same speed. This might mean a 60-40 split or even a 70-30 split, depending on your individual strength.
#6. Take Extra Pairs of Underwear.
On a shorter trip, you can just about get away with 3 pairs of underwear but you have to be strict about cleaning a pair every day. Since underwear aren’t heavy, and having more pairs gives you freedom from having to do a wash every day, I usually carry 5-6 pairs on longer journeys.
#7. Have A Dress-Up Outfit.
Sure, you’re going to be on the bike and camping out most of the time, but once in a while you’ll spend time in a city or be invited out to dinner. It’s nice to have an outfit for these occasions. I’m not suggesting you pack a pair of high heels and a hair dryer, but consider 1-2 pieces of clothing that are a bit nicer than your cycling tops and cargo pants. Three things that have really caught my eye are the Icebreaker Roma Dress (you can also wear it as an extra layer on cooler days), the Macabi Skirt and the Terry Stretch Mini Skirt.
According to bike tourist Peli, the Terry skirt is genuinely useful on a bike tour.
When cycle touring in New Zealand it was comfy, practical and downright invaluable! I wore it over shorts or 3/4s, when getting changed, just after a shower, and – best of all – to sleep in. When sleeping in a tent, responding to a midnight call of nature can be a really irritating faff, but less so if wearing a handy little skirt. You can work it out. That’s possibly too much information.
Linen trousers might be another good option, as one of our Twitter followers pointed out:
@travellingtwo Linen trousers+shirt all the way for me- easy to carry- and a nice shawl-looks smart and keeps you toasty at other times too!
— Dawesfan (@dawesfan) June 17, 2011
What to wear with your dress-up outfit? A pair of travel sandals such as those made by Keen or Teva should do the trick for most semi-casual outings, and you can also wear them on the bicycle during hot, summer days. If you have extra room in your bags, you could pack a pair of strappy, lightweight sandals but don’t expect to use them much, unless you’re really planning to hit a lot of cities. They might be your one luxury item (everyone has at least one!).
#8. A Colourful Scarf Is Good Too.
Tara of GoingSlowly.com suggests picking out a colourful scarf that can serve double-duty, both as an accessory to your dress and to protect you on windy days when there’s a lot of dust and dirt in the air, or during a cold snap.