Today I’d like to discuss three of the major types of bicycle tours:
- Guided Bicycle Tours
- Self-Guided Bicycle Tours
- Self-Supported Bicycle Tours
Guided Bicycle Tours
A guided bicycle tour is a tour where you are guided along a pre-designed path by an experienced bicycle touring guide and your belongings (i.e. food, clothes, toiletries, etc.) are carried in a vehicle that meets you at various checkpoints along your route.
Guided bicycle tours typically charge a fee of some kind to tour participants. In exchange for that fee, all (or most) of your bike tour details are taken care of by a bicycle touring company.
Your route, the food you will be eating, and the lodging you will be staying in each night will all be taken care of for you, so you are able to simply show up for the start of the tour and enjoy the ride!
Plus, you’ll have one or more professional guides traveling with you each day, so if anything goes wrong with your bike, your hotel, or anything else, you’ll have an expert at your side to help you every step of the way.
Many guided bicycle tours also provide you with a bicycle to use during the duration of your tour!
Self-Guided Bicycle Tours
A self-guided bicycle tour is similar to a guided bicycle tour in that the route, hotels and meals have all been taken care of for you. The difference, however, is that on a self-guided tour, you will not be joined by an experienced bicycle touring guide, but you must navigate a pre-designed course on your own, while carrying whatever clothes and belongings you might have with you on your bicycle.
Some self-guided bicycle tours come with a bicycle that is included in the price of the tour. Others do not.
While a guided bicycle tour is typically conducted with a group of people, self-guided bicycle tours can be done alone or with a group. They are less expensive than guided bicycle tours (because you aren’t paying for a guide to accompany you), and they offer more freedom to stop and smell the roses (or take a detour if you so wish) along the way.
The bicycle tour that GoBicycleTouring and Czech Bike Tours is giving away on February 1st is a self-guided bicycle tour: http://www.gobicycletouring.com/giveaway/
Self-Supported Bicycle Tours
Finally, there are self-supported bicycle tours. Self-supported bicycle tours are trips bike bike that you make alone (or with a loved one or friend(s) of your own choosing) and of which you are responsible for everything – from planning the route, to choosing the equipment, to finding places to stay each night, to what you are going to eat along the way, and everything in between.
If you’ve been following me for the last 9 months as I’ve been bicycle touring my way across Europe, you will be familiar with the concept of self-supported bicycle touring. I am carrying my own tent, sleeping mat, sleeping bag, food, clothing, and everything else I need to survive on my bicycle for months at a time. That’s what self-supported bicycle touring is all about!
As you can see, there are some major differences between these various types of bicycle touring, but each type of bike tour has its benefits.
- Guided bike tours are great because you can just show up and enjoy the experience of riding your bicycle in one of the most amazing locations in the world.
- Self-Guided bicycle tours are awesome because you get the same experience you might get on a guided bike tour, but you have the freedom to enjoy the tour at your own pace.
- And self-supported bicycle touring is incredible because it is challenging, rewarding, and it provides you with the freedom to choose where, when and how you travel.
If you are interested in participating in a guided or self-guided bicycle tour, I encourage you to check out the website at www.gobicycletouring.com, where you will find hundreds of incredible guided and self-guided bicycle tours from some of the best bicycle touring companies on the planet, in some of the most amazing locations all around the world.
And if you are interested in conducted a self-supported bicycle tour, but you have questions about how to plan your route, what to pack, how to equip your bicycle, what it will be like once you hit the road, or anything else, then I encourage you to pick up a copy of “The Bicycle Traveler’s Blueprint: The Definitive Guide To Self-Supported Bicycle Touring.” That book will teach you everything you need to know to plan, prepare for and execute your own self-supported bicycle tour.