It’s official! I’ve completed step number one of the planning process for my upcoming trip to Europe. I’ve booked my airline tickets and my plans for yet another bicycle touring adventure have suddenly become a reality.
Since I am currently planning an 8+month bicycle touring expedition through Europe later this year, I thought it would be good to share with you not only my adventures from the road, but everything that goes into planning and preparing for a long trip such as this.
My goal in sharing this information, of course, is to help you plan and prepare for your own cycle touring expeditions. While you may not have the desire to go to the same locations that I plan to visit on my upcoming tour, you can take a similar approach when planning and preparing for your own cycle touring adventures – wherever they may be.
Today I thought I would share with you the steps I’ve taken up until this point in time in order to take my idea for a third European bicycle tour and turn it into a reality.
Sound good? Great! Then here we go…
The first step I took when planning this trip to Europe was figuring out which areas I wanted to visit. I decided early on that I wanted to return to Switzerland, so I booked a tour with European tour company, Bike Switzerland, and by doing so, committed to being in the Swiss Alps by the 10th of July, 2012.
Having the dates for the Bike Switzerland tour set in stone enabled me to work backwards and figure out what I would be doing in the months prior to arriving in Geneva for the start of the tour.
Working backwards, I decided that I would not leave my home in Park City, Utah USA until the beginning of May, as I am currently a season pass holder at the Deer Valley ski resort and want to remain in the area until the end of the ski season.
This meant that I now had a potential start date for my international travels (the first of May – the end of my ski season) and a future date (the 10th of July) in which I would need to be in Geneva, Switzerland for the start of the guided bike tour with Bike Switzerland. Between these two dates I realized I had just over two months of free time in which I would need to figure out where I would like to go and what I would like to do.
I decided right away that I wanted to go to Iceland. It is a place that I’ve been wanting to visit for quite some time, so I knew right off the bat that this was going to be one of my first destinations.The fact that Iceland is on the way to Europe also made it easy for me to decide that Iceland would be the starting location for my European travels.
From Iceland, I still needed to get to Switzerland, but I didn’t want to fly straight from Iceland to Geneva. There is a lot of stuff in between the two locations that I have never seen before, and since had the time, I wanted to schedule a few weeks to travel to these areas. Therfore, I decided that after leaving Iceland, I would travel to London, England and then to Amsterdam.
At the beginning of July is the start of the Tour de France and since I would be in the area around the first of July, I figured it would be pretty awesome to follow the Tour for a few days and check out the most famous bike race in the world for myself.
To make a long story short, I created a schedule for my travels that looks a little something like this:
- May 3 – May 28, 2012: Iceland
- May 29 – June 10, 2012: London, England
- June 11 – June 21, 2012: Amsterdam, Netherlands
- June 30 – July 9, 2012: Tour de France
- July 10 – July 20, 2012: Bike Switzerland Bike Tour
With approximately three months of travel plans laid out, I decided it was time to book my ticket and make this thing a reality.
I did a quick search of the web for cheap airline tickets, but resorted to one of my favorite international airfare websites, Vayama.com, for my inexpensive one-way ticket to Reykjavik, Iceland and the connecting one-way ticket 25 days later to London, England. It was of little surprise that the cheapest tickets to Iceland were with the nation’s IcelandAir.
Before buying my tickets with the company, however, I checked the IcelandAir website to see what their policy and prices were for flying with a bicycle, as I will most likely be bringing my own bicycle with me to Europe.
A quick search of the website revealed that bicycles could be transported with IcelandAir and that they would be treated as one of my two checked bags for a small additional fee of $40 USD per direction. Taking my own advice, I printed out the airline’s policy in regards to bicycles and then purchased my two one-way tickets.
At the moment, I have no idea where I am going to go in Iceland or what exactly I am going to do there. All I know is that I have scheduled myself approximately 25 days on the island and I’ll figure out the details a bit later.
In fact, the only things I know at this point are that I am going to be in Iceland for 25 days and after that I will fly into London. Again, I don’t know exactly what I will do in London or how long I will stay there. All I know at this point in time is that by the 10th of July I need to be in Geneva, Switzerland for the start of my guided bike tour with Bike Switzerland.
This is usually how all of my long-distance bicycle tours begin. I pick a few destinations that I really want to see and experience, and as the trip goes closer, I fill in all the gaps.
The hardest part (deciding to go on a bicycle tour at all), however, has been taken care of. This European bicycle tour is happening! I’ve booked my tickets; I know when I’m leaving; and I now have a few dates to work from as I start to slowly fill in the gaps.
Photo by Mark Winterbourne Photography