5 Steps to the Perfect Cycle HolidayPosted on November 13, 2013
So you like the idea of a cycling holiday and now it’s just a simple matter of finding the one that appeals the most right? Well yes but because of the bewildering choice of cycle tours available it will help to have a clear idea of what constitutes your ideal cycling holiday first. By defining the must-haves as well as the must-not-haves of your ideal cycling holiday, you will be armed and ready to start your search and the five questions below will help you to do just that.
Guided or Self Guided?
All cycling holidays are categorised as either guided or self guided and which appeals more will very much depend on the individual. On a self guided tour you are the master of your own destiny, navigating your way along the route at your own pace using the maps and route notes provided. On a guided tour you cycle in a group with a cycle guide who besides knowing the route like the back of his or her hand, is also likely to be a brilliant bike mechanic and an expert on local culture and traditions to boot. Self guided tours tend to attract independent cyclists while guided holidays will appeal to those who like social cycling.
Cycle touring or cycle cruising?
While the vast majority of cycle holidays are cycle touring holidays, the new cycle cruising genre is fast gaining in popularity. On a cycle touring holiday you wil stay on dry land in hotels, inns or charming B&Bs. You move on each day, staying in a different town or village each night with your luggage miraculously reappearing at each property courtesy of the mysterious and lesser-spotted luggage delivery van. On a cycle cruising holiday your floating hotel moves with so you can unpack and settle into your cabin, knowing you won’t have to pack again until the end of the holiday. A variety of vessels are used for these holidays ranging from traditional Dutch barges plying the waterways of Holland to luxury motor yachts cruising the Dalmatian archipelago. Each day these vesels move on providing passengers with a brand new landscapes to explore by bike.
What level of ability?
A key question this and one where honesty is the best policy. Most companies will provide a clear grading system for their cycling holidays where they define the level of fitness required to enjoy each of the various grades available. Be aware however that there is no common standard for these grades and so ‘medium’ can mean very different things depending on which website you are looking at. Always read the grading descriptons carefully
What do I want to see?
This is important as cycling holidays have different themes. You might like the idea of coastal cycling where the sea is your constant companion and a refreshing dip is always a possibility. Or you might wish to cycle alongside one of Europe’s major rivers or lakes. Other tours take in historical sites and/or well-known cities and towns while others focus on a region’s wine producing or gastronomic skills.
Who else is coming?
A very important question, unless you are travelling alone of course. You will have to find common ground on the above questions with any fellow travellers to ensure you can all enjoy the holiday together. If you are travelling with young children then you will probably want a holiday with short and fun daily itineraries and child friendly hotels. Most tour operators will label certain holidays as ‘family friendly’ but we woud also recommend discussing your particular needs in person as factors such as child ages and fitness can make a lot of difference to which holiday will be most suitable.