One of the best ways to acquaint yourself with a new area is to step off the bus or out of the car, and onto a bike. Bicycling is an immersive experience – you’re forced to slow down a little, which allows you to better absorb and appreciate your surroundings. You’ll also create sharper and more intimate memories of your time there. Check out our top tips to make your next travel destination a dream bicycle vacation.
Why take the bike?
- Immerse yourself. There are many fantastic ways to see a new city: bus, car, or even by foot. Cycling through a new city allows you to explore it in a different way. You’re fully surrounded by the new environment. Cycling forces you to slow down, allowing you to take in the details and beauty you’d likely miss in a car.
- Meet the locals. Riding up to someone on the street to ask a question is a lot less intimidating than in a car. And folks are more likely to have a conversation with you – a conversation that may end up pointing you in the direction of some little known local hostspot!
- Stop and Smell the aromas. How many times have you smelled something irresistible cooking from a shop down the street? If you’re riding your bike and smell something that you just must sample, its easy to stop and taste the town.
- Experience the art. Bicycling can be one of the best ways to see fantastic public and street art. Not only are you apt to pay more attention, stopping to snap a photo for your Instagram feed is a cinch (no need to search for parking!).
Prepare for Navigation
- Do your research. There are so many great resources online to help you discover how bike friendly a city is and where the safest places to ride. Do some research before you go and make sure you know what the bicycle culture is like. The visitor’s center website is a great place to start.
- Plan your route. Make the most of your time is by planning your route before you hop on the bike. RootsRated is a great cycling route resource for any level.
- Use your local resources. If you’re cycling on a trip, you’ll likely rent a bike from a local shop. Bike rental shops are a great resource for getting the lay of the land: local rules, maps and trail recommendations.
- Pro Tip: If you are borrowing from a hotel, ask them if they have a map and some recommendations
- Pick the right bike. Find a bike rental shop near the area you want to explore. Ask them what types of bikes they rent to make sure they’ve got what you’ll need. For shorter, leisurely excursions you’ll be fine on a cruiser or hybrid. If you’re planning on getting some miles in (8+), do yourself a favor and get a hybrid. You’ll be faster on a hybrid than a cruiser and hills will be much easier.
- Bring a map. You can’t always count on your GPS, especially if you get outside of a city. Bring a detailed map of the area in case your phone dies or your GPS doesn’t work.
- Wear a helmet. Helmets are an affordable safety measure. These should be offered at all rental shops or hotels you check your bike out from.
- Lock your bike. Be sure to ask for a lock if your bicycle rental doesn’t already come with one. The last thing you want is to be walking home after a long bike ride.
- Bring your wallet and phone. In case something does happen, it’s best to always have your wallet and cellphone on you, so you can get a quick tow.
- Pro tip: AAA Auto offers roadside assistance for bicyclists – you can get a “tow” of up to 200 miles. If you get a flat or something else happens to your bike, they’ll pick you up, put your bike on a tow truck and give you a ride back.
For more great travel tips, check out our travel section on the Schwinn blog!