16 Dec

Trip Planning: How Do You Do It?


Trip Planning

As the New Year bears down our upcoming cycle tour gets closer and closer. Yay for that!

Come January we are going to be hip deep in trip planning and figuring out all the things that we need to get done before getting on that plane on April 8th. There are itineraries to be figured out, gear to be decided on and found, and accommodation options to be researched. We’re definitely much looser in our trip planning than we used to be, but that doesn’t mean it can all be left to chance, or to the last minute; we have some work to do!!

It’s interesting trying to pull together an activity based trip; I don’t just want to know about travel in Luxembourg, I want to know specifically about cycling in Luxembourg. In fact I don’t just want to know about cycling in Luxembourg but also in its neighbouring countries of Belgium and France. It means searching for different sources of information and pulling it all together myself, or finding the Holy Grail in a source that discusses travel and cycling in Belgium, Luxembourg, and France (and Germany, and Poland, and…).

So I’m turning to:

  • Guide books such as Lonely Planet and Frommers
  • Big travel sites like TripAdvisor, Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree, and Boots’n’all
  • Travel blogs – lots of searching for ‘cycle travel blog’, ‘cycle touring blog’, ‘cycle touring Europe blog’ and a bazillion other combinations
  • Magazines – okay, really this is probably just a ploy to read the celebrity gossip magazines while perusing the magazine stand :)
  • Friends and family – some of my friends have cycle toured, some have even blogged about it = great, personal resource!

How do you go about trip planning? What resources do you use?

18 Nov

Guess What We’re Gearing Up For?

Those were my exact words when Jason asked what I was thinking of for our next Giant Step. After leaving Thailand early and cooling our heels (quite literally now that the temperature has dropped and the snow is starting to fly!) in Canada for the winter I only know that I want to be challenged, and outside, for much of next year.

I want to stretch my muscles to their limit. To feel like I can go no further and then have to because we’re not there yet. To explore that complete exhaustion that only comes from pushing beyond where you thought you could.

I want to spend hours in my own head. It’s been a year now since we left our jobs in Calgary; am I where I want to be? Where I thought I’d be? Yes and no; I want to spend some time just thinking and figure out what it is that’s holding me back.

I want to do something big enough that I surprise myself in my ability to do it. I want to be proud when it’s finished and be able to look back with wonder and awe at what I accomplished.

We threw around some ideas.

We talked about rambling in the UK, walking the Camino, and hiking in Nepal, but none of it was really resonating. I’m not sure why.

Accommodation costs are one reason. Jason hates camping; a trait that we have worked with for the most part. I can talk him into it once in a while (in Peru on the Inca Trail trek, in the Wadi Rum desert of Jordan, and last summer as we hiked the Grand Tetons) but it almost always reaffirms his dislike of sleeping in tents, eating everything out of a single bowl, and not being able to shower.

So, if we were to do a big hike we’d have to hoof it from bed to bed. There are certainly plenty of places where this is possible and all the treks we discussed have this option but the biggest hurdle is cost. There are some lovely B&B’s and cottages in the Scottish Highlands, across Spain,  and in Turkey but the cost adds up quickly and we will still be on a budget.

Nepal was the subject of much discussion. We’ve hiked there before and said then that we would like to return to go deeper into the mountains. The costs are good here; it’s very inexpensive to hike in the Himalayas. We wouldn’t use a guide and staying in guesthouses or teahouses is ridiculously cheap. Certainly the challenge criteria would be met with steep ups and downs, high altitude, and thin air but, for some reason, the idea just wouldn’t take hold and we kept looking for what would be that great challenge for 2014.

Like many of our great ideas, I’m not sure where our final decision came from. We’ve met people doing similar things and have followed others doing even greater versions so maybe that’s where the seed of the idea came from. In the end, it’s a plan that will challenge us physically, see us visiting a part of the world we were hoping to get to, and will allow us to sample some of the best beer in the world.

We’re going to cycle-tour mid-western Europe this spring!

We have been wanting to visit Europe for many years but cost has been such a limiting factor. Europe certainly hasn’t gotten any cheaper but our ability to manage it has gotten better…we hope. Using our own bodies for transportation drastically cuts down that part of the budget and, although we won’t be camping, there are some fabulous bicycle specific accommodation options that are much more affordable than traditional B&B’s and inns. It will still be expensive, no doubt, but we have lots of time to plan and save.

There is lots to do to prepare. Like get bikes, we don’t have any bikes. Or bike bags. Or bike clothing. Plus there are maps to procure, routes to be decided upon, and training to do. It’s great to have something to focus on; something to look forward to and help propel us through the cold winter ahead. We’re excited.

We have already done the one un-undoable step, the piece that makes it real and shows commitment. We purchased our plane tickets to London, England!! Our One Giant Pedal around Europe begins on April 8th!!! Yiiiippppeeee!

Have you ever cycle-toured? Have any advice for us? Or resources you can point us to?