10 Feb

The Un-Planning Guide to Cycle Touring Europe

Cycle Touring

My last post about trip planning for our upcoming cycle tour of Europe was all about the work we had to do in order to be ready to hit the road again. You might think that we have been feverishly poring over cycling resources, mapping out our route, and planning how the heck we’re going to get ourselves around Europe on our bikes.

Well, not exactly. This is turning out to be the most un-planned trip we have ever taken. And I am strangely ok with it.

We have done some work. Our bikes and equipment are sorted out and we have all the clothing gear we’ll need – more on this next week – but as far as exactly where we’ll go and exactly how we’ll get there, we just haven’t figured it out yet.

I think it comes down to how we want this trip to feel. It was when we went to Japan that we started to plan our trips based on what we wanted it to feel like, rather than listing off a bunch of must-see places. It’s too easy to get caught up in wanting to see everything and then we end up rushing around, frustrated because we’re always on the go and not enjoying what it is we are experiencing. Identifying what we want the trip to feel like helps us plan an itinerary and determine the schedule.

For this trip I want to feel FREE. 

I want to not have a plan at all. I want to just take each day as it comes and not know what the end of the day will look like. I want to be spontaneous and just figure it out as we go. I want to be able to just say YES to whatever comes our way.

It’s not that we don’t have a plan. We do; it’s just really, really rough. I think we’ve put together an itinerary partly to answer the inevitable question of ‘where are you going to go?’ and partly to ensure that we don’t just park ourselves in a London pub and never move. Not that there would be anything wrong with that.

So, here it is, like I said, roughly.  It’s a circular route threading through ten countries; England, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, S.Germany, Czech Republic, Poland, N.Germany, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, and back to England.

Some 4700 km. I know. It’s a long way. I made a map.

I’m not sure we’ll make it the whole way in the 3 months that the Schengen Zone rules allow. My heart won’t be broken if we don’t though because it will mean that we found something more interesting along the way, that we decided to slow down, or go somewhere else, or maybe we’re still in that London pub.


14 thoughts on “The Un-Planning Guide to Cycle Touring Europe

    • We fly to London, England on April 8th, housesit for some friends for a week or so, and then should be on our bikes toward the end of the month. Yay!

  1. I love it! As much as I love travel planning, I’m realizing more and more just how nice it is to NOT have a plan and just figure things out as I go. Poland (at least the little bit we saw) is a great country and will definitely be easy on your wallet. And I’m really looking forward to seeing you when you hopefully make it to Freiburg!
    Ali recently posted..Bernauerstrasse – Memories of the Berlin Wall

  2. This is so great, Gillian—not just the idea for this adventure, but the way you’re approaching it. I LOVED your sentiment of not being disappointed if you don’t make the whole route because that will just mean that you got caught up enjoying yourselves somewhere long the way. You’ll recall that when Tony & I were in northern Thailand, we had intended to do a multi-day motorbike tour that started from Chiang Mai: we made it to our first stop, Pai, fell in love and spent the next 5 days there instead! Absolutely no regrets. :D

    Give your prospective dates, there is a small possibility that Tony & I might be in France at some point while you’re passing through. Talk about winging it, we still have no idea where we’ll be come mid-March, but making our way to Europe for a little bit has certainly been discussed!
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted..Charmed (& Swindled!) At Sri Mahamariamman Temple

  3. I am very jealous. I would like to do a similar trip – thinking of starting in Norway and working our way through Eastern Europe but I think it’s still a few years off. I will be living vicariously through you. Sounds like a great adventure. What type of accommodation are you hoping to stay in?
    Leigh recently posted..Hiking Pinnacle Peak in Scottsdale, Arizona

  4. I like the way you guys have planned it. That’s how my wife and I want to travel too, I’ll closely follow your adventures to get inspired. Thanks for publishing your projects :)

  5. Pingback: 7 Essential Pieces of Cycle Touring Equipement

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