Budget travel is really the way to go when you want to get off the beaten path. People think that backpackers are just trying to be cheap, but the reality is that by staying in hostels and taking buses around means that you end up seeing a different side of the place you are visiting.
Taking things one step further is bikepacking which really allows you to get off the beaten path and see even more. With the added benefit that you are free to travel in the city or the country without missing a beat.
When you go bikepacking you are totally independent. You are your own transportation and lodging. And sometimes even restaurant depending on how you want to pack. It’s totally up to you where to go and how much you want to plan.
In this article, I will go over how you can go bikepacking for the trip of a lifetime.
Just as you would when camping or backpacking, you’ll need to pack very wisely to make sure that you are not weighed down, and at the same time you have everything that you need.
The time of year is going to play heavily on how much stuff you’ll need to take with you. Since you’ll be taking things to sleep on, in and under, the temperature will determine if it’s a tent with a sleeping bag, or simply a lightweight blanket on top of a sleep mat.
The other key to remember is that everything is going to get strapped onto the bike itself. You won’t be wearing a backpack. This is because a backpack will make it difficult to ride the bike and can injure your back. Make sure that you have the right kinds of bags to distribute the weight evenly on the bike. This includes the saddle bags, frame bag under the top bar and a handlebar bag or strap.
Traveling light is essential. Have the bare necessities for clothing and plan to wash often. Lightweight polyester clothing will take up less space and won’t weigh you down. Sails for sun shade are also small and easy to bring along to give you protection from the sun when you take a break for lunch.
And, of course, you’ll need some space for the tools and spares you’ll need to take for the eventual and inevitable repairs that happen on the road.
Plan well without overplanning
Bikepackers love the freedom to travel and see where the road takes them. It’s tempting to not have too much of a plan to really get the most out of the trip. But, some planning is essential. You’ll need to make sure that you break up your trip according to how many miles you can do in a day and have a place to stop for provisions and to sleep when you are at your daily limit.
Once you get to that place then feel free to linger for a while without a set itinerary, but make sure that you have a destination that provides food, water and other resources.
Once you are fully geared up, then maybe take the less traveled road and find a cool spot to do some wild camping. As long as you don’t overextend yourself then you’ll be able to actually relax and enjoy the trip. This is especially helpful for when you have to wash up some clothes.
When you get off road, you could end up getting into some trouble. Either an injury or a repair in the middle of nowhere may be quite a challenge. Make sure that your phone is fully charged so that you can send a message if you need help.
And, a GPS is essential to make sure that you can find your way around even if you don’t have a cell signal to be able to use your phone. When you get to a town take advantage and charge up. Or, bring a solar powered charging station to keep your gear charged up at all times even when you are far from town.
Bring a good travel buddy
While bikepacking offers some unique ways to get out and see some new sites, it isn’t for everybody. It takes somebody with a spirit of adventure that doesn’t mind roughing it.
Pick a travel partner that shares the vision and isn’t the type that needs four star accommodations and a Michelin star meal when on the road. Mismatched travel mates will make for a long and annoying trip.