Touring Advice
Packing   Training   Outfitting   Health   Miscellaneous  


  1. Some Rules
  2. Itemized List
  3. Panniers Versus Trailers

Rules in packing for a tour:

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  1. Choose between using panniers or trailers.
  2. Weight is an issue: the more you pack, the more it weighs and the more you have to carry.
  3. The choice between camping or hostelling has as much to do with weight as it has to do with money.
  4. Cotton takes a long time to hang dry. When selecting what to bring take the lightest and most versatile option.

General Packing List:

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Here is a general packing list. The length of the trip will not really affect how much stuff you carry (for trips over a few days).

  • sandals
  • underwear
  • short sleeve shirts
  • pants
  • thick socks (for hiking)
  • shorts/skirts
  • fleece jacket
  • swimsuit
  • sarong
  • sleeping clothes
  • sun hat
  • cotton bandana
  • sunglasses
  • clear/orange lens glasses (for rainy days)
Bike clothes:
  • helmet
  • cycling gloves
  • cycling shoes (walking shoes)
  • cycling socks
  • long sleeve cycling shirt
  • cycling shorts
  • cycling tights
  • thermal cycling shirt
  • short sleeve cycling shirts
  • waterproof / windproof jacket
  • nail clippers
  • comb and hair clips
  • soap
  • deodorant
  • razor
  • toothbrush
  • toothpaste
  • dental floss
  • tiger balm
  • sunscreen
  • skin cream
  • lipbalm
  • shampoo
  • towel
  • toilet paper
  • glasses and copy of prescription
Bike stuff:
  • bike lights
  • cycle computer
  • day pack
  • tool kit and spare parts
  • pump
  • H2O bottles / bladder
  • Bike Locks
  • waterproof map pouch
Laundry Stuff:
  • laundry line
  • drain stopper plug (one
  • size fits all)
  • backpackers soap
For cooking:
  • spoons
  • plastic food container with lid
  • swiss army knife
  • small can-opener
Sleeping stuff:
  • earplugs
  • eye covers
  • travel alarm
  • sleeping sheet
  • sewing/mending kit
  • fabric glue
  • pens
  • highlighter
  • black felt pen
  • maps
  • hospitality gifts (patches and pins, mini flags)
  • extra ziplocks
  • addresses for postcards
  • camera (film)
  • combination lock
  • money belt
Camping gear:
  • tent
  • sleeping bags
  • thermarest (not just for comfort, necessary for anywhere, where the ground gets cold)
  • stove
  • fuel
  • cooking pot (ideal if stove can fit inside pot)
  • spoons for stirring and eating
  • stacking bowls for each person
  • small stacking mugs for each person
  • small plastic cutting sheet
  • knife
  • handheld can opener

Panniers versus Trailers:

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  • collapse for easy storage and transport
  • can carry around with you
  • easy to find things (if pannier has lots of pockets)

  • add weight to the wheels making it more likely to break a spoke
  • hard to get equal balance
  • easy to steal if left on the bike
  • can move around when you hit bumps (if pannier has a bad mounting system)

  • carry more
  • weight less of an issue
  • easier to balance
  • takes the weight off the bike
  • more aerodynamic / stable

  • more drag and resistance when climbing hills
  • hard to pack
  • hard to park
  • hard to transport on trains / planes
  • less safe (hard to take with you on a pit stop)

We’re on a Tandem bike and we are really long with a trailer. For our first European trip, we chose to use panniers, but since then have opted for a mix of panniers and trailer to increase our maximum carrying capacity. We have both front and rear pannier racks, and a handle bar bag on the stoker (rear cyclist) bar for Emillie. For a comparison of panniers go to Pannier comparison.

We chose not to get waterproof panniers, and made our own pannier covers instead. Here are directions on how to make your own pannier covers. We use suit case shoulder straps clipped on either side of the pannier handle for carrying the panniers around.