Cycling abroad for the first time can be both an exciting and challenging experience. Finding a good balance between planning and leaving room for spontaneity can also be difficult.  Here are 3 things that I would do differently if it was my first time cycling abroad:

1. Choosing my destination carefully
As a beginner you’re probably unaware that not all destinations are created equally.  Your bicycle gives you the freedom to cycle anywhere you wish, but you probably want to select a place where roads are relatively quiet, and there are good paths to locations with really nice scenarios.  The last thing you want is to find yourself cycling down very busy roads with cars sounding their horns at you every 5 seconds. 
Another thing to have in mind is the weather.  Obviously, according to the destination you pick the local climate will vary.  In my first cycling experience abroad, I had to cancel and readjust some cycling plans due to bad weather.  So, If you want to avoid this pick a sunny destination with some nice and solid weather.    

2.   Decide if you want to hire or take own bicycle
The logistics of getting your bicycle abroad can be quite exhaustive.  I remember cycling for the first time abroad in France and going through a lot of hassle to back my bicycle and getting it through airport checks.  But if you are travelling to another country by train and carrying your bike, then you may enjoy a lot more flexibility when it comes to logistics.    
As it was my first experience cycling abroad, I ended up stationed in one small village and I was just riding to the nearby cities and towns and coming back the same day.  I realised that I could have rented a bicycle from one of local shops.  It would have saved a lot of hassle with bicycle logistics and transporting it abroad.  I realised that bringing my own bicycle would be good for riding long distances and staying in different cities.  As a first timer, I believe that it is also a good idea to consider joining a tour operator who have a wide range of trips to suit different fitness levels and personal expectations.        

3. Travel as light as you possibly can  
One of the mistakes I did in my first experience cycling abroad was to pack far too many unnecessary things.  If cycling long distances, I would recommend taking minimal clothing, essentials for bike maintenance, and some food.  What you will end up realising is that you really don’t need that much stuff, and it will save having to throw away t-shirts and other things as excess weight. 

Overall, remember to enjoy local food and culture.  Mingle with the locals and feel free to ask for directions. Trust me, getting to know locals can be a very exciting and entertaining. Plan your trip carefully, but also allow some room for the spontaneous and unexpected to happen. After all, you want to make this an exciting and memorable adventure.   

Author:

Mauro Ramos D. J. Pereira

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