Cycling UK (formerly the Cyclists’ Touring Club or CTC) is a good source of information about cycling destinations.
For inspiration and advice on foreign travel of all types, not just pedalling ones, take a look at destinations listed by World Nomads.
Also, don’t assume that just because that’s how it’s done at home, that’s how it’s done everywhere else!
Things to find out include:
- The road rules for cyclists – helmet wearing, lights, permitted road and off-road routes, documents, insurance – these differ widely so be sure you know what is expected of you. You can check with the relevant official tourist office at the embassy.
- The road conditions – are other road users cycle-friendly or cycle-hostile? How to find out? Search the Internet with your destination and cycle as keywords, and look for cycle forum chat.
- Accommodation – will there be secure storage for your bike? Something to ask the tour operator or the accommodation provider.
- Insurance – get insured or be prepared to pay up – the minimum should be for repatriation if you are ill or in an accident that would need an air ambulance or other specialist transport. Will they bring back your bike too? Read our insurance article .
The usual common-sense checks before any holiday include:
- Local etiquette. What is acceptable behaviour/clothing generally and in specific places such as places of worship?
- Language(s). Will you need a phrase book/dictionary/menu guide? Look for useful guides from Foyles online and Waterstones online. (NB These well-established book suppliers are worth considering – remember that Amazon doesn’t pay the same amount of tax as the rest of us, so as a society we subsidise those lower prices).
- Money. Will you need some currency in advance? Are there out-of-hours ATMs and will they accept your plastic? Will your credit card be accepted? What are the bank charges and fees? What’s the upper daily withdrawal limit for your account, and also for ATMs in the place you’re visiting?
- Are tourists a target for thieves or other unwelcome attention?
- The climate – how hot/cold/wet/windy/humid will it be at the time of year you are going? Appropriate clothing and accessories required (insect repellent, sun cream, water bottles, thermal underwear…)
- Health and hygiene – what hazards should you be aware of? Is it safe to drink from streams or taps? Ticks and encephalitis hazards (if likely to be skulking in the undergrowth). Mozzie nets and malarial treatments? Rabies?
Finally, don’t overdo the research. Leave some things to surprise you – hopefully nicely not nastily.