With less than two weeks until Adventure Cycling’s Bike Travel Weekend, I wanted to do a quick post to give my tips and tricks for packing for an overnight trip on a bike. Florida lends itself to minimalist packing because it is so freaking hot here, especially the first weekend of June. There is certainly no need to worry about jackets, socks, hats, or any other warm clothing, we are able to travel with the bare minimum.
On our first two bike overnight trips, one to Boca Grande and one to Ybor City, Mike and I were able carry everything we needed for a one night trip in basic handlebar bags. This was my packing list:
- Flip flops
- Bike clothes for day 2
- t-shirt and shorts for evening
- toothbrush and toothpaste
Literally, that was it. On both of those trips we stayed in hotels so we had amenities there that we could use (soap, shampoo, etc).
For this upcoming trip we will be staying at a fishing resort and I am not sure about the toiletries available so my packing list will be slightly adjusted. On this trip, it will look more like this:
- Bike shorts for Day 2
- Columbia dress (my favorite of all time) to wear in the evening, and will double as a bike jersey on day 2
- flip flops
- toothbrush and toothpaste
- Trial size versions of soap and shampoo
- sunscreen (one bottle to share with all of the group)
Of course, I will also be taking my phone and wallet (need to document the trip and pay for the pub stops), but I won’t need much more than that. Your packing list may vary a little depending on your situation and needs, but minimizing toiletries and clothing will help to keep your bags small and light.
If you don’t want to invest in a handlebar bag (you can get one for as little at $20 online), you can always carry your overnight necessities in a backpack. Or, if you are creative, you may be able to fashion a handlebar bag out of an old purse or small duffle bag.
Once you fall in love with overnight bike travel, you may want to invest in other ways to carry your gear, maybe something big enough to go for a couple of nights instead of just one. A simple inexpensive option is a rear rack that clips onto your seat tube. Then you can add a trunk bag that will hold your belongings. This would set you back less than $100.
If you want to go a step further, a rear rack that is attached through your rear wheel and doesn’t require any special eyelets on your bike frame would be useful to carry panniers. Ikea even has some simple panniers available for $20 that would work well for overnight bike travel and for local grocery shopping or commuting to work.
Basically, the moral of the story is that if you want to go on a bike overnight, you can make it happen. Think simplicity. Less is more. Maybe even leave a little room in your bag for a souvenir.