Photography featured above courtesy of Shannan Crow


So what is Bicycle Touring?

So this is a question we've been asked a lot. I don't think people really understand us when we tell them we're travelling around the world on a self supported bicycle tour.  

“Bicycle Touring” (also commonly referred to as bike touring or bike packing) is the act of riding a bicycle for pleasure, adventure, and autonomy rather than sport, commuting, or exercise. Tours range from a day, week, months or even years on end as you travel across entire cities, states, countries under your own peddle power.

Distances vary considerably. Depending on fitness, speed and the number of stops, the rider usually covers between 50–150 kilometres (30–90 mi) per day. A short tour over a few days may cover as little as 200 kilometres (120 mi) and a long tour may go right across a country or around the world. There are many different types of bicycle touring:

Different types of bicycle touring

Bicycle tourism encompasses several different types of touring. Commercial or self-supported. With a guide, or without. With accommodations, or not. There are lots of options. Here’s a breakdown

Lightweight touring


Informally called credit-card touring, a rider carries a minimum of equipment and a lot of money. Overnight accommodation is in youth hostelshotelspensions or B&Bs. Food is bought at cafes, restaurants or markets.

By Shawn A Wakefield

Lightweight Bicycle Touring: Cycling Across America with Just 12 Pounds of Gear, I Rode This Adventure and You Can Too!

This is a new guide book that is your source for information on how to plan and execute a cross country bike ride without carrying heavy gear.

Find out more

View all bicycle touring books

Fully loaded bicycle touring


Also known as self-supported touring, cyclists carry everything they need, including food, cooking equipment, and a tent for camping. Some cyclists minimize their load, carrying only basic supplies, food, and a Bivouac shelter or lightweight tent. We will be adopting this means of travel whilst trying to be as lightweight as possible.

Mixed terrain touring & bikepacking


Also called rough riding, cyclists travel over a variety of surfaces and topography on a single route, with a single bicycle. Focusing on freedom of travel and efficiency over varied surfaces, cyclists often adopt an ultralight camping approach and carry their own minimal gear (bikepacking).

Whats the difference between bicycle touring & bikepacking?

Day touring


These rides vary highly in their size of the group, length, purpose, and methods of support. They may involve solo cyclists, group rides, or large organized rides with hundreds to thousands of riders. Their length can range from a few miles to century rides of 100 miles (160 km) or longer. Their purpose can range from riding for pleasure or fitness, to raising money for a charitable organization. Methods of support can include self-supported day rides, rides supported by friends or small groups, and organized rides where cyclists pay for support and accommodation provided by event organizers, including rest and refreshment stops, marshalling to aid safety, and sag services.

Ultralight touring


Differs from credit card touring in that the rider is self-sufficient but carries only the bare essentials and no frills.


By Justin Lichter, Justin Kline

Ultralight Bike Touring and Bikepacking: The Ultimate Guide to Lightweight Cycling Adventures

Ultralight Bike Touring and Bikepacking is the result of over 100,000 miles of lightweight human-powered travel undertaken domestically and internationally by Justin Lichter and Justin Kline. 

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Expedition touring


Cyclists travel extensively, often through developing nations or remote areas. The bicycle is loaded with food, spares, tools, and camping equipment so that the traveller is largely self-supporting.


Supported touring


Cyclists are supported by a motor vehicle, which carries most equipment. This can be organized independently by groups of cyclists or commercial holiday companies. These companies sell places on guided tours, including booked lodging, luggage transfers, route planning and often meals and rental bikes.


S240 - SUB-24hour - overnight


The Sub-24hour-Overnight is focussed less on the cycling and more on the camping. Typically, one would depart on their bicycle in the late afternoon or evening, ride to a campsite in a few hours, camp, sleep, and ride home the next morning. This type can require very little planning or time commitment. If one lives in a large urban metropolis, this sort of trip might also be extended, taking a train or coach to get to a more convenient starting point, and may in fact take a lot longer than 24 hours, making it a weekend tour, but it otherwise still works on the same planning principles.