Hindsight is always 20/20, and this is certainly the case when I look back on my Europe trip and think about the things we could have had that would’ve improved our trip. The nagging “coulda-woulda-shoulda” thoughts have gotten me to create a blog post of the top 5 things I should have had on my tour, which would have taken things to the next level (wherever the next level may be).
1. An Extra Pair of Shorts
I brought a pair of hiking shorts and hiking pants with me. This would have been sufficient except for when it was laundry day, which was once a week. You see, I ride in my hiking shorts while I use my hiking pants for when I am relaxing in camp. I always had the dilemma of figuring out which one to wash and which one to wear while the other one was being laundered. It would have been nice to have an extra pair of shorts for both laundry day, as well as a second option to my hiking pants. This way I can wash the riding shorts and alternate between the camping pants for each wash. I suppose doing 2 loads would solve this problem , but why waste more water and time when I had so little to wash each time?
2. Dedicated Music Player / iPod
One of the things I wish I had on my trip was some tunes. This wasn’t an issue when I was rolling through beautiful countryside and bustling small towns, but when I was battling through headwinds or grinding out hills, it would have been nice to have something an earshot away to keep the rhythm going. I secretly envied Harry who was plugged in the entire time to his iPod. The only time I did get tunes was when I had WiFi at camp. I devoured all the music I could while I dozed off to sleep in my tent. I am highly considering bringing my iPod next time I am on an epic tour. Don’t worry, I won’t have both ear buds on while riding (as that is illegal here in the States).
3. Maps For All Our Destinations
From beginning to end of the trip, we were constantly doing one thing – looking for maps. It wasn’t because we were haphazardly going through life without a map or directions. It was because finding a really good quality map of Europe when you live in the States was rather difficult. The Eurovelo 6 guide was indispensable, but when we veered off route at the beginning of the trip and when our side trip to Munich came up, it was useless. We ended up buying most of our maps in Basel, Switzerland at a very high-end bookstore and was paid a lot more for it than if we had ordered it ahead of time. We even had to buy the last set of maps from Belgrade, Serbia to Constanta, Romania from an online retailer in the UK and have it sent to our hotel in Belgrade. If you’re planning a trip through Europe, get those maps as soon as possible. Look for a future post on where to buy these maps and which ones we liked.
4. Gatorade Powder
Interesting enough, it was very difficult to find sports drinks, like Gatorade, in Europe. When we did, it wasn’t what we expected. They were mixes for different purposes. Choosing between one and another was a confusing proposition. Luckily, we settled on the Poweraid brand that was available at bigger sporting goods stores. Europeans really don’t drink sports drinks like we do, so we were stuck with off-brands, which served the purpose of replenishing lost electrolytes. Many of the bike shops did not carry any of these supplements, so we couldn’t count on finding something reasonable. I suppose a good solution is to carry your own, but that will add more weight to your load and you’ll eventually run out. The alternative is to eat fruits and vegetables that will replenish your electrolytes.
5. A Portable Chair
Right before we left Los Angeles, Harry had shown me this really cool folding chair that he had bought. He asked me if he should have brought it with us. I naively told him I didn’t bring a chair and didn’t think it was necessary. He trusted my decision and left the chair behind. Looking back, I think having a chair would have been a reasonable thing to bring even though it added to our load. After a long day on the saddle and many of the campsites in Europe lacked benches or a table, parking your behind in a comfortable chair would have been good for both the physical and mental state after a hard day of riding. I’ve thought about this long and hard and have come to the conclusion that I need to have with me a light weight chair on my next epic journey. It is one of those nice to have items that I wouldn’t mind carrying with me. The one I am looking at is the REI Flex Lite Chair.
There are certainly other things I would like to have on my tours, but these 5 items are the things I keep thinking about and wishing I had them at different moments of our trip. For example, having a chair to lounge in Tuttlingen, Germany would have been nice after our long day of climbing and lackluster campsite, which was essentially an open grass area with no camping facilities. Or if we had our maps ready for the entire route, we wouldn’t have wasted hours looking for maps from Basel to Belgrade. Hope you learn from our mistake and streamline the things you buy or bring with you. If you’ve gone through a similar trip like this, what are some of your things you regret not bringing along? Leave your answers in the comments below.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.