With Autumn drawing in and winter looming on the horizon (at least in the Northern Hemisphere) it’s time to daydream about summer! Or instead of just daydreaming you could bite the bullet and book a winter bike packing trip to try and find some warmer weather. But where should you go? Read on to find out some top destinations to go bike packing this winter.
South East Asia
South East Asia offers a variety of destinations for a backpacking trip. Cambodia, Vietnam, Lao and Thailand all offer unique cultures and experiences. Traffic can be a little hectic around bigger cities and on main roads, however, they are used to slow-moving mopeds and motorbikes so after a while you learn to become part of the flow of traffic.
There is no need to worry about carrying sleeping equipment in South East Asia as cheap accommodation is available almost everywhere. It might be worth carrying a silk liner and mosquito net for some of the less glamorous hostels though!
Food in South East Asia is out of this world. Fresh and cheap you can live off Pad Thai in Thai land and Pho in Vietnam for less than £1 a meal. Rice is the staple food which conveniently is also an excellent source of fuel for hungry cyclists.
It worth travelling for at least 10 days in South East Asia to make the most of the trip and the cost of the flights. Overall though the cost of living and travel is cheap enough to offset the more expensive flight cost and you are guaranteed warm temperatures.
New Zealand is a bike packing mecca. Whether it be touring on road or off-road New Zealand has it all. Its kitted out for tourists and boast a huge network of campsites and hostels, however, as a result, can be busy so booking in advance is advised.
The terrain is beautiful and varied, from volcanoes, hot springs and tropical beaches in the North Island, to mountains and great planes in the South Island. Being in the Southern Hemisphere the European winter is their summer so the weather is generally good, however, still pack your raincoat just in case!
Be warned though you will never have enough time in New Zealand... however long you book your trip for its guaranteed that you will never be ready to head back home.
photo: @biking man
South America has many of the same benefits of travelling New Zealand. It's in the Southern Hemisphere so is warmer during the European winter and has incredible and varied terrain. However, flights are expensive so it’s worth travelling for a substantial time if you can make it happen. South America is a vast continent so you could almost spend a lifetime exploring it by bike so it’s important to spend plenty of time researching where you are going and prepare accordingly. You could be riding in tropical rainforests, high altitude deserts or the windswept pampa so pack a waterproof, warm clothing and high protection sunscreen.
Closer to home Spain offers a fantastic option. Not as warm as the more exotic locations however it's cheap to get too especially in the offseason. Southern Spain offers mild temperatures during the day but can be cold at night. However, there are an abundance of empty hotel rooms around the coast in the winter season which means accommodation is easy to find and very cheap.
Spain offers a fantastic network of quiet roads, excellent cycle paths and gravel tracks so it’s ideal for a mixed surface bike packing trip and would make the ideal destination if you have never been bikepacking before.
The Adriatic coast
The countries of the Adriatic coastline offer similar benefits to Spain. They are relatively cheap, easy to get too and quiet in the winter season. Croatia, Montenegro, Albania and Greece all offer different cultural experiences and beautiful scenery. If you are brave you can head inland to the mountains, however, you are likely to find snow and cold temperatures compared to the coast. A point to point trip works particularly well along the Adriatic due to the number of airports en route, the spectacular coastal road and lack of traffic… however, think twice about this in the busy summer months!
Finally, but no means least you could head to Morocco. Morocco offers a taste of Africa on Europe’s doorstep. There is an abundance of mountain roads, dirt tracks or even mtb trails if you really wanted to get out there and have a remote adventure. Morroco is investing heavily in tourism so the roads in and out of major cities such as Marrakesh are newly laid and have cycle lanes. The traffic is also very respectful and polite to cyclists and the locals are incredibly friendly once you are out of the tourist hotspots of the big cities. The Atlas mountains offer a stern challenge and some real wilderness if you are inclined to search it out. However, remember the weather can get bad in the mountains in winter even if they are in the desert!
We hope that has helped provide some inspiration heading into the colder months and sparked an idea for a trip. Get the maps out, do some research and go ride your bike!