Carry-On for a Bike and Barge trip

Holland WindmillsA cycling journey is a great way to really see an area. Biking through the countryside, stopping at local coffee shops, and picnicking along the way, gives you the chance to experience a culture as a traveler instead of a tourist. Many groups offer cycling tours, some staying at hotels along the way with a sag wagon shuttling luggage from place to place, and some offer a barge accommodation where the barge meets you at the end of each cycling day.

We chose the barge option as we didn’t want to be packing up each day before a 6-7 hour ride. Our barge was quite basic. We had a small room with a tiny closet and bath. Our luggage, when unpacked, could be slid under the bunk and there was a small shelf above for our daily gear. But suffice it to say that space was at a premium and we were glad we’d packed light.

1. Make a packing list!

Barge cabin

  • Lay out all the clothes you plan to bring and discard anything that can’t be used in at least two outfits. (I use style apps to help me visualize these combinations – see my review of the Stylebook app)
  • Choose lightweight layers and quick dry fabrics if possible. Avoid cotton as it’ll take forever to dry below deck. We invested in merino wool socks and tees before the trip and were very pleased at how often we could re-use them. Merino wool is naturally odor resistant.
  • Be ruthless in your choices. The trip was decidedly casual. Dinner is served on-board the barge with some of our fellow travelers still in their biking gear.
  • Shoes: try to limit yourself to two pair, three at the most. You’ll need shoes for cycling and a comfortable pair for evenings.

2. Allow room for cycling gear

  • Helmet – the group we were with didn’t supply helmets, and we’d heard from others that bringing your own helmet was suggested for sanitary and comfort reasons. Obviously the helmet is a bulky item, but we stuffed it with clothing, etc., so it didn’t take up much extra room.
  • Bike lights – the bikes should come equipped with lights, but at least a quarter of ours weren’t working. Including mine…
  • Water bottle – again, this can be packed with socks, etc. to better use the space in your bag.
  • Clothing – layers are the key here. The morning will be chilly but you’ll want to be able to unburden yourself as the day warms up. I wore cycling leg warmers which I peeled off when I got warm.
  • Raingear – a waterproof jacket is a great idea. We ended up buying jackets mid-trip.
  • Fanny pack or similar – this admittedly unflattering bag is actually great while cycling. We carried our wallet, phone, etc. in the fanny pack.

3. Keep Technology to a Minimum

Bring what you’ll need for the flight, but don’t expect much tech time on the trip. You’ll have no safe space for carrying a dSLR on the bike and likely won’t have wi-fi on the barge. We did carry a compact waterproof camera – our Nikon Coolpix camera (which takes great pictures, even underwater!)- but primarily used our phones for pictures.

Bike & Barge Europe Packing List

featuring Icebreaker merino tees, Scottevest Chloe hoody, Rothys flats, Kuhl Kliffside convertible pants, Louis Garneau bike helmet, Pearl iZUMi cycling jacket, Eat Sleep Bike Repeat tee, Diane Kroe travel tights, carry-on cozy,


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Pack for Adventure: Biking Europe

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