The inevitable question with a holiday looming – what do I pack?
It became even more of a challenge when I was preparing myself for a solo cycle across Vietnam. Not only was I not a cyclist (so didn’t have the faintest clue what to bring for the bike), but I needed to keep the weight down because the fact was, I would be feeling every gram when I got started on the ride.
I did the research. I packed the bag. Now it’s over, and I’ve got the lowdown on my ultimate cycling packing list.
Lets get into it.
Clothing & Shoes
A somewhat necessary packing list item – I needed enough casual stuff to keep me happy, a few sets of gear for cycling, but not enough that I’d be carrying unnecessary weight. A hard balance to meet.
Here’s what I settled on in the end:
- Underwear x 8
- Bras x 3 (+2 x sports bra)
- Socks x 3
- Bathers (swimsuit) x 1
- T-Shirts x 6
- Singlets x 2
- Dresses x 1 (plus another I bought in Hoi An)
- Shorts x 2 (+2 x bike shorts)
- Workout Tops x 2
- Workout leggings x 1
- Jumper x 1
- Pants x 1
- Hiking Shoes
- Thongs (Flip Flops)
Looking at the list, it seems a lot now. But ultimately, I ended up using most of it.
Some of it was used only occasionally – like the workout gear and shoes for hiking, and the jumper and pants in the cooler climates of Sapa. While I’m glad I had them for those few days, they were otherwise useless.
One thing I’d definitely change would be the t-shirts. Vietnam can get hoooooot, and I found myself lacking significantly in my preferred singlets on my rest days.
Such a personal choice toiletries can be. I often find (and particularly compared to men), I have a lot in this department. In part because I have extremely sensitive skin and try to avoid buying brands I don’t know, and in part because I don’t want to have to bother searching for things in stores, I try to bring a small supply of whatever I need.
Although, I am proud I never worry much about packing hordes of makeup, and I’m long past the days of bothering with a hairdryer while travelling!
Here’s what I took with me cycling:
- Tissues x 2
- Toilet paper x 2 (in case the hotels don’t provide it – necessary for Asia and Latin America)
- Juju (for the ladies only)
- Pads x 5 (also for the ladies) and/or tampons
- Mini hairbrush (for those who have long hair and prefer to keep it somewhat tangle free)
- Sunscreen x 2 (it’s hard to come across in some Asian countries)
- Shavers x 4
- Dental Flossers
- Shampoo & Conditioner
- Face Cream & Moisturiser (I can’t use soap because of my crazy sensitive skin)
- Bushmans x 1
- Hand Sanitiser x 1
- Nail Clippers
- Lip Balm x 1
Everything on this list, I’ve used, and would pack again. Except the juju – I used it once, and I’m never trying it again!
First Aid Kit
So here’s the deal. This is a cycling packing list. Ordinarily, my list of first aid is rather small, but for this trip, I needed to make sure I had the kit to look after any small injuries or illnesses I would get when I couldn’t get help. I was venturing into small towns I knew nothing about, and spent many hours riding along busy highways. Knowing there probably wasn’t going to be a nearby hospital, and certainly few people who spoke English, I wanted to be as self-sufficient as possible, without overdoing things.
Ultimately (and thankfully), I barely used any of my first aid stash. I didn’t fall off the bike and the only illness I got was a cold towards the end of the ride. Still, I’d take most with me if I do a long-distance cycle again.
Here’s what was in my kit:
- Various Bandages & Dressings (compression, triangular etc)
- Gauze Pads (various sizes)
- Bandaids (plasters) x 5
- Hydralyte x 1
- Water Purification
- Various Medicines (Anti-Malarial, Nurofen [headaches], Kwells [motion sickness], Cold & Flu, Gastrostop & Antibiotics)
Now it’s done, the only change I’d make to this list would be to ditch the water purification (completely not necessary), and up the amount of hydralyte (my saviour after each day of riding in the hot sun).
The all important cycling gear!
I went into a few things I took in Clothes above, such as cycle shorts, but obviously that’s not everything you need to ride across a country.
First things first, you’ll need a bike. And if you’re taking yours from home like me, it’ll need to go in a box.
On top of that, here’s what I found essential:
- Cycling Shoes (with clips)
- Bike Computer
You could use regular shoes, but it was nice being able to clip in on occasion and save a little energy.
The gloves I found good when I was taking on new speeds downhill – the thought of falling and the subsequent effects on my hands was enough to keep them on. Although I didn’t wear them when I was riding on flat ground (I was getting the worst tan lines).
I’d keep the helmet. It isn’t legally required in most countries, but I’d rather be safe.
The computer is necessary for obvious reasons – it gave me my route.
- Spare tube x 2
- Bike Levers
- Patch Kit
- Brakes x 1
- Bike Pump
- Chain Lube
I rode over 2,000km as I travelled across Vietnam. In that time, I had issues with loose pedals, changed two tubes and also patched those tubes as well. I frequently had to add air to my tyres (and the pump was especially useful when I was stuck with a flat tyre in the middle of nowhere). And naturally, my chain needed a little TLC after such a long journey too.
The only thing I didn’t use was the spare brakes I bought. But I imagine things could’ve gotten a little hairy if I needed new brakes and couldn’t find anywhere to buy them.
- Rear Panniers
- Handlebar Bag
I packed light, so didn’t need front panniers, and found the two rear panniers along with a small backpack strapped to the rack sufficient.
The handlebar bag was especially useful for holding anything I wanted to have access to while riding – extra water, snacks, camera and phone.
- Mac Computer
- Kobo eReader
- Portable Harddrive
Unless you’re keen to keep blogging on the road like me, you probably won’t need the computer and harddrive. The phone and eReader are, in my opinion, good items to keep with you though. I bought a SIM card and the phone made sure I could get connected if necessary (fortunately I never had a situation that called for it), and it also meant I could check how far I was to the next town. The eReader just gives you some simple entertainment for those long quiet nights in small villages.
- Sleeping Sheet
- Camera Stand
- Garmin Etrex 20
- Waterproof case for iPhone
- Pocket Knife
- Sewing Kit
- Washing Bag
- Sink Plug
- Power Adapter
- Bag of Washing Powder
- Small black duct tape
- Small backpack
A bunch of miscellaneous items can always be found in my bag – but sometimes you just never know what you might need. I’d consider taking it all with me if I were to go again… Although what would actually make it into the bag would depend on the location of my next cycling trip.
What would you take on a cycling journey? Let me know in the comments below!
Read More at: Vietnam Travel
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