Packing for a cycling holiday takes careful planning, particularly if you are Cycling the Garden Route in South Africa and staying in a different hotel every night, but that doesn’t mean that you cannot pack light.
With a well-thought-out holiday wardrobe, you can cycle in style and still look your best when you head out in evenings, and you might even have room for the odd souvenir, although you might have to keep it to a Table Mountain fridge magnet! It’s all about using the space you have available, and mastering the art of mixing and matching.
Here Are Our Top Tips for Packing for a Cycling Holiday
While it is possible to rent most things these days, there are a few essentials that you should consider taking with you on your cycling holiday.
They are obligatory in most countries and rented cycle helmets never fit right, so take your own for safety and comfort.
- Cycling Shoes
If you are not taking your own bike, make sure the rental company has the right pedals to match your cleats. If not, take your pedals and fitting tool with you too! Top Tip: Pack your shoes and pedals in your hand luggage, if they get lost in transit, you’ll spend the first day of your cycling holiday running around trying to buy expensive shoes.
Essential for any cyclist, sunglasses not only protect your eyes against damaging UV rays, but they create a barrier between you and any kamikaze bugs!
- Water Bottles
If you are renting a bike, chances are that your rental company will provide you with water bottles, but not all companies use new bottles each time. Check with your provider, and if they reuse their bottles, you might want to consider taking your own.
- Saddle Bag/Spares Kit
Again, if you are renting a bike from a local supplier, they should supply you with this, but if you are taking your own bike, remember to take everything you need (pump, spare inner tubes, tyre lever, multi-tool etc.) and if you are going on a longer trip, take more than you usually would.
- Computer/GPS Bracket
You’ll have this already if you are travelling with your own bike, but if your renting, don’t forget to take the bracket for your WAHOO, Garmin, or GoPro.
- Plug Adapter
For aforementioned electronics and your smartphone, camera etc.
- Cycling Shorts
If you are cycling out and back to the same hotel every day, then you can limit the number of shorts to just 2 or 3 pairs and have them washed onsite, but if you are travelling along the Garden Route, you should consider taking a fresh pair for each day. It may sound a lot, but you’ll be in them for around 7-hours a day, and it is unlikely that the hotel will be able to wash them by the time you arrive. Handwashing is not an option, they won’t dry overnight, so pack plenty – you’ll be glad you did by the end of the trip!
- Cycling Jerseys
You could get away with handwashing lightweight cycling jerseys, specially in hotspots such as Oudtshoorn, but we would still recommend taking at least five jerseys, so you have plenty spares.
- Cycling Socks
They are lightweight and easy to squash into the corner of any bike box or suitcase, so take a fresh pair for every day.
- Gilet and Waterproof Cycling Jacket
For those fresh morning departures and chilly downhill descents, a gilet is perfect. There is every chance you could encounter a downpour or two during your Garden Route Cycling Holiday, so make sure you have a Pakajak or similar.
- Arm and Leg Warmers
Forget heavy tights and long-sleeved jerseys, pack a set of arm and leg warmers instead. It will free-up a huge amount of space in your suitcase.
- Cycling Gloves
If there is one item you are likely to forget on your cycling trip, it will be your gloves. Pack them first or forever hold your peace!
A buff is ideal for protecting against the wind, and a cycling cap will protect your head from the elements (while looking super-cool!).
- Smart Casuals
After a day in the saddle, you’ll want to change into something cool and comfortable. Lightweight trousers, skirts, t-shirts, shirts, and smart shorts that you can mix and match throughout your cycling holiday are ideal. The smart-casual dress code will take you almost anywhere in South Africa.
Flip-flops are perfectly acceptable in South Africa, but if you want to smarten-up for the evenings, sandals, trainers, and loafers are fine.
If you have booked your Garden Route Cycling Holiday with a reputable company, there’s every chance that there will be a pool at your hotel, so pack some swimwear and a light cover-up, which will also take you to the spa for that much-needed post-ride massage.
You know what you need here, but things you shouldn’t forget to pack include sun lotion (factor 50 recommended for SA), personal medications, insect repellent, allergy sprays, eye-drops, and perhaps most importantly of all, chamois cream!
- Small Bag/Backpack
Take a small bag that you can leave on the back-up vehicle with any essentials such as nutrition, medications, rain gear etc.
- Underwear & Sleepwear
We’ll leave this category to you, but ladies, don’t forget your sports bras for cycling!
- Compression Wear
If you find that compression wear helps after a long day in the saddle, take a set of compression wear and socks with you. You could even sleep in it to save on packing space!
If you are taking your own bike with you, use a Scicon Bag or similar to maximise on packing space. You can put your cycling clothes in zip-lock bags and pack them around your bike, which not only protects your beloved bike during transit but frees-up space in your suitcase!
You can buy everything you could need for your Garden Route Cycling Trip in South Africa, but quality gear costs even more below the equator, so take it with you, and showcase your unique sense of style as you cycle Africa’s most beautiful coastline.