The Art of Preparation

It’s hard to pack for a trip and know what to take. As a rule I take too much with the idea that I never know what color I’m in the mood for, what the weather is like or what event may happen that may require elegant attire. After returning I unpack thirty to fifty percent unused, clean but rumpled items that need washing again. It isn’t a big deal to carry too much when one travels in cars to a hotel and fills a wardrobe until departure. But this year, we’ll ride bikes along the Mosel in Germany and we must transport everything on the back of a bicycle.

This type of travel requires careful planning and packing:

1. Bike rental: since we’ll arrive by train we have to reserve bicycles near the train station to avoid lengthy searches and lugging our gear through town. Confirmwhat types of bikes are offered, what they cost and how they are equipped. Contact bike rental place via e-mail and reserve bicycles – no payment needed until we get there.

Take off...

2. Route planning: getting a decent map and understanding distances between villages. Plan the route to last four to five days, catch historical buildings, festivals, worthwhile restaurants and beer gardens, castles and shopping (small and light is the motto).

3. Train reservations: Germany’s train system is amazing and booking ahead provides high cost savings. As example, traveling from Solingen to Trier with up to five people costs 39 Euros, about fifty dollars. If booked on the day of, the price may double.

4. Accommodations: consider what day of the week you go where. Weekends are typically busy and may require booking ahead. Review hotels, pensions and Gasthoefe, read comments and contact for best prices. Confirm room price and breakfast (almost always included), make reservation for weekend rooms – in most cases no payment needed until you get there.

5. Gear: Collect essentials for bike riding, including helmet, gloves, tire repair kit, ear protection, sunglasses, lip balm, panniers or other bike suitable luggage, bike pants (something comfortable, pliable, with narrow legs – like Capri length pants), shirts long enough to cover the back, rain jackets and pants, sunscreen and waist bag to carry valuables.

6. Training: Oh, aah, let’s not forget to ride regularly before embarking on the trip. Nothing worse than to get sore the first day and suffer through the remainder of the trip. Your backside and legs need conditioning and you will be thankful for it. Besides, you’ll burn more calories and get to eat delicious food.

7. Other stuff: One pair of comfortable walking shoes, wind/rain jacket, t-shirts, vest, one warm sweater, toiletries including shampoo and soap (many B&B’s don’t offer them), camera, net book, pen and paper, one pair long pants (jeans), one pair of capris and one pair of shorts. The amount of long/warm clothes depends on the time of year you go. Mai in Germany may be in the fifties and rainy or in the eighties and baking. Not knowing is part of the adventure.

Don’t sweat it
Traveling in Europe is relatively easy. So what you forgot your toothbrush. Big deal, grocery stores are close, people are nice and the wildest animals you’ll see are deer and fox — if you’re lucky. So enjoy and have fun!