Research for Daily Touring

One experience that I hate when traveling is to have that "I wish I'd known about that at the time" feeling of having missed something awesome, or having had an unfortunate or unpleasant experience that could have easily been averted.

Although I strongly advocate for not pre-scheduling accommodation for a tour, that doesn't mean that I'm a fan of completely winging it.  I've had way too many of those "I wish I'd known about that at the time" experiences.

My way of:

  1. Enjoying the flexibility of advancing at our own pace;
  2. Not missing out on something awesome;
  3. Avoiding unnecessary grief and complications,
is to plot out some key pieces of information along my chosen tour route to form an "itinerary" of sorts:
  1. Town/Place
  2. Kilometer
  3. Optional Kilometers (side trips, campgrounds that are off the route)
  4. Things to Do/See
  5. Laundry Facilities (see Waschfreunde, Where Are you When We Need You? for some info about why this is so important)  
  6. Campground
  7. Hostel
  8. Train Stop
For our upcoming trip to the Loire Valley in France, it looks like this:
Itinerary / Trip Plan

Plotting out these details takes some research (of course).  I find hard-copy route maps invaluable, and the internet is a great supplemental tool.  My favorite hard-copy route maps are specific to cycle touring:
  1. Bikeline (Radtourenb├╝cher)
  2. Kompass (Fahrradkarten)
There is a plethora of online resources, and if you just do a search on your chosen tour, you'll find lots.  Some of my go-to sites are:
  1. The EuroVelo site for the specific route, for example: EV6 Danube, EV6 Loire
  2. Crazy Guy on a Bike
  3. Freewheeling France
  4. Bicycle Touring Pro
Along with one or two key route maps (usually a Bikeline or a Kompass), I bring a printout of my itinerary, and quite likely a bit of printed materials about the things I want to see/do along the way (see the green highlighted rows on the itinerary).

Daily "Conference"
On a near-daily basis, I consult my materials (including some online research with WiFi if I have it), and confer with my companions to form an intended plan for the day.  

Sometimes the day doesn't go as we expected and we go further (or shorter) than we'd intended, but it's easy enough to re-consult the "itinerary" to come up with a "Plan B" (or even a "Plan C").

In my next post I want to spend some more time exploring finding accommodation, which is a very important, ongoing concern.

Later on I'll also come back to the "Train Stop" item to talk about Short-Cuts and Catch-Ups (Boats, Planes, Trains).


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