Self guided bike tours are a fabulous way to visit a foreign country. It takes a certain spirit of adventure to attempt a self guided bike tour, but many riders already have this kind of confidence and adventuresome spirit.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of this type of tour versus one that is guided? Of course not having the guides along with a support van is certainly the most obvious drawback. The guides can essentially “take care” of the guests during the stay. They can up to a point, that is. If they have a large group it is hard to give everyone individual attention. For people who do not wish to ride their bicycle the entire route or for part of a day, for example, they can hitch a ride in the support van, if there is room. Also, some people just like to be part of a group and follow along behind whoever is in front without having to try and read directions and figure out where they are on the day’s itinerary. Generally, the guides will speak at least a bit of the language of the country they are in, so having someone available to translate can come in handy from time to time.
The biggest fear when taking a self guided cycling tour is getting lost. But here is a secret known only to bike riders who have gone on guided tours. People get lost on guided bike tours as well! This happens all the time, and it is unusual for an entire day to go by without someone taking a wrong turn and having to double back and find the rest of the group. On the other hand cyclists who know themselves are responsible for following the directions they have been given and who have nobody else to rely on in any case are more likely to be attentive and normally won’t make too many wrong turns.
Freedom to Change the Suggested Itinerary
On self guided cycling tours you will be given a suggested itinerary, and of course, you are free to go wherever you like. You can stay as long as you want visiting quaint villages, wineries, interesting shops, castles or museums, and you aren’t obligated to keep up with the group if a few people have other interests and want to move on before you do. You can eat all your meals whenever you want and don’t have to worry about meeting times with the group.
But the biggest advantage of self guided cycling tours is the cost. The price will typically be about half that of a similar guided tour. With self guided tours you can stay in the same luxury hotels, eat the same great meals, and see the same sights. If an adventurous vacation experience sounds appealing, self guided bike tours are worth considering.
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