Have you ever been on a vacation that seemed ruined before you’d even had the chance to reach your destination? Hours of waiting at airports due to flight cancellations, precious time wasted waiting at train stations or caught up in traffic jams in the middle of the highway?

I’ve certainly had my share of transportation nightmares, and although the rest of the holidays (once I’d managed to arrive where I was headed) usually turned out to be great, I was always keen to explore alternative ways to travel that would avoid another en route disaster. After hours of contemplating the pros and cons of various means of transportation, I realized that exactly one option fulfilled all of my “minimum requirements” for a perfect trip: cycling.

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To be fair, I’ve always been one of those people who secretly wished they could marry their bikes, just because I absolutely love cycling someplace rather than taking public transport, driving or walking. But even if you weren’t born to bike, chances are you might still really enjoy a cycling trip due to its multiple benefits:

  • spending a lot of time outdoors (= getting a tan)
  • saving money (that you can spend on a fancy celebratory dinner once you reach your final destination)
  • getting in shape
  • trying out something new
  • FUN & FLEXIBILITY

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I went on a cycling trip with my father and sister a couple of summers ago, and we managed to cross the Alps on our way from Munich (Germany) to Trento (Italy) in less than a week. Originally, we had planned to go as far as Venice, but that turned out to be simply impossible due to the fun we were having on our way. Stopping to swim in lakes, tour local sights and explore the many picturesque small towns and villages along the way is highly recommendable at any point of your trip!

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It sure was sunny that day…

I found crossing the Alps via the Passo del Brennero surprisingly easy, despite the fact that we had to transport our tent, sleeping bags and mats, cooking gear, clothes and personal belongings ourselves for the entire time. However, if you prefer going on a cycling trip that involves less change in altitude, there are plenty of other popular routes to choose from.

My favorite device for finding cycling routes is a Dutch website called Fietsrouteplanner. It features an interactive map that allows you to drop and drag arrows across Europe, creating your own custom route. (English explanation for navigating the map here). Alternatively, if you know a specific route you want to try out, you can buy detailed maps and guides on the internet or in any well-equipped book store.

There are also quite a few agencies that let you book a place on their guided group cycling tours, if you’re uncertain about making it on your own (although believe me, you meet an incredible amount of friendly and helpful cyclists along the way). A decent agency that offers a wide variety of trips throughout Europe is Bike Tours Direct.

Watcha waitin’ for? Happy cycling!

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