26 small things you might not think of taking but that we couldn’t do without while cycle touring!

Wax Ear Plugs 

Even if you don’t plan to stay in a shared hostel dormitory or busy campsite there are times when wild camping that you will be glad you brought ear plugs – mainly because of dogs howling and barking in echoey valleys.

Universal sink plug

Most hostels, hotels and campsites don’t have plugs and you will be doing a lot of your own dishes and clothes washing. 

Toilet roll dry bag

Doing your business while cycling; we all have to go at some point. We ensure that our toilet roll is kept completely dry in our 2l dry bag (Alpkit) which we clip on the back of our Ortlieb rack bag for easy access during the day. We also keep hand sanitiser in the bag too.

Wing Mirror – Essential for any cycle tour. Buy and fit one before you go. 

Thermal Base Layers

If you plan on going anywhere mountainous or even remotely ‘cold’ you won’t regret taking a set of high quality thermals with you. They are light, pack down easily and act like a second skin. We both have a pair of Helly Hansen (HH Warm) leggings and matching top.

A VPN

For those going to any country with Internet censorship you will need to download a VPN. We also use ours to access BBC iplayer while abroad.

Fold-up Rucksack

Really useful for when you are not on the bike. 

Bungee Cord / bag net

A lot of tourers who have the Ortlieb or Vaude pannier-rack bag combo don’t bother bringing a bungee chord. We have to use one to fasten our ortlieb bag to our rack but it’s also really handy to have somewhere quick you can store stuff during the day. It may be a jumper, a couple of extra water bottles or wet clothes but it saves you getting off your bike and opening your panniers up.

Rags – Used for everything

Sewing Kit – Don’t leave home without one!

Dice/Cards/Pass the Pigs

A great universal ice breaker for when you find yourselves spending time with other travellers or locals who don’t speak the same language as you.

Washing Pegs and Line

You will be doing a lot of your own washing so pegs are useful both when camping and when in hostels/campsites.

Floss – Great for sewing a gash up in your tyre as well as for your dental hygiene!

Tupperware

Wherever you go, eggs and vegetables (especially tomatoes) are likely to feature heavily in your diet while touring. But you need a way of ensuring they don’t get squashed in your pannier.

Sometimes we boil a load of eggs before leaving a hotel but we like to have the option of frying, poaching, scrambling, omelette-ing or soft boiling too. 

We have two tupperware – a smaller one for eggs and a big one for our soft vegetables. The big one can double up as a washing bowl too.

Headphone Splitter

Essential for a couple on a tandem or for those of you who want to watch films together.

Elastic Bands

You will tire of opening up your pannier to find pasta and rice everywhere again. Have elastic bands handy to keep loose bags together.

Prickly Heat Powder

We got given a tin of prickly heat powder in Thailand by our friend. It’s a god send in hot humid weather and after five days of no shower it’s great to be able to rub some on to clammy unwashed skin before bed! Plus it smells nice!

Ziplock bags and Durable plastic bags

Even if you have waterproof panniers you won’t regret having some bags for life that you can use again and again.We use ziplock sandwich bags for lots of things.

Gaffa Tape and Electrical Tape

So useful!! Just make sure you never find yourself without some.

Cable Ties

Incredibly strong, durable and easy to store – simply tape onto your frame. We have used cable ties to fix so much stuff on the bike while on the road.

Rubber Gloves

If you can’t afford (or lose) your goretex waterproof gloves these are a great and cheap alternative!

Padlock

This only applies if you have a handlebar bag or pannier which can be zipped shut. Our Arkel handlebar bag has a zip fastening and there have been a number of times where we have wanted to padlock the bag shut. E.g on overnight public transport rides, in locker-less hostels or when leaving your bags in left luggage to explore a city or go off on a three day hike. 

Carabiner Clips


Useful things to have around. Good for clipping stuff to your hiking trousers (such as our camera bag). We also have one permanently clipped to the back of our rack bag for when we can’t dispose of our rubbish bag in remote areas.

A length of good quality rope

Handy just to have to fix things when something breaks.

Chain Cleaner 

Maintaining your gear system and cleaning your chain is important. Throw away that toothbrush and invest in one of these. They make cleaning chain so easy.

Moon Cup

Ladies, if you’re touring for longer than 6 weeks invest in a moon cup. Tampons are hard to come by outside Europe and you really don’t want to take up space in your panniers by bringing a huge stash of them. Yes, the cup can take a while to get used to, so make sure you buy one at least 2 months before you go away so you can get used to using one before your trip. I love mine now!

Don’t give up on the first couple of gos either, persevere, as the pros weigh out the cons significantly:

  1. you can wear them for longer which is useful when cycling in countryside with limited toilet stops.
  2. They are cheaper in the long run, and much better for the environment (and your rubbish bag) when camping.
  3. You can wear them at night – again, very useful when camping.
  4. They are very small and light – always a plus for weight obsessed tourers!

A good sports bra (or two) is also essential even for women who are a small cup size. 

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