How to Arrive Ready-to-Roll for your overseas bike tour

While we want you to arrive at the start of your Stephanie Ventures bicycle tour with unbridled enthusiasm, it’s equally important that you bring along bike handling skills and fitness to ensure you thoroughly enjoy your cycling holiday and return home ready to join us on another one!   

All Stephanie Ventures tours are rated according to distance, elevation changes, and climate in the regions we visit. Most of our tours are rated Level 1 or 2, appropriate for novice, intermediate or advanced cyclists as long as they come prepared.

Remember that you will have the option to ride almost every day on our tours, so if you can progress to the point where you can comfortably ride four times per week for 25 – 35 miles per ride, you should arrive prepared to enjoy our daily rides on tour.

Cyclists who join us will get the most out of their bike tour if they also have these necessary bike handling skills:

  • Shifting gears – knowing when and how  
  • Maintaining safe distance – between themselves and other riders
  • Controlling speed – accelerating, slowing, turning, stopping as necessary
  • Riding comfortably – at 12 mph pace
  • Use of directional hand signals – key to avoiding accidents and injuries

We review these and other safety measures during our welcome briefing.

If you do not live in a climate that facilitates outdoor riding in the winter, chose indoor cardio activities that allow you to build or maintain year-round fitness, so that when spring arrives, you’ll already have some basic fitness to build on. Be sure to discuss any new exercise routine or activity with your doctor, especially if you have underlying health conditions. Cross—training is a smart way to avoid overuse injuries and round out your fitness.

Working out on a stationary bike, treadmill or an elliptical, even swimming at your local gym can help you get fit before you start riding outdoors.

If your gym offers classes or there is a studio in town, yoga is an excellent practice that stretches cycling muscles, builds core strength, improves balance, flexibility, and mental focus. If yoga isn’t your jam, consider lifting weights a couple of days each week with a trainer who can demonstrate proper technique.

Start your outdoor training at least twelve weeks before the start of your tour.

That way, you can slowly build endurance for longer rides and develop strength to tackle the gentle rolling hills on our tours.

We do stop frequently to stretch, admire the view, visit an interesting site, or refuel with a pastry, coffee, glass of wine…or beer…it’s your vacation after all!

Do you ride alone or with a group of people? If you ride alone, we encourage you to work group rides into your schedule. You can meet likeminded folks by joining a local cycling club or searching for a cycling group on Facebook or MeetUp. Some groups cater to advanced riders, but most welcome novices and intermediate level riders, and offer a wide range of rides categorized by level of difficulty. When you participate in organized rides you learn to anticipate the actions of the rider(s) in front of you, be mindful of those riding behind you, and become skilled at safe riding techniques. It’s likely that you will soon get into the habit of using hand signals and verbal commands when you are slowing, stopping, or turning.

Bicycle clubs often host meetings with guest speakers who deliver talks on relevant topics like bike fitting, bike advocacy, fitness, and bike safety. Clubs usually post their calendars online with ride descriptions that include length and elevation gains to help you choose ones that are right for you. If you progress from rides rated F (flat), to E (easy) to D (some gentle rolling hills and occasional steeper grades), those will prepare you for the rides on our tours. Another phrase to look for in a ride description is “no drop” which means someone is designated the “sweep”. They ride at the back of the group to ensure no rider gets left behind. We usually have no problem getting a volunteer to sweep our tour rides, especially when there’s a free beer waiting at the end of the day!

Keep in mind that on tour we ride sturdy “touring” bikes with tires and gearing that are appropriate for the varied terrain we travel on. Sometimes we’re on paved dedicated bike paths, at other times we travel on bike lanes where we share the road. We love our ancient cobblestones in these parts, so short stretches are often part of the authentic tour experience. On occasion, we even go off road on unpaved paths so we can enjoy a short scenic ride through a quiet forest. At an average weight of 35 lbs., the bikes you’ll ride on tour are likely to be heavier than your road bike at home. However, we think they’re the best option. After all, most Europeans ride these types of bikes whether they are heading down the street for groceries or cruising through the countryside on a weekend getaway. You have the option to upgrade to an electric bike (for a fee) before you leave home, but remember they are heavier than the touring bikes so if you choose this option, get some experience with an e-bike at home before attempting to ride one on tour. Check with your local bike shop to rent one for a day or longer.

The key to getting ready to fully enjoy your tour is to start preparing at home, slow and easy and adding more time and distance “in the saddle” as your tour date nears.

We look forward to welcoming you on one of our tours soon.

Until then, keep on pedaling!

You can’t miss our Lake Constance Hub & Spoke Bike Tour when this much fun awaits!

Join our small group for a fascinating journey by bike (and occasional boat) around Lake Constance (or as the locals call it, Bodensee). Check in on June 24, 2023, for a 7-night stay in our HUB, a welcoming, modern (air-conditioned!) four-star hotel conveniently located in the historic city of Konstanz, Germany. Become fast friends with your new travel companions as you cycle together each day in a new direction along our SPOKES – through the idyllic landscape where Germany, Switzerland and Austria meet.

Here are 10 terrific reasons you ought to join us in June

(SPOILER ALERT: We think there are WAY more than 10 reasons!)

  1. Relaxing rides to magnificent medieval towns with beautifully preserved squares, half-timbered house and brightly painted facades
  2. Rheinfall: Europe’s largest waterfall that delivers a photo opp at every turn
  3. Scenic sightseeing cruises, long and short: across lovely Lake Constance and along the mighty Rhine
  4. Wine tastings, cider tastings. beer tastings & more: cycle past vineyards and orchards to savor the region’s best
  5. Prehistoric Pile Dwelling Museum: ok, this may sound strange, but we promise you’ll enjoy discovering an ancient world brought back to life at this UNESCO World Heritage site and Germany’s oldest open-air archeological museum.
  6. Mainau Flower Island: stroll past splendid Baroque palaces amidst glorious colors and floral beauty
  7. Tour of the Zeppelin Museum: birthplace of airship aviation featuring a full-scale model of the gondola of the Hindenburg
  8. Cable Car ride: head up, up, up Pfänder Mountain for panoramic views of the lake and the northern Alps
  9. Affenburg Sanctuary: Enjoy an entertaining walk in the free-range home of 200 Barbary apes and 100 storks
  10. UNESCO site Reichenau Island: cycle through a landscape that bears witness to the religious and cultural role of a large Benedictine monastery in the Middle Ages. Gaze in awe at fine examples of monastic architecture: well-preserved churches and carefully restored wall paintings showcasing the island as an artistic center of great importance in European art history

ONLY A FEW SPACES OPEN on this exciting tour, so please contact us soon to register.

View our full itinerary and pricing on the tour page: Lake Constance Hub & Spoke Tour Itinerary

Stephanie Ventures 2023 Bike Tour Calendar features three new tours, two new tour formats!

Greetings from our new home base in Europe where we are now much closer to the destinations you want to visit. We’ve created some exciting new tours and tour formats we think you’ll find both intriguing and irresistibleWe can’t wait to welcome you back to this side of the planet!

 What’s New? While Stephanie Ventures was founded in 2014 as a Bike and Barge tour company, we know some travelers want a more immersive experience, in which they can cycle at their own pace, dine in local restaurants, or take a day off the bike SO – – – we’ve expanded our offerings to include new land-based tours where one can do just that! Check out our itineraries below to learn more about our Lake Constance Hub & Spoke Tour and Scenic Sweep of Sweden’s West Coast Point-to-Point Tour!

Of course, if biking and barging and all its convenience is what you’ve still got your heart set on, check out our exciting new 14-night Danube Discovery Bike & Boat itinerary below.  

We expect our 2023 tours to fill quickly so contact us as soon as possible to secure your spot on one (or more!) of our tours! Deposit of 30% is due at registration, payable in Euros by credit card or bank transfer.

Ready to start packing your bags? CONTACT US HERE! Contact

Lake Constance Hub-&-Spoke Bike Tour ~7 nights, 3 countries (Germany, Austria, Switzerland)

TOUR DATES: June 24 – July 1, 2023

If you want to visit a picturesque place, unpack once, and enjoy the comfort of a nice spacious four-star hotel room at the end of each day’s ride, this tour is for you! Easy to reach by direct train from Zurich airport, this tour features daily rides from your hotel “hub” in different directions along your route “spokes”. Tour Director Stephanie will lead this tour that visits one of her favorite places to cycle: where Germany, Austria, and Switzerland meet – at the northern foot of the Alps, on the scenic shores of Germany’s largest lake. 

VIEW ITINERARY HERE: 2023 Lake Constance Hub & Spoke Bike Tour – June 24 – July 1

Scenic Sweep of Sweden’s West Coast Point-to-Point Bike Tour ~ 7 nights, 300 km on Kattegatt Trail, voted Europe’s Most Beautiful Bike Route 2018

TOUR DATES: July 15 – 22, 2023

Are longer daily rides, breathtaking scenery and distinctive local cuisine your idea of a great vacation? Then give this tour some serious consideration! 

Cycle along Sweden’s west coast on the 300 km bike path voted “Most Beautiful Cycling Route in Europe” in 2018. Wake up each morning in a new hotel and after enjoying a hearty breakfast, hop on your bike to continue pedaling. No worries, your luggage will be transported for you each day while you enjoy a captivating ride and camaraderie with your traveling companions. 

Journey through quaint fishing villages on a route that mostly follows the sea, traveling through open countryside, exciting nature reserves, and lush farmlands. 

VIEW ITINERARY HERE: 2023 Scenic Sweep of Sweden’s West Coast Point-to-Point Bike Tour – July 15-22

Danube Discovery Bike-&-Boat Cruise ~14 nights, 6 countries (Germany, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, Serbia and Croatia)

TOUR DATES: Aug 5-19, 2023

We heard you wanted longer tours so here’s one we eagerly await! Sail with us on a luxurious river cruise ship, with more spacious cabins; a whirlpool, sauna and spa; a sightseeing program for non-cyclists; and optional excursions when you want to enjoy a rest day from the bike. Our bike guide will lead us on a discovery of the breathtaking natural scenery of the Iron Gates, one of Europe’s most spectacular gorges; the vast expanse of the Pannonian plains, the Danube Bend in Hungary, the breadbaskets of Croatia and Serbia, idyllic wine-growing regions, and commanding fortresses high above the river. 

VIEW ITINERARY HERE: 2023 Danube Discovery Bike & Boat Tour – Aug 5-19

Tulip Trails of Holland tour launches our 2022 Bike & Barge season!

On April 2, our enthusiastic tour guests departed from Amsterdam’s small ship harbor, Oosterdok. I’m not sure who was more excited to get the cruise underway, our tour guests or the crew of the Zwaantje, our beautifully appointed floating hotel, fully equipped with all we needed for our 8 day voyage through the cities, countryside and canals of North and South Holland in search of tulips! On the bike, we enjoyed scenic landscapes, off the bike, excursions and evening walks with our bike guide Hans.

The lovely Zwaantje sailing out of Alkmaar on her way back to Amsterdam

Our captain Martijn welcomed us aboard, introduced the crew, and conducted a briefing before heading to the wheelhouse to point us in the direction of Haarlem where we would spend the first night. On the way, we docked briefly at Spaarndam so the cyclists could disembark for a bike fitting and short test ride so Hans could dial in everyone’s fit. We meandered through the polders, past cow pastures and windmills. The ship continued on to the mooring on Haarlem’s Donkere Spaarne, just steps away from the city’s historic center. While all that was in motion, our lovely hostess Karin prepared the dining room for dinner while chef Frank got busy preparing a feast for the eyes and the belly in the ship’s kitchen.

Later that evening, we enjoyed the first of many fine meals. Once I provide the culinary crew with any dietary needs of my guests, they design menus that all of our guests can enjoy. Our meals were, as the Dutch say, “lekker”, a tasty variety of cuisines including Dutch (bitterballen!), Indonesian (a nod to the country’s spice trading history and my vote for favorite meal of the week), French (coq au vin – oh wow) and Italian (veggie pasta and a trio of bruschetta spreads). Check out our meal diary video below!

Our talented chef prepared delicious meals of generous portions with our guests dietary needs in mind.

Our guests began each day of the tour with a hearty buffet breakfast at 8 AM. On most mornings we also prepared our own boxed lunch for later. Sometimes we disembarked at 9 to start the daily bike ride, on other days we stayed onboard to enjoy a cruise and light lunch on the way to whatever town we’d start the ride. We experienced the full range of “typical” Dutch weather during the tour: sunshine, headwinds and tailwinds, rain, and yes, a brief sprinkling of sleet, but our adventurous guests took it all in stride. When the weather didn’t promise a safe ride, there were other ways to pass the time and enjoy the scenery from the cozy lounge on board. Some joined the captain in the wheelhouse, others read a book, and a few guests toiled over an impossible jigsaw puzzle featuring too many tiny tulips and too much sky!

Guests enjoying a quick ferry ride across a river to continue cycling on the other side.

Our tour itinerary included several fun excursions like the flower gardens at Keukenhof, where seven million flower bulbs are planted annually and bloom throughout the spring. We turned our guests loose to explore on their own the sprawling acres of tulips, hyacinths, orchids and more.

Keukenhof Gardens – tulips for days! And a few orchids and hyacinths thrown in for good measure.

A few days later, it was totally worth waking up before the birds to witness all the early morning action at Aalsmeer, the largest flower auction in the world. After we jumped back on the Zwaantje for a late breakfast, we were treated to a lovely sail through Amsterdam on the way to Zaandam. Once our crew secured the “rock star mooring” amidst a stiff breeze, we set out to discover just what one of those working windmills were whipping up at Zaanse Schans. As it turns out – paint! “De Kat” as it’s known, is a mill that grinds stones to make pigments. The mill’s arms were feverishly spinning so we were able to see all the action inside. After our visit, we strolled through a village of historic homes, a cheese “winkel” with plenty of free samples, and the Klompenmakerij which conducts live wooden shoemaking demonstrations. If you’re not in the market for your own pair of wooden shoes, you might want to consider picking up a pair of kitschy klompen-shaped bedroom slippers. I did!

Venture inside this working windmill with us!

We like to do things a little different on a Stephanie Ventures tour so I arranged a special visit to meet a herd of friendly cows at de Witte Gravin, a dairy farm in my new hometown of Alphen aan den Rijn. My farmer friend Sari showed us around and answered questions from our curious guests about what it’s like to raise dairy cows in Holland’s Green Heart. Dairy is the queen of the food groups in these parts so we got our fill in many forms! De Witte Gravin sells milk on tap in a cute roadside shed. It doesn’t get much fresher than that! During the week we also enjoyed local cheese, warm siroopwafels and stroopwafels, cheese, artisan chocolate, cheese and more cheese. Exploring the Cheese Experience in Gouda was a fun alternative to spending a rainy afternoon on a bike.

Thanks for visiting the blog! Have I sparked a little wanderlust? I do hope you’ll consider traveling with me on one of our other 2022 tours which are featured at the top of the home page or you can view them here:

Panoramas in Provence (June 4-11)

Panoramas in Provence (June 11-18)

Beautiful Burgundy (Aug 23-30)

I may have had a little too much caffeine before we left the ship to visit Alsmeer…

Greetings from the Netherlands!

Tour Director Stephanie here, sending you this greeting from the Netherlands where I landed on Monday. Yes, I am a little early for our Tulip Trails of Holland Bike (or Walk) and Barge Tour but I’m here to call the Netherlands home for a while. We will be ready to sail in just a few weeks but there’s still time to book yourself a cabin and join me on April 2!

I want to share my recent travel experience with you as I’m sure you’re wondering what it’s like to fly to Europe these days. I ran a safe tour in the Netherlands in September and couldn’t wait to return for my Tulip Trails of Holland tour in April. The entry requirements vary by country but I am happy to report that many of the Covid-19 restrictions in the Netherlands have been lifted. The museums, cultural sites, and restaurants are all open. Masks are still required in certain places (public transportation and indoor shops) but I think that’s a minor inconvenience for the opportunity to experience all the wonders this country has to offer – especially during TULIP SEASON!

Some important details about my journey… I flew with United Airlines and was truly impressed with their Travel Ready Center. It’s a portal that allows you to link your travel documents (passport scan, vaccination record, and Netherlands entry forms) to your itinerary so you don’t have to waste energy wondering if you have every document you need to travel hassle-free. I received reminders of what to provide as my departure day approached. I was able to schedule my Covid-19 test locally with a participating test site. On test day, my results were sent to me and to United so when I arrived at the airport the next day to check in, all I did was drop off my bags and head to security where I only had to show my boarding pass and passport because everything else was “on file.” The arrival in Amsterdam was equally easy, I showed my passport and my CDC vaccination card, grabbed my luggage and was on my way!

If you are fully vaxxed and boosted, and you can’t wait to start traveling again, don’t wait any longer! 

We only have a few cabins available at these special prices below! We have a beautiful itinerary for cyclists and for the first time, we are welcoming walking guests aboard with a special escorted experience for them, too!  

The Netherlands is open and ready to welcome you, AND I AM TOO! 


View our complete itinerary at this link: TULIP TRAILS OF HOLLAND – Itinerary

Ready to bike and barge your way around Europe? Check out our new itineraries for 2022!

We’re excited to announce three new tours for 2022! We are proud of our loyal following and want our guests to keep coming back to explore more of the bike paths, waterways, and hidden gems of Europe. If this is your first tour with us or your fifth, we are sure it will be memorable!

Visit our Youtube channel for a glimpse of the Stephanie Ventures bike & barge experience and follow us on Facebook @ Stephanie Ventures LLC

Contact us at for pricing, to schedule an introductory phone/Zoom call, or to book your European bike & barge getaway! Have a group you’d like to travel with? Inquire about special group rates and a private online or in-person presentation to your group.

~~~~~ 2022 BIKE & BARGE TOURS ~~~~~

Tulip Trails of Holland ~ April 2-9, 2022, roundtrip from Amsterdam

Click here to view: Tulip Trails of Holland ITINERARY

Panoramas in Provence ~ June 4-11, 2022, Avignon – Aigues-Mortes, France

Panoramas in Provence ~ June 11-18, 2022, Aigues-Mortes – Avignon, France

Click here to view Panoramas in Provence ITINERARY

Beautiful Burgundy ~ August 23-30, 2022, Moret-sur-Loing – Auxerre, France

Click here to view Beautiful Burgundy ITINERARY

Magical Mosel Valley ~ Bike & Barge Tour ITINERARY SPOTLIGHT: Cochem

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We can’t think of a more charming town to begin our 2019 Meander Through the Magical Mosel Valley bike & barge adventure than in Cochem! We encourage guests to arrive in town the day before the barge tour begins to allow for some extra exploring time on your own. Here’s the scoop on our first stop on the tour that begins on August 17, 2019.

Cochem is nestled beneath the splendid Reichsburg Castle. Built in the 12th century, trashed in the 14th century, and rebuilt in the romantic neo-Gothic style in the 19th century; the castle is open daily for tours of its impressive collections of period furniture and art. It’s situated on a 300 ft high crag above the Mosel River, and a 15 min walk up a cobblestone path will also reward you with a panoramic view of hillside vineyards and the town below. Consider a splurge for the Knight’s Dinner, a traditional medieval dining experience, on Friday evening.

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During the Cold War, the Federal Republic of Germany set up secret currency reserves around the country to guard against inflation that would have resulted if war broke out between NATO and the Warsaw Pact States.

One such hiding place was the Bundesbank Bunker, a subterranean vault in Cochem. For over two decades, the citizens of Cochem had no idea there were 15 billion Deutschmarks “in their own backyard!” Of course, as a bunker, it needed to be cleverly disguised, but, fear not, we know where it is, and can tell you exactly how to find it if you’d like to explore it on your own. 

Mustard Mill

In a country where pretzels are practically a national treasure, mustard is a most revered condiment. You’ll learn everything you ever wanted to know about it at the Historische Senfmühle, Cochem’s mustard mill, where they’ve been churning out Cochem’s favorites since 1810. Free tastings are available daily, mustards of every kind await your discriminating palate. Time your visit right and, for 2.50 Euros, you can join a guided tour and watch the miller in action as he prepares mustard according to a 200 year old family recipe.

If you arrive prior to August 17 by train, you can easily hop into a taxi for a short ride to your hotel. If you arrive on Saturday, August 17, of course you may go directly to the barge. Check-in time is 3 PM but you’re welcome to drop off your luggage before you head out to wander the medieval alleyways of the old town. Don’t worry, when you sign up for your tour, we’ll tell you exactly how to find the Quo Vadis, from Frankfurt airport, to the train, and to the dock. We can even assist with train tickets if you’d like.

Click here for a peek at our full itinerary: 2019 Meander Thru the Magical Mosel Valley

Contact us at to inquire about a booking before this tour sells out.

Tour Diary: Belgian Treasures & Treats from Bruges to Brussels

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In July, guests joined us in Bruges for our Belgian Treasures & Treats Tour, an 8 day holiday by bike and barge that included stops in Ghent, Dendermonde, Antwerp, Mechelen and Brussels. The group also took part in a field trip by bus and bike to the World War I sites in Flanders Fields. The weather was spectacular, unseasonably warm, with brilliantly sunny blue skies, a gift from this small country with a reputation for gray skies, clouds and drizzling rain. The terrain we traveled on varied from bike lanes on city streets to dedicated bike paths and field trails that took us through meadows, forests and pastures. We were treated to a few character-building cobblestones thrown in for good measure. We were in Belgium after all, and they love their cobbles there! All of our travelers were on their first bike & barge tour and from what he heard throughout the trip, they want to travel with us again.

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From Bruges we traveled by bike each day, stopping along the way for sightseeing, picnic lunches, and, since it was a little warm for coffee, we opted for an afternoon ice cream or beer instead! While we rode our comfy hybrid touring bikes, our captain Harrie and his able crew sailed our “floating hotel” to a new city so that at the end of each day’s ride of 20-35 miles, we were greeted by the ship’s friendly staff. They loaded our bikes onto the ship, and offered us cold drinks and tasty snacks while we caught the end of the live daily broadcast of the Tour de France on the large flat screen in the barge’s air-conditioned lounge. After a hot shower (each cabin had its own private bath), we regrouped in the dining room for some lively conversation over a delicious three-course meal prepared by our talented chef Coen. After dinner, guests had the option of joining our knowledgeable and enthusiastic bike guide Ilse for a walking tour of the town.

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Several evenings included unique on-board tasting events featuring Belgium’s best: Bruges Chocolates and Local Ales, and Regional Cheeses paired with Belgian Ales. One night, we even got to experience a Belgian Ale Essence Tasting. Tour Director Stephanie set up glasses filled with the aromas that the beer geeks say we should detect when we smell the particular beer she selected to pair with our dinner of Indonesian Rijstafel. This popular Dutch meal dates back to the days of the spice trade and our version included six traditional dishes served family style. To complement the rich flavors of the barbecued beef, Balinese eggs, green beans with crispy onions, cucumber salad, coconut rice, and homemade Cassava chips, we enjoyed a celebrated saison, also known as farmhouse ale. The beer geeks report notes of fresh-cut grass, elderflower, peach, and black pepper. After a short history lesson on saison Stephanie invited  guests to smell the filled glasses, then smell the beer to see if they could detect the essences on the “nose” of the beer.

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Our first ride outside of Bruges took us along a tree-lined bike path to quaint Damme. From there we continued on to Blankenberge, a delightful seaside resort where a few of us got our feet wet in the cool waters of the North Sea while others strolled along the boardwalk and enjoyed some ice cream and people watching.

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Packing Light & Right for your Summer Cycling Vacation

Here are the best two words of advice I can offer to help you prepare for your vacation…PACK LIGHT! I don’t know anyone who’s ever returned from a trip wishing they’d packed more stuff.

Over the course of many bike trips and sightseeing holidays in Europe, I’ve learned (the hard way) what to bring and what to leave home. When you plan a cycling vacation, keep in mind that if your tour involves multiple hotel stays, your tour operator may restrict you to one piece of luggage and one carry-on bag which will travel to each hotel in a cramped van. If you are traveling by barge, there’ll be no daily luggage transfers but you’ll still want to pack the smallest piece of rolling luggage you can so you can move around freely in your cabin. Packing cubes will allow you to group similar items together, saving time and space. Pack a foldable tote or small duffel (that expands no larger than carry-on size) and you’ll have space for souvenirs you pick up along the way.

Read on for my packing suggestions and explanations, then check out this printable Packing Light List . Then, trust me, pack light. You’ll thank me.


Easier on your back than a duffel bag, it does double duty as a carry-on bag if it also meets your airline’s size requirements.

Cycling Apparel & Accessories:

Thankfully, today’s cycling apparel not only keeps you cooler, but it’s also made of fast drying material. Be sure to pack some laundry detergent that’s made for technical apparel or plan to buy some when you arrive.

  • bike jerseys and padded bike shorts
  • arm warmers
  • lightweight waterproof jacket
  • sports bras or tech tees
  • cycling socks
  • cycling gloves
  • cycling shoes (if you plan to also bring your pedals) or running shoes (if you’ll be riding hybrid touring bikes with platform pedals)
  • chamois cream to prevent chafing which can occur during a long day in bike shorts!
  • headbands or cycling caps to manage sweat under your helmet
  • helmet, if not provided by your tour operator…Many Europeans ride without them. This is one of those times you should not embrace local customs. There’s no shame in riding safe.

Casual Clothes:

No need to weigh yourself down with lots of fussy wardrobe options. Remember you’ll spend most of your day in cycling clothes so you’ll only need a change of clothes for the post-ride sightseeing and evenings out if you’re up for them. Most nights you’ll probably be early to bed. I recommend you stick to clothes in color palettes that you can mix and match so you won’t need to pack more shoes. As a rule, when I fly, I wear the bulkiest pair of shoes I bring on the trip to free up room in my luggage.

  • shirts: mix of long sleeve and short-sleeve
  • sweater or lightweight fleece
  • pants / skirts / shorts / belt
  • underwear (check out the fast drying microfiber options from ExOfficio®)
  • cotton-blend socks
  • shoes (one pair open-toed, one pair closed-toed, both pairs comfy!)
  • scarves – they weigh next to nothing and allow you to create more looks with minimal effort
  • jewelry – bring a few baubles and leave the family heirlooms home
  • sleepwear
  • swimsuit

Money, Money, Money:

Even though the exchange rate will likely be better from an ATM in Europe, I often order at least €150 Euros from my bank to bring with me so I can hit the ground running as soon as I arrive. I usually need to jump on a train, and I welcome the convenience of buying a ticket at a kiosk with cash. Also, small local restaurants often prefer cash, so it comes in handy. If you are traveling on a hotel barge or river cruise ship, you may need cash to settle your bar tab, and also to tip your fabulous crew at the end of your tour! 

  • money belt
  • money— mix of debit card (for ATM withdrawals), credit cards, optional: small amount of cash (in local currency)

Documents plus photocopies:

Carrying paper print outs of important documents may seem “old school” to anyone with a smartphone and an iCloud account but, paper copies will be invaluable if your phone isn’t working, gets lost, or is stolen.

  • passport/VISA
  • driver’s license and a photocopy
  • credit card photocopies (store them outside your wallet)
  • printout of airline e-ticket
  • trip itinerary and hotel reservation confirmations
  • insurance card, prescriptions, and summary of your coverage overseas

Electronic Gadgetry and Accessories:

  •  mobile phone – check with your carrier about a short-term, affordable overseas plan
  • digital camera, extra memory cards
  • portable media player and ear buds
  • laptop or tablet, if you must!
  • e-reader loaded with a good novel and some guidebooks
  • chargers for all electronics (I have a handy zippered bag to pack all of them into, so I don’t have to hunt around for one when I need it)
  • plug adapters so you can plug your power cords/phone chargers, etc into the wall outlets. look for one that also accommodates USB cords so you can charge multiple devices. 
  • converters are not usually necessary. American devices operate on 110 volts, European ones require 220 volts. Check your device to see if there is a range of voltages printed on it or its plug (“110–220”). If so, it will work in Europe as long as you have an adaptor which you can plug it into.
  • hair dryer, most of our ships are equipped with hair dryers and are standard in most hotel properties
  • travel alarm clock – the smallest one you can find unless you want to rely on your smartphone to wake you up

Miscellaneous Must-Haves 

  • compression socks – helps with circulation on long flights and also with recovery after a day’s ride
  • ear plugs for a good night’s sleep in a noisy airplane or hotel
  • neck pillow for the flight (an inflatable one packs away nicely when you aren’t using it)
  • PSI Bands if you are prone to motion sickness on boats, or in passenger vans, buses…
  • umbrella – think small, if at all
  • guidebooks and maps (go lighter on these if you are on a guided tour)
  • address list for postcards
  • notepad, journal, pen
  • travel size toiletries (soap, shampoo, conditioner, toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, deodorant, sunscreen)
  • hair brush, comb
  • cosmetics
  • medicines and vitamins (pack prescription meds in your carry-on, NEVER in your checked bag!)
  • mini first-aid kit with pain relievers
  • glasses/contact lenses/sunglasses (with prescriptions)
  • sealable plastic bags (to prevent spills in your luggage or to pack food in for picnics)
  • travel clothesline and rubber stopper for the sink
  • small towel/wash cloth (I pack these in my carry-on so I can wash up on the flight and freshen up before landing)
  • foldable tote bag or small duffle for souvenirs

If you plan to carry on your luggage, visit for the current list of TSA regulations.

Bike & Barge Vacations – the cool way to see Europe without breaking the bank

Bike & Barge holidays are all the rage in Europe these days, and with good reason. Today’s “floating hotel” barges, which can sleep between 6 and 36 passengers, offer convenience and comfort for today’s active traveler: cozy accommodations, tasty meals,  camaraderie, comfortable touring bikes (with cushy saddles), and bike ride options that average between 15-30 miles per day. Another plus: if you wake up and decide you don’t feel like riding a bike, you can stay onboard and enjoy an intimate view of life along the centuries-old canals of Europe from the comfort of a deck chair. You’ll arrive in the next town feeling refreshed and ready to sight-see on foot. Because the barge-able corners of Europe are fairly flat, and the traffic-free bike path network is extensive, a trip like this is not only perfect for novice cyclists, first-time bike tourists, or those who want to immerse themselves in a new culture, it’s also ideal for a couple traveling together who may not share the same level of fitness (or enthusiasm) for cycling. ­

Along with my bilingual Belgian guide and onboard crew, I am excited to be hosting a bike & barge tour in Belgium this summer from July 16-23, 2016. The itinerary for Belgian Treasures & Treats includes Bruges, Ghent, Antwerp, Dendermonde, Mechelen and Brussels. You’ll experience all the charms of Belgium: art, architecture, ale, chocolate, waffles and frites and you’ll visit some fascinating sites not widely known to American travelers. The end of the trip coincides with the final stage of the Tour de France so if you decide to extend your trip, you can hop on a high-speed train in Brussels and you’ll be in Paris in time to welcome the yellow jersey and the rest of the field when they arrive on the Champs Elysees.

If you are a fan of craft beer, the Belgians brew what many argue is the best in the world. You will have opportunities to learn about the different styles of Belgian ales and taste several fine examples during our unique interactive tastings on and off the barge.  We will make a pilgrimage through Flanders where we may have the opportunity to drink the elusive Westvleteren 12, the Trappist ale made by the monks of St. Sixtus Abbey. Later, we’ll pay our respects to those who gave their lives during WWI during our informative visits to the monuments, cemeteries, and battlegrounds of Flanders Fields.

Other highlights on this tour include a scenic bike ride out to the North Sea, a visit to view the stunning Ghent Altarpiece at St Bavo’s Cathedral in Ghent, a tour of the Antwerp home and gallery of Peter Paul Rubens, and a walking tour of Bruges, whose entire old town is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Harper’s Bazaar recently named Bruges #1 among its “Top 10 Most Underrated European Cities To Book Your Next Vacation To.”  You will only need to taste the city’s world famous chocolate pralines (there are shops on nearly every block) and you’ll know why!

Check out my brochure for more about the extras we include that make this tour so unique. I’m very proud to offer you such amazing value for your travel dollar.

Contact me to reserve your cabin today!