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First tour! Help wanted...

Old 09-18-18, 06:35 PM
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First tour! Help wanted...


*Edit*
It has come to light that my touring partner has her heart set on east Asia, Thailand, Cambodia, etc.
so if anyone has experience in that part of the world, or knows a bike blog that mentions anything, I’d thank you to chime in or post a link.
Cheers!

High all!
My fiancé and I are gettin’ hitched in October! I’m a school teacher and so we’re taking our honeymoon during the two weeks from Dec. 24 to Jan. 4. We would like to spend the two weeks on our bikes, but we live in Chicago.

So I’m looking for a warmer place to tour through, for as little cost as possible (school teacher...)*

My first thought was Mexico, but I thought I’d toss this question into the touring forum and see what the words of experience might suggest.*

A little about our knowledge and skill base:

1) Neither of us has ever done anything longer than an overnight by bike.*

2) We both live car light in Chicago and regularly have 20 mile days.*

3) She doesn’t have a lot of camping experience, but enough to know she’s excited about the idea.

4) I’ve got a fair amount of experience, I’ve done a ten day canoe trip, several long weekends snow show camping*in New England, sections of the AT, etc.*

5) We have all the racks, bags, camping gear, stove, tent, etc. etc. that would could need.

6) For bikes were using Miyata touring bikes, she’s got an ‘85 210 and I have a ‘91 1000.

7) She is fluent in Spanish, mine is passable.*
*
So we’d be on vintage tourers, camping a bunch with a some*hotel stays, and we’re planning on starting with 40 mile days and building from there.

Are there any warm destinations we should check out where*a US Dollar has a solid exchange rate? We do have some air miles to burn, and we have both traveled a lot, but neither of us has been to Asia... We’d love to see Cambodia, Thailand, or maybe Vietnam?*

Any thoughts?*

Last edited by Chr0m0ly; 09-19-18 at 05:23 PM.
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Old 09-18-18, 07:11 PM
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Costa Rica is pretty rad to tour in and not dangerous. It could be a good starter tour place. I think most people that do SE Asia tend to stick to places to stay rather than camping, but I could be wrong.
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Old 09-18-18, 07:30 PM
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Until I read, you are looking for a location outside of USA, I was going to suggest start in the Florida Keys. Doing a part of the Adventure Cycling Southern Tier ride wold work.

I would do some research at crazyguyonabike. You will likely find information about location options and maybe some help for the tour in general.

My wife and i have been touring consistently for over 25 years. I think you are making a great choice for traveling together.
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Old 09-18-18, 08:54 PM
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I've toured in Mexico, Costa Rica, SE Asia, and a few countries in S. America. The Yucatan of Mexico is an easy place to tour. My friend & I flew into Merida which is a pleasant city. The Pu'uc Hills south of Merida were my favorite part of the Yucatan. The Caribbean coast has heavy traffic (though the main road had a decent paved shoulder), tons of tourists, and much higher prices. It's easy to hop on a bus with your bike in Mexico. We weren't camping. Hotel prices are pretty reasonable away from beach resorts in Mexico. The food is fantastic.

Costa Rica is a nice country to visit but I didn't think the touring was that great. The 2 main reasons were many of the paved roads were in very bad condition, and except for the Pacific coast, it has extremely mountainous terrain (and I usually don't shy away from mountains).

I'm hoping to tour in the zona cafetera in Colombia this winter. From what I've been able to gather, it's perhaps the best region in Colombia for touring. I was in Bogota and the area north of there a few years ago. It was very nice but not a good region for touring (I did a bit of biking but wasn't really touring there). The road network in that region is fairly limited and it's extremely mountainous.

Hawaii is another possibility. It's pretty affordable if you're camping. You need to have permits to camp in the state and county parks. I liked touring on Kauai, Maui, & the Big Island.

For just 2 weeks, it's probably not worth flying to Chile, SE Asia, NZ, Australia, or other places far away, but if you're willing, northern Thailand and northern Laos have great touring and near perfect weather from Dec to Feb. Fly into Chiang Mai, if possible, though you can fly into Bangkok and take the train with your bikes to either Chiang Mai area or Vientiane, Laos. Don't bother with camping gear. Guesthouses are cheap and excellent in Thailand. Food is cheap and delicious.

Last edited by axolotl; 09-18-18 at 09:00 PM.
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Old 09-18-18, 09:20 PM
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Haven't been to Asia but reviews of bicycle touring in SE Asia seem to be very positive. Relatively safe, good food, language usually isn't a huge problem. Wide availability of guest-houses so one doesn't need to tote bulky/heavy camping stuff, much easier to get up the hills.

I'm leery about touring in Mexico due to crime, even allowing for exaggerated media/gov't reports. I used to live there a long time ago & revisited in the 90's, crime increase was shocking. House I used to live in had 2 pistol-toting guards outside, a downtown bank had 3 guards on the roof with shotguns.
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Old 09-18-18, 09:47 PM
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This is perfect, just what I was hoping for.
And inside the US isn’t ruled out, the Keys or Hawaii or maybe Louisiana? I have a co-worker from Hawaii, he might have some good info.

Diana’s spent time in Cuba, Nigeria, France, Egypt, to name a few. I’ve been in Hungary, Austria, Ireland... Alaska... we’re both comfortable abroad and in youth hostel type accommodations. We’re looking for beautiful and warm, adventureish but it’s a honeymoon, so nothing too sketchy. A relaxing bike tour. Like Robert Persig said “We are trying make good time, with the emphasis on good, rather than time.”

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Old 09-18-18, 09:59 PM
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Christmas/New Years is going to be expensive time to fly (it always is). Another option might be Southern California. Maybe a 8-10 day ride along the coast from San Luis Obispo to San Diego (yeah, its suburban but interesting). Its 'mostly' flat and 40 miles/day should be easy. Fly into LAX then take Amtrak up to SLO, when you return just take Amtrak from San Diego to L.A.(Union Station). I wouldn't suggest San Francisco to L.A. as SF gets a lot more rain than the Los Angeles area in late December/early JanuYou can still get rain in the L.A. area, but still less possibility than in SF.
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Old 09-18-18, 10:19 PM
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you could try a tour around the southwest, check out routes and sites around/between alburquerque-phoenix-tuscon. plenty of free camping on BLM land. bonus --- spanish will come in handy.

if you want seasia, how about cambodia? minimal gear...it's warm, and you won't be camping. budget $20-25/day for a single tourist. $30 visa on arrival.

spend a few days cycling through angkor wat. i'd recommend doing a homestay at beantay chmar. it's a smaller version of angkor - one main temple with 8 satellite temples - but with few tourists.

https://www.visitbanteaychhmar.org/







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Old 09-19-18, 06:58 AM
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Originally Posted by debade
Until I read, you are looking for a location outside of USA, I was going to suggest start in the Florida Keys. Doing a part of the Adventure Cycling Southern Tier ride wold work.

I would do some research at crazyguyonabike. You will likely find information about location options and maybe some help for the tour in general.

My wife and i have been touring consistently for over 25 years. I think you are making a great choice for traveling together.
Florida Keys is a horrible idea for a newbie tourist. I have been touring for about 12 years now and I still avoid the keys.

My recommendation is to just wait for summer and do something in the northwest.
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Old 09-19-18, 07:42 AM
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Originally Posted by skidder
Christmas/New Years is going to be expensive time to fly (it always is). Another option might be Southern California. Maybe a 8-10 day ride along the coast from San Luis Obispo to San Diego (yeah, its suburban but interesting). Its 'mostly' flat and 40 miles/day should be easy. Fly into LAX then take Amtrak up to SLO, when you return just take Amtrak from San Diego to L.A.(Union Station). .
I will never do that route again. Next time I do the coast I will be stopping at SLO. Just way to crowded and busy in that corridor.. That ride down into Santa Barbara is pretty but not a whole lot of fun and not worth it IMHO.

I still say wait for summer. Another great newbie idea would be the Katy or Great Allegheny Passage / C&O. It does not get much easier than that. Very low stress and a great way to shake out the bugs in your touring plan.
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Old 09-19-18, 07:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Chr0m0ly
This is perfect, just what I was hoping for.
And inside the US isn’t ruled out, the Keys or Hawaii or maybe Louisiana? I have a co-worker from Hawaii, he might have some good info.

Diana’s spent time in Cuba, Nigeria, France, Egypt, to name a few. I’ve been in Hungary, Austria, Ireland... Alaska... we’re both comfortable abroad and in youth hostel type accommodations. We’re looking for beautiful and warm, adventureish but it’s a honeymoon, so nothing too sketchy. A relaxing bike tour. Like Robert Persig said “We are trying make good time, with the emphasis on good, rather than time.”



If you want to spend the big bucks and travel abroad then consider southern Italy. Should be warm enough in winter.

But again that is a really big investment for someone hat has never toured. Italy was my very first tour and I really regret I did not do something shorter and local first. It would have been a MUCH better tour.

While a bicycler tour honeymoon might sound romantic, a successful tour is not a simple thing to pull off. There is a LOT to learn. Camping and credit card touring both have their challenges. A lot of little things you learn from a short tour that are really hard to learn about in a book or in a forum. The good news is that you will learn a lot in your first tour or two making future tours that much more successful.

Any tour can be a bit stressful at times. Your first tour especially You do want to come back from your honeymoon still married correct?
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Old 09-19-18, 07:52 AM
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Another optional warm country is Texas. The Hill Country is fabulous, and many people speak English, albeit a variant difficult for a northerner like me to understand, and I lived in Dallas for four years.
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Old 09-19-18, 08:20 AM
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The OP is asking for suggestions about inexpensive touring destinations for a honeymoon during the school break from Dec. 24 - Jan. 4, with bonus points for Spanish-speaking destinations. There are lots of great touring areas which have good weather during that time period and where costs aren't too high. Some of those destinations are even Spanish-speaking. Suggesting waiting for next summer in the northern hemisphere or going to southern Italy doesn't sound particularly helpful.
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Old 09-19-18, 08:29 AM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker
Florida Keys is a horrible idea for a newbie tourist. I have been touring for about 12 years now and I still avoid the keys.


My recommendation is to just wait for summer and do something in the northwest.

No problem with the Northwest. We just finished a couple of great rides in the NW including https://friendsofcdatrails.org/old-m...ailroad-trail/ and the San Juans. Both are great choices. The trails around the old Milwaukee Road are the safest I have enjoyed in a long time and great views with railroad grade climbing. In fact, it is right up there among my favorites.


The rap on the ride from Key West to the main part of Florida is the 7 mile bridge. We did not find that as concerning as we were warned. But, as I have learned over the years, each of our perceptions are different. What feels frightening to one person is concerning or a non-issue to another. The Keys are not one of my favorite rides, probably in the middle. But it does offer the advantage of comfortable winter biking. And, while I love St Augustine as a town, that end of the Adventure Cycling Southern Tier route was my least favorite part of the Southern Tier ride. But that is a comparison to the western part of the Southern Tier.
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Old 09-19-18, 08:54 AM
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Originally Posted by skidder
Christmas/New Years is going to be expensive time to fly (it always is).
Good point. And coming from CHI, potential for weather-related flight disruptions is real.

And unless my calendar is broken, 12/24 to 1/4 is only 12 days. Travelling anywhere across the pond or further east is going to burn at least one whole day. When I flew from the U.S. to Andalucía to tour I built in two days after arrival to get all my gear ready and recover from jet lag before hitting the road.
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Old 09-19-18, 09:29 AM
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Originally Posted by axolotl
The OP is asking for suggestions about inexpensive touring destinations for a honeymoon during the school break from Dec. 24 - Jan. 4, with bonus points for Spanish-speaking destinations. There are lots of great touring areas which have good weather during that time period and where costs aren't too high. Some of those destinations are even Spanish-speaking. Suggesting waiting for next summer in the northern hemisphere or going to southern Italy doesn't sound particularly helpful.
Are you the forum police? It is a suggestion. I am expressing my opion based on my experience. Just because someone thinks they want to do something doesn't make it a good idea.
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Old 09-19-18, 09:31 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
Good point. And coming from CHI, potential for weather-related flight disruptions is real.

And unless my calendar is broken, 12/24 to 1/4 is only 12 days. Travelling anywhere across the pond or further east is going to burn at least one whole day. When I flew from the U.S. to Andalucía to tour I built in two days after arrival to get all my gear ready and recover from jet lag before hitting the road.
And this late in the game, the real question would be if you could get a seat at any price.** .**
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Old 09-19-18, 09:34 AM
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Originally Posted by axolotl
....bonus points for Spanish-speaking destinations. ....Some of those destinations are even Spanish-speaking..... going to southern Italy doesn't sound particularly helpful.

don't you feel foolish! where do you think the LATIN american language came from anyways, huh?


......
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Old 09-19-18, 09:35 AM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker
And this late in the game, the real question would be if you could get a seat at any price.** .**
Another good point. 1/4 is a Friday. I am sure lots of people will be heading home to get ready to go back to work on 1/7.
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Old 09-19-18, 10:33 AM
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I would go to New Zealand. Couple days to get there, a couple days to get home, and a week riding with a tour company. South Island has some nice routes. They provide all the logistics, food, lodging and bikes. This is a special vacation, so you want it to be memorable. Don’t worry about the cost. She’s worth it, right?
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Old 09-19-18, 11:01 AM
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Originally Posted by saddlesores
don't you feel foolish! where do you think the LATIN american language came from anyways, huh?


......
My friend is very fluent in Italian. He has only had a smattering of Spanish lessons, mainly .high school level but because of his command for Italian, he is able to have conversations in Spanish. Most people in Italy speak English but many of those won't admit it. If you try Italian then they will open up. . I am betting that someone fluent in Spanish would be able to do well just by a quick review of a dictionary for a few key words.

I still would not recommend traveling to another country without first having some touring experience.
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Old 09-19-18, 12:43 PM
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Lots of good stuff, and some off topic stuff that’s still good stuff!

The about to be newly Mrs. Chr0m0ly has her heart set on Asia. She’s mid thirty’s, I’m about to be 40, so before kids she wants a big adventure.

I know it’s a stressful thing, and it’ll be a learning experience, but it’s still happening. We may end up in Cambodia without bikes, but we’re looking at SE Asia.

DUN dah DUUUMM!!
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Old 09-19-18, 01:13 PM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker
Are you the forum police? It is a suggestion. I am expressing my opion based on my experience. Just because someone thinks they want to do something doesn't make it a good idea.
You ignored all of the OP's criteria entirely. I don't know why you bothered responding when you have had zero experience in going to the places the OP mentioned. It's also clear that you have no interest in going to the places the OP mentioned.
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Old 09-19-18, 01:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Chr0m0ly
The about to be newly Mrs. Chr0m0ly has her heart set on Asia. She’s mid thirty’s, I’m about to be 40, so before kids she wants a big adventure.
Wherever you decide to go, I would urge you to start looking at ticket availability right now whether it's with miles or with dollars. My own trips to both Asia & Latin America have mostly been after mid-January when demand and therefore prices drop significantly, and when seats open up for frequent flyer tickets. I realize that as a teacher, you're restricted to school vacation periods, however. If availability and/or cost turn out to be impediments, remember that Southwest Airlines now flies to Mexico & Costa Rica.
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Old 09-19-18, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Chr0m0ly
High all!
My fiancé and I are gettin’ hitched in October! I’m a school teacher and so we’re taking our honeymoon during the two weeks from Dec. 24 to Jan. 4. We would like to spend the two weeks on our bikes, but we live in Chicago.

So I’m looking for a warmer place to tour through, for as little cost as possible (school teacher...)*

My first thought was Mexico, but I thought I’d toss this question into the touring forum and see what the words of experience might suggest.*

A little about our knowledge and skill base:

1) Neither of us has ever done anything longer than an overnight by bike.*

2) We both live car light in Chicago and regularly have 20 mile days.*

3) She doesn’t have a lot of camping experience, but enough to know she’s excited about the idea.

4) I’ve got a fair amount of experience, I’ve done a ten day canoe trip, several long weekends snow show camping*in New England, sections of the AT, etc.*

5) We have all the racks, bags, camping gear, stove, tent, etc. etc. that would could need.

6) For bikes were using Miyata touring bikes, she’s got an ‘85 210 and I have a ‘91 1000.

7) She is fluent in Spanish, mine is passable.*
*
So we’d be on vintage tourers, camping a bunch with a some*hotel stays, and we’re planning on starting with 40 mile days and building from there.

Are there any warm destinations we should check out where*a US Dollar has a solid exchange rate? We do have some air miles to burn, and we have both traveled a lot, but neither of us has been to Asia... We’d love to see Cambodia, Thailand, or maybe Vietnam?*

Any thoughts?*
*southern hemisphere, its Summer.. Australia. NZ, etc. ..*

FWIW a friend is teaching Music* in a school in HCM city, Vietnam, now..* (He came back and picked up his recumbents* to ride while there.. single double and triple..**

You can look up exchange rates* , they fluctuate daily..**

*MA in Music Ed.*



...
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