This article is from the Bicycles FAQ, by Mike Iglesias with numerous contributions by others.
1) I have a ritual for taking care of necessary business (most notably
washing my cycling clothes) when I arrive at my day's destination and
get into my hotel room:
a) take off all my cycling clothes and place them in the sink with soap
b) after 5-10 minutes rinse soap out of cycling clothes and use the fresh
clean bath towels to ring them as dry a possible. A quick way to help
wring out your freshly washed riding clothes is to spread the wet garment
on a dry towel. Roll the garment up in the towel and use your knee to press
the rolled towel. Unroll the towel and hang the garment to dry.
c) hang the clothes to dry, if done properly they should be ready for the
next morning. Theft proof hangers may present a problem. One trick is to
bring some thin clothesline to hold the hangers.
d) take my shower and use the slightly wet towels to dry(this works fine).
e) there are some really good, super-concentrated laundry soaps such
as ultra-strength Wisk which work well for washing clothes and are
concentrated enough so that a little goes a long way.
2) Be careful when buying film in Europe. Some of the film prices include
processing charges. It is best to ask what's what.
3) I did not find it necessary to take a travel guide(such as the Michelin
Red Guide), but it may be helpful for pre-trip planning.
4) There are a number of pocket calculators that serve as language translators.
I have one that translates between English, French, Spanish, German and
Italian. It also converts miles to kilometers, degrees farenheit to degrees
centigrade and currency rates(you enter the ratios) and all for about $40!
5) Beware of national holidays. Once I was out of francs in France during
Bastille Day, not pleasant.
6) Many mountain passes have restaurants on top which is great for getting
a soda or candy bar. However, be forewarned that a can of Coke can cost
3-4 times as much at a bar than at a supermarket.
7) If you need to make long distance phone calls you can save a significant
amount of money by using a pay phone and your calling card rather than
using the phone in your hotel room. Most hotels use a computer to estimate
the actual phone charges and these estimates can sometimes be over three
times the actual charges. The calling card method bills you for only the
8) Phone cards are becoming the norm in Europe. You can buy them at newstands
and at Bar/Tobacco shops.
9) Some countries may require a separate Visa(like France used to), be sure
to check with your travel agent or the State Department.
10) When buying stamps for postcards, make sure you ask for Air Mail stamps
otherwise it can take up to 3 months for the cards to arrive in the US.
Also, it is much cheaper to mail postcards in France ($0.80 US) than
Switzerland ($1.80 US), so if you are sending lots of cards you can save
quite a lot of money by mailing them in the correct country.
11) If you are shipping and parcels to Europe(or vice versa), allow 8 weeks
for delivery if sent surface, about 2 weeks for air mail.
12) If you have Shimano Hyperglide shifting, I would consider also carrying
a chain tool. In the past several years, with the popularity of STI,
I have noticed more and more people stopped by the side of the road
with a broken chain. Some emergency versions of a chain tool, such as
the Ritchey CPR 5 are very light.
13) If you buy bus or train tickets, you should specify up front if you
would like a one-way or round trip ticket. Some locations assume the
default is one-way, others assume round-trip.
14) Staying hydrated(i.e. drinking water) is really important. Most towns
have fountains or pipes flowing into water troughs. The general rule is
that unless there is a sign that says the water is not fit for drinking
("eau non potable", "verboten") then you can drink it.
15) Instead of carrying lots of medicines that you may or may not need
like cold medicines, write down the name and amounts of the ingredients
of your favorite US medicines so that you can compare and buy the same
products if needed.
16) Plastic bags can be your savior in wet and/or cold weather. Plastic
bags placed on your feet before putting on socks, plastic inside your
leg warmers or on your chest can help cut the cold dramatically.
17) Food labeling is not the same as it is in the US. For example,
the Nutrasweet label is not found on diet soda, so beware.
18) I take 2-3 energy bars for use from the time my plane touches down
and I have my bike together and have hit the road. There are a lot of
things to do when you arrive at the airport and before you reach your
first town. Having an easy source of food makes those hectic moments
19) if you are going to leave your bike box at the airport (or hotel)
you can stash things like extra clothes, et. al. to make the trip over
and the return a little more comfortable and hygenic.
20) rather than change your foreign currency back to US money when you
return home, save it for future use when you return for your next adventure.
21) There is an interesting effect that seems to occur in Europe. Early
in the morning the combination of low light and some haze can make it look
like a bad day of weather is coming. However, once the sun climbs a bit
in the sky, everything burns off and a glorious day arrives.
22) In Italy, it is cheaper to mail packages back to the states if you
give the customs officials the permission to open the parcel when it is
leaving the country.
23) One way to make a great vacation with a short amount of time is to
arrange a one way drop-off car which can be used to get you to the prime
cycling territory quickly. Arranging for the car in the states can save
a lot of money.
24) People like to smoke a lot in Europe, especially in their hotel rooms.
If your hotel room is filling up with smoke, place a towel against the
floor of the door jam to stop the flow.
25) If you anticipate doing any cycling in your street clothes, you might
want to think about including a seatcover. The seatcover keeps any
grease, grime, etc. on your saddle from transferring to your good clothes.
26) A neat trick for drying out wet cycling shoes is to pack them tightly
with dry newspaper. I have had totally soaked shoes dry out overnight.
27) Some antibiotics increase your sensitivity to sunlight. Be certain that
you know what the side effects of your medications are before you leave on your
28) On the top of many of the mountain passes, the shop(s) selling postcards
usually has a rubber stamp. Geting your postcards stamped on top of the pass
makes them more "official" ("you were there") in some circles.