Route and POI Planning

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
Navrig
Posts: 83
Joined: 9 Apr 2018, 12:46pm

Route and POI Planning

Postby Navrig » 16 Apr 2019, 1:20pm

I am long term planning my first (major) tour and am wondering how the seasoned tourers plan their routes and things to see/do along the way.

This is a tour with a holiday theme. I am thinking that I'll cycle 5 days in every 7 and will cover 4000km. Assuming 80km per day average that is 10 weeks. I have 12-14 weeks available so have some "bunce" but will have to nail down an end date before I go as I am meeting my wife at the end point.

I have start and end points chosen with one preferred sub-route. That allows me to map out a route corridor. From that corridor I am starting to think about what may be the POI worth stopping for either for a morning or afternoon or if a more significant thing a day (or two).

Once I get a list of POIs I'll start to filter them down to must see and would be nice and not that bothered.

I am using Google maps to do the high level routing but will move to something more appropriate when it comes to more detailed planning. Google maps makes finding things of interest quite easy.

How do others do this?

Anyone got a spreadsheet they use for this sort of thing including accommodation finding/booking.

Vorpal
Moderator
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Joined: 19 Jan 2009, 3:34pm
Location: Not there ;)

Re: Route and POI Planning

Postby Vorpal » 16 Apr 2019, 2:47pm

Personally, I don't do so much planning, unless I need to get somewhere for a particular time. If I had 12 - 14 weeks, I'd likely plan the first week or so, then plan 3 - 5 days ahead after that.

I also tend to pick just a few points of interest, then see other things as they happen along the way.

The exception to that is a tour where the points of interest provide a framework for the tour. Then, I am a little more cautious about daily distance to leave myself plenty of time for my points of interest. that may mean camping, so I don't have to worry about accomodation.

I sometimes plan around stopping for 2 or 3 days in particular locations (e.g friends' houses, cities with things of interest, etc.), then split up the distance in between them, rather than planning a daily distance, or weekends, or something. That's most likely when I plan stops in touristy areas during the high season. Then I only book the stops in places where I might have difficulty finding accomodation, and do the rest spontaneously.

I have also done tours where I booked nothing in advance, but just found accomodation in the afternoon. I've gotten caught out a couple of times, still hunting for accomodation at 10 pm, but I've never had to bivvy in a city park or anything. I have a couple of hotel rooms that made think the city park would have been a better option. :lol: :lol:

If I tour with kids, I tend to plan a bit more.

That said, I think everyone is different, and I kind of had to figure out what worked for me as I went. My brother and I used to tour alot together, then the first time we properly organised a tour, we planned lots, including stops, daily mileage, POI, etc. A week in, we gave up the plan, cancelled all of our bookings, and started booking hostels 2 or 3 days in advance, and that worked much better for us.
“In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.”
― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

HobbesOnTour
Posts: 358
Joined: 20 Feb 2017, 5:12pm

Re: Route and POI Planning

Postby HobbesOnTour » 16 Apr 2019, 3:03pm

I have sets of Bookmark folders where I have highlighted things that spoke to me. They've been building up for years and get used for inspiration.

I'm afraid I don't do spreadsheets for planning. Nor do I usually make reservations for accommodation - but then again I'm usually camping. I know from reading Journals that a lot of people use something like Booking.com on the day, or the day before. Whether that works for you depends on where and when you are travelling as well as your personal preferences.

What I have done in the past is to save the appropriate area in Google Maps having marked off useful spots eg campsites. That means I have the info to hand offline.

For longer tours I have thrown together a document of interesting places and sent it to my kindle. It's all chronological so I can peruse it and see what I feel like doing. (Also useful for a glossary of bike terms in foreign languages). For well established routes this info is easily available online. Or in dedicated bike guides such as the Bikeline series. For more personal routes, it may require more research and effort.

What I have found is that the most popular tourist sites are not for me, especially not on a loaded bike. Security is always a concern. (Two ways - my concern for my gear with lots of people around and security's concern for unattended baggage with lots of people around) As is traffic. It just seems like too much hassle. Maybe it's just me, but there is inevitably an anti-climax. Local knowledge, whether in local tourist offices or locals is my preferred way of exploring. Friendly bartenders have given me many good suggestions. :) I have discovered that the best way to see big cities is to arrive at dawn and cycle around watching the whole place come to life.
My stand out memories from tours do not centre around popular spots - more often special places or people.

As for the routing itself, I prefer to have a general route prepared in advance that I'll diverge from as and when I feel like it. Now that I have a gps (Wahoo) I can plan several different versions of my route, including the places I definitely will visit. That way I can wander off route and if I get totally lost, I can head for one of my routes to get back on track. As backup I use OSmand for on the fly routing. For advance planning I'll use Cycle.Travel.

Good luck!

Jdsk
Posts: 30
Joined: 5 Mar 2019, 5:42pm

Re: Route and POI Planning

Postby Jdsk » 16 Apr 2019, 3:12pm

HobbesOnTour wrote:For longer tours I have thrown together a document of interesting places and sent it to my kindle.

This is a great tip. You can make documents like that for places to visit, contact details, tickets, insurance details etc. You can also make Kindle eBooks yourself and save the mass and volume of guidebooks. My favourite workflow is Wikipedia pages to Wikibook to PDF to Kindle eBook (using the free email conversion service). That preserves images and chapters.

Jonathan

RobinS
Posts: 107
Joined: 9 Apr 2015, 10:01am

Re: Route and POI Planning

Postby RobinS » 16 Apr 2019, 3:17pm

To be honest on our normal 3 month tours we plan a general idea of the route (though often that changes dramatically half way through), follow that in principle, and visit nice places that we happen to find along the way. The best sights, interesting places etc are usually those you come across by accident rather than the known tourist traps. Do not over-plan, it takes away all the fun.

HobbesOnTour
Posts: 358
Joined: 20 Feb 2017, 5:12pm

Re: Route and POI Planning

Postby HobbesOnTour » 16 Apr 2019, 3:39pm

Jdsk wrote:
HobbesOnTour wrote:For longer tours I have thrown together a document of interesting places and sent it to my kindle.

This is a great tip. You can make documents like that for places to visit, contact details, tickets, insurance details etc. You can also make Kindle eBooks yourself and save the mass and volume of guidebooks. My favourite workflow is Wikipedia pages to Wikibook to PDF to Kindle eBook (using the free email conversion service). That preserves images and chapters.

Jonathan


Kindle have an "app"? that sits on my browser (Chrome) that allows me to send specific webpages directly to the kindle. More info on the kindle section on Amazon.

HobbesOnTour
Posts: 358
Joined: 20 Feb 2017, 5:12pm

Re: Route and POI Planning

Postby HobbesOnTour » 16 Apr 2019, 3:39pm

RobinS wrote:The best sights, interesting places etc are usually those you come across by accident rather than the known tourist traps. Do not over-plan, it takes away all the fun.

This! And more of this! :)

simonhill
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Joined: 13 Jan 2007, 11:28am
Location: Essex

Re: Route and POI Planning

Postby simonhill » 16 Apr 2019, 4:28pm

A rough idea of where you are going would be useful. As would your accommodation type.

My recent tours have tended to be shorter days, letting me enjoy a later start, a relaxed cycling day arriving in time to have a look around my destination. Cycling like this I often find I do many days without a specific rest day. When I hit somewhere interesting (city, beach, national park, etc), I will stay as long as I want.

Accommodation is a key factor as it can often dictate your cycling days. If wild camping, then the world is your lobster, if wanting cheap hotels, then these tend to be in specific areas that you need to reach each night.

Noting down any must sees is a good idea, but I'm not sure I would want to log every possible sight. As said above, many tourist hot spots are not ideal (traffic, people, theft, expense, etc) and are often over hyped. On one trip, I was cycling through some very interesting old villages, populated by locals who were just going about their daily lives. I later hit the UNESCO 'heritage' town which had had the full tourist makeover, not to mention the coachloads of tourists. It was a sanitised version of the earlier villages. This is why a bike is such a good way to travel because you see places that most tourists never go to. It also makes many of these tourist hot spots less appealing.

As for planning the route, etc, I would say have a rough idea of where you want to go, plan the first few days, then work it out as you go. If for no other reason than detailed planning could be consigned to the bin if something/someone happens along to make you change your route. Recently I have not done any detailed route planning until I arrived in the country.

Navrig
Posts: 83
Joined: 9 Apr 2018, 12:46pm

Re: Route and POI Planning

Postby Navrig » 16 Apr 2019, 5:24pm

Great advice folks - many thanks.

I won't be camping as I don't think my back will take sleeping on the ground even with a decent sleep mat. So I will be booking hostels, pensiones and cheap hotels a few days ahead. I've problem roughing it in cheap places.

The route is as in another thread North Spain to Athens via north Italy (probably over the Petit St Bernard). It will be April, May, June so getting very hot towards the end. I'd like to route down through Croatia rather than Italy and ferry.

I am happy to miss the massively popular tourist places but if I want to see something specific I'll try to time it with a 2 night stop and leave the bike at the (safe) accommodation.

I like the Kindle idea - books and planning all in one with a mobile to do the booking on.