There’s nothing quite like the exhilarating feeling of freedom that comes with being out on a bike. Alone or in a group, it can be one of the most invigorating and enjoyable experiences you’ll ever have in life. You get to really appreciate your surroundings and be up close and personal with all the wonderful sights and sounds of nature.

With that being said, we’ve got a few suggestions that you should include in your BUCKiTDREAM list to make sure the next time you take a cycling vacation, it goes off without a hitch.

Plan Your Route and Travel Distance Build up your distance each day – don’t go for 100 miles on day one, otherwise, you might be out of commission for the next couple of days! Make sure all your accommodation choices can house your bike(s) somewhere safe. Do they have laundry facilities? Unless you’re having gear transported from place to place, you’ll want to travel with the minimum amount of stuff.

Check Out Your Bike Ahead of Time  If it’s your own bike, get it serviced so that everything is in good working order. Check the tires – are they worn? If so, get some new ones. If you’re renting a bike, give it a good look over and ask if it’s been recently serviced. Make sure your saddle and handlebars are at the correct height for you because you don’t want an excessive neck ache on day one of the trips!

Wear Correct Clothing This is really important. You can assess the temperatures ahead of time, but be prepared for all weathers. Layers are the best, as you can add or remove as necessary. So, at some point in our lives, we’ve probably all had a good laugh at cyclists and their strange attire, but here’s the thing: Lycra is definitely the best for cycling! You certainly don’t want to wear anything made from cotton. If you’re wearing a cotton t-shirt, it will get soaked when you sweat (and you WILL sweat), which means you’ll get wet and then you’ll get cold. Lycra soaks up the sweat.

Also, it’s good to have neat-fitting clothes that don’t sag when you lean forward and, most importantly, don’t drop down, risking contact with the pedals or chain. Cycle gear is designed specifically to allow for your body shape while cycling and, as Lycra has some stretch in it, it moves with you as you cycle. If you’re not sure of the weather or it’s subject to change, then arm and/or leg warmers are a great idea. They can be pulled on and off independently of any other gear you’re wearing. The leg warmers can have the appearance of somewhat unsexy stockings – but then again, looking glamorous has never been part of serious cycling!

Gloves are also important – the gel padding will absorb some of the impacts from a bump or uneven road surface, and some gloves come with a towel pad for mopping that sweating brow. When it comes to shoes, the main bit of advice is to make sure they are light and have sturdy soles. You can choose to have shoes that clip on to the pedals, or you can have toe clips or straps if the thought of having your feet ‘trapped’ makes you nervous.

Don’t forget the all-important padded shorts – absolutely essential – and of course, a helmet. It might be tempting – especially if you’re on vacation in a lovely warm climate – to go without a helmet, but it’s simply not worth the risk. In most countries, you’re obliged to wear one anyway. Finally, be sure to always wear something that is hi-vis so that you can be easily seen.

Have Plenty of Food and Drink Make sure you are stocked generously with while on your daily cycle. First, fill up on a good breakfast before starting out – porridge and bananas are aces – or something similar that will give you energy. Drink some water before you head out, and have plenty of it on hand during your cycle so you can sip from it regularly. Remember – if you’re thirsty, then you’re already dehydrated. Keep some energy snacks handy, too, so that you can chow on something when you stop to admire the scenery.

Avoid Aches and Pains These are always expected to happen when you’re doing a lot of cycling. You can help avoid these by trying the following: adjust your position on the saddle every now and then; stand up on the pedals (but not if you’re going downhill) and stretch your legs out alternately; in this same position, let your heel drop slightly below the pedal for a different kind of stretch. To help your neck and shoulders, shrug up your shoulders every now and then and hold for a few seconds; change your hand positions regularly to help your wrists and fingers. When you take a break during the day, have a good old stretch. At the end of each day, be sure to have a nice hot shower – or even better, a soak in a warm bath.

Carry an Emergency Repair Kit This should consist of an inner tube, tools for removing the tire, a pump and a portable pressure gauge. Ideally, you should be able to fix a puncture yourself, but if you can’t, then practice looking scared and vulnerable in case you need these skills to attract help. Have emergency numbers on hand in your phone and, if you’re cycling alone, carry a note with the name and number of someone to contact in case of an accident.

Prepare Your Body If you haven’t cycled much or you’re an irregular cyclist, then it’s important to prepare for your cycling vacation. Plan to cycle at least three times a week for the preceding month or more. Start out with short, undemanding rides and gradually build on the distance and difficulty. This will obviously increase your fitness level, but it will also help your body adjust to being in the saddle for long periods of time. Your backside will thank you, trust me!

So, start planning, get ready and saddle up for a fantastic experience! While you’re at it, check out Best Cycling Trips in the World on BUCKiTDREAM to add to your cycling bucket list.