You don’t need much by way of special equipment when you go on a Breakaway Adventures tour. If it’s a walking trip, you’ll need a good pair of hiking boots. And if you’re going on a cycling tour, we’ll provide the bicycle, but we do recommend you bring a helmet—especially if you’ll be spending time in Spain, as helmets are legally required in that country. But in truth, even when helmets aren’t required, they’re a good idea. As it turns out, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, wearing a proper-fitting helmet could prevent as many as 85 percent of all head injuries to cyclists.
If you don’t already own a helmet that you’ll just bring along, we have some tips for picking out the best helmet for your tour, just read on:
1. Look for the CPSC seal of approval
If you’re shopping in the U.S., you can shop with ease, as anything labeled a “bicycle helmet” must meet basic standards of the CPSC in order to be sold here. You don’t have to spend a ton of money to get a safe helmet, even the less expensive models meet those safety requirements.
2. Think about comfort
We just told you that all bicycle helmets that meet the CPSC requirements are going to be safe, so why do people shell out so much cash for more expensive helmets? Because they’re lighter, more attractive and offer better ventilation. It may be worth paying a little bit extra to keep your head cool on long rides.
3. Make sure it fits
Another upgrade you tend to pay for when you go for a more pricey helmet? Better sizing. Less expensive models often come one-size-fits-all, and sometimes that’s just not sufficient. If you’re shopping for something that fits better, just measure your head with a tape measure just above your ears—and be sure it’s level. Once you get it on, you’re looking for a fit that’s level, snug and low on your head—it’ shouldn’t sit on top of your head.
4. Think about extras
Whether or not to opt for a visor is one decision you’ll have to make, and it’s an entirely personal choice. Some riders love having something to help shield the sun, but you will add a bit of wind resistance.
If you ask us, there’s nothing wrong with being a bit of a Francophile. The food, the culture, the gorgeous countryside … there’s just nothing quite as lovely as a trip through France. And one of our favorite cycling holidays gives you the opportunity to see the countryside by bicycle, which is a particularly charming way to explore your favorite regions in France.
One of our favorite trips is our Chateaux of the Loire Cycling trip, a nine day tour that gives you the chance to visit the “magic triangle” formed by the Cher and Loire rivers. On the trip, you’ll cycle flat terrain on roads with hardly any traffic, and you’ll be mesmerized by the gorgeous Cisse valley, with cobbled and ancient streets, utterly charming riverside views, quiet country lanes with sunflowers dotting the roadside, ancient wooded glens, and the most charming hamlets you’ve ever seen. And all along the way, you’ll stay in some of our favorite chateaux, hand-selected for their service and quality.
One of our favorite stops on this trip is the Manoir de Bel Air in St Dye-ur-Loire. The house is a riverside stunner that sits majestically aside the Loire River. Expect a peaceful stay in this historic setting—the house was originally built in the 17th Century for a wine broker, then later went on to serve as a military hospital in the late 1700s. And aside from the gorgeous views, peaceful surroundings, and elegant accommodations, you’ll also enjoy gastronomic feats of superb quality, as well as an outstanding wine list.
The Manoir de Bel Air stay, which falls on nights 4 and 5 of your trip, is also a terrific opportunity to explore the chateau at Chambord, perhaps one of the most well-known châteaux in the world, the largest in the Loire Valley. Originally built as a hunting lodge for François I, the château is an architectural marvel of the French Renaissance, a treasure of ostentation that’s not to be missed.
Of course, these are only a few of the truly astounding sights you’ll take in on this cycling holiday, not just charming châteaux, but fairytale scenery, gorgeous parks and wildlife, and even the house where Leonardo da Vinci spent the last few years of his life—talk about history! Throughout the trip, you’ll enjoy lovely views, amazing food and of course the wine that the region is famous for.
Whether or not you can use your own mobile phone when you travel depends on a number of factors. It depends on what kind of phone you have, who your cellular carrier is, and where you’re planning to travel. Many cell phones by AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon will work just find abroad. Still others will work, but only if you switch out your SIM card for a European model.
If being in touch by phone is important to you while you travel, you’ll likely have a few different choices for what to do. Here are a few options:
- Bring your phone and pay roaming charges
If you’ve done the research and know your phone will work in your travel destination, you can always just bring it with you and pay the roaming charges. Be sure to check with your phone company before you leave to find out what those charges will be—depending on where you travel, you may end up paying $2 per minute and 50 cents or more per text message. This could be a good option if you don’t plan on spending much time on the phone and simply want to have it there as a backup.
Tip: If you do travel abroad with your phone, and you have a smartphone, remember that calls and texts aren’t the only thing you could get charged for! Data charges can be whoppers, so be sure to adjust your phone settings so it’s not leeching data charges the whole time you’re away.
- Recommended: Use Verizon’s Global Travel Program
If you plan on traveling for less than 21 days, the Verizon Global Travel Program is an ideal solution. You’ll have access to all of your contacts, your phone number and voice mail will travel with you, and you’ll have voice and data options in more than 200 countries. If you’re already a Verizon customer, you won’t get any separate bills—the travel program simply bills to your regular account.
- Buy a SIM card at your destination
This is especially easy if you’re traveling to Europe. As long as your phone is unlocked—and even if you have an infamously locked iPhone (if you do want to travel with an iPhone, you may want to read this Mac World article), it’s likely that if you call and ask, your carrier will unlock it for you if it’s an older model—you can often buy a SIM card abroad. They often come pre-paid with a phone number and credit for calls.