How To Plan A Mountain Bike Trip

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September 13th, 2016

If you’re anything like me, you've notice that times flies. You set a goal and commit to achieving that goal in two months time, and then in the blink of an eye the two months is up and you ask yourself, where did that time go?!? There are so many destinations I want to travel to, activities to try, people to connect with and personal goals to achieve – but one thing always seems to get in the way, my lack of ‘time.’     This is especially true when it comes to mountain bike destinations I want to visit and new trails I want to explore, whether in my own backyard in beautiful British Columbia or planning bigger mountain bike trips to Peru, Patagonia or New Zealand. I struggle with focusing on the bigger picture in life and designing the year ahead. I tend to think about the smaller daily life tasks that, although maybe equally as important, perhaps don’t deliver the same satisfaction as taking the time to plan bigger adventures, connect with my friends and connect with the greater mountain bike community.

One of our Core Values at Sacred Rides is “Think Big Picture and Make 100-Year Decisions.” I find in today’s world where we are bombarded with millions of daily tasks and your schedule gets booked up within moments, it’s even more important to take time for yourself to set goals, plan ahead and conquer your long-term goals... especially when it comes to finding a healthy mind, body and soul balance. For me, mountain biking has always offered the perfect outlet to balance these three realms.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably fairly passionate about mountain biking as well. I find one of the best ways to de-stress is to hop on my bike and travel.


But, does planning a mountain bike trip seem daunting?

Well, I’m here to tell you to DREAM BIG and take the time to brainstorm your dream mountain bike trip!


here are some helpful tips on how to plan a mountain bike trip. 


1. make a list of dream mountain bike destinations.

Your first step to setting up your dream mountain bike vacation is to make a list of mountain bike destinations you are interested in visiting. Don’t hold back! Even if you think you’ll never get there – put it on the list! If bike-packing through the Mongolian back-country, taking in the view of Machu Picchu with your bike or fat biking through Greenland seems like an impossible reality, all the more reason to jot it down!

Next, post this list on your fridge, write it down on a chalkboard, display it beside your bed or post it on the dashboard of your car. That way, you’ll see it every time you drive to the trailhead. Let the list settle, and after one week of making the list – pick a destination that excites you the most (it might be in your own backyard) and start the planning process.

2. envision yourself there.

One of the best ways Olympic athletes get ready for a race or competition is by using the power of their imagination to envision the results they want. It might seem silly, but it can be a powerful tool to achieve your goals. So, the next time you’re falling asleep picture yourself riding your bike in New Zealand, Peru, Utah, or any other wicked mountain bike destination. Who are you riding with? What is the view like? Is the trail rocky? What is the weather like? Go ahead, do it!

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3. create a realistic timeline.

I’m a bit of an impulse shopper and spontaneous traveler, but unfortunately planning an overseas mountain bike trip doesn’t always fit well with my ‘last minute’ mentality. That’s why it’s important to set out a realistic timeline for when you want to travel and how your travel date will coincide with other life events (weddings, work responsibilities, family time etc.) Grab a calendar and map out your existing commitments for the next year. Then, find the best block of time to travel. Keep in mind, depending on the destinations you have selected, there will be better times to visit based on weather and other considerations.

4. research your destination.

Planning a mountain bike trip means taking into consideration some logistical and travel details that you might not have thought about before. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • When is the best time of year to visit?

  • What kind of weather should I expect?

  • What is the best gear to bring?

  • Do I need to purchase additional supplies for the trip?

  • Are there any VISA/Entry requirements for the destination?

  • Will I need vaccinations? Keep in mind, some vaccinations must be taken 1-2 months prior to entering the country (add this to your planning timeline).

  • Do I want to bring my own bike? Are there reputable places to rent a bike?

  • Do I want to hire a local mountain bike guide?

  • How will I know what trails are the best for my fitness and skill level?

  • What happens if I get hurt?

  • Will I be traveling with friends?

  • How much time do I have to travel?

  • How easy it is to get around the country?

  • What type of terrain will I be biking?

  • What is the local language? Will I be able to get communicate effectively with locals?

5. create a budget.

Ok, now is the time to start focusing on the details and realities of getting yourself up, up and away on your dream mountain bike trip.

first... open a dedicated travel account.

Visit your bank and open a dedicated high-interest savings account to help fund your trip. The cost to set up an account at your existing bank is usually $0, so what are you waiting for? Make sure there is no minimum balance penalty for when you start spending your travel fund to book your trip. Once the account is set up, schedule automatic withdrawals from your chequing account into your new savings account and forget about it! The money will start to accumulate in your savings account and before you know it, your travel piggy bank will be full.

second... create an overall budget.

Ask yourself, how much money can I realistically spend on my dream mountain bike trip? Use a budgeting and financial goal setting program like to keep yourself on track and notice trends in your spending habits. After all, the $20 you spend on take-out coffee every week could be dedicated to your travel fund. But the true question is, can you live without your daily dose of coffee?!?

When creating a realistic budget it’s going to depend on what country your visiting and the value of your dollar. As a Canadian, I’m going to need my dollar to stretch a little further if I’m going to visit the United States or Europe versus if I’m traveling to Nepal, Costa Rice or Peru. For daily currency exchanges CLICK HERE.

third... create a daily travel budget.

Based on your overall allocated budget and the length of your trip, calculate a daily travel budget while you're traveling. This will give you a framework for how much money you can spend on meals, accommodation, activities and entertainment. Don’t forget to factor in your transportation costs, which can sometimes be your largest expense. This includes flights and ground transportation.

fourth... create an emergency travel fund.

Knock on wood that you don’t have to use it – but just like travel insurance, you don’t think you need it… until you do! Be sure to budget for an emergency travel fund, where you can access a fairly large amount of money quickly (unless you have really generous nice friends that can bail you out!). In many cases, if you buy the right travel insurance, you will get reimbursed for emergency expenses that you incur.

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6. plan.

Here comes the fun part!!! It’s time to research places to see, things to do, trails to bike, beers to drink and accommodations to relax in! Every destination will have a general tourism website that offers ideas for planning your vacation, but I find a  more powerful resource is to take it one step further and find crowd-sourced feedback from travelers that have already visited your destination. Search TripAdvisor for ratings on hotels, restaurants and the best attractions around town.

Use technology to your advantage to help get the best deals on flights (Hopper), to stay connected with friends and family (Skype), or to find the best breweries in town (Brewery Map) – Yes, there is an App for everything! Check out this post for the Best Travel Apps. When it comes to planning the mountain bike portion of your trip, there are a variety of Apps you should download! Click here for some mountain bike app recommendations!

The planning process can be overwhelming, especially when mountain biking in an unfamiliar area. In this case, there’s no harm in letting the professionals take care of planning your dream mountain bike trip. Booking a guided mountain bike trip with a reputable travel company means your going to get a local experience, local knowledge, you’ll have the ability to learn new bike skills, meet new riding buddies and you’ll alleviate the stress of planning a trip from scratch, as you’ll have a full support team to answer your questions. Ok, a bit of a shameless plug there, but I couldn’t resist! Check out this post on 5 Reasons to Book a Guided Mountain Bike Trip.

And… if you want to chat about planning your dream mountain bike trip – connect with us by emailing

7. commit.

Seal the deal! Once you have done the research, read reviews, invited your friends, researched mountain bike trails and feel confident about your decision – let the excitement and anticipation begin. Congratulations, you’re off on an incredible mountain bike adventure and the trip of a lifetime!



So, what are you waiting for?

Follow these steps to start planning your dream mountain bike trip and remember to DREAM BIG.

1. make a list of dream mountain bike destinations.

2. envision yourself there.

3. create a realistic timeline.

4. research your destination.

5. create a budget.

6. plan.

7. commit.