Certain rules of thumb can aid you in your planning whether you intend to do an overnight ride to a nearby state park or a yearlong tour around the world.
Many locales, both domestic and abroad, are justifiably popular among cyclists because they lend themselves to self-contained bicycle travel. They’ve often made special accommodations to enhance their natural attractions.
If you know when you want to go on your trip, that will help narrow down the possibilities based on the probability of favorable weather and how much time you have available. If it’s five weekdays bookended by a pair of weekends, you’ll probably want to explore an area relatively close to home, since traveling to and from a more distant destination will gobble up much of the valuable time you could be out enjoying the ride.
If you’re coming at it from the other direction, and know where you want to go, that will help you narrow down the time frame. This is largely a matter of common sense. You already know you shouldn’t go bicycle touring in Death Valley in the middle of July, or bicycle camping out of Anchorage in January (though people do!).
But also, be aware of when the conditions at a destination might be too ideal. For instance, the fall colors in New England attract hordes of “leaf peepers,” and certain rural roads that are relatively peaceful most of the year can become jammed with motor vehicles. The same goes for a lot of the U.S. and Canadian national parks: the perfect weather window might not be the perfect time to hit the roads by bicycle. And if Europe is your preferred destination? Well, you might want to avoid July and August altogether. Though plenty of off-highway routes exist, competition for campsites can be intense during the summer holiday months. (Unless we’re talking about the far north, like Scandinavia. Do go there in July or August.)
Plan ahead if your schedule includes popular summer weekends, as campgrounds and routes can get crowded. In much of North America and elsewhere, the shoulder seasons of spring and autumn are excellent times to travel by bicycle.