What have you mailed home? - CycleBlaze

Bicycle Travel Forum

What have you mailed home?

Keith Adams

Overpacking, and subsequently mailing excess items home seems to be a common theme among first-time bicycle tourists.  Similarly, the Epilogue of many a journal makes reference to "I carried X but never used it or found I could easily have done without it".

In the interest of learning from others I'd like to know what things you've found you didn't need to lug around after all, despite their having seemed like a great idea at the time you packed and set off.

Reply    Link    Flag
3 months ago
Jacquie GaudetTo Keith Adams

I guess I'm picky about what I pack.  It started with my first-ever backpacking trip.  I was going with my then boyfriend and he wanted me to have my backpack ready early and told me we would weigh it and remove stuff until it was less than 30 pounds.  He would carry the tent, luckily, because this was the 1970s and the ultralight gear we have today wasn't available.  It wouldn't have made a lot of difference anyway since, as university students, we had little money.

I have never mailed anything home.  I can't think of anything I've regretted taking but I can think of things I've regretted not taking:  rain gear for that unexpected downpour on Salt Spring Island, plastic bin bags to line the not-waterproof panniers I had when we rode the Goldeen Triangle (not that Golden Triangle, the one linking Golden, BC with Lake Louise and Radium Hot Springs).

I've often taken things and never used them but it's preferable not to need the first aid kit or repair parts.  No regrets there.  I can't remember a time not using at least my rain jacket, but it must have happened...

Reply    Link    Flag
3 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Keith Adams

Like Jacquie, I can’t recall ever mailing anything home, but then I’ve always been a minimalist.  Back when we used to carry hard copy books and maps I’d ruin travel guides and maps by tearing out the only part that applied to the tour, and tear off and throw away sections of novels after I’d read them.  On my first longish tour, from Indiana to Montana 45 years ago, I carried everything in a fairly small rucksack.

I think the only thing of significance I regretted was carrying a tent and sleeping bags on our tour of New Zealand back in 1991.  We thought we would camp regularly, but camper cabins were so widely available and inexpensive back then that we only tented twice in a month.

Reply    Link    Flag
3 months ago
Jean-Marc StrydomTo Scott Anderson

Never mailed anything home.

Last year we carried our tent and sleeping bags etc through Mexico for three months and never used them once.

I have often missed a few things.  Right now I could do with an extra pair of woolen socks but I know they will be superfluous in a fortnight's time.

Reply    Link    Flag
3 months ago
George HallTo Keith Adams

I've mailed things home from every tour I've taken.  While some of it may be due to my poor planning, my tours so far have tended to be on the "epic" end of the scale and last for weeks - months.   When you undertake a 3-month tour, the weather and topography changes means that you may no longer need some of the cold-weather gear you took, for example.  So that part is obvious.  What isn't so intuitive is the stuff I have mailed home that I acquired along the way.  After last year's tour (2021 Northern Tier) I gathered all the tools I had found and mailed home and documented them in this photograph;

Tools Found On The Northern Tier Route

These are useful tools, some appeared to be almost new - none of them were found together, they were found scattered along the entire route, some of them were really found in the middle of absolutely nowhere - how do tools like this end up alongside the road?  It's probably not worth the cost of mailing to send them home, and of course sometimes I had to carry them for days before mailing them, but I just found it an interesting pursuit.   In 2015 I found the following sockets alongside the road in southern Wyoming (2015 Transam Tour);

Sockets Found in Southern Wyoming in 2015

The interesting thing is that these sockets were found at 3 different locations - they were all the same brand and different sizes, so maybe they bounced out of the toolbox of a drunken cowboy's pickup one night?  Who knows the story, that's what makes it interesting.  I had to carry this extra weight for several days before coming to a post office - but it's just a game for me.  

Some folks pack ultra-light and would never dream of taking on any extra weight, no matter how little.  That's fine, but it's not my philosophy.  I don't carry anything that I don't think I will need, but I do carry things that add "unnecessary" weight if they make me happy - for instance, I carry a telephoto lens for wildlife in addition to the normal lens on my camera. A cellphone is all that one really needs to document the trip, but I enjoy having this extra capability and I'm willing to lug it up the mountains.   Now if only I could mail home some of the unneeded weight I'm carrying around my belly... 

Reply    Link    Flag
3 months ago
Wayne EstesTo George Hall

I have picked up a couple of things along the road but don't make a habit of it.

The only things I typically ever mail home are new treasures such as this Mata Ortiz vase that I bought at a gift shop in Tombstone, Arizona.

Another example is this jade Inukshuk that I bought at a gift shop in Prince Rupert, British Columbia.

I find a new treasure to mail home during about 1 out of 4 bike tours.

Reply    Link    Flag
3 months ago
David ChavezTo Keith Adams

Laptop computer, second lock, thermos, extra charger, wool sweater, bowl, plate

Reply    Link    Flag
3 months ago
David ChavezTo Keith Adams

Laptop computer, second lock, thermos, extra charger, wool sweater, bowl, plate

Reply    Link    Flag
3 months ago
Andrea BrownTo Keith Adams

We mailed home a gong.

Reply    Link    Flag
3 months ago
Keith AdamsTo Wayne Estes

Those are both really lovely pieces.

Reply    Link    Flag
3 months ago