They work for us but, everyone's different so try them and if you come up with a better idea, let us know, we're always interested.
'When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.' - Susan Heller
GPS for me is a must even if they only remind you which way round the roundabout! But they hate diversions and road works, especially on 1 way systems, if this happens near your destination find where you want to be and just go there, even if this means over pavements, the wrong way down roads or through markets! Be safe but, don’t be too English about the rules, chill out be European and do what you want!, though don’t get carried away blockading ports and burning straw bales in the street when you’re just 1 bike!
A distance of about 200 - 250 miles a day is good, enough to get somewhere new but not too much so you can't stop places through the day, or so you have to spend all day on the bike, we usually try to keep it under 300 apart from on rare occasions. This also allows time for diversions, interesting sights or unforeseen problems. Keep in mind 200 miles on great B roads is no problem, if you are in the mountains you may only do 100 miles in the same time!
We once came upon a man with a stop/go sign (on stop) in the Alps, after sitting for 5 minutes I asked him how long will the road be shut? He looked at his watch and went 'Hmmm 4 hours!'
I thought this was a miss translation with my poor French, so got him to show me on his watch, and yes, he meant 4 hours! so a 40 mile detour later we were back on track, this is why you need to allow time.
Another thing riding in the mountains, sat navs will tell you it will take XX hours, this is based on the roads speed limit, so yes it will, if you can keep at 60 mph, but in reality you will be doing 30 mph or even down to 10 or 15 mph in the real twisties. So take it into account when planning your days ride.
Having never been on an organised trip I can't really comment, but, my opinion is WHY? It really is not difficult to get on your bike and ride somewhere, Look in some guide books at stuff you want to see, and plan a route from 1 to another. Book in advance if you want (this can save money) but go, you'll be glad you did!
If you are travelling in a group of two or more couples and aren't camping, I would say book in advance, maybe not as adventurous or free spirited, but, you will get a room at a reasonable price, you won't have to ride around looking for places withe 2 or 3 rooms free, and if you get split up you have a fixed destination to meet at.
If you are riding with others make sure everyone knows where you are going and remember you don't have to stay together ALL the time. We rode with a couple who the wife didn't really like heights, so they avoided the mountain sections where they could and we met up at the end of the day.
Remember this before you ride;
POWER - to check
Petrol, Oil, Water, Electrics, Rubber
A lot of petrol stations are shut on Sunday mornings in France.
I don't like riding with a backpack on, or anything big in my pockets, I know of someone who crashed with a can of coke in his jacket pocket and it broke his hip! The same thing could happen if riding with a lock and chain over your shoulder.
Riding 2 up on 1 bike space is a premium, so what we take is carefully worked out (argued over!) I've started doing a tick sheet (a bit nerdy I know), but when we use something it's ticked. When you get back you can see what you wore/used and what you didn't, and what would maybe have been useful.
The next time you go away you have a good starting point and can refine again. After 7 years we still manage to take something we don't really use!
We also have a different list if we are camping.