Family bike touring: A guide to cycling with children
Have you thought about a cycling holiday for your family but worried about whether it’s for you? Many families question: “But we all cycle at different speeds.” “We all want different things from our holiday.” “And won’t the kids get bored with cycling?” Increasingly, however, many families are discovering the joys of easy cycling tours.
Get set for a family bicycle tour
Be realistic: If your children are very young or parents are cycling beginners, a cycling holiday that includes 50 miles per day will not suit. Being so ambitious will just lead to sad faces and tired legs. Instead, choose a cycle tour that travels no more than 20 miles each day, includes lots of flat terrain and offers the chance to have days out of the saddle doing other activities.
Pedal happy: Very young children can be pulled along in bike chariots while older children will enjoy riding a tag-long behind mum or dad. If your children are aged 10 or over, why not think about a tandem bike? With a parent and child tandem combination, it will be possible to cover many miles each day.
Play to your strengths: If one of you is a strong and fit cyclist, they can carry most of the luggage or pull along the chariot. Having more weight on a bike makes for harder cycling so play to the strengths of your family group.
Off-road or on?: Mountain biking for long distances can be hard work for families of different abilities so it's better to choose, for example, a well prepared and traffic-free cycle route. The Danube Cycle Path is a flat off-road route that is followed via signposts. Road cycling is a good option, too, because bikes run more smoothly on tarmac but it is important to ask your tour guide about the levels of traffic on roads. Families should aim for quiet back roads or traffic-free routes.
Panniers or not: If parents are fit and keen then a pannier aided cycle tour holiday could be just the ticket. You can carry all your kit with you and will not need to rely on reaching booked accommodation each night. This also offers the freedom to stop where and when you want. Alternatively, many families prefer to have their luggage transported between accommodations each day. This leaves the whole family with easier cycling days because of lighter bikes. Planning ahead offers a useful goal and structure to each day, too.
Not all about the cycling: Children will enjoy cycling all the more if there are things to do en route. Pick a number of attractions, such as castles, towns, swimming pools or the sea, to visit each day.
Work it out together: Children loved to be involved in holiday planning so let them have their say, too. For example, let each member of the family choose an attraction to see each day or let them choose the food for the lunch picnic.
A family cycling selfie. It's in the rules to take one!
Off bike days: Pick a holiday with lots of flexibility. You could book a trip that has a choice of daily bikes routes or the option for rest days. Do something off your bike every few days or keep some of the cycle days to only a few miles.
Be different: How about a cycling and boating trip? You can cycle or choose to rest on the boat that travels alongside the cycle route. Cyclists also sleep on board the oat each night for extra fun. See the Danube Bike and Boat trip.
Be prepared: Heading off for a week or two of cycling will be uncomfortable if you have not been out on your bikes beforehand. Include a few evenings and weekends of family cycling before setting off. And make sure you have the right cycle clothing. Being comfortable on the bike will make a lot of difference to the success of your family cycle tour holiday.
Ask for advice: Be honest with your tour operator about what you are looking – and hoping – for in a family cycling tour holiday. There is a great deal of choice and a trip to suit all aspirations. Family cycling holidays are a great easy to see a new location and a brilliant way to stay fit and healthy as a family.
Do you need more information about cycling with children? Get in touch with us on firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be more than happy to help you!
- This is an updated version of a post originally published in August 2013