Families with young children are looking for unique, fun and manageable ways to spend their holidays or weekends. Bike tours are one of the ways that families with young children can spend their time together. Families can go on a tour to explore scenic routes while the children have an opportunity to practice their riding skills. The key is to carefully plan for such a tour in regards to dates, locations, and routes, length, other activities and budget. Bike tour ideas for families include:
- Bike lesson and tours
For such a tour, you identify a cycling specialist who you work with to plan the routes and activities for the tour. The tour incorporates bike lessons for children as well as exploring the various scenic routes. This kind of tours takes away the pressure from the parents as the instructor’s primary concern the safety of the children and coordinating activities. Parents can tag along and leisurely enjoy the tour.
- Self-guided vs. guided bike tours for families
Self-guided tours offer your family the freedom and flexibility to ride at your own pace, make stops whenever you want and the activities to incorporate. Self-guided tours are generally cheaper than the guided ones. Self-guided tours are most appropriate when bike touring locations that you are familiar while guided tours are best for unfamiliar routes and destinations.
On the other hand, guided bike tours for families are structured to meet the needs of a group. Therefore, it is inevitable that you will have to make a compromise over your own preference and schedule. They are more expensive than self-guided tours due to the extra cost of paying the guide.
If your family prefers the support that comes with touring as a group, then guided bike tours will be the most ideal for you. Besides, the tour guide company usually provides a van to accompany the group for the tour to carry riders who get exhausted. There are also private guided tours where you hire a guide only for your family.
- Dedicated bike paths tours
In some countries in Europe, there are dedicated bike paths that are well marked and paved to offer kids-friendly cycling routes. These dedicated paths are safe and often located away from the road traffic. Such routes are so peaceful that you will be able to let the kids ride on their own as you follow leisurely from behind. The paths offer both short routes and longer routes.
- Hotel based tours
These are biking tours planned by hotels. While some families prefer tours where every night they are in a different location so they spend each night at a different hotel, others prefer the hotel based tour. The hotel based tour is one where every day your family explores a different route and comes back to the same hotel to spend the night. You work with the hotel management to plan your routes and activities.
Some hotels have a provision where you can take some days off to engage in non-cycling activities. The advantage of hotel based tours is that they are guided and you do not have the pressure to get to the next town by dusk to get a place to sleep. Also, you will not have to bring your own bikes, you can rent bikes and biking gears at the hotel.
When deciding the best bike tour option is best for your family, there are various factors you should consider. These include:
- Safety of the routes. Dedicated bike paths or quiet side roads would be the best.
- Route terrain. Choose a kid-friendly route such as a flat route or even if it is hilly it is for the most part flat.
- Distance to be covered daily. Consider whether you want to cover longer or shorter distances.
- Biking equipment and gear. Consider whether you will bring along your own or to rent.
- Guided vs. self-guided bike tours.
- Whether or not to incorporate other non-cycling activities.
Some tips for bike touring with young children:
- Make safety a priority. Choose safe routes that are away from traffic noise and congestion. Ensure you and the kids wear the necessary safety gear such as helmet, bright clothes, safety triangles, and flashlights.
- Start small. Take your first family bike tour within your neighborhood before venturing into longer tours far away from your neighborhood.
- Keep in mind that the children will not be able to ride for too long. Schedule breaks and non-cycling activities within your trip.
- Consult with a local cyclist or a bike tours service company when planning tours in new or unfamiliar locations.
- Have an emergency contact. At times, family tours do not go as planned. Have contacts to a nearby guide company to contact in case of emergencies.
Whatever your choice of bike tour with family, safety is paramount. Take all the measures possible to ensure safety. Other than that, enjoy your tour and spending some time together as a family.
Guest Post by David Bender