It is easy for families to organise cycling holidays or cycling tours with children. However, there are a few things to consider. Cycling holidays with children require some special considerations in planning and implementation.
Ideally, you test the travel fitness of your family on a small weekend trip. You should test the gear and the distances that you can travel together as a family. This will also show you if your children really enjoy cycling. Naturally, good equipment for the children, helmets and warm, waterproof clothing is essential.
Cycling holidays with the family have the same great effect you get in a group of mountaineers: The joint missions and shared experiences in good and bad times weld together and help to keep up the team spirit, provided we show respect for each other.
Here are some tips how to make life easier when doing cycling holidays with children:
1. Take breaks, time for strolling, enjoying the view and relaxing
It is a lot easier to manage cycling tours with children when we integrate exciting and alluring sightseeing in our route planning, visiting a zoo, stops at playgrounds, swimming breaks on a river or lake, or picnics are appropriate means to spice up cycling for children of all ages. Older children like to explore ruins, caves or theme parks. Teenagers in turn may well develop the athletic ambition to manage a longer tour. It is important to show the children that nature itself is a wonderful playground. This can be done by exploring habitats along the way or discovering where the scent of flowers comes from.
2. Short and flat distances
The distances should be organised in a way that your children can manage to ride them easily on their own. Children travelling in a child seat are a different matter. The effects of cold and wet weather on the children as passive passengers must be considered.
In general, we should keep distances shorter than we do as adults travelling alone. Also, children want to stop more often for a snack. Stopping at an ice cream parlour can make them instantly happy.
Cycling tours along lakes and rivers are generally ideal for family trips as these have usually very moderate inclines.
3. Planning alternatives
If our family bike ride contains mountainous stretches, alternatives should be available, i.e., we have to find out if these distances can be travelled by boat, train or bus. In case of bad weather fronts, you should always be prepared to move on other means of transport.
Many families have pets. Children especially do not like leaving their pets at home alone. However, it would be better to organise good care for the pets at home to avoid the stress on a cycling tour. If this is not possible, you will have to ensure that pets are allowed in the accommodation chosen. Abroad, the vaccination requirements have to be considered, as well.
Cycling in daily life must not be neglected. Especially for children the first experience on a bicycle is often on the way to school. Learning the traffic rules and the behaviour on roads is the basis for independent cycling tours later on.
Great Britain has launched a programme „Bike it“ to make cycling a part of everyday mobility. In Germany, www.radschlag-info.de provides helpful information. The city of Stuttgart offers its own brochure on the topic at www.stuttgart.de/fahrradundschule. The city of San Francisco has a comprehensive website and organises many events on www.sfbike.org and www.sfbiketoschoolday.org.
More and more cycling holiday destinations now offer cycling holiday schools for adults as well as for children where you can improve your balance with specific exercises, learn how to brake and steer properly to overcome potential fears. A lot of tourist resorts offer cycling schools with riding practise for all levels, from beginners to professionals.