Cycling with children
Absolutely! That’s because what would be a nicer family holiday than spending the days together outdoors in the nature whilst enjoying the scenery from the bike path and having an adventure together? That is exactly what a family cycling holiday achieves. A vast amount of planning is however necessary for it to be a success. Each day’s cycle ride needs to be planned, accommodation needs to be selected and the region needs to be interesting for children. You can read more below about why family bike tours are a great activity for family holidays!
Going cycling with your children is definitely one of the nicest and best ways to spend a family holiday. However to ensure that everything works perfectly and that all members of the family have a wonderful time there is a lot to consider!
As a specialist for European family cycle holidays, Euroaktiv offers a variety of different tours for families that all meet the following requirements:
- Carefully chosen routes ideal for families
- Family-friendly accommodation
- Luggage transfers
- Detailed travel documents with route maps, route descriptions, all important phone numbers and tips about family activities
- Service hotline for the duration of the holiday
- Adult and child rental bikes as well as trailers and tag-alongs for kids
- Rental bike insurance
- Lots of great adventures along the route that are included in the price
A perfect family bike tour starts with a carefully chosen route. What that means obviously depends on the age of the children and how much experience they have had with cycling. If it is too tricky for the children then it can quickly become frustrating for them and stressful for the parents. They are two things that you definitely want to avoid whilst on holiday!
Choice of route
Um Überforderung zu vermeiden, sollte die Strecke prinzipiell eher flach verlaufen und wenig bis gar keine Steigungen aufweisen. Kleine Steigungen können zwar auch für ein Erfolgserlebnis bei Eltern und Kindern sorgen, sollten aber trotzdem die Ausnahme darstellen. Eine gute Wahl sind Flussradwege. Diese verlaufen von Natur aus bergab und sind landschaftlich besonders schön. Aber auch andere Strecken, die flach oder sogar durchgehend bergab verlaufen, sind für eine Radreise mit Kindern sehr gut geeignet.
Not only the terrain you will be cycling on but also the length of each route is crucial. The further each stage is the longer you will be on the bike for each day and consequently the more strenuous the day will be. The more strenuous the first stage is, the more tired you will be for the second day and this continues in a vicious circle. Breaks are especially important on bike rides with children and provide you with regained energy through a mix of activities and through a break for more cycling. There should always be enough time allocated for entertaining adventures on route.
The length of the stages can then be decided upon depending on how much cycling experience the children have and how many other activities you want to be doing. A length of about 45 km is manageable with children who are used to cycling. But shorter routes starting with a distance of about 15 km have their own charm too as long as the rest of the holiday is suitably organised. On longer holidays it is nice to vary the distance each day so that on some days you have time to recover before cycling a longer distance again.
A whole day’s break that is packed with other activities is a great way to make a cycling holiday with children even more diverse. An average length of 30-35 km cycling each day is well tested and is usually the right amount for active families.
Bike paths suitable for children
As well as making sure that the route has got a suitable terrain throughout, there is also another very important factor to take into consideration especially when cycling with children: the traffic. Lots of traffic leads to reduced safety and stops you from having so much fun whilst cycling. That’s why particular attention should be paid to the exact route that is planned out. In recent years the number of and quality of cycle paths has increased enormously. In many parts of Europe there are now specific cycle paths that do not just run alongside the road. For example, there are the Danube and Adige cycle paths that are nice and safe for children. When not on cycle paths, it is important to always look for a route that goes on quiet side roads where families can happily cycle.
Picking accommodation when on a family cycle ride
There are lots of hotels and other places to stay. Especially in tourism hotspots the choice is huge. Cyclists have a different set of criteria when looking for a place to stay compared with someone on a beach or a city holiday though. This makes the choice a lot smaller. The accommodation needs to be located somewhere that fits with the distance you want to cycle and it also needs to be located on route to avoid large detours on roads that might not be family friendly. Your bike needs to be able to be stored safely overnight and moreover there needs to be space for all of the bikes. Of course it is helpful if the employees can help out with any small issues with your bike like a puncture or pumping up the tyres and if the breakfast is big enough to give you the best start to each day’s cycling.
Thankfully hotels and guest houses have adapted to fit the needs of cyclists and now there are lots of places to stay that look forward to having cyclists. When cycling as a family the accomodation should additionally be family friendly. Ideally it offers children a range of activities. Above all the rooms need to be spacious enough for families. If there is a swimming pool, lots of green space to play outdoors or a small play area then the accommodation is ideal for families. Just small play areas are often enough to keep the children entertained after a busy day’s cycling.
Adventure for the kids along the way
A family cycling holiday becomes perfect when there are further highlights and adventures other than just the cycling along the way. This is because it allows the children to have something to aim for, which acts as an additional reward for the cycling. Leisure parks like in the Palatinate region, high-rope courses or roller coasters like along the Inn cycle path, great places to swim like on the 10-lakes tour in the district of Salzburg and lots more turns a cycle
tour into a real family adventure. Or maybe there is a wonderful destination at the end of your bike tour with countless places to play and have fun - like Lake Garda! If there are additionally play areas, museums, great nature and many animals along the route then all children will be happy and having fun.
Bikes and child bikes
The most important ‘device’ on a cycle holiday is of course the bicycle. So that the cycling holiday turns into a success, the bike has to be suitable and safe for cycling on the roads. It also needs to be low-maintenance and sufficiently robust. For children and adults it is important that the bike fits well. If it is too small or too large then it will be tricky to pedal, it won’t be comfy to sit on and it could also be dangerous. It is possible to rent bikes from us but we recommend especially for children to bring their own with them because that is the bike they will be used to riding.
For young children who cannot cycle on their own yet they can either sit in a trailer or ride on a tag-along, which just connects to the back of a seat post. That is not only fun but also encourages family team spirit. Young children or babies can simply travel in a trailer. Make sure you use a good quality trailer though and that you use it correctly to ensure it is safe!
Safety first - always! As well as choosing a bike for your child or children that matches their ability and that is in line with necessary regulations, there are also other safety measures that are necessary to take. A bike helmet is of utmost importance. In some countries it is legally compulsory to wear a helmet up to certain ages. However parents are highly recommended to wear helmets too.
Maps and information about the route
It is important to have suitable maps and to have a pre-planned route to lower the chance that you could end up up on a busy road with children, which would increase the likelihood of an accident. You should have all necessary telephone numbers somewhere that is easily accessible so that if a bike breaks or if you have an accident you can quickly call for help. It is also important to know where the next bicycle repair shop is so that you can quickly get your bike fixed again and continue your ride.
When on a family cycling holiday it is always important to book the accommodation in advance. Those who look for somewhere to stay each day whilst cycling are in danger of not finding anywhere to stay and therefore needing to continue in the dark.
When cycling you are moving a lot and will get hungrier than normal. It is therefore important to eat enough rest and to eat well in order to be able to keep going. Kids will especially notice the difference in how much they need to eat and drink to be able to complete each day’s cycle ride. That’s why when planning a route it is important to remember to plan in places where you can stop for food.
When out and about as a family, there are always so many things to take with you. Of course you can use pannier bags when cycling but additional weight just means an extra burden and also, if you use pannier bags you still have to compromise what you take with you because you won’t fit everything you want to take on holiday in them. Tour operators offer the chance to transfer your luggage from hotel to hotel. The service is included as standard for all of our tours so that you can take everything that you want with you on holiday.