Cycle Touring with Children – Don’t Put the Idea in the ‘Too Hard’ Basket

 Gary Corbett

Your annual holidays are quickly approaching and you are searching for an idea for a holiday with a difference for all of the family.

What to do? Maybe you could stay at home, put your feet up and do nothing …but how boring would that be! Or maybe you could go to the same resort you holidayed at last year … once again, boring. Or then again maybe you could go on a long distance car trip to that “hidden” holiday spot someone once told you about … cooped up in a car for days with kids, what a nightmare that would be. So what will you do!

You love cycling, right? The kids love cycling, right? Your wife/partner loves to get out on her bicycle at the weekend?  So there is your answer … book an organised cycling holiday.

Far from being the epitome of a family nightmare, organised cycle tours designed for all of the family are an active holiday idea that ticks all of the boxes.

These days more and more cycle tour operators are including family friendly itineraries in their line up of tours, with the result that it is now not only feasible to cycle tour with your children, but a hell of a lot of fun to do so.

So why don’t more families do it? Because, simply, far too many people mistakenly believe that there is the potential for too many things to go wrong, with the resulting potential for the holiday to be ruined.

But how wrong they are! Cycle touring is not only one of the few active holiday experiences families can do together, but they have all the makings of a rewarding and unforgettable experience.

The bottom line is that an organised cycle tour has the ability to provide a holiday that you and your children will remember forever – as long as you follow a few important rules.
  1. Make sure you involve all of the family in the planning process
By involving your children in the planning process for your cycling holiday you will ensure that they take ‘ownership’ of what is decided. Listen to what they have to say, it will empower them and will ensure that they are 100 per cent committed to what the family decides as a group. If you do involve your children in the whole process, from deciding on a destination, to choosing a cycle tour operator and what non-cycling activities you will do, they are sure to be more cooperative and content during the trip.
  1. Invite a friend
On first consideration it may seem a bit over the top, but why not consider the merits of your children inviting a friend – unless, of course, you have a tribe of three or more yourself! Children – especially teenagers - always have more fun when they are with a good friend, so doesn’t it make sense to allow them to invite a friend to cycle with you. It will give them someone to interact with and will make sure they do not get under your feet.
  1. Organise different activities each day
When choosing a suitable cycle tour look for one that allows enough time each day off the bike. Up to 30 kilometres per day is probably enough cycling, with the rest of the time allocated to other “fun” activities. One of the biggest reasons travelling as a family can be challenging is the fact that it involves long stretches of time spent all together.  Be aware of this fact and try to organize your trip so you are able to split up for some activities and everyone will be happy. 
  1. Why not book a bike and barge cycling tour
Bike and barge tours in Europe are the perfect active holiday option for families for many reasons. Cycle all day and your floating hotel is there at the end of the day to welcome you with a warm shower, a five star menu and your own cabin. Because the barge travels along major rivers and canals, the cycling for the vast majority of the time is along flat cycle paths along the water’s edge. This means these types of tours are suitable for families or anyone from about six to 80-plus years and of all varying fitness levels. A major bonus for parents is the fact that if your children want to have a day off their bikes they can stay behind and can enjoy the journey on the barge while you explore on your bicycle.
  1. Centre-based cycle tours are another great idea
 Essentially the idea of these tours is that you stay at the one central location for the duration of your cycling holiday and cycle if and when you feel like it. These are great tours for families or those who might just want to spend more time relaxing by the pool or sightseeing off their bikes than in the saddle. A little bit of research will very quickly locate a number of tour operators that will book the accommodation, deliver the bikes to you at the hotel and give you a host of route options that you simply take your pick from as your mood or the weather dictates.  On these types of cycling holidays it is even possible for your children, if they are old enough, to do something else while you cycle – a win/win situation for everybody.

For tour ideas have a look at