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Tips for Bicycle Touring with Kids
Tips for Bicycle Touring with Kids

Adult & Children on a Triple Bike


Photo by Family on Bikes

By Nancy Sathre-Vogel

Traveling with kids is probably the most rewarding experience a parent can have - daily rituals and chores get set aside in favor of spending quality time with the children. Bicycle touring is no different. It is a great way to slow the pace and learn and explore together. The best part is that you don't need to be an expert cyclist to enjoy a bike trip with kids. Anybody can cycle with their children. All you need is patience and a dose of adventure. Advance planning will take care of the rest.

The following tips will help smooth the road on a bike trip with kids:

Keep the kids in the loop. Make decisions with your child whenever possible and let them know, in advance, what to expect. Kids are amazingly resilient if they understand why. Need to ride 40 miles tomorrow to make to the next town? Let the kids know and they'll be racing you to the campsite or hotel.

Share the load. Put your kids to work. Although there are some tasks that must be done by an adult, there are a lot of chores kids can easily do. Have them set out the sleeping bags and get the tent ready, fill water bottles and make sandwiches. They'll feel part of the team if they can contribute in meaningful ways.

Aim for kid-friendly distances. While you may be comfortable with daily centuries, your child will not. Try to keep daily mileage low. An exhausted child is not a happy one.

Break in your bum before you leave! You don't need to pedal lots of miles, but being in the saddle every day for the week or two before a tour will make your life much more pleasant on the road. There's nothing like a sore bum to put a damper on a trip.

Take lots of food. Your child will need to eat more frequently that you do. Be sure to pack lots of granola bars and other healthy snacks.

Take lots of breaks. The highlight of the journey will not be the hours spent in the saddle, but all the time spent taking breaks in various locales. Take advantage of fun places for breaks, but don't stress about it - if you're riding through a boring desert, play games with your child while taking breaks. He will love the time with you!

Celebrate success. No success is too small for celebration. Made it seven miles without a break? WooHoo!! Got to the top of a hill without walking? High five!! Keep the praise coming and they'll keep pedaling.


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