Bike Touring for Families with Children

We are often asked which of our tours are best suited to families with kids. For children under 16, we suggest areas where bicycles are separated from vehicular traffic or where there is very light traffic.

Holland has one of the best cycling networks in the world with more than 20,000 miles of traffic-free bike paths.  If you want to stay closer to home, the Katy Trail in Missouri is the most developed Rails-to-Trails project in the United States.  If your kids are experienced with riding in traffic and are OK with a few hills, the San Juan Islands are a great choice.  While there are no dedicated bike paths in the San Juan Islands, the traffic here is typically light and relatively slow.  Island drivers are famously considerate with many of them waving to other road users as they pass.

But a successful bike tour with children requires more than just choosing the right area.  More than anything, the success of the trip depends on the attitude of the group and how well prepared the kids, and the adults are.  To help, here’s a list of some suggested dos and don’ts when planning a bike tour with kids.

DO make sure you are confident riding alone before riding with a child or putting a child in a trailer or on tagalong.

DON’T compromise on safety. Helmets, bright clothing, safety triangles and flashing lights will mean cars give you a wider berth.

DO practice in your local neighborhood before venturing further afield. Gradually built up your mileage over a few weeks or months.

DON’T be too ambitious. A three-day trip – one day out, one rest day and one day back is a major achievement with kids.

DO lay down the law. As well as lots of encouragement, we find young kids need to be constantly reminded about paying attention, riding predictably, and listening to directions.

DON’T try to ride all day. Take lots of breaks with things to do off the bikes.  Also, have something fun to do on arriving at your destination. A hotel pool is great for this.

DO remember to stay hydrated. Kids are generally forgetful when it comes to eating before being hungry and drinking before being thirsty. Even a mildly dehydrated kid can become moody and bad tempered – all for want of a sip of water.

DON’T ignore them. Ride at their speed and keep chatting to them or sing songs together.

DO use a local cyclist or guide service to help avoid routes that aren’t suitable for your kids. You don’t want to find yourselves riding into town on a busy highway where there is suddenly no shoulder.

DON’T give up – but have a good plan B. Not all trips with the kids work out as planned. Have a guide company with a van or a family member with a car available in case it stops being fun. Even if you don’t get as far as you planned, declare success, and try another day.

LifeCycle Adventures run both Self-Guided and Private Guided tours.  Our Private Guided tours are better for younger children as we are able to offer more immediate support than on our Self-Guided tours.  The minimum age to travel on a Private Guided tour is 6 years old.  The minimum age for a child to travel on any tour riding their own bike is 11 years.  Children under 18 years of age must always be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

To request an itinerary for any of our destinations, click here or email or call us to chat about destinations, routes, and equipment that would be best suited to your children.