A cycling holiday with kids: Prepping, mapping and packing – what you need to know
Saddle up, explore, and soak up the experience! Whether it’s the school holidays or a long weekend, holidaying with children and bikes is a ticket to adventure and excitement for the whole family. But a successful family bike trip is more complex than a walk in the park – it takes planning. Here are our answers to your most important questions:
When is my child old enough to go on a cycling holiday?
Whatever their age, kids love being outdoors and discovering new things and new places while improving their cycling skills. As soon as your child is a) capable of riding confidently and competently and b) motivated, you can start bike riding together. By the age of eight and with some experience under their tyres, they are likely to be able to comfortably cruise along gravel tracks and dirt roads. While your offspring are still little, bike trailers are ideal – this way, even the smallest kids can come along and partake in the excitement. Riding with a trailer naturally makes the ride more strenuous for the adult, which is why e-bikes can be a great solution – especially if it's a hilly route or you are in the mountains.
How can I get my child excited ahead of our cycling trip?
Begin by picking a family-friendly cycling destination. More and more regions and accommodation facilities have started tailoring their facilities to suit families and kids on bikes, including the creation of suitable rides, routes, trails, and child-specific skills workshops and bike camps.
Is your child used to asphalt bike paths and inexperienced on gravel, forest tracks or trails? If so, we recommended enrolling on a preparatory skills course with a qualified bike guide. This gives your child an opportunity to learn essential bike skills in a fun way, acquaints them with riding on various surfaces, and teaches them other important safety aspects. Workshops like this are a good idea for more experienced kids and parents too, serving as a refresher course after a period off the bike, or as a way to polish riding skills before a more challenging bike ride or a trip to a bike park.
Variation is the buzzword when it comes to a successful bike trip with kids. As cycling will likely only constitute one element of your family holiday, you can add in a whole host of other exciting activities – especially if you’re on holiday in the Alps! Climbing, open-water swimming and adventure parks all make enthralling additions for kids.
What’s the right route for my child?
On a bike ride with children, it is the whole experience that matters most, rather than personal bests or hill climb trophies. Your child should feel motivated and curious, especially on their first few bike rides as these moments build the foundation for a life-long love of cycling. Think of it like this: the journey is the reward!
- Exciting, full of variety, and never excessively steep: those are the three main elements of a bike ride tailored to your child. Have a few pre-planned detours in mind just in case you need to cut the fun short. It can be useful if there's a train that runs parallel to the bike path, for example. If the ride is too long and monotonous, it could impact your child’s motivation for the next one. However, once their interest has been awakened, the likelihood is that your child just can’t get enough of turning the pedals and – depending on their endurance and the circumstances – can tick off 20 to 30 kilometres. On an MTB ride? Mellow Alpine meadows or a mountain ridge with a gentle incline could be the ideal scenario.
- A ride with 200 to 300 metres of climbing is probably at the limit of most children’s endurance (and patience). Be aware that children are likely to find a longer, flatter ride easier than a shorter one with significant climbing.
- When mountain biking: Pick the descent carefully so that your child can make it down without getting wound up or tearful. Well-designed flow trails are great for beginners and are guaranteed to be a highlight for your child. Avoid technical trails and steep gradients unless your child is already a fully-fledged shredder ;)
- Kids can get extremely excited about a variety of highlights, including waterfalls, lakes, ruined castles, and mountain huts. Make sure you schedule free time so that you can take breaks for snacks, playing, and bathing along the way.
- You can playfully integrate skills practice on any bike ride to increase your child’s ability and confidence while riding. The emphasis is on play here!
- Before you set off chat about where to ride and include your child in the route planning. This will make your child feel involved, increase their anticipation, and give them a better picture of what lies ahead.
It is not easy to know what to expect when cycling in a new location on unfamiliar terrain. We strongly recommend asking local experts for tips. Not only will they know where the most child-friendly cycling spots can be found, they can also provide inspiration on where to stop for the most exciting breaks and will have the inside line of where to visit in the area.
What should we pack and what can we hire when we get there?
A cycling holiday with kids comes with additional logistical complexities. That’s why it can be beneficial to hire as much equipment as possible at the location. Destinations and accommodation facilities that are focused on family-friendly bike travel should have the infrastructure in place so that you can travel with peace of mind and rent bikes, trailers, plus other equipment, such as knee and elbow protectors or helmets with visors, without any hassle.
In terms of essential equipment, the following items should be on your list: appropriate clothes and shoes for cycling, riding accessories like a helmet, sunglasses and gloves, a bike bottle, a first aid kit, tools including a mini-pump and spare tube, plus a backpack that you can fill with supplies and extra clothes so you’re prepared for all eventualities on your rides.
For all other key items to pack as well as ways to save weight in your suitcase, check out this helpful guide.
Looking for suitable riding equipment for your child still?
In our online shop you'll find clever, practical accessories to make every bike ride that bit safer and more fun: from the multi-award-winning KIDS' Helmet to the breathable TENS Bike Gloves right through to the super-compact AIRFLO Bike Pump.
Is there anything specific to be aware of when travelling with bikes?
When travelling by car, your bikes are naturally safest inside the vehicle. However, given space limitations, this is not always a realistic option. Here's where a bike rack will come in useful. Please note: if you have an e-bike on your rack, remove the battery (and display from the handlebars, if you have one) prior to departure in order to protect these parts from the elements. When purchasing your bike rack, double-check that your family's fleet of bikes will not exceed the weight limit.
Hopping on a train to ride in a new area is another sure-fit hit with kids. Do your research beforehand to make sure that bikes are permitted on your chosen route. You may need to make a special reservation for your bicycles.
Are our bikes fit for a holiday?
Good question! You should certainly give your bikes a quick safety check before your big adventure. If necessary, get an expert to give them a service. These are the parts you need to take a closer look at:
Screws – Brakes – Air
- Are all of the screws and quick-release skewers securely tightened? These are located on the stem (where it attaches to the handlebars), the wheels (where they sit in the frame) and the saddle.
- Are the brakes working well? Squeeze the levers a few times to check the stopping power of the brakes as you turn the front and rear wheels.
- Look closely at the wheels and tyres to see if there are any visible defects or deformations. If necessary, give the tyres a bit of air.
Good to go? Here's to your amazing, adventure-filled bike holiday together!