1st May, 2014
Here at The Carter Company, planning cycling holidays for families is a speciality of ours. In fact, our connection to cycling breaks with kids runs deep - it was an extended Carter Family cycling trip to Austria - see photo above - many years ago (comprising of 4 adults and 5 children from 9 to 15 years old!) that inspired Wendy, our Director, to found The Carter Company back here in the UK. With dozens of cycling trips with kids in tow under our belt since then, we have learnt a fair few things over the years about how to plan family-friendly cycling holidays.
Tip 1 - Traffic-free cycle routes
Do your research and try to find a trip that uses mainly traffic-free routes. Certain areas in the UK are better for this than others - Dorset, for instance, has miles and miles of disused railway lines that now function as bike paths, which makes it a great choice for a UK cycling holiday with kids. Another thing to check out is the terrain... where possible it's a good idea to avoid steep hills. Little legs get tired quickly and you don't want a tantrum to ensue en route (!)
Tip 2 - Points of interest galore
Cycling all day and only stopping for lunch isn't just tiring; it feels like a bit of a frogmarch, and doesn't allow for those moments when you want to follow your nose and explore all that your surroundings have to offer. We love slow travel by bike here at The Carter Company - it gives our customers the chance to really stop and engage with all there is to see and do wherever they are. So we recommend picking a trip that factors in plenty of spare time (with perhaps in total only 3-4 hours actual cycling time in the day), and choosing an itinerary that has lots of things to see and do along the way - nature reserves, museums, castles & palaces, beaches or lakes to swim in etc.. After all, it's not really about the cycling, it's about the places en route.
Tip 3 - Choose gentle distances
In our experience, it's sometimes quite surprising how far kids can actually cycle (they do have a lot of energy), but there's nothing worse than having to cajole a kid another 10 miles when they've had enough.. so err on the side of caution! Definitely anything more than 25 miles could be too much. We would also recommend asking your tour operator for a local taxi service number just in case they run out of steam.
Tip 4 - Child-friendly bike trips don't necessarily involve the kids cycling!
If your children aren't quite riding a bike all on their own yet, or don't have much stamina, there are a number of options. If you're looking to hire a child-seat, make sure you request one that will fit your child right. They are designed for for kids of 6 months to 5 years, so getting the right size is key. Tagalong bikes are a good option for kids aged around 4-9. Bike Hub have a great article on carrying children on bikes if you want to read about these options in more detail.
Tip 5 - The real secret to success
Ice cream. Make sure that ice-cream features somewhere along the way. It's a surefire way to guarantee success.
Our Top Family Cycling Holidays
For a complete list of The Carter Company's easy, family-friendly cycling holidays for children under 10, over 10s and teenagers, see this dedicated page on our website.