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9 tips for an epic bike packing adventure with your kids

Avid cyclists often fear that cycling adventures with the family will no longer be possible once children come into play. We believe the opposite is true. Bike packing adventures might even be more fun when given this extra challenge.
Here is a summary of 9 important aspects to take into consideration when preparing for an unforgettable bike packing adventure with kids of all ages.

Bike packing with kids - wife w bags

1. Prepare your trip and route

First and foremost, the fun starts with the preparation and route building! Like any other bike packing adventure, prepare your trip and route carefully and take into consideration the daily duration and elevation profile. You are travelling with kids, so you should adjust the distance, routes and coffee stops and include nice sightseeings and distractions for your kids when cycling.

From a practical perspective, it is fair to say that the following rules of thumb should be taken into consideration when creating your first bike packing route:

  • Beginners use the rule of 40-60; a great adventure with kids on a bike starts with limiting the distance to 40% of your regular distance. Why? Kids want to play, see things, throw rocks in the water and need many toilet breaks. More experienced? Increase the duration accordingly.
  • Your average speed will be 35%-40% lower when travelling with children. 
  • Climbing will take ‘a bit’ longer. The one good thing about a child carrier behind you is that you can climb out of the saddle at speeds as low as 4kph, but it will be brutal. Avoid climbs and gradients over 6% when possible.
  • The last golden rule is that you will never cycle a greater distance after lunch than the distance you traveled before lunch. Are you new to Bike Packing and planning to go Bike Packing with kids? Our suggestion would be to plan for travelling only one part of the day initially. This gives you time and freedom to have more stops, deviate a bit or catch-up a bit of distance when delays are incurred.

2. Involve family and friends

Bike Packing adventures with kids are not-so-common. Your family and friends are likely to be interested in your upcoming adventure, they may even have tips for you to stay. Have them send you a link to the accommodation in our BeJames hotel database they prefer. They can even make the experience even more beautiful by giving you a personal hotel gift card from BeJames.com.

3. Bike equipment, safety and gearing

Travelling with kids is a great exercise as you will be carrying a lot of stuff with you. There will be times, if not always, that you will be hauling yourself, your kids and your luggage over the mountain. We therefore suggest the following:

  • Use a sturdy (aluminum) bike with disc brakes, 
  • Tires of at least 28mm width, 
  • Extremely low gearing like mountain bike gearing in order to keep the cadence while climbing. A 11-28 cassette will not be enough, unless you like grinding, 
  • NEVER use carbon rim brake wheels when bike packing with kids as they overheat easily and are not built to decelerate a mass so great,
  • Wear a helmet when travelling on a bike, also your kids,
  • Comply with the country’s traffic rules and consider taking precautionary measures by (e.g.) avoiding small bike lanes or high traffic areas.

4. Choose the Right Bike Trailer / Kids Carrier

The most important aspect when traveling with kids is choosing the right equipment. Depending on the age of your children, you may want to consider a kids’ trailer when you have younger kids. When your kids grow a little older and become too heavy for you to haul over a mountain in a bike trailer, they may want to cycle themselves. If this is your situation, we suggest attaching a parental tandem hitch. A hitch like this allows your kids to cycle by themselves, but the bike can be easily attached to the hitch at any given time.

Take a look at renowned bike trailer manufacturers like:

The pictures in this article show:
    1. Thule Bike Trailer (Blue and Yellow) with a hard-case bottom, perfect for infants but a little heavier than you’d expect.
    2. The Burley D’Lite, the editor’s bike trailer of choice! Lightweight, comfortable, stable (due to rubber shock absorbers) and foldable to fit in the rear of the car.
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5. Don’t underestimate climbs

On average, climbing a col feels double as hard with one or two children in a kids trailer plus luggage. Wanting to go bike packing in Europe takes some preparation as you may want to avoid the high mountains. But still, there are many great Bike Packing adventures to be planned with kids in e.g. the French and Swiss Alps, in Austria’s Tirol and Salzburgerland and in Italy’s Dolomites and Lombardia.

Regions with many lakes generally have a more pleasant elevation profile. Link these lakes together by open valleys and avoid busy roads. These valleys are usually characterized by a somewhat more rural activity.

Pro tip: Your kids are a great motivator when you are suffering on a climb, ask them to sing a song when climbing or encourage you.

6. Pack, weigh and repack

Travelling light is the way to go. When packing your bags, experience shows that you should pack twice. First, gather all the stuff you plan on bringing and categorize them. Then, reconsider for each category if it is really necessary to carry with you all the time and whether you can manage it in another way.

Depending on where your bike packing adventure brings you, most places have bike shops, supermarkets, laundromats, Wi-Fi, and convenience stores. Obviously, you should bring with you a certain volume emergency supplies for your children; items like diapers, children’s food and clothing.

When you have made your hotel reservation through BeJames.com, you can: 

  1. See the hotel’s amenities such as laundromat, restaurant/breakfast and dry-cleaning service, and
  2. Leave a note to the hotel upon making the reservation with specific requests or questions.

7. Less is more

The saying Less Is More is especially true in the world of bike packing. The so called ‘Weight Weenies’ will also tell you the next to the stuff you carry with you, the weight of things is as important. You don’t have to spend a whole lot of money on buying lightweight material, but smart packing gives will elevate your adventure to the next level.

8. Make hotel reservations in advance

A BeJames hotel gift card is a perfect gift for adventurer’s planning a Bike Packing trip. The gift card value allows travelers to decide for themselves when and where they want to book their hotel stay so that they can incorporate it in their itinerary. They can also decide on the amenities and level of luxury they prefer. Booking in advance gives the traveler the peace of mind that their overnights are confirmed so that they don’t have to worry about searching for a hotel when it is bedtime for the kids.

Planning a trip?

Take a look at some of the hotels You could stay in with our BeJames gift card.

9. Adventuring with kids is awesome

A Bike Packing adventure with kids will be physically tough from time to time, but oh so rewarding. Cycling with little monsters next to you or in a trailer behind you will definitely change your perspective on travelling on a bike. They see and hear things that adults will not see. They will stick their feet in the wind, play games like ‘I spy with my little eye’ and make you more aware of the beautiful surroundings. Let’s hope that they will get to love cycling as much as we do!

Enjoy your next adventure and please feel free to share your experience with Bejames!  

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