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10 tips for stress-free cycling holidays with kids

Posted 01 Jan 2020

At Cycling for Softies, we often hear from worried parents who'd love to go on our cycling holidays but aren’t sure if their small children would cope. Travelling with kids can seem stressful, but our cycling experts are here to walk you through the steps and seamlessly organise your cycling holiday.

Once you’re on your summer cycling holidays with kids, they’ll be blissfully freewheeling, practising no-handies on the back roads and possibly whinging loudly about the uphill – we know we did! By the time they head off to school, they’ll already have picked up ‘bonjour', 'merci’ and unbeatable map-reading skills. Kids love the sense of freedom and adventure, while parents cherish not being pulled in different directions for once. Here are our 10 tips for a stress-free cycling holiday with kids:

1. If your child can sit up, they can come

We’ve organised holidays for children of nine months! Pop your toddler in the seat on the back with some sun cream and a helmet and hear them squeal with delight. They can enjoy the ride without the pedalling, and even have a nap if they like.

2. Get the right bike

Thanks to child seats, your children can sit back and enjoy the ride until they're too big, or simply refuse to get in. These can be added securely added to the back of the parent's bikes. Trailgators - also known as tag-alongs - are brilliant for the in-between stage. It's a detachable tube that links the parent’s bikes to the child’s, creating a tow along. You can hook it up when the road is busy, hilly or they’re tired, and they can pedal off on their own as soon as it's safe to do so.

Another tip – check your kids haven't had a growth spurt before you go so the bike waiting is the right size!

3. Plan routes with a purpose

Nothing beats the sense of achievement when you arrive at your château, the local market or even picnic spot. On the other hand, an aimless wander can easily morph into a hellish long cycle ride on busy roads as you desperately try to get back to the hotel. Our Destination Managers can help you plan your routes, with a shorter option if you or the kids are tired and want to bail out.

4. Cycle in the morning, pool in the afternoon

If panting – and sweating – up a hill in 35°C heat doesn’t sound like fun, then maybe a hard-earned afternoon by the pool might soften the exertion? If you start cycling by 10am, you can try to have at least two thirds of your route under your belt by lunchtime. Finding a nice shady spot to eat your picnic, the last few miles home won't be any hardship and the oasis of the pool will be extremely enticing. This is where single centre holidays become the perfect option, as you’re never too far away from your hotel.

5. Cycling between hotels

If your children are over eight and confident cyclists, they will easily manage 10km and probably be able to do one 25km between hotels. It may be worth doing some cycling at the weekends before your holiday, so they’re used to being on the bike. If they're younger, then save yourself the grief and tantrums by sticking to one or two bases at most.

“We've never laughed as much, talked as much or frankly eaten as much as on a Softies holiday. We return home glowing, relaxed and a little bit smug that we've done it”. Claire Crawley, Cycling for Softies client

Cycling holidays with kids in France & Italy

6. Don't try to cook

Trying to do food shopping on a bike isn't a holiday, it's a mission! Stick to family-friendly hotels with great restaurants nearby and give yourself permission to relax. Alternatively, if your children do have difficult dietary requirements, Château de Candes has self-catering apartments. We’d recommend taking a hire car to do the shops or asking the staff to help you organise a delivery.

7. Bring dinnertime entertainment

If you're eating out, then a few quiz or colouring books, card games or a pocket-sized toy will save you from their boredom and bad table manners as a result of impatience and hunger.

8. Pack cagouls

There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing…

Cycling in the rain isn’t actually that bad as long as it's relatively warm and you're properly protected. Don’t forget an extra layer and the waterproofs, even if it looks as though it’ll be a beautiful day. There’s no point risking anything on a cycling holiday with the kids, otherwise you won’t hear the end of it!

9. Always carry food and drink 

No-one wants to be on the end of a hungry tantrum, this is easily solved by taking some snacks and drinks with you. Whether it’s a bit of fruit or a sweet treat to keep the team energised and ready to keep pedalling.

10. Enjoy being restricted by two wheels

On holiday, as in life, we try to do too much. Limiting your activities to what can be reached by bike is wonderfully liberating. Leave the car at home and you'll find the journey becomes as much fun as the destination.

For more information about our cycling holidays with kids, speak to our cycling experts on 0207 471 7760.

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