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  1. #1
    Playing with the traffic jetbike's Avatar
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    Touring with a Family

    Anyone tour with small children under 3? Trailers and child-seats? I'd love to see your rigs and tents, to see how you manage it.

    Tell me your stories please, so I can convince my (non-cycling) wife it's possible and, what's more, fun.
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  2. #2
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    Boy that is quite a challenge. I'm not sure I've seen anyone report on touring with kids that young. I think the youngest I have seen in tour reports is 5-6. We did our first tour when our son was 9. We probably could have done it a year earlier, but my wife wasn't up for long bike rides then.

    If you haven't already searched the web you will find a little bit of stuff (much of it repetitive) about touring with kids. You can also check out this site:

    http://www.familyonabike.org/stories...nalstories.htm -- which seems to have at least a couple of pieces on touring with little kids.

    You could also take a look at: http://www.familyonbikes.com/ which recounts one family's adventuires and includes some stories from other families (including our own).

    I won't repeat all the advice you'll find on those sites, but the basics will come up again and again. Good luck and have fun if you get touring.
    God grant me the serenity to accept the hills and winds I cannot change;
    courage to challenge the cagers I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
    (with apologies to AA)
    24 mi. roundtrip -- Maryland suburbs to DC and back.

  3. #3
    Senior Member CyKKlist's Avatar
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    My 3 yr old son has loved riding in his child seat on my bike the past couple of years, and I've bought him a Trail A Bike so we can do some longer rides. Instead of touring with him the next year or two, I'm hoping to do local overnighters instead - leave from our driveway on the bikes, ride about 20 miles to one of several state parks nearby, and camp there using the REI Half Dome I bought for that purpose (should fit me and two kids comfortably). This should be good training both for him and for me, and as he gets older maybe we can extend our range.

    My wife was willing to join us on the local overnights until she came down with a severe case of pregnancy this winter (due in July). So hopefully she and baby-to-be-named later will join us in a few years. My wife is not athletic, but she was susceptible to the contagious joy of riding she sees in me and our son. So yes, it's possible to have a reluctant spouse change her mind.

    One of the above mentioned links feature two parents riding with their 8 yr old twin sons. That is a great journey they're on -- 14 months on the road by the time they finish this summer.

    Good luck!
    Ken
    Latest bike tour journal now posted -- PALM ride across Michigan!
    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/palm2009

    Also -- NC Courthouse Tour, using Amtrak to Charlotte
    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/nccourthousetour

    Trek 520 for commuting, touring, family rides and smiling at life.

  4. #4
    Tinkerer since 1980 TheBrick's Avatar
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    Why don't you try an tandem + trailer or child seat? Buy a cheap 2nd hand to see if you like it one do it up then do some short w/e away. Not abig tour I know but would get you all out together.

    Plus with a tandem the trailer is being pulled by both of you and if your wife is nervous about keeping up or just riding in traffic this way she has no worries.
    Travelling without inertia

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    Lets make this happen.

  5. #5
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    On a tour down the west coast I met a woman who was riding from Seattle to San Francisco with her little boy, Ben, in a trailer. He was a little older than 3, but not much - 4 or 5? It was a trailer for two kids, and he was in there with their sleeping bags, the tent, etc. (I can't remember if she had panniers too; I think she did.) She and her husband had ridden their bikes all over the country, and she was very strong! Ben had ridden in the trailer since he was a baby and was very used to it. I have this vivid image of overtaking them on a downhill, and seeing Ben's face flattened against the plastic window, watching the Oregon coast fly by. What a childhood experience!

  6. #6
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    Hi,
    We toured some 6000km with a 2 and 4 year old in New Zealand. There's a journal at http://familyonabike.org/familyonabi...Storyindex.htm

    and pictures of our various set-ups at http://familyonabike.org/stories/Cyc...lyonabike.html

    As the kids get older (now 1,4 and 6) I'm actually starting to miss touring with them while they were so young and cute! To say it was easy would be a lie but it was a lot of fun, very rewarding and we have a lifetimes worth of memories already.

    Do get in touch if you want any more specific advice. My wife took a lot of convincing but is a real advocate now!

    All the best

    Stuart
    www.familyonabike.org

  7. #7
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    I just went on a short non camping trip with a four year old on a junior bobike seat. The seat works well on my city bike but it knocks my surely long haul trucker off balance even with heavy panniers on the front. (not so much when riding as when shes on it and I'm walking beside it) I had to put my smaller panniers under the bobike seat which was tricky. I also had to take the entire seat off to get it on the go bus rack which was also tricky. However....it was much easier to get around then when the chariot bike stroller is attached. I used the bike stroller last year when my child was turning four and we went for two weeks. They tend to sleep so the stroller is the only thing that works.
    Last edited by annetta; 06-11-12 at 08:00 PM. Reason: grammer

  8. #8
    Senior Member
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    jetbike, I just described briefly my experience in the neighbouring thread. Good place to read is the "travelling two" blog, I do find our experience is very similar to theirs, plus the guys have gathered quite a bit of useful information.

    It is definitely possible, and moreover, it is easier to go touring then to stay at home, at least for us, parents of twins! I'd only avoid starting touring if there is a hard period for your kids, like difficulties with falling asleep, etc.

    Some issues: on our first tour when our twin daughters were 5 month old, girls had problems falling asleep and complained a lot in the evening, then we resorted to staying in hostels and it solved the problem. Keep in mind, it was twins specific issue, both babies not wanting to share the mother with the sister... Something very hard to deal with in a small tent. Issue #2 was riding in bad weather. If girls woke up during the ride and the weather was bad and trailer cap closed to protect the inside from the rain they have complained a lot. That was our major stress during the daytime i think. Try to avoid doing first tours when the weather may be bad.

    Apart from that our time is easy and nice. Now, one year later, camping is absolutely not a problem, rather the opposite. The major advantage is that your spend 100% of your time with kids, at home it is never so, there are house duties, job, distractions, etc. On tour there is nothing but your family. And a very refreshing change of atmosphere. We don't even need practically any extra paraphernalia, only the necessities. First tour rig looked like this, now it looks more like this, this year we tend to carry less then before. My wife rides normal four panniers setup. Check our Dresden-Prague tour album for the photos when they were under one year.

    But listen to your wife, she may feel some things may be harder for her and kids than for you. It should be a great time for all of you. And do not overdo the cycling part, your first priority shall be a good time with the family. After all your children don't really need cycling, they need a good time with you.

    It may be a good idea to start with a couple of overnight trips. Preferrable in such way that you don't have to use a train or whatever to get you to the begninning of the trail. Just do 30-40 kilometres one way first day and same much to return the next day.

    PS. Issue #3. It's really hard to setup the tent when babies (or toddlers, i don't know how to call them in this age now) have discovered it's fun to mess with the tent fly.
    Last edited by mikhalit; 06-12-12 at 02:55 PM.

  9. #9
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    I have a friend who last year did a tour of New Zealand with his wife and two kids (ages 5 and 2). Here is a link to a video of their tour where you can see their setup. The five year old rides a tandem with him (but in a forward recumbent position) and the two year old rides in a trailer. His wife rides solo. He has some other videos and a website promoting touring as a family, but most of it is in Spanish or Basque.

  10. #10
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marylandnewbie View Post
    Boy that is quite a challenge. I'm not sure I've seen anyone report on touring with kids that young. I think the youngest I have seen in tour reports is 5-6. We did our first tour when our son was 9. We probably could have done it a year earlier, but my wife wasn't up for long bike rides then.

    If you haven't already searched the web you will find a little bit of stuff (much of it repetitive) about touring with kids. You can also check out this site:

    http://www.familyonabike.org/stories...nalstories.htm -- which seems to have at least a couple of pieces on touring with little kids.

    You could also take a look at: http://www.familyonbikes.com/ which recounts one family's adventuires and includes some stories from other families (including our own).

    I won't repeat all the advice you'll find on those sites, but the basics will come up again and again. Good luck and have fun if you get touring.
    Well, I've done a sagged tour in Colorado with a nursing 6 month old (I pulled the trailer) and another sagged tour with a 2.5 year old (and a 7 year old) in Kansas. Both kids survived it and are even semi normal. I wouldn't do it with a child seat, however.

    Once our kids turned 4, we put them on the back of a tandem. A tandem is about 1000 times better than a trail-a-bike. I was even able to find tiny little clipless shoes (the cleat was almost bigger than the shoe) which helped immensely. I didn't have to worry about the kid coming off the bike. I have seen little kids on trail-a-bikes go one way while their parents went another way...Ouch!
    Stuart Black
    Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
    Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
    Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
    Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
    An Good Ol' Fashion Appalachian Butt Whoopin'.

  11. #11
    Silly Party Member
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    There's some great links and discussions on this page regarding touring with kids:
    http://www.adventurecycling.org/foru....php?board=6.0

    We rode cross country with our then 11/12 year old and he loved it.

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