Here are a few guidlines and ideas from the experience of families traveling with small children:
- Children under 4 enjoy the comforts of a bike trailer. (There are lots of competing brands). It’s protected from the weather and can provide easy access to snacks and toys and a comfortable sleeping area.
- Children 4-7+ usually do well on a buddy bike or trailing bike. (There are lots of competing brands). Trailing bikes are like half a bike that can be hitched onto the back of a full sized bike and allow the rear rider to pedal but not steer or brake. This makes it nicer on the parent too who doesn’t have to pull them as dead weight. Another cool bike option is the trail-gator which turns a young child’s bike into a trailing bike. In camp, just disconnect the bar and the bike is free
- Kids as young as 8+ years old typically ride in their own bike (though they could also buddy bike it for many years to come.) In considering whether a child is ready to make the trip, they need to have a well geared bike that also fits their body size. They need to know how and when to change the gears. They need to have good control over the bike. They need to be able to ride along a line and follow your commands to stop or be careful. They need to be comfortable having traffic pass them from behind without losing control. (There are a few places on the road where the shoulder is narrow, cars are passing or when we are in the roadway as a part of travel.)
If you are riding in for the first time with small children, consider taking lots practice rides to get your family ready. Like adults, kids need to be conditioned into biking as well. Little kids need to get used to riding in the trailer, learning to enjoy the experience and not fight things they don’t like about it. Older kids do better with some practice both to increase their phyiscal endurance, but more imporantly to build their understanding of what they are really capable of. If you go on your first family bike ride and everyone loves it, you are off to a wonderful start. If you go on your first bike ride and your kids are miserable, its very possible they will adjust with a few more attempts, some incentives and a little more time to learn to really love it.
Bring lots of snacks expecially for bike trailer riders. Treats and snacks can be a great incentive for older kids too.
Craig’s list is a great resource for collecting low cost bike gear, but start as early as possible.
You can bring a clip-on high chair, porta crib, baby backpack or whatever baby stuff you need in camp. Just put it on the truck with the rest of your stuff.
Walkie talkies can be handy for keeping tabs on older kids.