So, my husband and I want to travel for our last summer hurrah! You know, in Tucson, before school starts it is HOT! We have one last chance to experience the beach and cooler weather possibly before the kids head off and life, well, gets even crazier all over again!
And you definitely know you need a vacation when the kids are climbing into the cabinets…
So, how in the world though do you plan a vacation in which you aspire to commute by bike with kids?
There are some very awesome people that breeze through all of this like there is not a worry to note and successfully pull of such a trip with minimum effort. I am not that person.
I’ll readily admit- when it was just the two of us, I would not have been so anxious about planning such a trip. Safety now seems utmost important – more than ever. Not to say, while on our own, we didn’t consider safety but now we have a trailer in tow with precious cargo and their trust in us to protect them the best we can.
I hate to think of going on vacation only to be commute challenged and spending most of the day in the car. Add to that strapping in two young kids- in and out, in and out- ugh! But safely? In a city outside of my ‘comfort’ zone with the kids…can we do this? Should we do this?
Well, we are going to try. And in order to take this vacation we are going to need some serious help and some intense research. I do not believe any parent wants to be surprised by incomplete bike lanes or legal issues when biking with kids never mind in another city/state.
I want to share my research to get to the point we decided to go on vacation mostly on bikes AND with the kids – I have yet to find a good landing page for help and would love to save another fellow parent time AND sleep!
It may be harder than it would seem but choosing a bike friendly destination from what I have concluded is all relative on your interpretation of ‘bike friendly’.
First, decide what you really want to do. Where do you want to go? Is it time to escape the heat or see the city? Whatever your goal most likely there is a ‘bike friendly’ city to take care of your needs. Sometimes it helps to have a quick reference of ranked bike friendly cities handy to start your research. A few good places to look are Bicycle Friendly Communities (League of American Bicyclists) and Smarter Travel World’s Best Cities. The sites have yearly updates to the rankings- what may have been good in 2010 may have lost some of the lure in 2016 so keeping a recent link handy is very helpful!
An amazing site that basically contains an ‘all-in-one’ source for traveling with bike, Bikabout, enables you to have a nice single point of reference for planning your 2-wheeled vacation. From here you have access to cities that want your tourism by bike and the ability to book a hotel or airbnb.
In addition to this, there is a lot of local ‘takes’ on the hot spots and friendly faces from each city helping lead the discussion in biking around town. What is even cooler about this site is ‘Bikabout donates 25% of its revenue each year to support local non-profits that advocate for better biking’!
Don’t let these lists stop you however from choosing a unique area to explore by bike. Even if your ideal destination is not here there is still hope. What do you need to know:
- Do you need to fly or can you drive to get to your destination? If so, carriers can be vastly different in treatment and caring of your bike. An few helpful articles on airlines and costs are fly your bike and best and worst airlines for cyclists.
- If you fly or drive and want to leave your bikes at home…well you need to know how much and if you can rent bikes, trailers OR can you rent cargo bike, etc? Some cities have a bike share program OR a few rental companies enabling you to partake in biking without YOUR bikes BUT with your kids (Destin Florida- cargo bike/trailer rentals).
- Trip Advisor can be very helpful. Once you have picked out your location you can do a quick search for ‘biking’, ‘biking tours’, whatever you feel is most appropriate. If it is available in the area and someone actually took the time to upload photos and their opinion you can see ‘for yourself’ the adventure. Everyone’s adventure is different so, taking the capture with a grain of salt, it purely serves to give you an initial point of reference. For example, if I am going to San Diego and I search ‘biking’ it pulls up a variety of tours and trails and plenty of opinions and pictures!
- Scan social media and blogs. Most likely there is a facebook page, twitter feed or blog relating to biking in your area of interest. These can provide you with contacts that may be able to answer questions, provide maps and enable you to get a better picture of your options. In Tucson we have Living Street Alliance that can serve as a bridge to further information and several biking organizations such as Bicas that can help you even rent a bike. Local bike groups, shops, and advocacy groups are a wonderful source of information. Even your local community may have a wonderful recommendation that could help answer your questions and provide needed bike maps for your destination that may not be so easy to find surfing the web. A Crowdsourced Bike Safety Map is wonderful for spotting possible ‘trouble’ areas.
- Reference Bike Laws per State and make sure you understand the restrictions placed on riders. A good visual of the different laws per state is located at i am traffic.
- Apps for your phone are also a BIG help. Google maps provides routes by bike (sometimes you may run into a snag or two here but overall helpful) and is probably well known to you in general. Some other apps that may help give you weather, bike doctor assistance, and even mountain bike routes. A good list of some handy apps is list here from bikeradar.com Best iPhone and Android Cylcing Apps
In the end, what we found worked was a mix of local bike map, placing ourselves in a central location ideal for biking to our major attractions, and knowing there will be a snag here or there BUT it is vacation so we will enjoy the ride!
Tell me about your adventure- let’s share the knowledge so others can enjoy the ride! And I want to learn from you!