Hey! Dale here, I’m one of the owners of Grand Trunk and my family and I LOVE adventure. My wife Brittany is a rockstar, and together we dreamed up a trip to take our kids cycling in Europe for the summer, and beat our past record of 1200 miles traveled.
We have six kids that range in age from 2.5 to 14, 2 girls and 4 boys. We packed our bikes and gear in boxes and flew from SLC to New Jersey to board a cruise boat to Marseilles. It was bound for Rome, but we got off early so we could ride from the Mediterranean up the Rhone river to it’s source near Furkapass in the Alps. The route we took is called the Eurovelo 17, or Viarhona.
From there we rode from the start of the Rhine river at Oberalppass to the North Sea at the hook of holland. We surpassed our old record and traveled 1850 miles total! We biked the whole way except from Andermatt to Oberallpass. This route is called the Eurovelo 15, or Rhine Route.
Here are a few take-aways from the trip.
- Traveling goes much better when you have plenty of food, snacks, and stay hydrated.
- Your energy rubs off on the kids, do everything you can to stay chill, confident and positive. (We especially learned this lesson while ascending 3,500 feet in 10 miles on our ride up the Furkapass!)
- Slow and steady wins the race. Keeping a comfortable pace and being consistent will help you go far.
- Kids are more capable than many give them credit for. Tips 1-3 will ensure your kids do things you never imagined they could.
- Things will generally work out. We met other traveling families on our trip, and some spent a lot of worry and energy planning for contingencies that didn’t happen. For example, we didn’t worry too much about booking campsites in advance, and were never turned away. (Brittany has a rebuttal to this, but the principal still stands. Worry the right amount about contingencies.)
- When life is so simple for 3 months, it’s amazing how many things I do in my regular life that don’t matter too much. A new favorite piece of advice that might describe my sentiment came from a wise and ailing older man in his last years. “When you can’t do what you’ve always done, then you only do what matters most. You don’t have to wait until you’re 80 years old to figure that out…”
- My favorite change in the kids came from our “Yellow Jersey” activity. The most helpful child got to wear a yellow vest the next day and receive special privileges. When setting up camp, or packing things up, the kids started asking “What can I do next to be helpful?” SUCH A BIG WIN!
Here are a few highlight items that we couldn’t have lived without!
A large tent with a garage! You’re living in your tent so long, it’s nice to have the space. See this pic with our Meadow Mat.
- A large water reservoir, we found a 10 liter water reservoir to ensure that we never ran out of water.
- Good handlebar bags for the kids so they can hold their treats. (Don’t forget rule number 1!)
- Dry bags. We stored our sleeping bags in dry bags—made a huge difference.
- Lots of layers. Instead of heavy clothing items, use several items to layer up.
- Sunglasses, protect those eyes!
- We loved having our Eco Tote Bags as dirty clothes bags and shopping bags, I think we had 15 on the trip.
- My wife also LOVED having the Compass 360° Stool while she was cooking, sorting laundry, or anything else where she needed to actively sit.
Check out the Eurovelo routes if you’re interested in bike touring with your family, they’re a great way to see europe by bike. There are several great options in the US as well like the Katy Trail, or Great Allegheny Passage.
It was a life changing experience for the family.
We have an entire packing list and bike touring guide I can share, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll shoot it your way.