If you’re thinking that a family vacation is out of the question this year, due to depleted funds, think again. Bicycle vacations are something everyone in the family can get behind as a concept. It’s different, a remake of the camping vacation by car and provides fun for every family member, as well as a chance to spend that quality time we’re always trying to squeeze into our busy lives.
Most of us live within a short distance of one of our many state parks. You may also have a National park close enough to drive to, with your bikes loaded on a bike rack, on top or behind, without spending a lot on gas to get there.
Once you arrive at your campsite, all you need do is unload your bikes, set up your tent and your exciting bicycle vacation is in full swing. Campsites usually provide shower facilities and sometimes laundry rooms and pools, so you can enjoy some of the features of expensive hotel accommodations without the cost. Campsites post a map of local bike paths, with level of difficulty and the length of the route.
A bicycle vacation has you out in the fresh air, getting plenty of exercise, while exploring the beauty of your natural surroundings. You can be sure that you’ll sleep well at the end of the day! Build a camp fire and roast those marshmallows and hot dogs, inexpensive fare that becomes more fun with a reading from a book of ghost stories for the kids.
If you choose a campsite by a lake, take some time to go fishing for the evening dinner. Private campsites of the resort type often feature other entertainment, such as boating and horseback riding, or a playground area for kids. So it’s easy to see how the bicycle vacation can be full-fledged enjoyment without the big price.
Planning is the key to successful bicycle adventures. Here are some general tips to guide you:
1. Get online and Google ‘campsites your-area’ and visit the various websites until you find one that suits your budget and desired amenities. Make your reservations as far in advance as possible in order to assure a spot. Check their terms. Most require a credit card number when you make your reservations, but won’t charge you until your arrival date. The terms also state that cancellations must be made within a given time frame. If you don’t show up, you’ll be charged for at least one night.
2. If everyone in the family isn’t outfitted with a bike, you have several options: some campsites have bicycle rentals, by the day. This may be the most inexpensive option if you’re not planning on bicycling every day. If you intend to bike every day, look for a bike rental shop near your campsite. If you want to invest in a new bike, read some of the bicycle reviews online to find a bike suited to the rider’s needs. Check the classifieds and local bike shops for used bikes as well. Be sure everyone’s bike is equipped with a water bottle.
3. If you don’t have a tent and sleeping bags for everyone, you’ll need to buy these. Uh-oh, you say, the costs are mounting up. However, when you compare the cost of a hotel stay, which you don’t recoup, against the cost of a tent and inexpensive summer sleeping bags, all of which come home with you to be used again and again, on future bicycle vacations or back yard kid’s sleepovers, this cost becomes an inexpensive investment.
4. Photography. The easiest is to designate one person to be the camera carrier. Don’t go crazy with an SLR and telephoto lens. The small point and shoot cameras are just fine. See examples of some vacation pictures here. Those were taken with a couple inexpensive point and shoot cameras.
5. When you pack food, include as many non-perishables as possible for your staples, such as cereals, snacks, canned goods and dried fruits and dehydrated camp meals. You can purchase meats, eggs and milk locally. In a large cooler, bring just those fresh items you’ll use in the first couple of days.
There you have a basic plan for your bicycle vacation. You can be certain the kids will have no trouble writing their ‘what I did on summer vacation’ report come back-to-school time!