Camping and bike touring with a 3 month old baby: a crazy plan? Perhaps. At least that’s what some of our friends thought.
Crazy or not, the fact is that we were itching to go touring. We’d had a sedentary autumn and winter waiting for Luke to arrive and our last night in the tent was nearly 6 months ago.
It was the middle of May before the right factors came together: a baby that was (mostly) sleeping through the night, warmer evening temperatures and a good weather forecast. We packed up the bikes and set off. It had been ages, but the wait was worth it.
The roads were quiet, smooth and lined with spring flowers. This was bike touring in the Netherlands at its best.
Spring touring in the Netherlands: glorious!
We cycled about 100km over two days (see the GPS track). It was fantastic, and we learned a few things about family bike touring along the way. Here are our main learning points for the next tour. Maybe they’ll help other families also planning to take a young child on tour.
1. Research The Route Carefully. The route we planned wasn’t as well laid out as it could have been. In a few places the bike paths were unpaved or very narrow. We didn’t want to jostle Luke around too much so we went slowly and occasionally walked the bike.
We could have made some changes to our route to avoid ending up on small, bumpy paths.
We also ended up on a few roads which were a touch too busy for our liking. As single tourers, these roads wouldn’t have bothered us at all but as new parents we (unsurprisingly) felt very protective of our new little boy and more sensitive to traffic. For future tours, we’ll be researching the roads better to avoid these kinds of situations.
2. Divide and Conquer. A baby needs a lot of attention and it quickly became clear that the only way to get anything done around the campsite was to have one person take care of the baby while the others set up camp, did the cooking and took over any other tasks that needed doing. Happily, we had our good friend Alicia along for the ride and she was happy to take turns entertaining. That was a huge help!
Entertaining Luke: someone was always on duty.
3. Go Slowly. With a baby in tow, it’s the baby that sets the pace and that’s unlikely to be anywhere near as quick as your pre-kid touring days. We only cycled 40km on Saturday because Luke was a little fussy. We didn’t want to stress him out so we stopped for plenty of play breaks and breastfeeding on demand.
On Sunday, we rode 60km and that was plenty. Andrew really noticed how much the extra drag of the trailer was wearing him out. For our 3 week bike tour later this summer, we’re planning on an average of 40km a day. That’s half the distance we were used to doing without a baby.
Luke, just chilling out on his sleeping mat.
4. Expect The Unexpected. We didn’t have too many unexpected occurrences during our trip but one thing caught us off-guard: Luke’s bedtime. He normally drops right off to sleep at 8pm at home. When we put him in a tent at 8pm, however, it was still very bright out and all that sunshine meant he didn’t want to go to sleep at all. It took twice as long to get him to sleep as normal and that was initially a bit stressful.
Thankfully, once he dropped off he slept like a log. The next morning, we woke up to find that Luke had already been awake for some time but had been kept quietly amused by the patterns of light and shadows on the tent walls.
Putting Luke to bed took longer than expected.
Overall, we had a wonderful time and we can’t wait to do more bike touring trips with Luke. Here are some more of our favourite pictures from the weekend…
Asparagus! We bought it from a roadside farm stand.
Cheese that we bought from a small cheesefarm along the route.
Andrew towing Luke’s Chariot trailer. Luxury travel for a baby!
22nd May 2012 at 10:38 pm #
yea!! well done Luke, keep them in their toes. 🙂
22nd May 2012 at 10:52 pm #
Way to go. My wife, our 4 year old and I are cycling from Amsterdam to Frankfurt mid-July. It will be our first as a family and it encourages us to read your adventures. – followed your diary while you were still on the road.
Cheers from Calgary.
22nd May 2012 at 11:08 pm #
I’m all for bike touring, but please mention the importance of talking to a doctor first. I own a Chariot trailer and my doctor strongly encouraged me to wait until my child was six months old, which is when their necks are strong enough to handle the jostling of bumps they encounter in a bike trailer. And there’s no mention if the Chariot infant sling was used, but even then six months is the recommendation from a doctor. Be safe out there!
23rd May 2012 at 6:39 am #
Hi Ryan, we did talk to a doctor first. In fact, we talked to many people! You can read all the details here: http://travellingtwo.com/resources/baby-bike-tour-age
Obviously this is a decision that’s going to be different for every parent, depending on your own opinions and the cycling situation where you live. The Netherlands is pretty special as far as cycling infrastructure goes.
We are still pretty careful with Luke: trying to pick only smooth paths, going slowly, walking where the paths aren’t smooth, etc…
Also, we don’t bike a lot with Luke yet. This is the first longer trip and there have been 3 shorter day tours (10km, 20km and 40km), plus a few trips around town to run errands. We currently use the Chariot mostly as a walking stroller.
7th June 2012 at 12:09 pm #
I guess you have used a hammock, right?
2Ryan: with hammock it’s quite safe if the road is not too bumpy. That way babys head is supported by the hammock itself quite well, not by the neck muscles alone. We did our first longer trip when babies were under 6 months old, and it was fine.
If the road is fine and the pace slow it is not much more shaky more than in a jogging stroller
22nd May 2012 at 11:10 pm #
Congrats on getting out there with such a young baby.
What I wanted to know was what setup were you using
for Luke in the chariot? Ie. baby bivy or infant sling or
something else? As far as I knew, Chariot states that
you cannot cycle with a baby until they had full head
control & can wear a helmet (so they recommend not
before 1 yrs old).
Would love to see a close up, front on pic of Luke in
the Chariot 🙂
23rd May 2012 at 6:53 am #
Hi Liz, you can read about our set up in this earlier article about cycling with a baby. Luke is a fair bit bigger now than in the picture in that article (the picture was taken while out for a walk – not biking).
Here’s a pic of what Luke looks like now (taken during a break to fix a flat tire, that’s why the belt is unbuckled):
We’ve taken a bit out of the baby car seat to provide even more padding around his head. We’re happy that he’s comfortable and content in the trailer, and the doctors here also said it was fine but ultimately this is a decision that every parent has to take for themselves, based on their own beliefs, comfort level and local cycling situation.
22nd May 2012 at 11:35 pm #
Love your blog. 3 kids later, we are loving all our adventures with our minions. Don’t ever let them slow you down!
23rd May 2012 at 12:26 am #
Congrats, you guys. Wow, he’s cute!
23rd May 2012 at 12:42 am #
Thanks for sharing! Very interesting indeed. At least I know what to expect next time when touring with a baby on board! Luke’s so cute, by the way 🙂
23rd May 2012 at 3:28 am #
Thanks for sharing, great job on the adventure and many more to come.
23rd May 2012 at 4:41 am #
That’s awesome to hear. I look forward to hearing about the continuing adventures of TravellingThree
23rd May 2012 at 8:46 am #
Luke lookes every bit the happy baby he should be, having a Chariot of his own and an entourage of three to keep him amused… I’ve written before that I am convinced you are doing everything right, and am glad you are enjoying it.
23rd May 2012 at 10:40 am #
Luke looks so happy.Im so pleased that you had a good weekend and the weather has been good. Here in the UK it’s been awful. I started a blog so you can have a look see if you want to. It’s the first time we’ve ever bailed out due to weather. Send some sun this way please.
23rd May 2012 at 11:20 pm #
Wow, how adorable is Luke! Congratulations!! I can only image how much he enjoys travelling around in his Chariot! What fun.
24th May 2012 at 3:18 am #
It looks like you guys had a great time camping with Luke, we also had a chariot when Lydia was born, at that time Jay was actually working at the chariot warehouse here in calgary and he got one as a baby gift, we absolutly loved it and used it for both kids, we still have it even though the kids have outgrown it, Im hanging onto it for when my sisters have kids
love the pics
jenn, jay, lydia and tyson
27th May 2012 at 12:51 am #
Hi Friedel and Andrew, Luke looks so happy in his trailer. I wish I could travel like him! He is so cute and has changed a lot since the first pictures you posted. The weather is finally improving here in the UK so Ben has started looking at getting a Chariot, finally!
Sylvie, Ben and Gaspard
22nd June 2012 at 9:04 pm #
Very cool! You guys are definitely inspiring… it looks like everyone had a great time! And you certainly lucked out with the weather. What a happy looking baby!
28th June 2012 at 5:08 am #
Great to read about your trip! We took our then 2.5 year old daughter Luca on a trip through the south of france and across the top of spain a couple of years ago and are now planning future adventures with her and her baby brother in tow. I have to say that Chariot as a company was so super supportive when we had an accident and damaged our trailer. They sent out parts to repair the trailer and even put us in touch with a local family who had also done heaps of touring with children. Keep up the adventures!
10th June 2022 at 8:50 am #
cyclobenzaprine 15mg sale
27th April 2023 at 10:46 pm #
Hurda bakır, hurda alüminyum, hurda kablo gibi malzemelerinizi bize satarak, çevre kirliliğini azaltabilir ve geri dönüşüm ekonomisine katkı sağlayabilirsiniz.
22nd May 2023 at 12:14 am #
Haber ve son dakika haberleri, güncel haberler, magazin, spor ve ekonomi gündemi, yerel ve dünya haberleri burada
28th May 2023 at 11:16 pm #
İstanbul’da 24 saat hurdacı http://hurdacifirmasi.com.tr/ hizmetimizden yararlanın. Hurda bakır, hurda alüminyum, hurda kablo ve daha birçok hurda malzeme türünü değerinde alıp geri dönüşüme kazandırıyoruz.