Family FAQs

Traveling Companions

Q. Are Backroads Family Trips just for parents and children?

A. Our definition of family is quite broad. We invite all parents (including single parents), grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and family friends to join in the fun of a Backroads Family Trip!

Q. Is it possible to find out the ages and gender of other children booked on a trip?

A. We know it's more fun when kids have playmates near their own age. Just ask your Trip Consultant to give you the breakdown of ages. Remember, of course, that this information may change before your trip departs. Please also keep in mind that for the majority of our trips we have age recommendations, not age restrictions.

Q. Will childcare be available during the trip?

A. Many of our hotels on Family Trips do offer childcare services. Your Trip Leaders are not available for childcare outside of scheduled kids' activities. If you would like to arrange for childcare at other times, your leaders will help explore all reasonable avenues to find English-speaking caregivers in foreign destinations, but we can't guarantee that childcare will be available. Please keep this in mind when selecting your trip. In the event you do opt for childcare, your leaders will do their best to provide contact information and you will be responsible for making the arrangements.

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Age Restrictions & Recommendations

Q. Does Backroads offer special youth rates?

A. Youth Rates on Designated Family Trips: On all Camping Trips and on Inn Trips when children share a room with two adults, youths receive the following tiered discounts off the trip price:

  • 75% off for children ages 1-2
  • 40% off for ages 3-6
  • 20% off for ages 7-10
  • 10% off for ages 11-17

On Inn Trips when a child shares a room with one adult or two children share a room, a 10% discount applies to children 17 and younger. The third and fourth youths in a room will receive the tiered discounts described above. When one youth is in a separate room a 10% discount is applied to the trip price, but the full private room charge applies.

On Camping Trips we provide spacious four-person tents with prices based on double occupancy per tent. If a family requests an additional tent, there will be a single supplement applied, but children will still receive a discount based on their age.

Please note: Youth savings do not apply to Private Trips, Custom Trips or River Cruise Trips.

A. Youth Rates on non-Family Trips: Children 17 and younger receive a 10% discount when sharing a room with two adults. Also, only two children between the ages of 12 and 17 are allowed on non-Family Trips.

All minors (under 18 years) must be accompanied by at least one adult. When one youth is in a single room the full private room charge will apply. Certain hotels may not allow children under 18 to be in a room without an adult.

Q. Do your Family Trips have age restrictions?

A. Yes. Some activities—such as rafting, canyoneering and horseback riding—have minimum age requirements. In addition, a small number of our Family Inn Trips have minimum age requirements for enrollment due to hotel restrictions. And, while we don't see many families with very young children, we do have a minimum age requirement of 1 year on Inn trips, 2 years for all Camping trips and 9 years for River Cruise trips. Your Trip Consultant can give you the details for any trip you're considering, or see the Recommended Ages section.

Q. What happens when kids are too young to participate in an age-restricted activity?

A. We consider this question carefully when setting recommended minimum ages for our family trips. While we pride ourselves on providing flexibility, there are times when available options are limited. For kids at or above the recommended age for the trip but too young for a specific activity, we always provide an alternate activity. When the child is below both the trip age recommendation and the specific activity requirement, we ask that a parent remain with the child and we do our best to suggest alternative activities.

Q. My 6-year-old daughter is steady on her bike but not ready for the open road. What is your policy on this?

A. For safety reasons, we do not allow children under 7 to ride their own bikes.

On some of our trips, children ages 7-8 years may pedal their own bikes as long as they are safe, competent riders. This means they must be comfortable with light traffic, able to ride a straight line without weaving or losing balance, and able to handle gears and hand brakes. Please be aware that if your leaders determine that your 7- or 8-year-old child is not riding safely, they will require a switch to a Piccolo or alternate activity.

In locations such as Tuscany where there is hilly terrain and some traffic, we raise the bar to 9 years old for kids riding their own bikes.

Kids who are under the required age for riding their own bikes may ride in a Burley Trailer or on a Piccolo with a parent. Note that pulling a 3-4 year old in a Burley Trailer or a 7-8-year-old uphill on a Piccolo can be challenging. There is a weight limit of 60 pounds for a Burley and 85 pounds for a Piccolo. Also note that the adult pulling the Piccolo must weigh at least twice as much as the trailing child in order to safely control the Piccolo.

Q. In Yellowstone last summer, our youngest son was 3 years old and and we pulled him in a Burley trailer. Will he be able to ride a Piccolo now that he's 4?

A. Many kids ride a Piccolo at 4 though some still prefer a Burley trailer. In general, we find that kids ages 4-7 years ride Piccolos and kids ages 1-3 years ride in the Burley trailers. And we do restrict the use of Burleys and Piccolos in some locations, such as Ireland, where where we feel that the roads are not suitable for Burleys and Piccolos.

Q. Are some trips better than others for younger or older kids?

A. Yes, though we understand that kids are individuals and have varying needs and desires regardless of their age. Taking many factors into consideration, we set recommended minimum ages for all of our family itineraries. You can ask your Trip Consultant for minimum age recommendations by trip or see the Family Trips section. Once again, we do not have minimum age restrictions for trip enrollment unless there is a hotel restriction. You can ask your Trip Consultant for minimum age recommendations by trip or see the Recommended Ages section.

Q. How exactly do you determine the recommended minimum age for a given trip?

A. We make a judgment call based on our detailed knowledge of the itinerary and many years of experience in providing fantastic family vacations, including feedback from past guests. Specifically, we consider the number of age-restricted activities and alternate activities; whether the terrain is well-suited for Burleys and Piccolos; and the sophistication level of the hotels, dinner venues, even the cultural content (e.g., World War II content on our biking trip in Brittany/Normandy). Please remember that if your child is younger than the recommended minimum age for your trip, then your child and one adult relative will need to refrain from any age-restricted activities and we will do our best to suggest alternatives.

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Leaders & Safety

Q. Are your Trip Leaders trained to effectively deal with the dynamics of children?

A. Our Trip Leaders are the most carefully selected and rigorously trained in the travel business. For Family Trips, we look for leaders who like, respect and want to be around kids and have experience in managing and/or teaching children. Equipped with a wealth of entertaining and educational resources, our leaders are experts at creating a comfortable, safe and fun environment. They can communicate at kids' level, see the world through their eyes and have the energy to keep pace with even the most active kids. Each day of your trip, one Trip Leader will be completely dedicated to the role of Kid Coordinator. Please note that Trip Leaders do not provide childcare outside of these specific kids' activities and that kids must be 5 and older to participate without a parent.

Q. How do you encourage safe practices among children?

A. Safety is our top priority. Our Kid Coordinator presents a safety talk every day, providing tips for preventing accidents and staying safe. Playing games and leading by example are some ways we communicate the importance of safety to children.

Q. How do you safely manage a group of kids of different ages and athletic abilities?

A. For starters, we design the biking and walking routes on our Family Trips with an array of length and challenge options. Our Kid Coordinator will review these with you each morning and help you to make great choices for your family. During the course of the day, the Kid Coordinator and other Trip Leaders will monitor every family to provide desired support. Our Family Trips are staffed with an additional leader and supported with an extra van so that we can provide the flexibility needed to keep traveling families happy.

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Daily Logistics

Q. Do adults and children spend all their time together?

A. We know from our own experience that families need a balance of time together and time apart. Each day of your Backroads family vacation will feature specific activities designed just for kids, giving parents a chance for some well-deserved adult time. These kids' activities typically take place a couple of hours before or after dinner and on one or two days the activity may take most of the day, depending on what we're up to—but the themes will always be exploration and fun! Please note that Trip Leaders do not provide childcare outside of these specific kids' activities and that kids must be 5 and older to participate without a parent.

Q. Do families ride and/or hike together?

A. Yes, during the daily ride or hike your family will need to ride or hike together. The trip leaders are not responsible for riding or hiking with the kids, nor are kids allowed to ride or hike on their own.

Q. Do adults have a chance to bike or walk at their own pace and sometimes take longer options?

A. If your children are 5 and older, you'll have some time on your own each day when special activities for kids are scheduled. We typically plan two separate half-day activities for kids when the hiking or biking is more challenging, or if there's a cultural experience, wine tasting, excellent shopping or a luxurious spa for adults to enjoy, without kids. And, of course, there will be something spectacular and adventurous for the kids to do too!

Q. Can kids ride in the support van without an adult relative?

A. Your child needs to be 8 years or older to ride in the support van without an adult relative. If you have a younger child who wants a lift, one adult relative must ride along.

Q. Do kids need car seats when riding in the van?

A. Car seat laws vary by state and country. While Backroads provides car/booster seats for children 30-80 lbs and 4-8 years of age, parents with children below this minimum age and/or weight are responsible for bringing their own seats. Please contact a Trip Consultant for details. (View the full U.S. Child Restraint Laws and Canada Child Restraint Laws).

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Food & Dining

Q. Do you offer healthy meal choices?

A. We know that kids have special tastes, so we make sure that our meals cater to their varied appetites without sacrificing yours. You and your family will find freshly made, healthy and delicious food on our picnics as well as quality cuisine with good kid options at our inns.

Q. Do adults and children dine together every night?

A. On many Inn trips, adults and children dine separately on two evenings. We realize that adult conversation and relaxed dining in the fine restaurants found on Backroads trips are an important part of the experience for parents. We also realize that long dinners can be tough on kids. On these evenings, our leaders will organize separate dinners for children 5 and older. If you are traveling with children under age 5, you can either join the kids' dinner with your child, or you can arrange for a childcare provider (if available). And, of course, you can always choose to dine separately as a family.

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Room Assignments

Q. What are the rooming choices for families?

A. Rooming options are dependent upon individual hotels. Typically we can arrange for single, double or triple rooms on all Family Trips. In some cases, a triple room may include a rollaway bed or pull out couch. In some European hotels with smaller rooms, triples may not be feasible in which case a private room charge may apply. Please note that in most North American hotels, kids who are under the age of 18 may not share a room, one adult/parent must also be in the room.

Q. Can you guarantee connecting or adjacent rooms for families when requested?

A. Once you make a specific request to your Trip Consultant, we will make every effort to secure rooms that connect, are adjacent, or are at least near one another. Hotels will be advised of your request and Trip Leaders will follow up with hotels about special requests prior to check-in. Please note that connecting rooms are not available in the majority of our inns, particularly in Europe.

Q. Can my older child share a twin room with another older child on a trip?

A. Children must be 18 or older to share a room with another guest.

Q. What about on Camping Trips?

A. Our four-person dome tents comfortably accommodate two adults plus luggage. On Family Trips we set up one family per site in separate adjacent tents for parents and children. This way kids have a space of their own, which seems to work well for parents too! Of course, if you prefer, kids and parents can share one tent and luggage can be stored in the other.

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