With Backroads: We operate our own trips around the globe. That way we control the quality—and we're fully responsible for your great experience. We don't pay others to do the job we've promised we'll do for you.
With Others: If your trip is subcontracted, quality can be compromised—or may fall off without warning.
Not all companies disclose that they outsource trips. We think that's deceptive.
You need to know who is running your trip.
TWO SUPPORT VANS
With Backroads: We provide two support vans on all of our trips* so you can count on us to be there when you
need us, regardless of the route you take. Whether you're looking for a lift, a snack or cool drink,
or a bit of help with your bike, we've got you covered.
With Others: We don't know of any other company that consistently provides two support vans. A single vehicle can really limit your options. In considering, say, an early lift back to the hotel,
you don't want to hear that the one van is spoken for or a long wait is in order.
With Backroads: Our trips have three leaders*, for an average 6:1 guest-to-leader ratio.
Guests consistently score our leaders 9.7 out of 10, telling us they make all the difference. That's why we've always had the best hiring, training and performance
management programs and it's why only 7% of candidates are hired.
With Others: We don't know of any company that consistently staffs its trips with three leaders—let alone
matches our standard five leaders on camping trips. We do know that many active travel
operators provide little or no training to their leaders. And certainly no company can touch
Backroads when it comes to managing the quality of leaders' performance.
With Backroads: On international trips we pair expert local guides with experienced Backroads leaders, ensuring that you get the perfect balance of insider insights and attentive personal service.
With Others: Some companies take a local-guide-only approach that is typically an
attempt to cut costs at the expense of your travel experience.
THE RIGHT BIKES
With Backroads: The Backroads bike fleet is the best in active travel, with more than 4,000 expertly
maintained bikes—including our custom titanium Backroads bike, our top-rated Specialized
S-Works Roubaix and women's Ruby Pro, and our Co-Motion Periscope Torpedo tandem.
With Others: When companies don't invest in their fleets (or can't afford to),
you end up with bikes of every description: poorly maintained, too heavy, incorrectly
geared, inconsistent in quality and—worst of all—procured locally or owned by the hotel.
THOUGHTFUL TRIP DESIGN
With Backroads: Tom Hale, with more than three decades at the helm, guides a team of nine trip designers
with an average tenure of 17 years.We know how to create exceptional travel experiences, ensuring that you get the most from every moment as your trip unfolds.
With Others: After "looking under the hood" of just one company, we discovered morning wine tastings;
hotels that are only four miles apart (just pick the best one!); route options ranging
from a short 23 miles to a long 24 miles and constant, tedious shuttles.
With Backroads: To accommodate varied activity levels, you need all the pieces in place: three leaders; two vans; a thoughtfully designed trip with multiple route options and
detailed directions; a rating system showing if shuttles are required (not everyone wants
to be in the van); and the crowning touch—a range of well-matched riding/hiking companions.
With Others: It's easy enough for companies to claim they can accommodate travelers
with mixed abilities. But the only way they can make it a reality is by
investing in all the capabilities that are built into every Backroads trip.
And if they're not spelling that out, chances are it's not really a promise they can keep.
MULTIPLE DAILY ROUTES
With Backroads: Being able to choose among several expertly designed routes each day gives you
the freedom to enjoy the best of a region at your own pace. With Backroads, every
route option has complete directions and is described in detail on each trip page.
With Others: With many companies, everyone is forced onto the same route. Looking for a different option? You might get a highlighted map but no support—or have to wait for a leader who won't be available until late in the day. If you don't see route options on the website, they may not exist. And if shuttle details are vague, chances are they're not pretty.
THE RIGHT TRIP SIZE
With Backroads: Backroads trips have the right number of guests. Our groups are small enough
to explore the world with optimum flexibility and just big enough to invite
interesting dynamics. One size does not fit all. The ideal number of guests is
a critical point of difference between Biking, Walking, Family and Singles-Solos trips.
With Others: Beware of traveling in a very small group: you may go crazy from the constraints it puts on you.
Are there people of similar abilities who may want to tackle tougher routes with you—
or enjoy the easier ones? On family trips, will your kids find friends their own age?
And if you hope to meet other singles, does "'less is more" really work for you?
With Backroads: We designate our hotels as Premiere or Casual, so you always know what to expect
and understand clearly what you're paying for. In either category, you can count
on an appropriate balance of high quality and demonstrable value.
With Others: Many of our Casual hotels are quietly used by other companies on trips that they
position as decidedly "non-Casual." Are you paying Premiere prices for Casual hotels?
FAMILY TRIP EXPERTISE
With Backroads: At Backroads, we're the undisputed experts in active family travel. Since 2000
we've successfully run more than 2,400 dedicated family trips around the world.
With Others: How much expertise can you expect from a company that only offers a few family trips per year?
It takes years of practice to be a family travel expert.
With Others: We're not aware of any active travel company that runs more than a handful of dedicated singles departures.
SMART, INVALUABLE EXTRAS
With Backroads: Cyclometers, elevation profiles, daily regional snapshots, downloadable GPS directions**, local maps, self-navigable directions, custom-built kids' bikes, telescoping walking sticks, cold beer and drinks at the end of each ride/hike, the world's
best Trip Consultants on call seven days a week—and much, much more.
With Others: While some companies may offer a few of these extras, no one comes close to providing what Backroads does. It's the difference between simply doing what's required and, in our case, always looking for new ways to exceed expectations.
*95% of Backroads guests travel with the support of two or more vans and three leaders. The remaining 5% are on trips with very few guests where only one van and two leaders are needed to maintain our high service standards.
**Available on all road biking trips in Europe and North America.