Hike or Bike Tour? How to Choose the Perfect Trip

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“Active travel is, at its heart, a way of connecting more authentically with the world.” This sentiment comes from Backroads’ website where we outline our different types of trips and I couldn’t agree with it more completely. Exploring a new place actively, whether on your own two feet or on two wheels, sets a pace that enables you to appreciate its sights, sounds and smells, to experience its depth beyond the tourist attractions, and to notice details of its character that might slip by if viewed from a car or a tour bus.

Both hiking and biking offer excellent ways to experience a new place, and whether you want to push your limits or take it easy on your trip, Backroads offers a trip sure to appeal to you. The question is: how do you choose?

City Hiking with Backroads

Hiking with Backroads in Costa RicaWalking & Hiking: Nothing quite compares to the relationship you can cultivate with a place by exploring it on foot. The pace set on Walking & Hiking Tours gives you the best chance to connect with your environment, with your fellow travelers and even with yourself. You’re able to notice and contemplate a locale’s more minute details–for example, on a hike I was on in Central America, our group was able to catch a rare glimpse of the resplendent quetzal, a bird whose stunning plumage gainsays its shyness. That was a special opportunity, something we likely would have missed moving at a speedier pace. Traveling on foot allows you to truly get off of the beaten path and I find that there’s something deeply enriching about it; opting for humankind’s original form of travel in an age of high-speed everything engages something primal in the spirit.

Backroads bikers chatting with the locals

Biking: Bike Tours are where Backroads began and are my favorite way to explore a new place. I’ve experienced few things to rival the sense of freedom you get by feeling the breeze as you pedal alongside lakes and vineyards, through small towns and amid gorgeous landscapes. Cycling slows things down enough so that you can appreciate your surroundings, but also allows you to cover ground and experience much of what a region has to offer.

Biking in Mallorca with BackroadsThe variety of route options on our Bike Tours also provides great variability–casual and hardcore cyclists alike will find what they’re looking for. Plus our eBike alternative makes just about any route accessible to guests by providing an additional boost of power whenever you want it. And for those looking for the Tour de France experience, there’s always the carbon-frame Specialized S-Works upgrade. (A word to the wise: no matter what you opt for, a bike tour requires a basic level of comfort on a bike. Spin classes can be a great way to get in cycling shape, but there’s no substitute for putting a few miles on your old Schwinn to get balance and confidence. Get out and ride!)

Both walking and cycling offer rich travel experiences. If you’re the kind of traveler who likes to really take your time soaking up a locale, stop often for photos or chat with locals, or you just don’t know if you’re ready to spend a week in the saddle, then a Walking & Hiking Tour might be the choice for you. If you want to cover more ground on your own power and see a broader swath of a region, you embrace the reward of a downhill cruise after conquering a climb, or biking just sounds like a good time, then a bike tour might have your name on it.

If you just can’t decide or you’re looking for a bit more of the spice of life, our Multi Adventure Tours offer both hiking and biking, along with other local activities like kayaking or snorkeling, to give your week’s activities a wider variety.

Regardless what option you choose, make sure you’re familiar with our activity levels so that you know what level of difficulty to expect. Pick your mode of travel, choose a trip, and make an authentic connection with your next vacation destination.

Kayaking with Backroads in New Zealand

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Brian Dunn

Brian Dunn

Brian left his home state of Michigan after college and has been satisfying his wanderlust ever since. After earning his Master of Public Health degree in Boston, he set off for Cameroon for two years of service with the Peace Corps, where he worked on health and gender issues in the village of Meidougou. Seeking a change of direction afterward, Brian found Backroads and wholeheartedly embraced the Trip Leader lifestyle. He leads mostly in France, where he can't get enough of explaining classic cultural contrasts for Backroads guests.
Brian Dunn

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