Active Trips That Let You Do It Your Way

We welcome mixed interests, mixed goals and mixed inclinations

When my wife Liz and I are on a Backroads trip, we ride together most days. But one morning I might choose a longer route and tackle that on my own. Then we'll meet up for lunch, often arriving at the same time. So everyone's happy!

This is how our trips are designed: you're free to do your own thing, mapping out the day to include what's important to you, plus maybe something we've organized as well, whether it's a wine tasting, a private castle tour or a chat with a local artist in her studio. And whatever you opt to do, we support you all the way.

Guests on the same trip often have very different days. Last time we were in Provence, a few of us set out one morning to ride a 70-mile route with a lot of nice hills, while another group biked for a couple of hours, then spent the afternoon at the antiques market in L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. And when we all met up again over dinner, we had a great time swapping stories about our adventures, comparing different angles on how the day had gone.

This is what Backroads is all about. We pioneered the concept of active travel, but from the beginning we never assumed that everyone who came on our trips wanted to travel actively in the same way.

Lunchtime on a Backroads Trip

Enabling the Explorer Mentality

People who travel with us share our belief that exploring under your own power--experiencing new places up close--is the best way to see the world. But the key thing this reveals about our guests is not how physically active they are but, more important, that they enjoy looking at the world differently.

Our guests are people who've stayed curious, who want to explore unfamiliar places and immerse themselves in the nuances.

When you join a group of Backroads guests, you quickly see that what they appreciate about traveling together, even if they've just met, is not simply the shared interest in biking or walking, but the fact that everyone brings their own unique perspective to the experience. What makes a trip memorable is how a particular group of interesting, funny, thoughtful people from a wide range of backgrounds can connect through a shared adventure.

So for us the challenge has always been how to create active travel experiences that attract people who have a similar curiosity about the world, but who may approach the actual biking, hiking and other activities with varying levels of energy or ability.

Trips for Mixed Abilities

Our years of experience have led us to offer flexible route options within each trip to suit varying abilities, extending the activity levels to wider ranges. Today our trips are created, from the earliest stages of design and planning, for a group of guests with mixed abilities.Daily route options for mixed abilities on Backroads Bike Tours

Actually, mixed abilities, while convenient as shorthand, is a bit of a misnomer. It's probably more accurate to say mixed interests, or mixed goals, or maybe mixed inclinations. Whatever label we put on it, this is one of the key quality factors that differentiate Backroads: choice. You choose where you want to go, who you want to travel with, what activities you want to enjoy--and for how long or how far. The leaders are not there to decide your day, but to see what you want to do and help make it happen.

To be clear, we're not trying to offer trips for all abilities. Even in regions where the terrain can accommodate lots of daily options, we still spell out a range to properly set expectations. We don't want any guests feeling disappointed that they've not been able to enjoy the full experience - or that we've not provided the right kind of support for what they assumed was the activity range on a particular trip.

More Support Means More Independence

Backroads Trip Leader providing van supportMost companies will tell you they can be all things to all people. But it's a hollow promise without the goods to back it up. This is one of the main reasons we now provide three and even four Trip Leaders--rather than the industry-standard one or two--on nearly all of our departures. In addition to strengthening the attentive, personalized service that's become a Backroads hallmark, we use more leaders to support guests as they follow various route options at their own pace - and to give them the flexibility to change their minds as the day unfolds.

This is also what motivated us to invest in two vans per trip rather than the standard single vehicle: because if we say we're going to support guests with mixed abilities, we have to be in more places at once, making good on that promise.

The bottom line is with Backroads you don't have to declare what kind of traveler you are before booking a trip, or on any given day as your journey unfolds, or even during the course of an afternoon if your priorities happen to change. We invite you to share a great travel experience with interesting people--some who may have come with you, others you may be meeting for the first time--and to enjoy it in your own way.

And everyone else is free to do the same. That's where the Backroads magic lives--in the sheer range of choices, and in the freedom to mix it up however you like.

19 Responses

  1. Mariana

    Hi. I would live to do this trip, but I’m 72 and don’t ride my bike much anymore, but do walk quite a bit. Would it be possible to just go along for the ride in the van?

    • Sue Scoggins

      I’ve been looking at Backroads for a while now but those young little faces intimidate me just a bit. .I’m a 63 year old female, cycle quite a bit, love the outdoors but do like a bed and a shower. : ) Travel a lot and solo. Would this be a good recommendation for a person like me?

      • Hi Sue, It’s great to hear from you! Based on your interests, it sounds like our trips—which offer a mix of activity, adventure, incredible accommodations and wonderful fellow travelers—would be perfect for you. And we have a lot of guests in their 60’s (and even 70’s), so you’d certainly be in good company. Our Trip Consultants would be happy to answer any questions you have, and can even help match you to a trip with other like-minded guests. Give us a call at 800-462-2848!

  2. Thanks for your message, Mariana! You would be welcome to ride in the van for as much of the day as you’d like, and our Trip Leaders can help you find some good alternatives if you’re not up for biking. We also have a number of Walking & Hiking trips that you might enjoy, including a few options in Provence. Give us a call! We’d love to help you find the perfect trip.

  3. Carolyn Hart

    I didn’t see any 3-day walking trips in the western US.
    Do you have any that I just didn’t see?
    I saw the Napa Valley 3-day biking trip. Looked nice, but I would rather walk.

    Thank you!

    • Hi Carolyn,
      Thanks for your inquiry! Our shortest Walking Trip in the US is 4 Days and 3 Nights in Palm Springs and Joshua Tree. It’s an amazing way to discover the area—you can find out more on our website or by calling us directly at 800-462-2848. Our Trip Consultants are happy to help you find the right trip.

  4. Bochkay

    I think Back Roads is the best. I traveled to Norway and if you didn’t want to walk there was always an option to ride or stay put.

    • Thanks, Bochkay! We can’t wait to see you on another trip soon!

  5. ellen

    I am an active 55 year old. I walk, hike and go to the gym many times per week. I have not been on a biking trip and wonder if it is too difficult for me to do. I am mostly worried about the climbs. We are interested in the bilbo to biarritz trip and want to know how much of the riding is hard climbing and how much is rolling hills etc

    • Thanks for your interest in Backroads, Ellen! Our Biking Trips are designed to accommodate for all different levels of cycling abilities—we even offer electric-assist bikes on many trips for anyone who wants an extra boost. Our trip in Basque Country offers a range of daily route options, and while the terrain in this region does tend to be quite hilly, we’re there to support you when you need it. Give us a call at 800-462-2848; we’d love to tell you more about our trip options!

  6. Mitzi

    A mixed bag of responses here. I am intrigued with your river cruise options. My husband and I have looked at other river cruises, but I think I would enjoy more activity, although he would be happy to just cruise and join in on a few walking tours. Is that an option with Backroads? I enjoy cycling, but am not strong on hills. If I bike, can I bring my own saddle, and do the upright handle bar set-ups have twist-grip shifters or thumb shifters; I have limited gripping hand strength. Can you provide more details on the ship and its amenities? We are both 62 and in reasonably good shape. DH plays golf; I sea kayak here in Alaska where we live.

    • Thanks for reaching out, Mitzi! Our River Cruise trips are especially designed to accommodate mixed abilities and interests, which would be a great choice for you and your husband. Backroads guests always have the option to stay aboard the ship, explore a port city on your own, join one of the ship’s many walking tours or activities, or actively explore with Backroads on any given day. Like on any of our Biking trips, we offer a range of route options along with van support, so you can choose how far to ride and when you’d like to get a lift in the van. Many of our River Cruise trips offer easygoing, mostly flat routes along paved bike paths that your husband might enjoy as well! You can bring your own saddle for our custom bikes, which have easy to use thumb and trigger shifters (for both upright and drop handlebars). We’ve partnered with the best river cruise companies to offer luxury accommodations, whether you’re cruising in Europe, Southeast Asia or South America. We’d love to tell you more about our River Cruise trips; please give us a call at 800-462-2848.

  7. Susan

    Hi I am a somewhat athletic, moderately fit, 37 year old individual who would love to have an active vacation that allows some flexibility in range of difficulty of hikes from day to day, so I’m very interested in going on a Backroads vacation! I would love to bring my elderly mother with me — she wont be able to go on the hikes, but I was hoping she could just enjoy relaxing at the hotel and on the beach while I’m out on the Backroads hikes. How can I go about doing this as far as the pricing goes (so that we can share a hotel room)?

    • Hi Susan—thanks for your interest in traveling with us! Your questions about accommodating your mother on a Backroads trip can best be answered by calling us at 800-462-2848.

  8. Dee

    My husband and I are interested in your Machu Pichu trip. Two questions: When is the best time to go and is hiking in part of the trip?

    • Hi Dee,

      All three of our Peru trips visit Machu Picchu and offer hiking to various degrees (activity levels based on a scale of 1-5; note that activities take place at elevations between 8,000’-12,000’):

      *Peru Walking & Hiking (less strenuous hiking options, activity levels 2-4)
      *Peru Lodge-to-Lodge Trekking (more strenuous hiking options, activity levels 3-5)
      *Peru Multisport (a mix of walking/hiking and biking, activity levels 1-3).

      Our trips run year-round because any time is a wonderful time to visit Peru and Machu Picchu! That said, July and August are considered peak season, which generally means more visitors in the region, but it’s less likely to rain (although it can rain at any time). October through April is considered rainy season (although it may not rain!), but there are typically less visitors during this time.

      If you’d like to learn more about these incredible trips, please call us at 800-462-2848; we’d love to hear from you.

  9. […] I like to mix things up day by day, and I expect that many of you do too. You should be able to customize your experience as much as possible. I’ve personally evangelized the importance of this from Day 1. […]

  10. Dianne Hawkins

    I would like to go on an easy walking tour in England, through the Cotswalds etc., I am a 67 year old woman who although married would be travelling on her own (Husband not keen on travel)

    • Hi Dianne,

      Our Walking & Hiking trip in Britain’s Cotswolds would be a great fit for you! The activities on this trip are rated Levels 1-3 (out of 5), so both easygoing and more challenging route options are available each day and you can do as little or as much as you want to. For detailed trip information, dates and prices, please visit

      We certainly welcome solo travelers! At Backroads, our Trip Leaders are experts at building camaraderie among people who share a sense of fun and a passion for getting out there and experiencing all that life has to offer.
      For more information on traveling solo with us, visit

      If you’d like to speak to one of our knowledgeable trip consultants, please call us at 800-462-2848; we’d love to hear from you.

      Happy Travels! Backroads

  11. […] cramping anyone else’s style. Which sounds easy in theory, but it’s hard to pull off. Here’s more on how we do […]

  12. Biking is so much fun, especially in mesmerizing places like Hawaii. If you’ve never tried hiking or biking on this beautiful island, you’re missing out on so much. It is nature in its rawest forms.

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